(CNN Spanish) — Panama adds more than a week of protests and blockades whose effects are beginning to be felt strongly in the country due to road closures and social tension. And everything seems to indicate that the situation could worsen because the dialogue does not finish curdling. President Laurentino Cortizo set up a dialogue table at the City of Knowledge, in the country’s capital, but the main protest groups did not make it to the meeting on Thursday. This Friday the dialogue table resumes, but there is a new day of demonstrations in various parts of the country.
The Government called for dialogue with organized groups, associations and representative movements that have been demonstrating in various parts of the country in recent days, with the Catholic Church as mediator. However, the Association of Educators from Veragüenses (AEVE) and the National Alliance for the Rights of the Organized People (Anadepo) “rejected” and “delegitimized” the dialogue table and called for a new mobilization in Santiago de Veraguas.
The teachers were the first to take to the streets to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the living conditions in the country and Cortizo’s management, but later other groups joined, such as indigenous people, construction sector employees or construction workers. health.
President Laurentino Cortizo announced a freeze on the price of fuel for private vehicles at the national level that comes into force this Friday.
The reason for the protests in Panama
One of the triggers for the protests was that the price of gasoline exceeded US$6 per gallon.
The Panamanians who are in the streets now have many more demands and are asking that the gallon be left at US$3, that a job creation policy be created, that the salaries of high public officials be lowered, that the privileges of government officials.
The Government has already announced a series of measures to try to placate the protest, but the protesters consider them insufficient and the shortages are beginning to be noticed in the country’s stores.
The Government of Panama approved this week new measures that seek to provide economic relief to society by freezing the price of gasoline, assigning a price cap to a dozen more products in the basic basket, and implementing 10 austerity measures. in addition to those previously executed, the Presidency reported on Wednesday in a statement.
The Cabinet Council of Panama approved the measures to “stop the increase in the basic basket and ensure food supply.”
Among the approved measures is the “price control of 10 products of the basic food basket,” as well as the “modification of the Panama Canal tolls,” among others, the presidency explained in another statement.
The Government also seeks to establish “a process of reducing the state payroll by 10%; the beginning of a voluntary retirement program for public sector employees; the suspension of salary increases, except those established by law.”
Cortizo said Thursday that there are “infiltrated politicians” in the protests: “Protests are part of democracies, but they should not harm us. I am the president of this country. I receive a lot of information. There are some people, infiltrated politicians in these movements that are good movements, but they are being contaminated by some politicians with bad intentions”.
With information from Elizabeth González, Fernando del Rincón, Marlon Sorto and Ana Cucalón