People In Colon Protesting Over Sales of Free Zone Land
Wednesday, October 17 2012 @ 12:54 PM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
At 7:00 am, a group of protesters closed the road in front of the sector Villa de Caribe, but 20 minutes later riot control officers from the National Police reopened the road and arrested 18 people.
Felipe Cabezas, a member of the Broad Colon Front demanded that the government "withdraw the project" and to sit down and talk in order to take the proposal to a referendum, or else they will continue the protest actions.
Also on the channel 2 TVN morning news none of the points supported by the Broad Colon Front had been taken into account, and although the Minister of Trade and Industry Ricardo Quijano, said there was "no rush" they have in fact demonstrated the opposite. Cabezas urged the people of Colon to protest while the issue still has not been resolved. He said tomorrow, Thursday, 18 October 2012, there will be a march from the Paulino San Jose church at 4:00 pm.
Meanwhile, another member of the Broad Colon Front, Mayte Garibaldi, said Colon has not received anything, from any administration, or royalties from the operation of the Colon Free Trade Zone, and she said the many social and infrastructure problems in the province are getting worse.
On Tuesday, October 16, the law was passed on third reading, with some modifications, including that 30% of the dividends from land sales will be directed to the people of Colon. The controversial law has been criticized by opposition parties, including Gloria Moreno de Lopez, the General Manager of the National Customs Authority, who said that Articles 42 and 43 of the project "seem to take from the institution the power to oversee everything that comes to, leaves from, or passes through the country."
Meanwhile, Samir Sayet, the Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce of Colon, said he disagrees with the sale of the land, because it is an asset that must be preserved.
The Vice President of Panama, who is also the President of the opposition Panameńista political party Juan Carlos Varela, doubted that the intention of President Martinelli is to use the proceeds of the land sale to benefit the people of Colon, and he said he disagreed with the sale of these assets, "at a time when the economy grows and the government has extra current income."
For his part, Minister of Trade and Industry, Ricardo Quijano, said that the bill is a good thing, because 30% of the dividends from the sale will go to the town of Colon.
The proposal, which was presented on Tuesday, October 9, by Quijano, amending Decree Law No. 18 of 17 June 1948, which created the Colon Free Zone, would allow for the sale of the land. (Estrella)