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Wednesday, September 03 2014 @ 02:59 AM EDT

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Either It's Over, or It's The Eye Of The Storm - 9:54 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Right now it looks like the riot police strategy of entering into the construction sites to arrest everyone throwing stones and blocking streets is working. They have managed to reopen most of the city to traffic. There are no reports of conflicts right now, and it appears the police have simply decided not to confront the workers in Punta Pacifica that have closed the Southern Corridor. At this moment there is a period of calm as the SUNTRACS leadership meets with the Labor Minister and CAPAC at the Defensoria del Pueblo on Calle 50.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Paitilla and Winston Churchill Sit-Rep - 9:44 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Here's a situation report (sit-rep) from a reader: "Winston Churchill is blocked by police. A bus just took away some 20-25 arrestees. Traffic is moving but very light on Balboa. Workers at The Pointe building have retreated back to their site from areas around Paitilla Inn. No sign of police presence near the bldg as yet." Got it, thanks... (For now I'm keeping everyone who sends in updates anonymous until and unless you let me know otherwise.)

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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SUNTRACS Leaders Now in Defensoria del Pueblo

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Right now the leadership of the SUNTRACS labor union have arrived at the offices of the Defensoria del Pueblo on Calle 50 to meet with representatives from the Panamanian government and the Panamanian Construction Board (CAPAC.) The Defensoria del Pueblo is a human rights organization designed to protect the rights of citizens who accuse the government of violating their rights. The SUNTRACS leadership has a list of ten demands they will present to the government reps.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Expect College Students and CSS Later on Transistmica

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - If this goes the way it did on Wednesday, then later today university students and the administrative workers from the Office of Social Security will come out later to close Transistmica near the University of Panama. That has not happened yet, but it most likely will.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Internal Lines of Communication - 9:22 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The protesting SUNTRACS workers are using "internal lines of communication" to successfully out maneuver riot police in the area of Paitilla somewhat. The police go one way, and they go the other. On TVN 2 a viewer called in with a report and wanted to know why the police don't have a helicopter to be able to get an overview of the city to be better able to identify, find, and arrest the people who are coordinating the actions of the protesters on the ground. Good question...

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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One Construction Worker Injured on Via Israel - 9:16 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Apparently the situation on Via Israel near the Atlapa Convention Center has been brought under control by riot police. There was one construction worker taken out of the building with injuries to his head and leg. The rest of the people in that particular building had already been arrested and taken away. Conflicts continue in the area of the Plaza Paitilla Inn on Winston Churchill Ave. About 30 workers have been arrested in that area, and the tension has gone down somewhat.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Still No Response in Punta Pacifica - 9:09 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Protesters in Punta Pacifica remain in control of the Southern Corridor and the highway is closed. So far police riot control units have not responded to the area and there have been no conflicts between police and protesters. This is the part of the city closed reflected in the pictures I just posted from a reader.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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A Few Pictures from Punta Pacifica

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Here are a few photos sent in by a reader from the area of Punta Pacifica showing the Southern Corridor closed, with no police presence. The most recent report indicates riot police might be starting to arrive in the area.

(Photos Below)

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Transistmica from San Miguelito Now Reopened - 8:57 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The strikes and protests are calming down and streets are being reopened in some areas. There is a huge traffic jam of people who were caught trying to get to work and that is just now starting to get untangled. Many people have already spent more than 2 hours sitting in their cars.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Southern Corridor Still Closed - No Police Response Yet 8:51 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Approximately 100 protesting SUNTRACS workers in the area of Punta Pacifica have blocked the Southern Corridor. Using the same tactics they used two days ago, they have pushed some of the heavy cement dividing blocks into the different lanes of the road. So far there has been no response from riot police, and the workers are just basically sitting around waiting for them. (Thanks for the update.)

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Please Send Quick Updates Via Email - And Thanks...

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - When these kinds of situations develop please just blast me short little updates via email with a quick description of what you can see from your "perch" even if it's "all quiet." I just need to know about where you live (neighborhood) and what you can see. If there is some kind of action or conflict try to grab some pictures and send them. If I don't get right back to you don't worry about it, and just keep the info coming and I'll turn it around. And, thanks again, guys. (You know who you are...)

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Bird Shot, Rubber Bullers, Tear Gas, and Zipcuffs - 8:39 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Panamanian riot police are demonstrating their newest tactics to respond to these kinds of protests. When the protesting construction workers pull back into the building (where they were supposed to be working), the riot police penetrate the circumference of the building and secure the ground floor. Then they go up the building and clear it floor by floor, shooting tear gas, bird shot, and rubber bullets as they go. Once the workers give up, they are arrested and hauled away to be processed. This is exactly what they just did to control the situation near Atlapa. The riot police forces are in their most exposed position as they approach the building and before they penetrate the security circumference of the building because the construction workers can rain bricks down on their heads from above. Once they are inside in force it's basically game over. Two days ago there was video of a police truck ramming the gate of the Vista Mar construction site on Ave Balboa - they were trying to create an access point to get their troops inside to clear out that building.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Short Protest Near Coronado

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Protesting construction workers closed the InterAmerican Highway near the entrance to the Coronado Beach Resort for about 20 minutes early this morning. As soon as police units arrived they pulled back and the road was reopened. This occurred at about 6:45 am this morning.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Police Making Arrests Near Atlapa - 8:27 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Riot Police have entered the job site that was a point of conflict on Via Israel near the Atlapa Convention Center and are making arrests. Striking construction workers started off by blocking the streets but then they retreated to the construction site and started raining down bricks on police from the higher floors. Police units have managed to get into the building and are arresting the striking workers.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Striking Construction Workers Shut Down Panama City, Again

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Rioting construction workers from the Sindicato Único Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Construcción y Similares (SUNTRACS) (Single National Union of the Construction Industry and Similar Workers) have shut down Panama City in the Republic of Panama again today, the second time this week. The SUNTRACS workers are protesting the shooting death of Al Iromi Emoir Smith Rentería near the Hugo Spadafora Medical Clinic in Colón on Tuesday. Smith was shot and killed by a member of the Panamanian National police in a conflict between protesters and police that is now being investigated.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Riot Police Holding Actions All Over The City - 8:15

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - As the SUNTRACS construction workers come down from their projects and close streets, the National Police move their units internally from one location to another. Once the SUNTRACS demonstrators have elicited a response they pull back, withdrawal from the confrontation, and go back into the building. Then, when another area of the city flares up the riot police redeploy to the next trouble area. So, that's the overview. The SUNTRACS guys can coordinate their activity with cell phones - "you guys start, you guys stop..." and in that way they keep the initiative and are able to keep the riot police off balance.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Going Up The Hill to the Plaza Paitilla Inn - 8:11 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Now construction workers are exchanging rocks for tear gas near a construction project in Paitilla. The confrontation is occurring right in front of the entrance to the Plaza Paitilla Inn in Paitilla. The police are "down the hill" toward Ave Balboa, and the striking workers have the high ground and are throwing rocks and bottles down toward the riot police officers. The riot police have just reinforced the area with more police units.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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How To Get Email Updates from Panama-Guide

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - If you want to receive real-time email updates from Panama Guide, just hit this link and join that Yahoo! email group. The group is only used to broadcast Panama-Guide articles and not for discussion so it's not a discussion group. Please send this link or article to your friends who might be interested in getting the updates, and sorry, but I simply don't have time to attend individual requests for adds or address changes. Thanks for understanding.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Now On Balboa Ave in Paitilla In Front of Multicentro - 8:00 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Protesting SUNTRACS workers are now in conflict with riot police in front of the Multicentro Mall on Ave Balboa in Paitilla, and this interchange is now closed. Construction workers are raining bricks down on riot police from the elevated buildings where they are "working."

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Huge Traffic Jams, Commuters Trapped, Buses Not Running 8:00 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Once again, thousands of commuters are quite literally trapped in their cars on the roads leading into Panama City. All of the major roads leading into Panama City are closed and the traffic jams are so tight that people can not go one inch forward or back. SUNTRACS leaders knew this would happen, and they were on the television shows right up until 7:30 telling the nation there would be no conflicts today. Then once everyone went to work, they started rioting. Several bus routes have announced that they will not be running today because of the strikes and potential damage to their vehicles.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Now Balboa Ave near the Hospital Niño Closed - 7:50 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - First report - apparently now Ave Balboa near the Hospital del Niño is closed by protesting SUNTRACS workers. Riot police are responding.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Now Southern Corridor near Costa Pacifica (Closed) 7:46 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - First report - SUNTRACS workers have come down from the Costa Pacifica construction project near Punta Pacifica and have closed the Southern Corridor. Only one report so far, no video or confirmation, but it sounds like the Southern Corridor might be closed now.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Miraflores on Transistmica - 7:44 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Protesters remain on the side of the road on Transistmica near Miraflores and they have lit the tires on fire again, even though the fire department has already showed up and put the fire out at least once. (They just cover them with gas and lit in on fire again.) They say they will continue to keep the road closed and protest until they have a response from the government with regards to the death of SUNTRACS worker Smith in Colon on Tuesday.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Throwing Rocks from Buildings In Construction - 7:41

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The SUNTRACS construction workers near the Atlapa convention center have pulled back from the street, and are now throwing rocks down on riot police units from the 10th floor of the building. Riot police are returning fire with tear gas canisters.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Near Miraflores - 7:38 am

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Construction workers came out and set tires on fire on Transistmica near Miraflores early this morning. Again, they came out briefly, started the fires, and then quickly pulled back and went back to work as soon as there was a response from governmental authorities. Firemen arrived and put out the tire fire, and the street was quickly reopened to traffic. It seems like these three points of conflict in Panama City were just supposed to be a "reminder" for the government from SUNTRACS before they sat down to talk.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Balboa Ave - Closed and then Back Open 7:33

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - SUNTRACS construction workers came out early and closed Ave Balboa briefly, but then they returned to their job site relatively quickly without provoking any kind of exchange of rocks or tear gas with responding riot police. Ave Balboa is now back open, and the SUNTRACS workers are back at work. Now it appears the SUNTRACS leadership, representatives of the Panamanian government, and the Panamanian Construction Board (CAPAC) will sit down to meet at the Defensoria Del Pueblo at 9:00 am this morning.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Near Via Israel - 7:30

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Striking SUNTRACS construction workers started exchanging rocks for tear gas with riot police in front of the ATLAPA convention center on Via Israel early this morning. The riot police have a full contingent there and actually outnumbered the protesters. They pushed the protesters off of the street using their wall of shields, and have maintained control of the critical intersection where the Southern Corridor connects to the coast near ATLAPA.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Here We Go Again, At Least For A Little While

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - It looks like the conflicts between SUNTRACS and riot police are starting up again today. As of right now there are protesters on Via Israel (near Atlapa) and Ave. Balboa. I'm just getting a handle on the locations, so stand by...

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Panama Releases Report on ’06 Poisoning

Healthcare By WALT BOGDANICH for the NY Times - Panamanian investigators have concluded that at least 174 people were poisoned, 115 of them fatally, by counterfeit cold medicine linked to an unlicensed Chinese chemical plant. The report was the government’s first effort to offer a precise toll of those killed and disabled in the mass poisoning in 2006. But the head of the agency that prepared the report, Dr. José Vicente Pachar, said the number of victims was bound to be much higher because many in remote areas of the country were unlikely to report their cases to the government. “The figures we have are the tip of the iceberg,” Dr. Pachar, director of the Institute of Legal Medicine of Panama’s Public Ministry, said in an interview. “We will never know the full extent.” (more) (Photo Credit: Ángel Franco/The New York Times)
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Panama, Guatemala sign free trade agreement

Money MattersPANAMA CITY (Xinhua) -- Panama and Guatemala inked a free trade agreement (FTA) Wednesday to boost bilateral trade after nine rounds of negotiations. The pact, which still requires the ratification of the two countries' legislatures, will help Panama expand its trade not only with Guatemala but with the whole of Central America, said Panama's Commerce and Industry Minister Alejandro Ferrer. Guatemala is Panama's second biggest trade partner in Central America, and their bilateral trade volume reached 120 million U.S. dollars in 2007, up 15 percent from the 2006 figure. After the accord comes into effect, 93 percent of Panama's exports to Guatemala and 80 percent in the reverse direction will be tariff-free, according to a communique released by Panama's Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Panama has to date signed FTAs with all the other four Central American countries, namely El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, besides Singapore, China's Taiwan, Chile and the United States.
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