San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Fistfight breaks out in Panama’s Congress over privatization bill

A brawl broke out Tuesday in Panama’s Congress during a heated debate between lawmakers over a bill that would allow the state to sell its 49 percent of shares in telephone and energy companies, which are partially privatized.

The scuffle occurred when opposition lawmaker Raul Pineda, from the Democratic Revolutionary Party, slapped congressional Vice President Marcos González, from the ruling Democratic Change Party.

Opposition lawmakers had previously been sprayed with pepper spray by police outside the Congress, after a wrangling between legislators and police officers.

“We filmed a member of the police who pulled a gun on a member of our party,” said opposition lawmaker Alcibiades Vásquez, from the Panamanian Party.

On Monday, a session of Congress was also cancelled due to incidents caused by members of the audience who protested the plan to sell state shares.

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