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Panama between new social protests and extended dialogue

Written by ebookingservices

New demonstrations of rejection of the Government’s breaches of commitments made in a long single dialogue table with social organizations marked the news week that concludes today in Panama.

The protests spread through several provinces demanding that the Executive abide by and ensure the supply and price reduction of some 72 products of the basic family basket, access to subsidized fuel for other actors such as fishermen and farmers; and the availability of cheap drugs.

Diverse unions of builders, teachers, indigenous people, peasants and university students staged partial closures of avenues and rallies to also demand the reduction of electricity rates and improvements to the educational sector.

Regarding the conversations that began on July 21 with the Catholic Church as a facilitator, one of the spokespersons for the groups, Saúl Méndez, specified that the people returned to the streets to demand concrete responses to their needs, which the Executive evades in these talks.

He also denounced that private businessmen blackmail and threaten with the shortage of the markets and there has even been evidence of hoarding of rice, which should be penalized.

The dialogue, which hardly addresses the issue of the Social Security Fund (CSS), has been slowed down by complaints about irregularities in previous agreements on food, fuel, medicine and electricity rates.

Another of the leaders of the unions, Fernando Castañeda, from the Association of Physicians, Odontologists and Related Professionals of the CSS, said that how can we continue if in the National Assembly (parliament) we have heard that an additional 123 million dollars were approved for its budget, but nothing has been said about the percentage of gross domestic product for education.

He also said that “we want to talk about social security but the only health issue that has been touched on is medication and it was done in a commission where the businessmen are, but it turns out that the small pharmacies assure that they will disappear.”

For his part, the general secretary of the National Confederation of Independent Trade Unions, Marco Andrade, asserted that a similar scenario created the Government in 2005, but brought about the current irregularities, waste and mismanagement of the only existing public health service agency and on which the maintenance of retirees and pensioners depends.

Andrade asked the Executive to deliver the reports and data offered by the Executive to the International Labor Organization -which they deny to the unions-, on whose audit results decisions in relation to one of the key programs depend: that of Disability , Old age and Death.

In the last seven days, the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) of Panama declared unconstitutional a resolution that endorsed the electoral jurisdiction for the benefit of former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), accused in a money laundering process.

In this way, the ruler could face trial for the New Business case, an investigation that dates back to 2017 on the commission of a crime against the economic order for the irregular purchase of a media conglomerate.

By: Mario Hubert Garrido


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