FINAL UPDATE: Thanks to protesters and activists, the Assembly didn't get to vote in the second debate about this monstrous law. Friday 11th the debate will continue, at 9AM. Various environmentalist groups as well as labor unions have already announced that they would continue their protest.
Long live the interwebs: Through Facebook and the live stream we're getting instant updates from environmental activists who have made their way into the National Assembly in an attempt to put an end to the "sausage law" that eliminates the need for environmental impact studies for Martinelli-approved projects; violates the workers' right to strike and gives the police total impunity for whatever crimes they commit.
Raisa Banfield, of CIAM Panama, just wrote that our "democratic representatives" refused to let in protesting workers outside (see picture) for "security reasons".
Aeve posted a note on its page denouncing the legistators, including those who "stick with the political carcass that is the PRD" for their gross violations of law, the constitution and civil rights.
We'll update here as the salami fest unfolds. You can watch the debate live through this link (although it seems to be down right now).
UPDATE: ELIMINATING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDIES MAY ENDANGER FINANCING OF PROJECTS, LOANS: We just learned that when former president Ernesto Perez Balladares introduced the concept of the Environmental Impact Study and ANAM, he did not do so for his love of nature, but because it was a condition for obtaining international financing and loans. So, what if these studies are eliminated and then Panama wants to obtain financing from, say, the BID to build a road or some other project?
And why has the director of ANAM, Javier Arías, been completely silent on the whole issue?
UPDATE 3: Former Arnulfo Arías bodyguard, Leoncio Portocarrero Lemos, goes off in an antisemitic rant on Facebook in defense of Martinelli and his policies, calling Isaac Eisenman a "son of a Jewish rat", says he hates "descendants of Jews and Arabs". Defends Martinelli policies saying that they make for a "better Panama" and that "undesired foreigners" who disagree should be deported.
UPDATE 4: Leandro Avila denounces government plans and fact that Assembly has been sealed off, nobody allowed in any more. Citizens report that they're turned back at gate.
UPDATE 5: Workers prevent Benicio Robinson from talking, chaos. Proposal by Freidi Torres to send law back to government rejected.
UPDATE 6: Civil society has been granted some speaking time, legislators make calls on cellphones and do other stuff instead of listening...
UPDATE 7: Yelling and screaming between legislators!
UPDATE 8: PRD in meeting with Assembly president Varela, seeking "consensus". Read: "How much?"
UPDATE 9: Civil Society gets kicked out of the Assembly, proposal to have them participate in debate rejected.
UPDATE 10: Varela orders recess because protesters won't leave, recess extended until tomorrow (friday) morning, 9 AM. Protesters chanting!
Developing, so check back!