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Wednesday, June 26 2019 @ 09:53 PM UTC

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Strikes and Demonstrations Next Week

Protests & Demonstrations There are only 71 days left to get something from the government of Martin Torrijos. It's probably going to become difficult to keep up with the strikes, protests, and demonstrations that are going to be held between now and the national referendum to either approve or reject the plan to expand the Panama Canal. Everyone knows that once the referendum passes they will lose a good amount of their political leverage. This week teachers and workers from the Social Security administration are planning protests and demonstrations. The Teachers Action Front (FAM) is an organization of public teachers that does not accept the $90 per month raise agreed to between another teacher's union and the Ministry of Education.
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Some Public Teachers Strike over Proposed Pay Raise

Protests & Demonstrations The leadership of the Teacher's Action Front (FAM) called on parents not to send their children to school today because teachers in the union will be holding a general assenbly at the School of the Republic of Venezuela to discuss the government's proposed $90 per month pay raise. The Minister of Education, Miguel Ángel Cañizales, has ordered the directors of all public schools to submit a detailed attendence list for teachers and has said they will dock the pay of any teachers that fail to show up for work today. Yesterday in a press conference the President of the Confederation of Associations of Parents and Families of School Children, Aixa Gómez, rejected FAM's call to parents and asked parents to send their children to school. The Ministry of Education has not docked striking teachers in the past when they miss work in labor actions although it is permitted by law. But in this case Education Minister Cañizales has promised to apply the law and dock striking workers because as far as he is concerned the subject of a wage increase for public teachers is a "closed chapter" since the government reached an agreement with the "Teachers Unified Coordinator" for a $90 per month raise (spread out over three years.) Ariadna de Peterson, the spokeswoman for the FAM, condemned "the destabilization of the education system" created, in her opinion, by the Education Minister who "is pitting teacher against teacher and teachers against parents."
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Public Teachers Now Asking for $150 Raise (Over Three Years)

Protests & DemonstrationsThe teachers union decided to lower their demand for a raise from $190 additional per month to $150, according to the National Coordinator of the Teacher's Union which is made up of fourteen different associations. Union representatives reached the decision after having consulted with their membership base in the interior. This decision now passes the ball back to Education Minister Miguel Ángel Cañizales, who has been supporting a $65 per-month raise, to either accept the offer or make a counter-offer. The most recent demand by the teachers would include three raises of $50 each spread out over three years, starting in 2007 until 2009. (Editor's Comment: Teachers and the government have been going back-and-forth about a raise for public teachers for months. The final number will probably end up at around $100 per month when it's all said and done. The teachers have been threatening to strike for weeks and right now all of the kids are on a mid-term break.)
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Lebanese in Panama march for peace

Protests & Demonstrations By ASSOCIATED PRESS - PANAMA CITY, Panama: About 300 people marched from a former US military base to the United Nations' offices in Panama City on Thursday to demand a cease-fire and humanitarian aid for Lebanon. "We want peace," the protesters chanted, waving the Lebanese flag and displaying photos of areas bombed in Israeli airstrikes and of wounded women and children. They held a moment of silence before handing UN representatives their demands. "We are here to express our sadness for what is happening in Lebanon," said Fauzi Hachem, Lebanese consul in Panama. About 10,000 Lebanese live in Panama, including many investors who have businesses tied to the Panama Canal.
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300 Striking Construction Workers Return to the Job

Protests & Demonstrations About 300 construction workers went back to work yesterday at the Camino de Cruces Residential Park on Friendship Highway after having been on strike for four days. Juan Rosero, spokesman of the Construction Workers union SUNTRACS said the workers returned to the job without having changed the position of the contractors working for the Pasco & Pasco development company. The workers decided instead to present a complaint instead to the Ministry of Labor detailing alleged violations of the contract between SUNTRACS and the Panamanian Chamber of Construction (CAPAC.) Company officials said, however, that they are not required to follow the contract because they are not memers of CAPAC. The General Director of Labor Rafael Stanziola said he didn't know anything about the case because no one had filed anything offical as of yet.
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Construction Workers Strike on Clayton

Protests & Demonstrations Yesterday about 300 construction workers who are working on the controvertial housing project Hacienda Camino de Cruces which is being built on lot number CL-35 on Fort Clayton. Striking workers threatened to continue the strike this week if they do not reach an agreement with contractors. Juan Rosero, the representative of the Construction Workers Union (SUNTRACS) in the reverted areas, said the workers are striking because they are not being provided with proper safety equipment, and that contractors are witholding social security taxes but not paying the quotas. Carlos Pasco, the promoter of the project, was unavailable for comment. Omar Rojas, resident architect of Constructora Arco, said the company is indeed in compliance with the labor law and that the striking workers stopped working as a show of solidarity with the workers from other companies. He said that his company, which is not affiliated with the Panamanian Chamber of Construction and therefore is not governed by the labor agreement which exists between the construction worker's union and that organization, is willing to negotiate with the workers to improve wages. (more)
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3,500 Teachers March for Higher Pay

Protests & DemonstrationsAbout 3,500 teachers held a protest march yesterday afternoon, and arrived at the Presidency of the Republic to give to president Martín Torrijos their proposal for a $190 per month wage increase. Health Minister Camilo Alleyne, Housing Minister Balbina Herrera, and the Vice-Minister of the Presidency Dilio Arcia met the demonstrators at the offices of the presidency. After meeting for 40 minutes, the leaders of the protest marched to the Cathedral Plaza and told their followers they had given the government until 2 August to make a counter-offer. Otherwise, "we take to the streets to their rights for a better quality of life." (Editor's Comment: Educators have been pressuring the government to increase their wages for weeks. Lask week the Minister of Education offered a $65 per month raise, and the teachers are asking for $190 per month, which would represent almost a 45% increase. The final answer will be somewhere between those two numbers, which has yet to be decided. FRENADESO also joined in to support the march. Expect more of this kind of thing between now and the referendum as all of the various organized labor unions get what they can.

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SUNTRACS & CAPAC Reach Agreement - Strike Called Off

Protests & Demonstrations The Construction Workers Union (Suntracs) and the Panamanian Camera of the Construction (CAPAC) reached an agreement last night on a new wage scale for construction workers, which will take effect in July. With this agreement SUNTRACS suspended the strike they had announced for today, Monday morning. Representatives from both sides worked to reach an agreement until 9:00 pm last night at the Plaza Paitilla Inn to put the finishing touches on a new collective barganing agreement that will remain in effect for the next four years and will cover all activity related to the expansion of the Panama Canal. Juan Rosero, a SUNTRACS secretary, said that the raises would be progressive and will go up over the next eight years. Rosero said wages for construction assistants will raise from $2.24 to $2.73 over eight years. An apprentence wil go from $2.52 to $3.08, and skilled workers will go from $3.07 to $3.67 dollars per hour.
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The "Commitee to Rescue Bocas del Toro"?

Protests & Demonstrations The president of the "Committee to Rescue Bocas del Toro" , Perla Campbell, said her organization has established a deadline of 3 June for national authorities to come to Isla Colon to address the issues they have raised. Campbell said the streets and the hospital are in disrepair and that water and electrical service are inadequate. She said they are engaged in a dialog with the directors of regional organizations and that they know about the problems but have done nothing to solve them. She said that faced with this lack of action her organization will have no other option than to force the issue. (Comment: This is a "last chance" type of news announcement, and Perla is trying to get some response to the problems they have raised. The reference to forcing the issue means they will probably protest and cause problems unless something is done.)


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MP Will Investigate MODESCO

Protests & Demonstrations The Public Ministry said they will be starting an investigation against members of the Colon Unemployed Movement (MODESCO) organization after a demonstration last Thursday in which some protest marchers had machetes in their hands. The Office of the Judge Advocate General will initiate the investigation, since according to Secretary General Rigoberto González they could have violated norm contemplated within the Penal Code. Any protest must be conducted within the norms as dictated by law, he said. Fabio Alvey, MODESCO spokesman, said they will probably hold more protests. And he said that while he does not condone violence, the group would be taking their protests to the houses of the people who have the power in their hands to fix the problems of the province. MODESCO has existed since 1992 and they have raised protests against every sitting government since that time, promoting Colon and trying to get additional government assistance. MODESCO has been granted scholarships by previous administrations, and they are now promoting the opening of the Multimodal Service and Industrial Center (CEMIS) to lower unemployment.
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SUNTRACS and CAPAC - Headed for a Showdown

Protests & Demonstrations The SUNTRACS labor union failed to reach an agreement with the Panamanian Construction Board (CAPAC) again yesterday, and the rhetoric is heating up on both sides. The Ministry of Labor is mediating the negotiations which are not going well. Saúl Méndez, the secretary of the SUNTRACS labor union, walked out of the negotiations because the CAPAC representatives would not depart from their original proposal which is completely unacceptable to the workers. La Prensa tried to contact the Director of CAPAP and principle negotiator for this round Eduardo Rodríguez but he did not respond to telephone calls. SUNTRACS wants $0.15 cent raises per hour every year for four years, or a total of $.60 per hour more by 2010. CAPAC is offering only about $.01 cent per hour per year, or a total of $.04 cents per hour raise by 2010.
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Suntracs Construction Workers Protesting for a Raise

Protests & Demonstrations Construction workers from the SUNTRACS labor union shut down two out of three lanes on Ave. Balboa this afternoon right at about lunchtime. The labor union has announced their 10,000 plus members will strike on 29 May 2006 unless they get a significant hourly pay raise. Several business representatives have said that the contruction workers are asking for too much money. One guy said in an interview that "yeah, sure we have a construction boom going on right now, but what happens in a few years when the boom is over?" The workers know that they have some political leverage right now, and are starting to cause little mini-demonstrations like this on on Balboa Ave. this afternoon. They didn't block the whole road, let a little traffic through, and were only out there for about a half-hour, just enough to mess up lunch hour traffic in the area.
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Nationwide Transportation Strike on 15 May

Protests & Demonstrations Transportation unions announced this afternoon that they would go on strike starting at midnight, 12:01 am, on 15 May (Monday) due to the increasing price of fuel and their belief that the national government is not doing enough to keep fuel prices down. Gas went up again today all across the country. More than $.40 cents of every gallon goes to taxes. The transportation workers are literally between a rock and a hard place because the fairs they can charge are controlled and regulated by the government. As fuel prices increase, they can not pass their increased operating costs on to the consumers. Usually, the transportation sector simply threatens to strike and that's enough to prod the government into doing something about whatever issue they are *censored*ing about. The transportation union can shut down this country at will. They know it, and so does the government, and they tend to exercise their power with restraint, especially against the PRD.
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Labor Day Protestors Climb the Bridge of the Americas

Protests & Demonstrations Four men climbed the Bridge of the Americas in protest today, to demand that the Panamanian government comply with a decision from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Labor leader Manrique Mejía said the protest, the second of its type since 29 July 2005, was done to call attention to the failings of successive governments to recognize their claims. Manrique said that the peaceful demonstration on the Bridge of the Americas has a special connotation, and was held on May 1, the International Labor Day. The demonstrators demand payment of about $55 million dollars owed to 270 former employees of the state electrical and telecommunications companies that have since been privatized, and who were dismissed in 1990.
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Univeristy of Panama Students Return to Class

Protests & Demonstrations The Academic Counsel of the University of Panama (UP) decided to reopen the school, starting today. The UP had been closed since last Monday, supposedly to improve internal security after a student got stabbed in an argument. In reality, they probably closed the school to prevent the students from causing major disruptions this week over the rises in gas and electricity costs. According the the Dean of the school Gustavo García de Paredes, closing the school for four days was effective in allowing administrators to "return the campus to a peaceful center for study." In reality, there's just one day left this week, and then next week is short because of Holy Week, so the timing is pretty good. Let's see if they get out there and do their thing today.
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Banana Workers On Strike, Close Border with Costa Rica

Protests & Demonstrations More than 1,000 Panamanian banana workers remained on strike for the second consecutive day today (Friday, 17 Mar 2006), closing of the border with Costa Rica. They want the goverment to change the contract they have with Chiquita Brands. The union leaders are demanding a change to the contract for the purchase and sale of the fruit between their cooperative and transnational Chiquita Brands. Also the workers are worried because they union, the Cooperative of Multiple Services of Armuelles Port, does not have enough money to pay the wages for the 2,800 banana workers due to the lack of an agreement with the fruit company. (Editor's Comment: Chiquita pulled out of Panama, and sold their holdings to a cooperative of former employees a few years ago, and now buys bananas from Panamanian producers on contract. Basically, the banana workers don't like the deal they agreed to.)
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Protest Against the Expansion of the Canal

Protests & Demonstrations This morning a group of Campesinos marched slowly down Balboa Avenue, blocking traffic for awhile, carrying signs and shouting slogans. In short, they were protesting against the plans of the Panamanian government to expand the Panama Canal. Their primary concern is the Law 44 from 31 August 1999, which (as far as I can tell) gives the ACP the power to annex lands in the Panama Canal watershed when necessary for the proper management of the canal. There are plans to build three hydroelectric projects, on the Cano Sucio, the Rio Indio, and the Rio Cocle del Norte. The Director of the ACP, Aleman Zubieta, has said that people would have to be relocated if they live in areas to be flooded. Basically, these people are against the dams, and against being relocated. But the strange part is that within the demonstration there were signs for and against the canal expansion. Go figure.
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Panama Protests Build Over US FTA

Protests & Demonstrations

Panama, 16 Feb (Prensa Latina) Agricultural unions and associations in Panama repeated their intention Thursday to continue protests over the way the Isthmus government is negotiating a free trade treaty with the United States. Panama´s First Vice President and Foreign Minister Samuel Lewis Navarro has traveled to Washington in the last two weeks to unclog negotiations stalled since January over US impositions to which Panamanian agriculture produces objected. To propitiate a rapid signing, Lewis Navarro dined with US Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, as part of the Latin American "quartet" closest to the White House at the moment: Mexico, Colombia, El Salvador and Panama. The agriculture sector, including veterinarians and agronomic engineers, repeated their denunciation of the secrecy surrounding these conversations with Washington and reject imposition of sanitary systems that would only help northern produce. In addition to continuing the protests, Sergio Anguizola, president of the Nation Agriculture Producers Union, said they would urge the government to dialogue to discuss this matter. Last week, President Martin Torrijos announced progress in conversations with the US to revitalize the talks to sign a free trade treaty and Panamanian experts are in the US to observe the sanitary practices there.

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As Predicted - Protest Yesterday Afternoon

Protests & Demonstrations As predicted on Tuesday (http://www.panama-guide.com/article.php/20060207214920416) the FRENADESO held a demonstration and march to the Presidential Palace yesterday afternoon. This is the group that sprang up from the muck during the Social Security reform debates last year. They were catapulted into the spotlight, got some media attention for awhile, and now they are apparently going to be out there protesting against anything that comes up. It's likely that their leadership is trying to parlay their 15 minutes of fame into a seat in the national assembly or something. In any case, they protested, and it was all good...
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FRENADESO Plans Demonstration for Tomorrow

Protests & Demonstrations The National Front for Economic and Social Rights (FRENADESO) announced they will be protesting again tomorrow afternoon (Wed., 8 Feb 2006). This time they are protesting against the rise in electricity costs and the way the Panamanian government has handled the issue. According to the Secretary of the National Coordinator of Independent Union Unity (CONUSI) Gabriel Castillo, the march will start at Plaza Porras and will end at the Presidency of the Republic, where they will present to President Torrijos a list of resuests, establishing their position on the issue.
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Panamanian Government Freezes Electricity Rate Hike

Protests & Demonstrations After one week of intense protests in all the country, the Panamanian Government announced a 90 day suspension yesterday of the last increase of the electrical tariff. The measure, as explained by the Minister of the Presidency Ubaldino Real, will allow the National Commission on Power Conservation to analyze a series of strategies to guarantee to the population more accessible prices in the electricity tariff. During the press conference held yesterday Sunday in the "Yellow House" of the Palace of Herons, Real said the adjustment formulas will look for the present regime of quarterly review of the tariffs and the concept of load by demand.
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Panama: Wave of Protests

Protests & Demonstrations Panama, Jan 21 (Prensa Latina) Panamanian unions and civilian groups Friday warned they would continue pressuring the government in order to hamper signing of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US and support a similar pact with Chile. Agriculture and cattle rising representatives declared they would reject a FTA with Washington in the case that Panamanian zoo-sanitary regulations are avoided and national producers left unprotected. However, they admitted that if Martin Torrijos´ government responds to the demands then the agreement could even encourage development and would be welcomed.
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Protests Against Electricity Rate Hikes

Protests & Demonstrations The Panamanian government has approved rate hikes for the companies that produce and supply electricity, sparking demonstrations against the higher rates. The new rates took effect on 1 Jan 2006. Yesterday, students professors and workers of the University of Panama protested with signs on Transístmica near the university. In the interior of the country construction workers and business owners protested. A school principal told me the "double wammy" of hikes in electricity and hikes to required social security contributions have combined to trash their budget for this year. Since their rates are locked in they can't adjust to the higher costs of doing business until next year, so they have to just suck it up.

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Small Protest on Friday

Protests & DemonstrationsThere was a small protest on Friday. All of the usual characters were represented - The FRENADESO guys, SUNTRACS, FER-29. It was a relatively small affair, and they just made their voices heard and got some pictures in the papers. You're simply not going to get a large turnout for a demonstration between Christmas and New Years, unless something big is going on (like, Noriega holed up in the Vatican Embassy...)
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Frenadeso announces demonstrations (again)

Protests & Demonstrations Frenadeso announced they would go back to the streets in protest, again. This time they will be protesting against the reforms to the social security system here, which have been passed by the assembly and just need the signature of President Torrijos to become law. They will also be protesting against the rising cost of electricity and rises in bus fares. They also announced they are "rejecting" the "privatization" of Cerro Ancon and the construction of a ski-lift type cable car system for tourists. They're also against the mega-port, expansion of the canal, the free trade agreement with the United States, and just about anything else they can think of...
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Demonstrations Scheduled for Thursday (24 Nov)

Protests & Demonstrations The national dialog over the Law 17 (reform to the social security system) is over, and the participating members reached a consensus over how to save the system that will probably be generally accepted as reasonable by the general public. Unfortunately, one of the most vocal groups (Frenadeso) left the discussions early and have called for strikes, marches, and demonstrations for Thursday, the 24th of Novermber. It's quite obvious they are mostly interested in political gain, and are simply using this topic as a springboard to the national spotlight.
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Frenadeso leaves the negotiation table (Law 17)

Protests & Demonstrations Frenadeso, one of the largest, most vocal, and most antagonistic groups to participate in the national dialog over modifications to the Law 17 (changes to the Panamanian national social security system) stood up and left the table yesterday. This is an unfortunate turn of events, because it signals that this group, which lead most of the violent protests against the government and strikes back in May and June, probably will not accept any agreement that comes out of the dialog. So, this has been a huge waste of time.

See: http://www.prensa.com/hoy/panorama/396327.html
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Bush flys home, leaves protests in his wake...

Protests & Demonstrations President Bush flew home last night, after having spent the day touring the canal, meeting with Panamanian political and civic leaders, expressing his support for an expanded canal, and defending the US policies on the treatment of political prisoners. Unfortunately, his visit prompted students from the University of Panama to spend most of the day demonstrating, shutting down roads, throwing molotov cocktails, and trading rocks for tear gas with the police.

See: http://www.prensa.com/uhora/local_20051108161555.shtml
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Disturbances and Protests over Social Security Reforms

Protests & DemonstrationsLast night workers, teachers, and students came out in protest against the proposed changes to the Social Security system. These demonstrations started back in May when the Torrijos government tried to ram the reforms down the throats of the people in a quick move, and nationwide protests and demonstrations forced the government to put their plans on hold and sit down at the negotiating table with the most powerful lobbying groups. The 90-day window has almost passed, and now it looks like were going to go back to demonstrations again, and still no law to reform social security that everyone can agree on.
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