Dialogue between government and protesters in Panama continued for the second day on July 22, discussing the cost of the basic food basket, one of the main causes of the protests that have rocked the country over the past three weeks.
The protest leaders proposed a reduction of 30% of prices of the items of the basic food basket, while the government proposed a 15% cut, as well as including 17 more products in the price control scheme. This would take the list to a total of 35 products.
There was also a discussion for creating a committe on price control to follow up on the issue. Government representatives said that, in any case, the responsibility to ensure these issues would fall on the authority for consumer protection and defense of competition (ACODECO).
Meanwhile, posts and videos circulating on social media show empty shelves in supermarkets and grocery stores.
Protesters in Panama take control of the Pan-American highway at Santiago de Veraguas, expressing rejection of the government's repression against the people, two weeks into mobilizations over the economic crisis. pic.twitter.com/Rr7RiZrX98
— Kawsachun News (@KawsachunNews) July 20, 2022
The government’s new proposal to include 17 price-regulated products in the basic family basket did not meet the expectations of some groups participating in the negotiations going on in Penonomé, Coclé province.
The products whose price would be regulated include soybean oil, vegetable oil, canned fish preparations, wheat flour, bread and bakery products, creams, corn, coffee, and sugar.
Some imported products were also proposed to be included in that list: toothpaste, toilet paper, bath soap, sanitary napkins, deodorants and bleach.
Jornada de protesta deja herido a dirigente estudiantil en la cabeza y piernas, en la universidad de Panamá.
La policía bastarda le disparó directo a la cara#ACAB #estudiantesPanama pic.twitter.com/aIYAOnrgRS
— Enteracamoteyke! (@lapaulalajavy) July 8, 2022
According to economist Maribel Gordón, who is a member of the dialogue round-table, the proposal presented by the government is far from meeting the necessities of the Panamanian people.
Gordón explained that a million Panamanians go to bed without dinner everyday, and added that providing a basic basket which does not include healthy products would further deteriorate the situation of nutrition of the people.
Mismanagement and neoliberal rule prioritizing the interest of the elites are behind the causes of social unrest not only in Panama but in many other countries, also impacted by the pandemic and the boomerang effect of US and European sanctions against Russia.
In the central province of Coclé, with the Catholic Church as mediator, high-ranking government authorities are participating in the talks, led by the country’s Vice President José Gabriel Carrizo. Many in the protest leadership question the absence of President Laurentino Cortizo in the dialogue table.
The protesters and the government have agreed on eight priority issues for these dialogue, among which the main point is the high prices of the basic family basket and fuel, medicine and electricity.
The talks are going on amid road blockades and manifestations and repressive actions by the National Police against protesters in the provinces of Veraguas and Panama East, which put the continuity of the negotiations at risk.
(Telesur) with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune