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Rioters protest legislation in Panama

Carlos Jasso / Reuters

A riot policeman fires tear gas during a protest against a new legislation, which allows for the sale of land in Panama's free trade zone of Colon, in Colon City, Panama, Oct. 19, 2012. According to local media, hundreds of demonstrators protested against draft law No. 529, blocking roads and burning tires in the city, claiming that selling the land will affect their jobs and revenue which the Colon free trade zone, one of the largest free ports in the Americas.

Carlos Jasso / Reuters

A protester stands at a road block in Colon City, Panama, Oct. 19.

Associated Press reports — Panama's anti-riot police used tear gas and fired into the air to disperse protesters in the Caribbean city of Colon who oppose a new law allowing the sale of state-owned land in the duty-free zone next to the Panama Canal.

Hundreds of protesters burned tires and threw objects at police in Colon's downtown, but began leaving the area after the confrontation with police. Local media say several people have been detained. Authorities haven't returned calls seeking comment.

Friday's rioting came a few hours after the National Assembly approved a law that allows land in the duty-free zone to be sold to private companies.

Protesters say the land is already being rented and it makes no sense to sell it.

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Carlos Jasso / Reuters

A demonstrator burns tires to block a road during a protest in Colon City, Panama, Oct. 19.

Carlos Jasso / Reuters

A family runs for shelter after tear gas was shot by riots police during a massive protest in Colon City, Panama, Oct. 19.

Carlos Jasso / Reuters

Police special forces take positions during a protest in Colon City, Panama, Oct. 19.