This Friday morning, fifteen fuel tankers from Costa Rica crossed into Panama, as reported by local media. This event unfolded against the backdrop of a severe fuel and goods shortage in the neighboring nation, attributed to ongoing protests featuring street blockades over the past three weeks.
The protests were ignited by public outrage following the approval of a contentious contract between the Panamanian government and the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals (FQM). FQM operates the largest copper mine in Central America, situated in the Panamanian Caribbean.
The convoy of trucks, under police protection, entered Panamanian soil in the early hours of the morning. Telemetro channel’s report indicated that the 15 tankers carried diesel and gasoline, subsequently distributed to 23 service stations in the province of Chiriqui.
To curb speculation, fuel is being sold at $1.04 per liter, a stark contrast to the prices that had soared over $7 per liter in the preceding days.
The Chamber of Commerce of Chiriqui and the Energy Secretariat coordinated the arrival of the fuel from Costa Rica, as mentioned in the Telemetro report. The tankers were escorted by firefighters and police, leading to long queues at various stations as hundreds of drivers rushed to refill.
Telemetro also highlighted a recent incident involving contraband fuel from Costa Rica entering Panama in unsuitable conditions for handling.
Responding to the crisis, Recope confirmed the shipment of fuel to Panama, emphasizing their “sufficient inventory to supply all service stations in Costa Rica.” The company expressed solidarity by offering assistance to Panama during this challenging time.
In a separate development, Panama’s police announced their intention to use all “necessary force” to clear blocked roads and restore order after nearly three weeks of protests against the controversial mine.
Commissioner Elmer Caballero stated that the force would be employed to ensure the well-being of all citizens, acknowledging the shortages recorded in several cities.
The announcement followed a plea from business leaders urging President Laurentino Cortizo to take a “firm and forceful stance” to end the blockades that commenced on October 20.
The situation escalated on Tuesday when an individual fired at a blockade on the outskirts of the capital, resulting in the tragic death of two protesters, both teachers. A march demanding justice for the victims occurred on Thursday, while the 77-year-old accused shooter, a Panamanian lawyer with dual citizenship, remains in custody.