(Bloomberg) -- Hundreds of Panamanian construction workers staged a demonstration at a shuttered copper mine that has become the subject of nationalistic sentiment in the Central American nation.

Members of the Suntracs union waved flags at the entrance to the mine operated by Canada’s First Quantum Minerals Ltd. and hung a giant sign across the main gate that read: “This is sovereign territory” on Tuesday. One worker wrapped a chain around the gates and padlocked them shut.  

Suntracs, which played a key role in protests that led to the mine’s closure late last year, planned the demonstration to coincide with Martyrs’ Day, which commemorates anti-US riots in 1964 over sovereignty of the Panama Canal. 

Head of the union, Saul Mendez, said at the demonstration workers will remain vigilant and ensure the mine remains permanently closed, even after Panama’s presidential election in May. He called on members to support independent candidate Maribel Gordon, who has consistently opposed the mine. She is currently polling last. 

“The economic powers-that-be have already chosen their candidates, and the mining company First Quantum is betting on the fact that one of those candidates will let them stay in the country,” Mendez said. “What they aren’t betting on is that the people are willing to hit the streets again, and as many times as necessary, so that Panama doesn’t allow metal mining.”

Read More: First Quantum Calls on Panama to Prevent Violence at Closed Mine

The demonstration is the latest sign of the role played by resource nationalism in the shutdown of the Cobre Panama mine. A process to extend its operating contract sparked street protests, a withdrawal of government support and a Supreme Court ban — all in the lead-up to general elections in May.

Both First Quantum and a separate union of mine workers have called on security forces to prevent unrest at the mine site, where the Vancouver-based company still has some workers and installations.

Separately, Suntracs is staging protests in Panama’s capital city and several provinces over the closing of union bank accounts. The union didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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