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Thursday, April 24 2014 @ 01:48 AM EDT

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GUPC Confirms The Project To Expand The Panama Canal Will Be Affected By The Strike

Protests & DemonstrationsThe consortium Grupo Unidos Por El Canal (GUPC) issued a press release today saying the workers on the project to expand the Panama Canal are supporting the strike started this morning by the SUNTRACS construction labor union. (more)

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SUNTRACS Construction Labor Union Declares (Politically Motivated) Strike

Protests & DemonstrationsBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - The SUNTRACS labor union declared a nationwide strike, to start this morning at 7:00 am. (more)

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Mirna de Crespo: "It makes no sense to call a strike"

Protests & DemonstrationsThis morning public school teachers went on strike as a "measure of caution" because they say the demands they made yesterday were not met by the President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli. (more)

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Teachers Union Will Strike On Friday Over Wage Issues

Protests & DemonstrationsAfter a week of picketing, the teachers' unions announced they will walk off the job in a "militant" strike this Friday, April 11, demanding a general salary increase. (more)

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SUNTRACS Demands Agreements From Business Owners - Closes Streets in Protest

Protests & DemonstrationsThe Construction Workers Trade Union (SUNTRACS) took to the streets this Wednesday, January 29, to demand that business owners meet their demands.

Various groups of striking construction workers took over several points in Panama City, including Calle 50, to express their demands.

SUNTRACS is demanding the approval of the 156 clauses contained in a list of demands workers handed to the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (Mitradel) as part of the 2014-2017 collective agreement convention.

The union's general secretary, Saul Mendez, told the Estrella newspaper the union has decided to go to the streets to picket because employers have not provided any economic proposals during the three months of negotiations.

Of the 156 clauses, 85 have been negotiated, and the employers have not offered any economic proposals.

Among the priorities, SUNTRACS aims to reduce workweek to 40 hours, with the right to receive the corresponding salary for 45 working hours.

According to Méndez this week they will be taking to the streets until they receive a response from the business sector in order to reach an agreement. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: SUNTRACS is now a shadow of its former self, but they still have enough members to pull off demonstrations such as this, and screw up traffic in the city. Once upon a time, when there was very little construction activity in Panama City, practically every job site was organized by SUNTRACS. Over the past decade or so, and thanks to the explosion of construction in Panama, SUNTRACS now represents less then 10% of all construction workers, but they are still the best organized of all the unions. They are seen as "troublemakers" and most builders avoid them, if at all possible. Recognizing their decline, some of the leaders formed the new FAD political party, seeking greener pastures.

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Protest Made Outside Of The Supreme Court Premises

Protests & Demonstrations

Today, a protest was made by ​​several relatives of detainees who were charged with racketeering and were declared innocent, outside of the premises of the Supreme Court.

However, they have not been released because the prosecutor handling the case appealed their freedom.

Relatives of the detainees warned they will continue their protest until the detainees are released, they even threatened on closing the bridge of the Americas.(TVN)

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National Institute Students Clash With Riot Police

Protests & DemonstrationsA group of students from the National Institute have gone back to the streets, leading to clashing with riot control officers of the National Police.

The clashes left several students injured as a result of the birdshot fired by the police officers.

The protesters say they are supporting several of their colleagues who have been expelled from the school.

The protesters also denounced retaliation within the school campus.

They are burning trash on the road, and they have also torn down a metal gate.

Teachers are trying to establish a dialogue with students.

The story continues to develop. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The National Institute is located at the base of Ancon hill, just up toward the Bridge of the Americas from the road that comes down from Gorgas. This entire area will be closed to traffic and should be avoided. The Ministry of Education has been clamping down on the historical leniency granted to protesting high school students, expelling those who come to school with things like Molotov cocktails for example. These sorts of protests are a virtual "rite of passage" for students at this particular school, and the school year is coming to a close so there's only so many stone chucking days left before Christmas...

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University Students And Riot Police Confronted At The Transistmica

Protests & DemonstrationsA group of students from the University of Panama (UP) and crowd control units from the National Police confronted at the Transístmica.

For the second day in a row, a group of students from the School of Agricultural Sciences from the UP were protesting. They were blocking one of the lanes of the road.

However, crowd control units arrived at the scene to clear the road and threw tear gas at the students who were protesting.

The group was protesting for the sale of lands from the UP for the expansion of the Tocumen airport, at a cost of $109.8 million that –according to them– have not been paid.

The students said the next university period was about to begin and they still don’t know where they will take classes.

The students who were demonstrating were chanting: “There you have it; they are the ones who are selling the Nation,” who burned a doll with the picture of President Ricardo Martinelli.

This situation caused major traffic in the area. (Prensa)

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Doctors Will Go On Strike For 24 Hours

Protests & DemonstrationsResidents and interns from the Santo Tomas Hospital declared a 24-hour strike, protesting for the discounts in their salaries of up to 90%.

Interns and residents consider the discount is unfair because they did not participate in the strike carried out for over a month by different health unions.

"We never left our job and the Government even recognized that it was unfair to give us a discount,” said one of the spokesmen of the doctors on strike.

He also said the Health Ministry called this group for a meeting at 2 in the afternoon, in which they expect to hear positive proposals.

These doctors assisted the specialists who were on strike for over a month by assisting the patients in the hospital wards.

Another doctor said the residents and interns can’t carry out economic activities outside the hospital because this affects them.

Currently, 250 interns and residents are in this condition. (Mi Diario)

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Residents Of Potrero Grande Protest Due To Lack Of Water Supply

Protests & Demonstrations

Today, residents of Potrero Grande, located in La Chorrera, made a protest because they have been without water supply for several weeks now.

According to the residents of the area, a person supplied them with water through a turbine shaft, but the water supply service was suspended for everyone because some of the customers owe money or didn't pay on time.

These people have been collecting rain water in order to drink and use for their basic needs.(TVN)

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Employees From The AAUD Were Protesting And Blocking The Balboa Avenue

Protests & DemonstrationsOn Thursday afternoon employees from the Garbage Collection Authority (AAUD), closed the Balboa Avenue, demanding to get paid because the institution owed them for their work.

They blocked the road at approximately 3:30 p.m. causing severe traffic on the road that goes towards the city and vice versa. (Telemetro)

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Residents Of Eastern Panama Protest Due To Lack Of Water Supply

Protests & Demonstrations

Today, a group of residents from around 5 different communities in Eastern Panama, protested in the streets due to the lack of clean water and garbage collection in their areas.

The residents have more than five days without water supply and decided to close the main route In Pacora for over two hours.

Residents also used pots, empty water tanks and even old refrigerators to block the street, just to get the attention of the authorities.

After a meeting between officials of the IDAAN and the residents, several trucks arrived to the communities to supply them with water.

According to the IDAAN, the areas of Santa Isabel, el Trébol 1 and 2, Caminos de Omar and Cabra, lack of water supply due to a turbine damage.(TVN)

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The Medical Strike Has Finally Come To An End

Protests & DemonstrationsThe National Medical Negotiating Committee (Comenenal), as well as the nursing unions, health technicians and other workers of the health sector, decided to finalize their strike, which lasted for 36 days, after President Ricardo Martinelli approved Law 89 authorizing and regulating the hiring of foreign doctors in Panama.

Earlier in the day, the National Association of Nurses of Panama (Anip), the National Coordinator of Unions, Health Professionals and Technicians (Conagreprotsa), the National Association of Clinical Laboratory Technicians (Conalac) and since Thursday, the National Association of Practitioners, Auxiliaries and Nursing Technicians (Anpate), had already decided to put an end to the strike.

The settlement of the strike was received by Martinelli at a meeting celebrated in the Peace Chamber of the Government House and was signed by the Health Minister, Javier Javier Díaz; the director of the Social Security Fund, Guillermo Sáez-Llorens; the president of the Health Committee of the National Assembly, Pablo Vargas; the father and guarantor of the Catholic Church, Eusebio Muñoz; the leader of the Comenenal, Domingo Moreno; the president of the Anip; Elidya Espinosa; the leader of Conagreprotsa, Álvaro Lozano; and the leader of Conalac, Jovanna Borace.

In this agreement they decided to go back to work, to recover all the appointments that were missed, to avoid applying any disciplinary or administrative sanctions against those who supported the strike and the refund of salaries, among other points.

This settlement puts an end to a strike that was extended for over a month, and according to the Health Ministry approximately 200 thousand appointments and over 5 thousand surgeries were missed. (Prensa)

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Students From The National Institute Were Protesting On The Streets Once Again

Protests & DemonstrationsOnce again, students from the National Institute decided to protest on the streets, and the authorities were not able to determine what the motive behind their demonstrations was. (more)

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Students From The National Institute Were Protesting On The Streets Once Again

Protests & DemonstrationsOnce again, students from the National Institute decided to protest on the streets, and the authorities were not able to determine what the motive behind their demonstrations was.

So far, three students who were throwing rocks were detained by the National Police, and the authorities also seized masks and t-shirts.

The particular ingredient of this incident in this occasion was the complaints of the residents in the area who said they are tired of the demonstrations of these students, and they are tired of the tear gas too. (Panama America)

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The Doctors Blocked The Transistmica As A Protest For The Discount In Their Salaries

Protests & DemonstrationsThe medical associations of interns and residents of the Social Security Fund decided to close the four lanes of the Transístmica, because they are demanding to receive their paychecks, besides the extra hours they worked, regardless of the 34 days of strike.

Several riot police units from the National Police were at the site shortly after the medical associations blocked the road.

The protests, which have been carried out every day to request the repeal of Law 69, allowing the hiring of foreign specialist doctors, so far they had only demonstrated on the sidewalks, but today they decided to take over the road.

The strike has been going on for a month now and it doesn’t have a final date; however, during the early hours of Tuesday, the authorities of the Health Ministry and the CSS reached an agreement with the union to modify the law, which is currently in the hands of the deputies. (Telemetro)

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34th Day Of Doctor's Strike

Protests & Demonstrations

Today, Tuesday October 29th, is the 34th day of doctor's strike, and this time the Health Sector Groups decided to close one lane in Via Transistmica for half an hour.

Not even the constant dialogues and the intervention of the Catholic Church have been effective, because according to John Hoger, COMENENAL spokesman, the authorities oppose to Article 23, dealing with the "no provatization, outsourcing and provision of the health services."

By not accepting the agreement, they run the risk of the law reforms to not be taken to the three required debates and according to them this is the government's strategy.(Dia a Dia)

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Masked Students Take Over The National Institute

Protests & Demonstrations

Today, masked students of the National Institute assaulted several journalists and cameramen who were in the campus since early in the morning, covering the protest of a group of students.

The report says the students opened one of the gates of the campus by using pounders and acetylene, they're allegedly protesting because the enrollment of about 59 students was denied for the next school year.

One of the teachers of the school confirmed at least 15 masked students entered the National Institute and said the school authorities know who they are, but they don't rule out the possibility of them being former students who have been previously expelled.

Once the students managed to destroy the locks of the doors, they proceeded to close the Avenida de Los Mártires.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Education issued a statement asking for the student's parents to talk to their children because they had information stating today a group of students planned on disrupting classes and taking over the streets with violence.(TVN)

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Students Of The Instituto Nacional Made Another Protest

Protests & Demonstrations

Today, students of the Instituto Nacional made a protest while wearing masks, demanding the resignation of the school's rector, for the Minister Lucy Molinar to show up to the school and for the authorities to drop the charges made against the expelled students.

In the morning an inspector of the School prohibited the entrance of three students who had participated in past riots, infuriating a group of students.

Even though the school gate was closed they broke the locks to go out and throw stones at the Crowd Control Units of the National Police, who were guarding the campus.

Other students tried to mediate the internal conflict because they're worried about losing the school year.(Dia a Dia)

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"Hearthbroken Women" Show Their Rejection Towards Martinelli

Protests & DemonstrationsA tweet sent by President Ricardo Martinelli has unleashed a feminist movement aimed to focus on the main dissatisfactions of the citizens, in this case of women.

"I heard four women were talking really bad about me. Kisses to them,” said the president through his account @rmartinelli.

She referred to Lorena Castillo, Teresita de Arias, Idalia Martínez and the former Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gómez, who were participating in the Sunday edition of “Open Debate” in Medcom.

Lorena Castillo, the presidential candidate’s wife, reacted to this and said: “Women who stand up for themselves and have their own opinions.”

The movement of “Heartbroken Women” has already organized its first action. On Thursday they will participate in the march organized by the National Medical Committee (Comenal), identified with t-shirts, banners, and preparing stickers and other articles to be noticed and demand respect from the President.

Idalia Martínez, one of the “Heartbroken Women,” replied back to the President saying “they don’t want your kisses, what they want is the respect they deserve as women and Panamanians.”

Martínez said they are organizing the event so the President can see their position and to demand respect. (Estrella)

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Moreno Said Politics Are Not Involved In Medical Strike

Protests & DemonstrationsEach day the strike gets stronger and there are more and more doctors who are no longer caring for the insured patients, according to the president of the National Negotiating Medical Committee (Comenenal).

He said Ricardo Martinelli is lying about this strike having anything to do with politics. “This is not a politician movement but a fight for our profession and the patients,” he said.

On the other hand, Dr. Julissa Rodríguez said hiring foreign doctors is not the best solution to the lack of personnel.

She said her biggest concern is receiving inexperienced doctors in the Panamanian health system.

The doctors have been on strike for 16 days now after the law allowing the hiring of foreign doctors was approved. (Prensa)

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Students Of The Instituto Nacional Made A Peaceful Protest

Protests & Demonstrations

Several students from the Instituto Nacional came back out to the streets in a peaceful protest near the campus.

They demand explanations for the police action on Monday, in addition to the presence of the Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar.

The protest spreaded on all sides of campus and included a march to the presidency of the Republic.(Mi Diario)

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Teachers Will Support The Doctor's Strike

Protests & Demonstrations

Today, Tuesday October 8th, At least nine teacher unions announced they will support the protests made ​​by the specialized doctors to reject the Act 69.

The teacher's union leader, Luis Lopez, informed although they will join the protests in the streets and other actions taken by the health sector unions, they will not suspend classes.

Lopez stated "Right now we're just providing support for street demonstrations."(La Prensa)

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Medical Unions Were Protesting In Transistmica

Protests & DemonstrationsOn Monday, medical unions were protesting at Via Transístmica, where they were expressing they didn’t want to dialogue, they were demanding to have Law 69 repealed and to have a meeting with President Ricardo Martinelli.

This is the twelfth day in which the health professionals are protesting, who said they have not reached an agreement with the authorities and said they will continue protesting until their rights are respected.

Domingo Moreno, leader of the National Negotiating Medical Commission (Comenenal) said “we are tired of the attitude of the Health Ministry because they are pretending they are pretending they are crazy, it is obvious they do many things behind the people, we are stripping down the truth. The decision of ending with this suffering is in the hands of Martinelli.”

On the other hand, Carlos Peralta, leader of the Association of Nursing Practitioners and Technicians, said they do not agree with the regulations they are pretending to do, which is why they will continue fighting for the benefits of everyone.

During the protest, health professionals were handing out fliers, in support of the technicians and students. (Telemetro)

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A Group Of Tourism Drivers Were Protesting Outside Of The Colon Free Zone

Protests & DemonstrationsA group of Tourism drivers were protesting in front of the Colon Free Zone, after they were not allowed to enter the Zone.

According to the information we received, these drivers were not allowed in the Free Zone, therefore they had to go and protest.

However, authorities from the Free Zone said the measure was taken because they made some security changes.

“We ask to meet with manager of Puerto Colon 2000, because they have not le tus participate in their meetings, and we believe they are bringing a new company,” said one of the affected. (TVN)

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Specialist Doctor's Strike Continues

Protests & Demonstrations

Today, The doctor's strike continued despite the announcement made yesterday by President Ricardo Martinelli about increasing the salary for national specialist physicians working in remote areas.

Yesterday, the president ratified the draft bill 611, allowing the recruitment of foreign doctors to cover a shortage of specialists in the country's interior.

Carlos Peralta, who's representing nursing technicians, announced the strike will continue, he also said they demand the bill to be repealed and to have a dialogue about the issue.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Javier Diaz, confirmed approximately 6 thousand people are not being cared for due to the strike organized by specialist doctors, people claimed to be disappointed because they'll have to wait up to 6 months to be seen by a specialist.

Authorities confirmed there's an amount of 183 medical specialists missing in the country.(TVN)

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CSS Employees Made A Peaceful Protest In Juan Diaz

Protests & Demonstrations

Today, at noon, there was a peaceful protest in front of the J.J. Vallarino Polyclinic located in Juan Diaz.

It was made by a group of employees of the CSS who are opposed to the alleged privatization of the entity.

Priscilla Vasquez, president of the Association of Employees of the CSS, said the protest was also made because of the unfair dismissal of dentist Vanessa Moreno.

Vasquez also said the protest will continue until the dentist is rehired.

Moreno is the daughter of the leader of the Negotiating Medical Association, Domingo Moreno, so it's believed this could be a case of vengeance against the leader.(TVN)

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CSS Director Asks Martinelli To Delay Signing Law 611

Protests & DemonstrationsThe Director of Panama's Social Security Fund, Guillermo Sáez Llorens, asked the President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli to delay signing the document that would allow the Ministry of Health and the CSS to hire foreign medical specialists.

"This could make the stakeholders sit down to reach an agreement. The important thing here is to be able to hire the specialist doctors to see the patients who need them most," he said.

The official said he is most interested in having this issue resolved, and therefore he is still wondering about the real reasons for the strike.

"There is no article (in the new law 611) that says we are going to privatize the health sector, we only want to be able to hire foreign medical specialists in a more streamlined manner for the interior (of the country)," he added.

When speaking on Telemetro, he clarified that in the tender (contract bidding process) for the management of services in the City Hospital will not take place tomorrow Thursday, but rather it will be held on the 7th of November.

He also said their supply of medicines is at 98%.

Sáez Llorens (left) and Fernando Castañeda (right)

For his part, the leader of the Comenenal union, Fernando Castañeda said this announcement by Sáez Llorens is nothing more than him accepting that the law is wrong, and that it has problems.

Castañeda believes President Martinelli is not aware of everything, because he has still not sanctioned (signed) the law.

Today marks the seventh day of strikes by physicians, which is gaining strength with the addition to the protest by other unions in the health sector. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The Panamanian doctors have historically rejected and resisted any and every attempt to bring in foreign doctors to work in Panama. But at the same time the Ministry of Health and the Social Security administration offer the Panamanian doctors jobs to work as medical specialists in the positions they have open in the interior of the country, and the doctors refuse those positions. They all want to work in Panama City, but they don't want a Venezuelan doctor (for example) to work as a cardiologist in the interior, either. And the people who are getting screwed in all of this are the patients, who are always poor, and who are now forced to make the trek via bus to Panama City for their medical appointments. In my opinion the Panamanian doctors are flat out wrong on this one, and they should shut the hell up and get out of the way.

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Nurses Might Extend Their Support To The Doctor's Strike

Protests & Demonstrations

Today in the afternoon, the Association of Nurses was gathered at its headquarters to discuss if they're going to extend their support to the specialist doctor's strike.

Elidia Espinoza, representative of the association, said the bill 611 was assessed at a roundtable, however on arrival to the National Assembly it was politicized by members of the government.

The specialist doctor's strike was called by the National Medical Negotiating Commission (Comenenal) since last week and so far it's supported by many health officials.(Mi Diario)

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Doctors "Will Feel" The Discount In Their Paychecks

Protests & DemonstrationsGuillermo Sáez Llorens, director of the Social Security Fund (CSS), said approximately 6 thousand appointments in Veraguas have not been attended “this means approximately six thousand people are not being cared for due to the strike organized by specialist doctors.”

He said they have discounted five days of work from all the doctors who are on strike and “they will feel its weight on their next paycheck.” The director of the CSS said they do not want to cause harm to anyone.

According to Sáez Llorens, they do need specialists and he hopes people come back to their senses because all they want to do is hire specialists that are truly required by the Panamanian people.

"Which is why I believe they are being selfish and don’t want to do this and the worse I’ve seen is that these doctors who are on strike are telling their patients to go in the afternoon to their private clinics to receive their attention.”

He said 185 specialists are needed in the country and said they need nephrologists, which is a very limited resource they have because most of them are in Panama and they are also required in the interior.

On the sixth day of the medical strike, the official said this strike is “immoral,” through which they are requesting to veto the law that allows the Minsa and the CSS to hire foreign doctors.

“Out of 500 officials from the clinic Horacio Díaz Gómez there are only three specialists and some intern doctors who are on strike, luckily the strike has not been welcomed there; however, any specialist out of the hospital affects us,” said Llorens.

He accused the doctor Domingo Moreno, president of the National Medical Negotiating Commission (Comenenal), who organized the strike. “What I find weird about this is that doctor Moreno who is one of the doctors supporting the strike, seems to be working because I was told he went to work on Thursday and Friday because he does not want to receive a discount, which means some doctors were set up because they are on strike but other doctors who support this are not, so I believe this is unfair with people. Please stop already, those who are on strike go back to work.” (Estrella)

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