Demonstrators protest against the contract for the Canadian mining company
Demonstrators protest against the contract for the Canadian mining company FQM in Panama City, Panama 24 October 2023 AFP

Anti-mining protesters in Panama announced they will temporarily remove the blockades for 12 hours Monday, to ensure the citizens can access fuel and food with ease.

For the last couple of weeks, the protesters have been demanding the government cancel its agreement with Canadian mining company First Quantum Minerals, which allowed the latter to mine copper in a biodiverse jungle.

Juan de Dios Camaño, secretary general of the Association of Chiricano Educators, said the roads will be accessible from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for people to get fuel and food, noting there have been shortages in many regions due to blockades.

"The war isn't the people against the people. The war is against these criminals we have in the government," Camaño said in a video posted on social media on Sunday, AP News reported.

The protest will resume after 12 hours of blockade suspension.

The announcement came a few days after a 77-year-old man shot two protesters. The video of the same incident surfaced on X, formerly known as Twitter, last week.

In the video, a man can be seen walking toward the protesters calmly, before shooting at them. The police immediately arrested the person; however, his identity has not been revealed yet.

The protest began last month over the government's agreement with First Quantum Minerals that would allow the Canadian mining company to operate in Panama for the next 20 years -- a time period that might be extended.

According to the government, mining is one of the key areas of generating jobs in the Latin American country. Whereas, the protesters see such long-term contracts as a threat to the ecosystem.

While some people are supporting the protesters, others are criticizing them. One Panamanian business association noted this ongoing protest was causing more loss than the mining company would, estimating a loss of $80 million to local businesses on a daily basis.

The police announced last week that they have planned to use force in order to get rid of road barricades. "We are going to use the necessary force so that the roads are opened, and the well-being of all citizens is achieved," Police Commissioner Elmer Caballero said.

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