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Tuesday, July 29 2014 @ 04:40 AM EDT

Labor Minister Cortez Breaks Her Silence On Bocas del Toro Clashes

Protests & DemonstrationsAfter keeping silent for more than three months, Panama's Labor Minister, Alma Cortes, lashed out again against the labor unions, accusing them of having planned, in advance, the strike against Law 30 and, and she also accused the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) of financing the strikes. This reaction by Cortez comes after the presentation of two reports: the first by the Special Commission, and the second by the Ombudsman, both of which say the cause of the strikes in Bocas del Toro was the adoption of the controversial Law 30 by the Government. However, Cortez said the strikes had been planned for a long time, and she said no one would have been able to organize and mobilize so many farms, including trucks loaded with stones to throw at the police and with Molotov cocktails prepared in just a couple of days, taking into account that Changuinola is a mountainous area. "Someone had to have used a lot of money to finance the mobilization and the media, because there was much propaganda to demonize Law 30, misinforming the population," she said. "PRD lawmakers and party leaders participated in the strike. During the last visit we found Francisco Sanchez Cardenas and Mitchell Doens in Changuinola, two leaders of this group," said Cortez. Cortez added when she flew back to Panama City, Reynaldo Rivera, a leader of the PRD political party was on the plane with her, as well as members of the Union of Construction Workers and Allied Workers (SUNTRACS) who were advising both unions Sitrachilco (Puerto Armuelles) and Sitraibana (Changuinola).

However, the report submitted by the Special Commission appointed by the administration of Ricardo Martinelli to investigate the facts of Bocas del Toro stressed that the intervention of the Minister CortÚs, instead of tempering the mood of the workers, caused them to become even more agitated.

CALL TO SANCHEZ CARDENAS: PRD leader, Francisco Sanchez Cardenas, was called to sustain the complaint he filed over the recording of his telephone conversations, allegedly made during the strike in Changuinola. Sanchez Cardenas said that the tone of this government is in trying to say the law they passed was a good one, when all of the people rejected it. He said Cortes was charged with the task of improving the mood in Bocas del Toro, and she is one of those responsible, together with the rest of the government, for the situation getting out of control.

Law 30 was adopted on June 16. The adoption of the new law resulted in clashes in Bocas del Toro that left more than 700 wounded and two people dead. The report of the Special Commission says there were two more deaths, and the report from the Ombudsman says five children died from tear gas. (El Siglo)

Editor's Comment: At this point I don't think there's any doubt that the SUNTRACS labor union leaders co-opted the two banana unions, and the PRD leadership provided the funding to really get the strikes going. The SUNTRACS and PRD are now working together against their common enemy, Ricardo Martinelli. Did I mention that the SUNTRACS is starting their own political party and they intend to run a candidate for president in 2014? Did you know that ex-president Martin Torrijos is a Member of the Commission for a Sustainable World Society of the Socialist International organization? Have no doubt, this is a right vs. left struggle - with the PRD and SUNTRACS firmly on the (far) left, and Ricardo Martinelli center-right (populist.) Interesting mix of characters, scenario, setting, economics, social policy, etc.

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