PANAMA CITY (AP):
A curfew remained in place in the city of Colon yesterday after a boy was killed during violent protests Friday night. The protesters took to the streets over a new law allowing the sale of state-owned land in the duty-free zone next to the Panama Canal, authorities said.
The 10-year-old boy was shot once in the stomach and died at the hospital.
At least six other people were treated for gunshot wounds and several others for pellet wounds.
Anti-riot police used tear gas and fired into the air to disperse hundreds of people who burned tyres and threw objects at police in Colon's downtown.
The rioting came a few hours after the National Assembly approved legislation permitting the sale of land in the duty-free zone to private companies already leasing land there to handle the import and export of goods.
Protesters said the land is already being rented and it makes no sense to sell it. They said the government should instead raise the rent and invest the money in Colon, a poor and violent city.
The duty-free zone has about 2,000 companies that rent land and employ 30,000 people, according to authorities. The government estimates land sales could raise US$2 billion over the next 20 years.