Shocking Video: Man Shoots and Kills Two Environmental Protesters Blocking Highway in Panama

Arnulfo Franco

We've seen a lot of environmental protests, particularly in Europe, with activist groups blocking the roads or attacking paintings. We even saw a nun tackle a protester in France when activists tried to block the building of a Catholic center. However, the protests ongoing in Panama against a governmental mining contract with a Canadian company have reached another level and virtually convulsed the country.

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Protesters have been blocking the Pan-American Highway for two weeks in Chame, about 51 miles from Panama City, to protest a copper mining contract with the Canadian company that would allow the company to mine for at least twenty more years. In addition to questions about the government entering into the contract, they were upset about potential environmental impacts. And it wasn't just that one location; it involved protests all over the country. 

Demonstrators now have shut down streets and vandalized businesses. Hundreds have been detained in clashes with police. At the height of the unrest, the Ministry of Education suspended school. Events celebrating The Fiestas Patrias, a three-day run of national holidays from Nov. 3 to 5, were postponed.

The roadblocks resulted in "$80 million in daily losses to businesses" and "shuttered schools nationwide for more than a week." The contract would also provide a lot of needed jobs.

But on Tuesday, things didn't end well at that blockade in Chame. Because of the ongoing nature of the protest, the media was there to capture what happened. A video shows an older man getting out of his car and walking up to where the protesters had tires and other things stretched out across the road. He started arguing with the protesters but then pulled a gun from his pocket and waved it around. According to reports, the protesters asked him if he was going to shoot anyone. He then shot two people and proceeded to move things out of the road. 

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The man was identified as a 77-year-old lawyer who was a dual citizen of Panama and the United States. Reports variously refer to him as Kenneth Darlington or Kenneth Darlington Salas. He was arrested at the scene. Some reports even suggested that he might get house arrest because of his age. 

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The two people shot died, one at the scene and one later at the hospital. One was identified as a teacher and union activist, Abdiel Diaz, and the other was Ivan Mendoza.

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