Panama Protests Update

(The Protests are OVER! See the update at the end of this message)

Nationwide protests have occurred in Panama since October 23rd because of a mining contract. Protesters want the mining contract, signed on October 20th, repealed.

The large open pit mine on the Caribbean side of Panama covers a vast area in the middle of a rainforest. Protesters claim the mine is destroying the environment. They are also upset that the new contract gives the mine the ability to mine in other areas in Panama, too. Protesters also claim that government corruption (kickbacks) was involved in rushing the mining contract through without transparency.

Cobre copper mine Panama

This is only the second time in 14 years that I have lived in Panama that there has been a nationwide protest. It is not something that happens regularly.

There is a lot of exaggerated and fake news circulating, mostly from drama queens in Panama and news sources outside of Panama.

One person commented, “My husband and I just watched your recording of yesterday’s video providing “boots-on-the-ground” coverage of the protests in the country. I wanted to thank you for taking such a calm and measured approach to the subject and allowing your audience to hear from residents first-hand. It was far and away more informative than the shrill and alarmist videos posted on…..” I won’t name the website, but it’s a lady who thrives on drama.

For accurate news about what’s happening in Panama, follow these Panama news sources on facebook, Instagram, or X:


TVN Noticias

Trafico Panama (live video of where the roadblocks are)


So, the video below will give you a “boots on the ground” account of what it’s like to live in Panama while these protests go on.

Protests are mostly peaceful, with large groups of people blocking roads and waving the Panama flag throughout Panama. Protests make it very difficult to travel around Panama. Protests have also caused people to miss doctor appointments or cancel trips to the beach or mountains because it was not possible to drive around Panama.

Protests in Panama City

The most affected by the protests were tourists hoping to travel around Panama. And businesses that offer tourist services have been severely affected.

Protests have also made it almost impossible for producers to get their products to market. Gasoline, propane, and other products are not delivered regularly because the roads are blocked.

Panama road block

Protesters announced two days in advance that they were going to protests so those living in areas that could be cut off could stock up on food, gas, propane, and medications. You never know if a protest will last 2 hours 2 days 2 weeks or longer.

Some remote areas like Bocas del Toro, Boca Chica, Las Lajas, and Pedasi have been more affected than others because deliveries are not getting through. Understand that if you live in these areas, supplies can be cut off if there is any protest.

Other remote areas like Rio Sereno, in Chiriqui Province, can quickly drive a few miles to Costa Rica to stock up.

The closer you live to Panama City, the less people have been affected.

It’s a good lesson to pick the area where you live wisely! Or at least be prepared to stock up when a protest is announced. There will always be tradeoffs.

Watch this video of expats sharing their experiences living in Panama during protests.

YouTube video

Since I moved to Panama, this is the largest protest I have seen. Protesters are united and determined to get the mining contract repealed or at least drastically changed.

Many lawsuits have been filed with the Supreme Court claiming the mining contract is unconstitutional.


Here’s an overview of the back story about the protests.

For more than 30 days, protests have occurred in Panama about a mining contract and a new mining Law. Roads were blocked throughout Panama. The roadblocks created shortages of gas, propane, and some food in Chiriqui Province and Bocas del Toro, but the rest of the country did not have shortages of anything except fresh produce. Panama City are the Coronado area were the least affected.

The blocked roads made it impossible to travel around Panama by car or bus. We had to cancel a few Panama Relocation Tours because of the protests.

The contract gave a Canadian mining company a new concession (lease) to mine several areas for 20 years with the right to renew the contract for 20 more years.

The company has already been mining in Panama for many years and has a substantial investment in mining in Panama. The mine created 7,000 jobs for Panamanians.

However, protesters demanded that the contract and Law be repealed, and the mine be closed. The protesters said they don’t want any mining in Panama.

Remember that Panama is a small country with stunning natural beauty and a rich, biodiverse region. Panama is considered one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, with over 10,000 plant species, more than 200 mammal species, and over 900 indigenous bird species.

The mining contract was approved quickly (rushed through) and signed into Law 406 on October 20th. This also created suspicions about potential government corruption.

Protesters announced the plan to protest on October 21st and started protests in full force by October 23rd.

Several lawyers filed lawsuits claiming that the contract was unconstitutional.

At first, the National Assembly (like Congress) was tasked with reviewing the contract, and the law was passed to allow mining. But they said they could not repeal the contract or the Law, so it was sent to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court in Panama reviewed the contract and, on November 28th, determined that the contract did, in fact, violate the Panama Constitution in at least 25 points. This made the mining contract invalid.

The mine has suspended operations and will close.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, some groups still blocked roads in Santiago and east of David in Chiriqui Province.

But, after the Supreme Court ruling was officially filed in public records, the protests and roadblocks finally STOPPED.

Some people who lost their mining jobs protested in Panama City yesterday but were not blocking roads.

Yesterday, the Minister of Commerce, who crafted the mining contract, resigned. Others will probably be forced to resign over the mining contract.

Unfortunately, some people got so frustrated that they lost their cool during the protests. Four protesters’ lives were lost to violence. But, for the most part, the protests were peaceful.

It’s also most unfortunate that some ex-pats created hysteria and drama about the situation, which caused undue stress, panic, and grief among other ex-pats in Panama. There is no doubt that the drama queens made a bad situation much, much worse.

There are simple things you can do to prepare if a protest is announced. Just like you would prepare if a hurricane were coming your way. The most important thing you can do is keep your cool and not spread rumors or speculation! Be patient!

Protests happen throughout Latin America. It’s the only way that “the people” can get their voices heard. Protests are usually small groups that block a road for a few hours because they want the government to do, or not do, something.

In Panama, protests are RARELY nationwide and rarely are multiple organizations protesting together to block roads for days or weeks. This is only the second time since I moved to Panama that a nationwide protest has happened.

I’m glad the protests are over!

Life is back to normal in Panama!

Come see how you can LIVE BETTER for LESS in Panama!

panama flag
Viva Panama!


Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

Reader Interactions


  1. Vivian says

    I just purchased my home in a gated community in Juan Diaz. I love it. I’m closer to the airport. No plane noice. I’m close to most super markets. I’m about 30 minutes or less from the Mall, and about 30 to 40 minutes from the US Embassy if I’m not mistaken. I just 😊 happy that I’m back home.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Vivian, thanks for your report from Juan Diaz near Panama City.

  2. Brian Replogle says

    We live in Alto Boquete. Protests have been periodic. What we have seen have been peaceful. Went to David, Pricesmart yesterday…. no issues on the road there and back. We are laying low and conserving our fuel. We can walk to stores. We have been able to find what we need. Fuel is not available. Praying for a peaceful resolution to all Panamanians.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Brian, thanks for your report from Alto Boquete!

  3. Blenda and Raymond Pilon says

    After finishing our PRT less than a month ago, my husband and I were not adequately prepared for the protests. We had less than a quarter tank of gas, half or less of a tank of propane, and some shortages of food products. Literally still moving into our rented home, our new landlords wasted no time in helping us. Being short of propane for showers and cooking, they bought us an air fryer and a barbecue hot plate for cooking. They have also done errands thus saving us on gas.
    Both my husband and I are so happy to arrive in Panama at this time. We are honored to be present to observe a new way of achieving justice. How honored we feel is exemplified by 2 Panamanian women who were talking together in the sales office where we purchased our newly acquired car. One of the young women said, “Regarding the coppermine contract, we will fight until we get justice.” My husband replied, “Are you planning on being violent?” Both women looked at my husband strangely and replied in a stern voice: “We are never violent. We only fight with all our hearts. In this we are united. Our goal is to get what is good for our people, our country.” I almost fell backward in pleasant shock. What a difference from the violent history of most countries. Even as fledging expats, my husband and I are glad to support the people of Panama in their relentless display of courage and patience in order to ensure victory, peace, and a good life for all Panamanians.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Blenda and RAymond. Welcome to the Panama WAY! Even with protests, it’s such a refreshing environment!

  4. Mary Taft says

    We have lived in the mountains above Boquete for more than 5 years, so we had plenty of time to modify our household for security and sustainability. Our house has 2 100 lb propane tanks, off grid solar, and electric dryer. We always keep a large supply of frozen food on hand. I drive a hybrid with excellent mileage. At the first sign of trouble we gassed up our cars. So we were ready for the disruption.

    In September I had a hip replacement that resulted in a broken femur, so I am disabled at the moment and going through a very long recovery. When the protests began, I switched care to my local PCP and physical therapist in town. The transition was seamless. My PCP talks with me by video chat. The PT office talks with the orthopedist in David, so care is coordinated. It’s working well.

    We have had no trouble getting food or supplies. We go to our local chino mini-super and the smaller places less frequented by expats.

    Rather than getting freaked out about the protests, I am taking a deep dive into the political dynamics of the country, the constitution, and the history of mining in Panamá. I am learning why these protests are happening the way they are. This is an opportunity to learn. We cannot always control what happens around us, but we can control our reaction to it.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Mary, Thanks for your report about what’s going on in your area above Boquete. I’m glad your recovery is going well. The protests was announced two days in advance so there was ample time for everyone to prepare. You’re so right that it does no good to freak out about the situation, you just have to roll with it. It’s so sad that some expat youtubers are creating hysteria and so much drama over the situation.

      In Article 38 of the Panama Constitution, “All inhabitants of the Republic have the right to assemble peacefully, without arms, for lawful ends. Public demonstrations or gatherings in open air are not subject to permission. Only previous notification of the local Administrative Authorities, twenty four hours in advance, is required to hold such gatherings.

      Authorities may take Police action to prevent or restrain abuse of this right, when the form in which it is exercised causes, or may cause, traffic disturbances, breach of the peace, or violation of the rights of others.”

      So you might wonder why the police is not not preventing roadblocks. I think it was in 2012 or 2013, there was a road block near San Felix. The police tried to forcibly break it up and fighting broke out. Some people were shot.

      My guess is that the police are not preventing the road blocks because they don’t want violence and fighting to break out.

  5. Roger Faulkner says

    Hi Jackie,

    My wife, son, daughter in law, daughter and I have planned a trip to visit our family in Panama, December 2nd to the 17th. This will be my daughter in law first trip to Panama. We are concerned we will not be able to show her much of Panama due to the recent protests. We will be staying with family in Chanis in Panama City. Most of what we were planning involves Panama City, Causeway, Casco Viejo, Locks, Gamboa etc. We had planned a week in RIU after Mother’s Day from December 11th through the 15th. I am wondering if we should postpone and wait for a better time like next year to visit? Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Your website and info shared so far has been great. Thanks!

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Roger. Hopefully the protests will be over long before your December trip. If they are not, you should postpone your trip.

  6. Lisbeth Fong says

    Hi Jackie,

    I have a planned trip to Panama. I will stay in Panama City. I do have a trip planned to Bocas del Toro and planning on flying to Bocas via Air Panama (Dec 26 – 29). And like others? I am concern about the disruptions of the protests, lack of fuel and supplies. Please provide your thoughts on cancelling the trip.

    Thank you,

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello Lisbeth. Hopefully the protests will be long over by them.

  7. Nick says

    Hi Jackie,
    We have a trip planned to Panama on Wednesday (mostly in Panama City). However, we had also planned on flying to Bocas del Toro from November 17-20 before returning to Panama City. Are the disruptions still serious enough that we should cancel the Bocas del Toro portion? Should we cancel the entire Panama City portion as well? Thanks for any insights!

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello. Panama City has not been affected by the protests much at all. Don’t cancel that part of your trip.

      I would advise that you postpone your trip to Bocas del Toro until the protests are over. In bocas, there is very little propane or gasoline. And there are some food shortages in Bocas.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *