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Fists fly in Panama's congress

Check out what happened earlier today in Panama's Congress. What started out as shouting, shoving of chairs and arm waving turned into something more serious. Raul Pineda, a deputy from the leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party, rose to the speaker's platform, whacked something that looked like a can in front of the session leader, then started pushing him down. Quite a scene.

And it only got worse. When sparring between legislators continued outside the building, riot police were called in. They used pepper spray to break up squabbling lawmakers. At one point, angry legislators pushed down a metal fence outside Congress.

President Ricardo Martinelli late in the day withdrew a proposal to sell shares in the electric and telephone utilities, which opposition lawmakers claimed was irregular. Martinelli also wants to name three new judges to the Supreme Court, in which case eight of the 12 judges would owe their jobs to him.


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This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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