The mining deal of Analysis-Canada comes up as a flashpoint in Panama before the 2024 elections.

The mining deal of Analysis-Canada comes up as a flashpoint in Panama before the 2024 elections.

A mining deal with a Canadian firm has become a critical issue in Panama before the elections of 2024. The candidates are pushing for further state control of the lucrative mine, and the country’s top court is refusing the contract. The individuals of Panama have held the biggest protest of the decade to get the contract signed legally by the First Quantum scrapped of Canada and have pressed the candidates for a stricter stance on the mine.

It is worth about 5% of the national GDP and 1.5% of the world’s copper output. The Demonstrators got their wish last week as the court turned down the contract and stated it unconstitutional. It has piled more pressure on Panama’s government and left the future of the mine in doubt as voters get ready for the elections.

The present government in Panama has allowed First Quantum to operate the mine despite the court ruling out the previous contract in 2017. Carlos Lee, a political scientist at Santa Marina Antigua University, said that the healthy moment of the fight against the mine will have a significant impact on the elections of 2024. 

The ruling for the First Quantum is still unclear. However, this month, a bill passed by the Panama Congress bans all mining procedures and extensions, which will become harder to continue. Ricardo Martinelli, the Former President, a multimillionaire, and a businessman, proposed an idea for Panama to negotiate with the Canadian firm to secure higher royalties and get a stake in the project.

Martin Torrijos, another former president also running for the job, wants the mine to be closed again. He recently said that Panama strictly says no to metal mining. Just before the court ruling, a spokesperson said to Reuters that the First Quantum respects the democratic procedure and the rule of law would continue to work with Panama. It would help find a broader range of acceptable solutions for multiple stakeholders.

The dispute over the mining deal, which has continued over months, has become a litmus test for the isthmus of Central America to reconcile the long-withstanding openness to business with the requirement to address the yawning inequality. The future of the Cobre mine in Panama is also being closely looked upon across the rest of Latin America, where most of the mining concessions are held by foreign companies.

Some polls make Martinelli the frontrunner for the President’s race. However, there is a money laundering conviction that he has appealed for that might prevent him from being the President. His lawyer, Carlos Carillo, said it should not interfere much with his bid. One of the Presidential challengers said that Today, Panama needs this mine. 

The contender further added that the shutdown of the mine is a preaching to the choir. The politicians have taken a hit as the discontent keeps on mounting. Some results show that the political parties lost more than 15,000 members between 19th October and 23rd November. The more rigid stance on the mine taken by Ricardo Lombana and Torrijos might help them electorally. 

The protestors have held a vigil outside the top court of Panama for weeks, urging them to declare the contract unconstitutional. Hundreds of people also took to the streets on Tuesday to celebrate the ruling. Edgar Diaz, one of the students aged 22, said that the country is not for sale. He further said that the mine is not suitable for the nation.

The most important question before the 2024 elections is how and when the politicians in Panama will stop mining, as said by a protestor named Samantha Claus.

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