President Ricardo Martinelli asked lawmakers to rescind the recently passed amendments to the 1963 mining code.
The reforms sparked a wave of protests throughout the country, powered by the Ngöbe Bugle indigenous populations who objected vehemently to a clause granting foreign governments the right to invest in Panama’s mines. Last week, a confrontation between police and protestors blocked the Pan-American highway for four days – resulting in injuries, arrests and serious economic losses.
Martinelli rushed the repeal proposal through an emergency cabinet session on Thursday, and Trade Minister Roberto Henriquez, who originally presented the reforms, has asked the National Assembly to repeal the act. Lawmakers will then meet with indigenous leaders to discuss possible reforms.
Henriquez denied that the government failed. “This action raises the image of the President and seeks peace,” he said.
And, Martinelli said he did not give a damn about the mines or the miners hours before the project was presented in San Felix, Chiriqui, La Prensa reported.