Two environmentalists were shot dead by an enraged motorist as they blocked a road in the country of Panama to protest a mining company’s deal with the government there.
The motorist was infuriated after the protesters stopped traffic by standing in the middle of the road in the town of La Espig, Panama, on Tuesday, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported.
The tactic of blocking traffic has been used by radical environmentalists around the world, and it is beginning to see pushback from furious drivers who can’t get where they are going because of the disruption.
TVN Noticias in Panama said authorities arrested Kenneth Darlington, 77, and charged him with aggravated homicide against both people as well as illegal possession of firearms.
According to the Daily Mail, Darlington was born in Panama but also has U.S. citizenship.
The suspect, a retired professor who lives in the exclusive Paitilla district of Panama City, got stuck in the traffic when protesters put logs across a road and sat down in the street in protest.
Un hombre armado disparó este martes 7 de noviembre en una de las protestas contra un contrato minero que tiene lugar desde hace dos semanas en Panamá e hirió a dos personas que obstruían una vía, constató EFE en el lugar de los hechos. https://t.co/Y9tzW4gQQh pic.twitter.com/o3bySdjgsI
— La Prensa Panamá (@prensacom) November 7, 2023
Authorities said they have video and still photos of Darlington shooting and killing two protesters, both of whom were teachers.
Witnesses said the suspect yelled, “This ends here,” and began an argument with the protesters before opening fire on them, according to police.
This is Kenneth Darlington. He had enough. pic.twitter.com/lmgdRkTtPO
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) November 9, 2023
Officials said the video showed Darlington trying to clear the road, arguing with the demonstrators and demanding to talk to their leaders. Eventually, three men approached him and started to talk to him.
Someone yelled, “Why don’t you shoot?” Darlington took them up on the taunt, according to police.
La familia de una de las víctimas de la balacera en Chame querellará a Kenneth Darlington https://t.co/LcbEjeKlOF
— La Prensa Panamá (@prensacom) November 8, 2023
One street blocker, Abdiel Díaz Chávez, died at the scene, while a second, Iván Rodríguez Mendoza, 62, died en route to a local medical clinic.
Darlington was taken into custody by police at the scene.
#Detención | A solicitud de la Sección Especializada de Homicidio y Femicidio de Panamá Oeste, se decretó detención provisional a una persona imputada por homicidio agravado y posesión Ilícita de arma de fuego, por hecho ocurrido el 7 de noviembre de 2023, en Chame. pic.twitter.com/fRw6foBhdg
— Procuraduría General de la Nación (@PGN_PANAMA) November 8, 2023
Some media outlets in Panama said he could avoid jail time, if convicted, because of his age.
Panama has been suffering serious disruptions at the hands of environmentalists since the government made a 20-year deal with a Canadian mining concern to maintain operations of Central America’s biggest open-pit copper mine.
The mine, located in the Colón Province in central Panama, is a key supplier of copper for car batteries and an extremely important economic resource for Panama.
Panama has struggled to recover since the COVID-19 pandemic after its tourism industry was shut down, according to CNN. There also has been a fall in the number of ships traveling through the Panama Canal, causing a loss of some $200 million in revenue.
“We made the right decision, not the easiest one,” Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo said of the mining deal. “After a difficult and complicated negotiation for more than two years, a contract was agreed in 2023 between the company Minera Panama and the Panamanian State, which guarantees much better terms and conditions for the country.”
Environmentalists are upset about the open-pit mining operation because the mine is surrounded by rain forest and they maintain the mining will contaminate the area. Their protests have practically shut the country down over the last few weeks, causing even more hardship to the Panamanian people.
— TVN Noticias (@tvnnoticias) November 9, 2023
The tactic of blocking roadways is not helping any environmental cause. All the protesters are doing is turning people against them.
Motorists the world over have increasingly had enough of these fools and their blockades. There have been many instances of drivers banding together and dragging protesters off the road, along with threats of violence.
It was only a matter of time before there would be a confrontation that turned deadly.
These reckless protesters are putting themselves in a very dangerous situation while turning people against their cause.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.