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Violence mars Panama protest

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 00:44

Oct. 23 - Police in Panama's port city of Colon clash with protesters at a demo against a controversial law that allows for the sale of state-owned land in Panama Canal's duty-free zone. Rough cut (no reporter narration).

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(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Gunshots rang out in the Panamanian city of Colon on Monday (October 22) as a demonstration over government legislation allowing for the sale of state-owned land near the Panama Canal turned violent. Civilians and demonstrators rushed for cover as police fired gunshots to disperse protesters who had blocked roads in Colon. The latest round of violence follows days of protests in the port city after Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli ratified the 529 reform law last week that paves the way for land in Panama's duty-free zone to be sold to private companies. Slamming the violent crackdown on the protests by police, former Colon mayor Alcibiades Gonzalez vowed to continue demonstrating until the controversial legislation was overturned. According to local media, similar protests in Colon last week left as many as three dead, including a nine-year-old boy, and wounded 16 people. Authorities also reported several police officers were injured in the clashes. The sale of state land in the Colon Free Trade Zone, the largest such region in the Americas, is a tenuous issue with protesters arguing plans to sell property will ruin local businesses that employ an estimated 30,000 people. Panama's government says the sale of the land will yield greater revenues than continuing to lease it, which brings in about $33 million per year.

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Violence mars Panama protest

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 00:44