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Social dialogue resumes in Panama amid complex scenario

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The conversations that began on July 21 in the province of Coclé with the Catholic Church as facilitator resume sessions to discuss transparency and corruption, but with the prelude to new street demonstrations due to the Executive’s failure to comply with the first consensus.

Saúl Méndez, one of the spokespersons for the popular groups, told Prensa Latina that there are complaints that the discounts of several of the 72 agreed products of the basic basket are not being complied with and there are irregularities in the dispatch of subsidized fuel to 3, $25 a gallon (3.78 liters).

The also general secretary of the National Single Union of Workers in the Construction Industry and Similar, protagonist among other groups of road closures and rallies the day before, specified that the business union resists the regulation of prices, raises them and threatens with the shortage of food and other supplies in the markets.

On the other hand, he specified about the 170 medicines that the Executive announced would reduce 30 percent of their current price, it is an insufficient measure if one takes into account, he said, that the distributors obtain up to 600 percent of profits.

The people are resentful of lies and of not being able to access basic things, which is why they returned to the streets to demand social justice, he asserted.

He also pointed out that they will request the Attorney General of the Nation to open proceedings against businessmen who hoard food to the detriment of the population, in addition to not abiding by the provisions signed at the table.

Other popular leaders demand concrete answers from the Executive, among them the definitive reduction of the electricity tariff, whose debate was postponed due to differences between the parties and lack of political will to react to what the people demand.

In the opinion of the coordinator of the National Front for Economic and Social Rights, Jorge Guzmán, the appearance in the media of representatives of the Executive at the table who assure that they have complied and that the people do not have the right to demonstrate in the streets is harmful. .

For those officials, among whom he mentioned the Vice Minister of Agricultural Development, Carlos Rognoni; and to the director of the Social Security Fund (CSS), Enrique Lau, “to comply is to sign an act to turn your back and then let businessmen do whatever they want,” he added.

The government, for its part, maintains that the road closures are not justified while the talks are taking place, which are being resumed after a five-day break.

The last four pending issues of a list of eight considered priorities have to do with the reduction of the electricity rate; the financial situation of the social security program and how to deal with corruption.

The business sector also demands to be included in the dialogue.

The day before, the Council of the National Concertation for Development, established by law, also met to discuss the situation the country is going through as a result of social discontent due to the high cost of living.

In this regard, the president of the National Council of Private Enterprise, Rubén Castillo, affirmed that it is not a parallel dialogue to the table that takes place in Penonomé -where criteria are imposed-, for which the indicated forum is that of the Concertación National, he noted.

In that appointment, the Vice Minister of Labor and Labor Development, Roger Tejada, questioned the street demonstrations on Wednesday and announced that through a note they will submit a proposal to Monsignor, José Domingo Ulloa, to bring the single table of dialogue to the Council of the Agreement for Development established in Panama, when it is in the second phase.

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