Indigenous Peoples, environmental groups, and labor organizations in Panama are outraged over new laws that undermine human rights and erode environmental protections. When thousands of protesters took to the streets in early July, the police responded with unprecedented violence, killing at least two protesters, blinding dozens with lead birdshot, and injuring and arresting hundreds more. Indigenous leaders say more people were killed, but the government has not released complete information to human rights investigators.
To quiet the protests, government officials hurriedly set up a 90-day negotiation period, but they excluded many sectors of the population from the negotiating process (notably the Indigenous Peoples and environmental organizations). Ignored by their own government, these organizations are now asking global citizens and agencies to persuade Panama to comply with internationally recognized human rights and environmental standards.