Almost two weeks since the anti-neoliberal demonstrations began in Panama, protesters have declared that they will remain in the streets, and that they do not recognize the so-called dialogue that President Laurentino Cortizo is trying to hold.
On Friday, July 15, images and videos circulating in social media show pickets of workers, roadblocks and marches in provinces such as Colón, Chiriquí, Veraguas, as well as at various points in the country’s capital.
There are reports of roadblocks on the Inter-American highway by indigenous and peasant groups in Bocas del Toro, Chiriquí and Veraguas, as well as in Azuero and Pacora regions.
The anti-neoliberal protests began on July 6, organized by a range of groups and unions, fed up with the high cost of living, the rising costs of fuel and basic necessities, poverty, unemployment, housing deficit, corruption and other problems.
The largest organizations participating in the protests include the United People for Life Alliance, the National Alliance for the Rights of the Organized People (ANADEPO) and the Unitary Union of Construction and Associated Workers (SUNTRACS).
Como parte de FRENADESO asistiremos al encuentro de dirigentes pic.twitter.com/BZYv6HYpwX
— MoconaFB (@MoconaFB) July 15, 2022
Several unions of teachers and transport workers, the Ngäbe Buglé people, and all indigenous communities throughout the country are active participants.
Workers in Colón demand the government to convene a dialogue with the real representatives of the people, and not with delegates from organizations that are absent from the struggle or with officials and politicians known for their corruption.
The organizations and unions emphasize that they do not reject the path of dialogue, but they will not accept any dialogue imposed and conditioned by the government.
They object that at the negotiating table convened by the president on this Thursday, Alianza Pueblo Unidos por la Vida, ANADEPO, SUNTRACS and other organizations that embody popular sentiment were not represented.
The general secretary of the Association of Teachers (ASOPROF), Fernando Ábrego, denounced Cortizo for imposing conditions on participation of social movements in the dialogue: choice of mediator, topics to discuss, place, date and time. Ábrego clarified that the movement wants dialogue with social justice.
The ongoing protests have caused significant damage to the production of goods and services. According to calculations by the Center for Economic Studies of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), around $16 million dollars are being lost each day.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune