Panama: Youth and the People also Spoke Clearly – No to Constitutional Reforms Package!

Two weeks of mobilizations, starting from the great university march, followed by massive and combative self-convened student and youth mobilizations have shaken Panama, in sequence with the social upheavals that have been happening in other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, such as Ecuador, Chile, Haiti and Honduras …

For the “Polo Ciudadano”, a group of the Panamanian left, these mobilizations in the country of the Central American isthmus and the transoceanic canal, “leave no doubt: youth and the people reject the package of constitutional reforms that the Legislative Assembly in conjunction with the Executive and the business sectors of the Chamber of Commerce and the APEDE intends to pass.” This is stated in a recent statement issued in Panama on November 2, entitled “Youth and the people spoke clearly: No to the package of constitutional reforms.”

Broad social forces have mobilized to repudiate these constitutional reforms, considered by the sectors that protest as “anti-democratic and anti-popular.” The scene of this struggle has been massively nourished by various organizations that have appeared before the Assembly, among which are all levels of the University of Panama, and other public universities such as UTP; labor unions, from CONATO to CONUSI; professional associations; and, above all, young people, university students, including private universities such as the USMA, and high school students.

The mobilizations have reached the provincial capitals, such as David, Santiago, Penonomé and Las Tablas, in which the most diverse popular and youth sectors have clearly said: No to the unconsulted reforms!

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The protagonists have been the young people, who have gone to the streets not only to repudiate the reforms, but to demand respect for the diversity of cultural and gender identities of the country, before the insults uttered by deputies, according to the source that comments on the events, “lacking the minimum rules of urbanity and education”. To which they respond that, “In the face of cultural backwardness, disrespect, insults and “chabacanería” of deputies who seem and act as thugs, whose acts question their moral values showing their true face, Panamanian youth is giving lessons in civics, democracy and dignity.”

To the question of what has been the government’s response, they answer that this has been “the harsh and pure repression … Gas, pellets, beatings, arrests and prosecutions.” But, they say that the repression has not frightened them, but quite the opposite, it has served as an incentive for mobilization because, as the young people say: we are more and we are not afraid! ”

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Young people have been the forefront of the latest protests in Panama Credit: EFE

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The night of November 1, when it was rumored in the media that President Laurentino Cortizo would make a speech to suspend the package and convene a constituent assembly, popular disappointment was widespread, so they conclude that “Cortizo is unable to leave the electoral slogans, empty phrases that hide the deeply antipopular character of his government.”

Within the framework of this situation, they make a call to the Panamanian people: The struggle continues! They affirm that the struggle is “until defeating the package of constitutional reforms that is illegitimate, because it was produced by two organizations that lack the popular mandate for that task: the Concertación and the Legislative Assembly”.

They insist that this will be the case because “the reforms are inconsistent, the people want greater participation,” “the reforms are unpopular,” “the already lean democratic and social rights of the Panamanian people are injured,” and because these reforms, for the Democratic Pole, “do not change the corrupt and antidemocratic essence of the Panamanian political regime.”

Source URL: Aporrea

Translated by JRE/EF

Panama: Youth and the People also Spoke Clearly - No to Constitutional Reforms Package!