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Panama repeals law to sell free port land near canal following protests

People-walk-past-barricades

People walk past barricades set on fire by demonstrators during a protest in downtown Colon, Panama on Tuesday.

Associated Press Enlarge

PANAMA CITY, Panama — Panama's government has repealed a measure to sell state-owned land in a duty-free zone along the Panama Canal following a week of sometimes violent protests.

Government spokesman Luis Eduardo Camacho says the government backtracked "to overcome intranquility" — a reference to protests that spread from the Atlantic port of Colon to Panama City on the Pacific. President Ricardo Martinelli signed the repeal decree on Sunday.

The government argued the land sales would create revenue for social projects in Colon. Protesters feared what might happen if private owners take over the area and complained about the likely loss of continuing revenue from the current lease system.

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