The Supreme Court of Justice of Panama Declares Mining Law 406 Unconstitutional

Protesta contra Ley de Minería

On November 28th, various social sectors, social organizations, and citizens took to the streets to celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling of unconstitutionality of Mining Law 406. Over a month of resistance and street protests by different sectors positioned social sectors against mining extractivism due to a series of consequences in economic, environmental, human rights and socio-environmental ungovernability. This highlights the lack of transparency, corruption, and connections of some government representatives to relatives involved in business with Minera Cobre Panama.

This company has been operating since 1997 under a legal contract in which there was no citizen participation, and there have been irregularities in the environmental impact study.

In 2018, the Supreme Court of Justice issued a ruling declaring it unconstitutional as well. However, neither the company nor the central government complied with the court’s decision, which turned into contempt and left the situation in a state of legal vacuum.

Minera Panamá continued exporting, exploiting, and operating in this region of the country,
specifically in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, where there is also a rich biodiversity and a protected area, along with a community culture.

This mining contract 406 sparked a mobilization among generations not seen since the “Noriegato” era, during the dictatorship in the late 80s. A new lesson is learned in the lives of different Panamanians, in which unity and the struggle for sovereignty should be at the forefront of a collective agenda in favor of the country’s needs and solutions to its problems.

In the context of this struggle, and with the 2024 elections approaching, the socio-environmental and citizen movement has made it clear that neither local party politics at various government moments are to be trusted, nor should one vote for them in governance, as they always appropriate state assets for the benefit of businesses of relatives linked to the government.

During a press conference, the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, stated that in the next few hours, he expects the formal documentation from the Supreme Court of Justice to proceed and publish the ruling of unconstitutionality in the Official Gazette. Likewise, the closure stage of the mining company will occur through a procedure and timeline stipulated by the regulations of the Panamanian state.

On the other hand, indigenous environmental sectors of women, youth, workers, independent citizens continue to commemorate, celebrating this great victory of the Panamanian people in freeing themselves from a colonial mining enclave. They are aspiring to a solidarity, ecological, and just economy.

Statements by Olmedo Carrasquilla, member of Colectivo Voces Ecológicas (COVEC)


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