Site Meter
Send Us An Email
Panama Guide

Welcome to Panama Guide
Sunday, August 25 2019 @ 08:20 pm EDT

View Printable Version

Businessmen in Chiriqui Worried About Coming Protests

Protests & DemonstrationsFarmers, businessmen, and hotel owners in Volcán, Cerro Punta and Boquete in Chiriquí are alarmed and concerned about the economic losses they may face next week.

Their fears arise from the announcement made by indigenous groups and social coalitions about new protests that will be held starting on Tuesday.

"We are very alarmed by the impacts left after the highway closures held last year in the provinces of Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro, as so far we don't know their specific and dire consequences," said Laura Pedreschi, spokesperson for the business community of Volcan.

The leaders of the General Congress and the Regional Congress of the Ngäbe Buglé rejected the protests and road closures announced by the Indian Coordinator, Chief Silvia Carrera and other organizations affiliated with the coalition of social groups.

The directors of the Chamber of Commerce of Chiriqui, said the closures last year in the province caused economic losses of more than 20 million dollars, which had to be absorbed by the small business owners, entrepreneurs, producers and carriers in Bocas del Toro and Chiriqui.

The Governor, Aixa Samntamaría, reiterated the need for peaceful protests without closing streets to prejudice others.

The directors of the economic sectors of the highlands also decided to ask the national government to provide adequate and prompt attention to issues of community interest, since in this way the authorities would contribute to the climate of peace and tranquility that requires our society. (TVN)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

SUNTRACS Will Support Demonstrations on 5 February

Protests & DemonstrationsThe Union of Construction Workers and Similar (SUNTRACS) said Saturday on RPC Radio they will support the demonstration that will be held by unions and the indigenous Ngäbe Bugle on February 5 to commemorate the anniversary of the clashes in the region, in opposition to the hydroelectric projects.

Jaime Caballero, a leader of the group, said the government has not complied with the agreements made with the members of the indigenous Ngabe Buglé, which they described as unfortunate.

At this concentration, which will be simultaneous, members of the Colon Broad Front, said they also require a solution to the problem of water and the high cost of basic goods. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Almost all of these perennial professional protest groups are there because they are paid to be there. Last year it became very clear that the Panameñistas were behind the protests being waged by the indigenous Ngäbe Bugle. The extreme left wing elements in Panama are funded by regional communists, such as Cuba and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. The SUNTRACS organization is the most vocal and best organized, even through they only have about 12,000 members while more than 200,000 people are currently working in the construction industry in Panama (probably a low number). In any case, SUNTRACS does not represent the majority of construction workers in Panama. So whatever, the guys who are getting paid to protest are going to have a protest. Who cares?

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Ngäbe Buglé Chief Silvia Carrera Says She Feels "Persecuted"

Protests & DemonstrationsChiriqui Grande, Bocas Del Toro. - The general Ngäbe Buglé chief Silvia Carrera said she was persecuted and harassed by the National Police (PN), after Sunday, she returned from a meeting with the Indians in Changuinola, Bocas Del Toro, she was approached by two officers in a patrol car number 81775.

"I stopped a few minutes near Pueblo Nuevo, they asked me where I was coming from, what I was doing, and with whom I had met. I said I had the right to meet with my people. They let go, but they followed me until the boundary line between Bocas Del Toro and Chiriquí, in the central mountains," said Carrera.

Despite feeling persecution, Carrera said on February 5 there will be the activity to mark the death of two people who fought to preserve natural resources and minerals last year, during the confrontation with riot police.

"That [the event] will be peaceful. We have not spoken of closing streets, we talked about peaceful demonstrations," she added.

Editor's Comment: Yeah, it's a brand new truck she's driving, so I doubt she had a tail light out or something.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Metro Bus Drivers Call For A Strike To Start On Wednesday Night

Protests & DemonstrationsMore than 150 Metro bus operators decided to call for a strike for Thursday, January 31, and this was confirmed by Inocente Guerra, who added that the strike will start at 9:00 pm on Wednesday if they are not given an answer on their demands for higher wages.

On Saturday, the drivers had a meeting, during which they established the protest actions on their agenda.

They set a deadline for Wednesday, at 9:00 pm, to be met by the Mi Bus company, which announced last week that a wage increase would not be viable, and in its place they proposed a $20 productivity bonus.

Rafael Chavarria, leader of the National Council of Organized Workers (Conato), said they have already warned the Labor Minister Alma Cortés, that this would happen if the bus drivers were not given a response.

He said in a negotiation both parties should leave happy, but in this case there was a winner and a loser. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Two points here. First of all, these guys who are causing these problems are in the minority. They only represent about 150 drivers. However there are more than 1,200 Metro Buses driving around, and most of them are running on three shifts so there's probably more than 3,600 drivers (total) in the system. If that number is right, then these "strikers" only represent 4.1% of the total work force. In fact the most vocal of them are actually trying to organize a labor union, and they are using this issue as a lightening rod to gel support (for them). Being a union leader is a good deal in Panama, if you can get it. Normally the union members pay $2 per paycheck to the union - so do the math. Secondly, how many of the bus drivers used to own one of the old "Red Devil" buses? They all received a $25,000 cash payment in order to take their buses off of the road, and a condition of the contract they signed was to not participate in these kinds of shenanigans. However the Panamanian journalists are failing to address these key issues when they cover this story.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Mi Bus Company Does Not Plan To Raise Bus Driver's Pay

Protests & DemonstrationsAn increase in the salary of the Metro bus drivers to $800 per month is not in the plans of the company Mi Bus.

This was stated yesterday by the manager of this company, Miguel Cardona, on the eighth day of talks with the leaders of the drivers who have been demanding an increase in their wages since 26 December 2012, the day they staged a work stoppage.

According to Cardona, there is no breach of an agreement on the wage issue because "we never spoke about that."

" The company did not establish, at any time - not before and not now - that the workers would be paid that amount," said Cardona yesterday, and he said the $800 per month figure was a number established by other parties, and not by the Mi Bus company.

According to Cardona, there is no commitment to give the drivers a pay increase, because this increase demanded by the drivers are for their personal aspirations and not for a general benefit.

A Strike Has Not Been Ruled Out - After a four-hour meeting yesterday, Inocente Guerra, a spokesman for the Union of Collective and Select Transport Workers of Panama (Sittracosep) which is in formation, said in the negotiations they have made some approaches to the management of the Mi Bus company.

There has been a consensus regarding recognizing vacation time, the payment of overtime, and compensatory time, but this is not so in the case of the salary increase, so the drivers are demanding that the company give them an answer tomorrow.

Lacking a consensus, according to Guerra, the operators do not rule out the possibility of going on strike again.

Inspections at five yards of the Mi Bus company, scheduled by the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development (Mitradel) began yesterday, according to the Deputy Minister Dario Falcon.

Abdiel Sagel, director of Inspections for Mitradel, said if they find shortcomings or failures with the workers, the company could be penalized and they would have to comply with the law. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Notice that the union is "in formation" meaning it has not yet been officially recognized. What matters most here is the math and money. Just for grins lets say there are 1,200 Metro Buses and they drive around on three shifts so there are 3,600 drivers. At $550 salary per month that would be $1.98 million per month in payroll. Increasing their monthly salary to $800 brings payroll up to $2.88 million. The money has to come from somewhere. Right now the government of Panama is paying a subsidy to the Mi Bus company in order to keep the bus fares artificially low. Any increase in pay to the bus drivers would probably be covered by an increase in the subsidy - at least until the 2014 elections. But at some point the government is going to have to allow the bus fares to increase so they can lower the subsidy being paid, and allow the Metro Bus system to float on it's own. I suspect eventually the bus drivers will end up making more than $550 but something less than $800 per month. The details are still being worked out.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Metro Bus Drivers Might Go On Strike Next Week

Protests & DemonstrationsA group of Metro Bus drivers have said they might go on strike next week.

The new Metro buses, which replaced the old "Red Devils" or "Diablo Rojos" are operated by the company Mi Bus.

The bus drivers have said they will go on strike next week if their demand for a wage increase from $550 per month to $800 per month is not met. (Prensa)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Protests and Demonstrations in Colon

Protests & DemonstrationsHundreds of people protested Thursday and erected blockades at the entrances to the Panamanian city of Colon, headquarters of the Free Zone that generates millions of dollars a year to petition the government for greater investments in the region.

Protesters burned tires and intermittently closed the main access road to Colon, capital of the province with the same name, located about 100 km north of Panama City, on the Caribbean coast.

Despite the blockades, the police did not intervene directly, although the presence of riot police is numerous in various parts of the province.

"We resumed a process of struggle using the only language the government of (Ricardo) Martinelli understands, the language of protest, rebellion and protest," said Gerardo Gonzalez, leader of the Colon Broad Front, organizer of the protests.

Martinelli's government "goes on fooling people without even giving answers to social problems" in the province of Colon, said Felipe Cabeza, another of the leaders of the FAC.

Government Minister, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, said that "when you're wrong, the only argument you have left is to protest," and he said that "the people are tired of fighting."

"It is necessary to maintain the climate of peace and prosperity" so that "the progress and development that is happening in Panama remains" Fabrega said in a statement.

On 8 January the FAC, which brings together organizations, unions and some business groups, called for a restart to the protests, understanding that the government would not give in to their demands after two months of dialogue.

After the talks, the government of Panama submitted a proposal last week for $173 million to implement 165 projects in Colon, in different areas, including assistance to the population, education, health and housing.

However, organizations are demanding $500 million and part of the taxes collected in the various economic activities taking place in the region.

The demonstrations were called by the same groups in late October who staged violent protests that left three dead and dozens injured and arrested.

Colon is one of the poorest provinces of Panama, despite its Free Zone, which has several ports and a stretch of the Canal, that together with other sectors provides $6 billion of the $23 billion gross domestic product (GDP). (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: I would replace "hundreds" with "dozens" of protesters, maybe. These people seem to be in the minority, and I don't get the sense that the vast majority of people in Colon are participating in these actions.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Metro Bus Drivers Threaten To Go On Strike If Pay Demands Not Met

Protests & DemonstrationsMembers of the Collective and Selective Transport Workers Union of Panama (Sittracosep) do not rule out a strike if the company Mi Bus does not reach an agreement with them today at the negotiation table over a salary increase demanded by the workers.

The bus drivers want their monthly salaries to be increased to $800.

"We do not rule out a strike, if they do not pay us what we deserve, because now we are earning $550 per month, not counting expenses," said Inocente Guerra, Sittracosep leader, yesterday during the dialog between the labor movement and the company Mi Bus.

In the four meetings between the company and the operators they have discussed eight of the 28 points submitted by the employees. Yesterday, the subjects were on vacation, internal rules, and employment contracts.

Abdiel Sagel, Director of Inspection of the Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development, said in the case of holidays, the company will make a schedule for employees to have their month off.

Miguel Cardona, the manager of the company Mi Bus, said it is not that they have not completed the topics (of discussion), but that there has been a lack of communication.

"We accept this error and we know that this mechanism should be strengthened," said Cardona.

Routes - The company Mi Bus issued a press release to clarify that for now no new routes will be implemented. The official announcements of of new routes will be given by the Transit Authority (ATTT). (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: So pay the bus drivers more, and increase bus fare to pay for it. Right now the government is already using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the bus fares to keep them artificially low (because that's politically expedient). If the bus drivers negotiate a raise then the money to pay for it has to come from somewhere. Either the fares are going up, or the government will have to pay more in subsidies to the Mi Bus company. So there's pressure on both sides of the math. What's more, the Mi Bus company doesn't have an inch of wiggle room, because they don't have a dime to play with. The government could simply end the subsidies and allow the Mi Bus company to charge higher bus fares, in order to generate the money necessary to keep the buses running, and to pay for the pay increases. Let's see how happy the bus drivers are with their new pay raise, when they have to look at the snarling faces of the people who ride their buses every day. But, that won't actually happen. Ricardo Martinelli will keep the bus fares artificially low through the May 2014 elections, because it's more important to keep the Metro Bus plan in a favorable light. One day after the elections are over, that will change.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Firemen On Hunger Strike - Seeking Pay and Promotions

Protests & DemonstrationsThe Trustees of the Fire Department of Panama will be meeting in the coming hours to discuss the suspension of dialog between managers and the members of the Standing Guard.

This Board is chaired by the Minister of Government, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega.

Rogelio Baruco, deputy director of the Fire Department of Panama, said they will give two members of the permanent guard the courtesy to speak, so they can expose and support their statement of claims.

Cruz Gomez, a spokesman for the firemen who have been on a hunger strike, hope that in this meeting their concerns will be heard so once again the dialog between the parties can resume.

The Firemen said the talks were not a dialog, but rather impositions.

Lieutenant Cruz Gomez, a member of the Standing Guard of the Fire Department of Panama, said there was never a dialog with the managers but rather nothing more than impositions during the four meetings that took place, to find answers to a list of demands presented.

Gomez said the National Government has in its "hands the solution of the problem" that includes three points: the hiring, supply, and promotion of the firemen which by law must be met.

The spokesman for the firemen said three of them are on a hunger strike, and he said the Commander of the Fire Department José Pablo Tuñón never submitted a proposal in "black and white" on the salary increase of $100 would be paid with $50 (per month) this year and $50 (per month) next year.

"Tuñón always spoke of possibilities," he stressed.

He said firemen have been promoted without requiring that they enter the Fire Academy, or that they go through a course that does not exist or which is not valid for the Ministry of Education.

He said the law governing the Fire Department of Panama establishes requirements for promotion, but now "obstacles" have been placed in their path.

Cruz Gomez warned that some firefighters will remain on hunger strike, and he requested the presence of Interior Minister Jorge Fabrega, for him to return to the dialog to be able to sit down again to negotiate.

The firefighters remain on alert in the Ricardo Arango barracks on Ave Cuba, and they said they will attend emergencies that arise. (Critica)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Protest in Colon At 4:00 PM This Afternoon

Protests & DemonstrationsFelipe Cabezas, leader of the Colon Broad Front, said they would take to the streets again today, so he makes a call to all of the people in Colon to come out to protest, to defend their province.

He said the rally will begin at 4 pm at the Paulino San Jose Church.

"The president sees Colon as petty cash, and so I wonder what happens to the contributions made by the Colon Free Zone annually to the State," he said during an interview on the Telemetro morning news reports.

He added that Colon has been the victim of looting by all of the past governments as well, and this one has been no exception.

"They have not solved our community problems and that's what we asked for at the dialog table," he said.

Moreover, Cabezas announced that on February 5 there will be the first national action in partnership with indigenous groups (Changuinola, Colon, the Ngäbe, Cocle, Santiago). "The date was chosen because that day marks one year since Jeronimo Rodriguez's murder," he said.

He said on Sunday the involved groups will meet to define the type and duration of their protest.

Cabezas denounced that now there is a new plan to sell the lands of the former Fort Sherman in the area of Cristobal, in the province of Colon. (Panama America)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Professional Protester Ronaldo Ortiz Arrested

Protests & DemonstrationsThe student leader of ethnic guna origins Ronaldo Ortiz was arrested at noon today during the protests that occurred in the province of Veraguas.

At noon, a hundred indigenous Ngäbe Buglé, together with farmers, closed the Pan American highway near San Pablo, in La Mesa de Veraguas, and there were clashes with riot police.

Protests were reported in several points, such as in Tolé and David (Chiriquí), Penonomé (Coclé) and in Colón, taking as a starting point the commemoration of the 49 years of the heroic deeds of January 9, and against the Barro Blanco hydro project, and the one in Cañazas.

The arrest of Ortiz, who is a member of the FER-29, Frenadeso and the Broad Front for Democracy, occurred when he was reporting on events for Frenadeso News (Youtube), informed his companions.

In the evening, Frenadeso reported they had gained the release of the indigenous leader and his peers. (Mi Diario)

Editor's Comment: I don't call these guys "student leaders." These are the guys who stay in the University of Panama, taking almost no courses. They are a part of every possible anti this or against that movement and organization. There is a class of "professional protesters" in Panama who are funded from outside the country - from Hugo Chavez and other extreme leftist elements - and they get paid to protest and cause as much hell as they can. They went just has hard against Martin Torrijos as they are now against Ricardo Martinelli. These kinds of guys have driven successive political leaders nuts over the years.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Fabrega Says Colon Protesters Should Wait Until 11 Jan 2013

Protests & DemonstrationsIn response to the protests that have developed today in the province of Colon, Government Minister, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, said they should wait for the response that the National Government has prepared.

"We announce that on the 11th we will sit down and discuss the answers to the 33 requests, so we must wait and not speculate," he told local media.

Today the Colon Broad Front announced that they will "close the dialog". (Panama America)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Farmers Have Built A Camp Near Hydroelectric Project

Protests & DemonstrationsPeasants from the community of Las Cruces, in the district of Cañazas, Veraguas province, remain in camps they have built near the Las Cruces hydroelectric project.

The peasants made it known they will remain vigilant and they are peacefully waiting for some authority in the province or from the national government to approach them for dialog, and to explain what project is being developed there.

According to farmers from some 18 communities in the district of Cañazas, they are defending the San Pablo River Basin, an important natural tributary of three districts (Sona, La Mesa and Cañazas) in the province of Veraguas.

The protesters made it known they are waiting peacefully for a dialog, they do not want be involved in confrontations, but so far no one has explained this hydroelectric project to them.

It should be noted that in recent days, these farmers closed the road using tree branches and rocks, to prevent the workers who are building the project from passing. The police had to intervene to reopen the roadway.

Meanwhile, the authorities have police officers assigned to the area of conflict. (Estrella)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

2010 Flooding Victims Meet With AES Panama

Protests & DemonstrationsResidents of El Llano of Chepo held a meeting with representatives of the company AES Panama in order to reach an agreement in response to the flooding which occurred in 2010.

The meeting comes after a series of protests in Chepo and finally, on Calle 50 in front of the offices of AES Panama. Those affected are still living in shelters and are awaiting for compensation from the company.

At the end of the meeting, it was announced the two sides will meet again in two weeks, when they should have an answer to the demands being made by those who were affected.

Editor's Comment: AES Panama had to make an emergency dump of water to protect the dam, and the residents downstream were flooded.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Metro Bus Drivers Asking For A Signed Document To End Strike

Protests & DemonstrationsAlthough the directors of the company Mi Bus and striking Metrobus drivers have begun a dialog with the mediation of the Deputy Minister of Labor, Dario Falcon, the strike has not been ended completely.

According to Jorge Perez, a spokesman for the drivers who are preventing the buses from leaving the holding yard at Los Pueblos, if they end the strike they will not have any guarantee that the company Mi Bus will fulfill the agreements reached. If they sign a document in which they promise to solve their requests, then they will hit the streets, he said.

However, the drivers are not totally in agreement, because the spokesman in Ojo de Agua is asking those drivers from Los Pueblos to end their strike just as they have, confident in that they have already sat down at the negotiating table and they will achieve positive responses.

Meanwhile, users expressed their displeasure with the strike, since they are stranded in the various avenues of the capital. (Estrella)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

MEDUCA Reports The Creation Of A False Twitter Account

Protests & DemonstrationsThe Ministry of Education (MEDUCA) reported the creation of a false Twitter account created under the name of the Minister of Education Lucy Molinar through a press release today.

The MEDUCA clarified that the account was created without the consent of the Minister, and therefore they presented a formal complaint to the judicial authorities to investigate this.

This act comes amid the notification of removal from office of the teacher's union leader Andres Rodriguez, of the Faculty Association of Panama. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Andres Rodriguez has been a massive thorn in the side of successive Ministers of Education, for years. The Ministry of Education announced today that he has been removed (fired) from his position, yet again. I have lost track on the number of times they've tried to get rid of this one guy - and in fact I thought they had fired him several months ago. Anyway, now there's the creation of a false Twitter account under Lucy Molinar's name. Lucy Molinar has been trying to drag the Panamanian public education system into modernization, while the teachers unions are resisting her at every step. This is just one more act of resistance.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Talks Start Between Striking Firemen And Officials

Protests & DemonstrationsThe striking firemen submitted a petition for reconsideration for the dismissal of Lieutenant Cruz Gomez, according to his legal representative Carlos Ayala.

Now one week after the firemen went on strike to demand compliance with what has already been established in law, the firefighters are meeting today, Monday, 10 December, with the authorities of the institution.

Nine firemen are participating in the talks, but their legal representatives were refused entry.

The methodology for the development of this dialogue has already been established, but there has been no greater details.

In recent days, the protesting firemen presented a list of 13 demands, including wage equalization.

In today's meeting they will address this issue, and ask that there should be no reprisals against those who have been involved in the protests.

The National Confederation of Workers (CONATO) and the National Union of Artists of Panama support the striking firefighters. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: There was a couple of fires over the weekend, and the firemen responded and put them out. Not much of a "strike" really, in that sense. But, they are getting their message out, and are sitting down to talks. I suspect they will get their pay raise.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Public School Teachers Going On Strike in Panama

Protests & DemonstrationsPublic school teachers in Panama will go on strike on 12 December 2012, in a move supported by eight teachers' organizations.

This was confirmed by Luis Lopez, the Secretary General of the National Front of Independent Educators, who added that at 2:00 pm this afternoon there will be a march from the Plaza Porras to the Supreme Court.

Lopez said the strike and the march are to reject Executive Degree Number 920 because it could represent the privatization of some schools and the elimination of job security for teachers.

The Ministry of Education insists that the decree only establishes a new educational model, which among other points establishes the extension of the working day to the evening, in those schools where it can be done.

Faced with the looming teachers strike, the education authorities have insisted they have no interest in privatizing the Panamanian education system.

Lopez said they would file a notion for annulment of Executive Order No. 920 before the Supreme Court.

Asked if there was any approach by the education authorities to negotiate with the unions in order to avoid the strike, Lopez said no, and he denounced attacks and persecution against the teachers union leaders. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: I just read Executive Order 920 - twice. If you would like to see it yourself (in Spanish) you can click this link. In short, the Minister of Education Lucy Molinar wants to revamp the public education system in the country. Executive Order 920 lays out a set of guidelines and a new higher standard - of excellence - that the crusty old and entrenched teachers will have to meet. They don't want to have to work or study or improve themselves. And yes, this law is a threat to the job security of the teachers that are not fit to teach. I am 100% behind Lucy Molinar on this one. But the unions will probably make more noise.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Martinelli Calls Protests By Firemen "Irresponsible"

Protests & DemonstrationsPresident Martinelli said the protests being held by paid firemen who are demanding pay increases are "irresponsible." "This is a great irresponsibility. The firemen are trying to form a union, and I don't think that is appropriate, either for the firemen, or for the people," said the president.

Martinelli praised the work of the firefighters, but said their actions are threatening the population. "Being a firefighter is a noble profession. But they cannot use the fire trucks to protest," he said, saying that if there is a fire and the firemen are protesting, that would be unfavorable to everyone.

On 4 December, the firefighters filed a complaint in which they blame the Commander of the Fire Department Pablo Tuñón, the General Director, for failing to comply with Law 10 of 2010, which regulates equality in wages.

Tuñón said they have started the process, and so far already a third has been paid. The remaining two thirds, according to the director, will take effect next year.

The demands by the firemen come just after the National Government approved an increase of $1,500 per month in pay to the highest ranking police officers, which has been questioned by various sectors, who point out that the increase should be general for all police officers, and there are those who work for the society (public) who do not receive a fair payment. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Err. Maybe the firemen should quit and become cops if they want to make more money? Then the government would not be able to keep people on the payroll, so they would have to increase pay to attract employees. In reality the firemen (in Panama, and around the world) sit on their asses most of the day, doing nothing. You only need them when you need them, when there's a fire. If there are no fires, they polish the fire truck. Or watch TV. Or whistle at girls walking down the street. These guys will eventually force the government to pay them more, no doubt. And, they deserve it. My dad is a retired Fire Chief and I grew up running to fires with him - and he was a volunteer. Never made a dime. The "paid men" drive the trucks and pump the water. The volunteers man the hoses, fight the fire, etc. I've also spent a lot of time hanging out at many of the firehouses in Panama City and I have a lot of friends in the fire department, so I know what I'm talking about.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama Canal Expansion Workers Go On Strike

Protests & Demonstrations Colon - The construction workers who are building the expansion of the Panama Canal in the Gatun sector, who are affiliated with the Union of Construction Workers and Similar (SUNTRACS), have declared a 48 hour strike starting today, Thursday, 22 November 2012, due to the death of the worker Salome Rodriguez who died in an accident on Tuesday. (more)

Editor's Comment: You've just hit a "pay wall." Panama-Guide subscribers (members) who have logged in to their accounts can see the full text of this article. However non-members can only see this short introduction.

If you would like to subscribe, please click on the button below to pay the $20 (cheap) annual subscription fee via PayPal;


This Is Another Test Article: Anonymous users can only see this article - which contains just the headline and the first sentence of the article. Members who have paid the subscription fee and logged in to their user account on this website will see the full text of the article, and my comments. I will be putting up one of these per day between now and 1 December 2012 and the full implementation of the "pay wall."

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Ministry of Health Workers Warn Of Pending Strike Action

Protests & DemonstrationsClaiming to be tired of broken promises, workers at the Ministry of Health issued a warning on Monday, 19 November 2012, that they might go on a sit-down strike.

This was reported on TVN News by Aurelio Ayala and Jorge Morales, spokesmen for the Association of Health Ministry officials, who said there have been alleged breaches of agreements and labor rights acquired under the administrations of the former ministers Franklin Vergara and Rosario Turner.

According to the officials, about 126 workers are still waiting for a salary adjustment (raise) to be implemented, while others are waiting for the point of seniority to be implemented, for which there is a budget of $3.8 million which is pending to be executed, they said.

On the other hand, they say the current Health Minister Javier Diaz has ignored the agreements reached with the officials.

On 1 December 2012 the Board of Directors will meet in the city of Chitre, Herrera Province, to discuss the possible strike they warned about today, they said. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: This sort of thing seems to be happening frequently. A long time ago the government negotiates a deal or a settlement with public employees, then later there's a problem with the actual implementation of the deal they reached.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

The President Cannot Decide To Release Colon Detainees - Fabrega

Protests & DemonstrationsGovernment Minister, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, denied that the Colon Broad Front has stopped the dialog with the national government, asking for the detainees who were arrested during the protests against the sale of the lands of the Colon Free Zone to be released.

The Minister explained that it is not in the hands of the executive to release the detainees, because this is the responsibility of the Public Ministry.

He also criticizes that they intend to place political events above the constitution.

Fabrega said on RPC Radio he does not understand how before they denounced the alleged executive intervention in the affairs of others, and now they "are asking for the executive intercede to release the detainees."

He also said that neither the government nor the representatives on the other side of the table will be the most affected if the talks do not resume.

"If the dialog is suspended, only Colon loses," he said.

Fabrega reiterated that the government fulfilled its part of the deal by repealing Law 72, which would have allowed for the sale of the lands of the Free Trade Zone, and now the representatives in Colon should sit down to the talks without conditions, as in the case of the detainees, because the country witnessed the looting. (Estrella)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

The (Boring) Talks In Colon Between Groups and Government Continue

Protests & DemonstrationsBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The talks have been going on in Colon between the Colon Broad Front and representatives from the government of Panama. These talks came about as a result of the protests and demonstrations against Law 72, that would have allowed for the sale of the lands of the Colon Free Trade Zone. Law 72 has since been repealed, and basically it's a done deal.

But now these discussions are ongoing, and to some extent I'm going to ignore the details. For some reason the Panamanian press finds them intriguing and interesting, while personally I find them boring and predictable. The simple fact of the matter is that the community leaders in Colon are taking advantage of their residual power stemming from the protests, while the government representatives are pretty much obligated to sit there and listen to them, as long as they want to talk and make demands.

Sooner or later everyone else will also lose interest, and the whole issue will go away. There will be an agreement. The government will spend more money on Colon. Chances are good that all those who were arrested for various crimes will be released and the charges will be dropped (even though legally speaking the Executive branch of government doesn't have the power to make the Public Ministry do that, but it will happen anyway.)

So there you have it - the talks in Colon are ongoing. But I'm pretty much going to blow it off, unless something really interesting happens. For me, this sort of stuff ranks right up there with watching lint accumulate in my belly button...

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

15 Indians Arrested During Protests Released, Now Looking For Answers

Protests & DemonstrationsThe fifteen Indians who were released yesterday, today demanded an investigation at a press conference, into the arrests and the process carried out against them, said Demetrio Abrego, TVN correspondent in Chiriqui. The Indians were released after they were found to be not linked to the vandalism and the burning of the Police Substation in Cerro Punta in the Chiriqui province. The group also demanded today that they be reinstated in their jobs on farms in Cerro Punta, and that they be paid compensation. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: These are more people who were arrested during the protests against Law 72, over the sale of the land of the Colon Free Trade Zone. In Panama it's common for the police to just arrest protesters, and to hold them until things die down. They were released with no charges pressed against them, so now they want answers. I sort of agree with them. If you're going to arrest someone during a protest, then the government should follow through and press charges against them if they did anything wrong. If there are no charges, then why were they arrested in the first place?

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Agricultural Students Close Road Near Tocumen Airport

Protests & DemonstrationsStudents of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Panama closed one lane of Via Tocumen in the direction going towards the Tocumen International Airport. According to the students, the land where the headquarters of their school is located is going to be sold in order to expand the airport. They said they have already been given the eviction order to start the expansion of the airport in December. What's more, they demand that they should not be evicted until they have been assigned a parcel of land, in order to relocate the new facilities of the faculty (their school). (Panama America)

[image1]
Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

35 Looters Charged By Prosecutors

Protests & DemonstrationsThe Auxiliary Prosecutor issued criminal charges against 35 people who participated in the looting and vandalism of more than 70 shops located on Via España and in the 5th of May Plaza, during the protest in opposition to Law 72 that would have allowed the sale of the lands of the Colon Free Trade Zone. In the investigations, which began the day of the incident, 191 people were arrested.

According to the prosecutor Dimas Guevara, a group was accused of theft, because some of the business owners reported they were threatened with firearms and knives during the incident.

Guevara said currently about 25 people are in custody, because the stolen appliances were found inside their homes during operations and the executions of search warrants in the areas of El Chorrillo and Calidonia.

25 Cannot Leave The Country - The Assistant Attorney granted a "preventative measure" for 25 of the detainees, who are now prohibited from leaving the country. Guevara said the items recovered and are being delivered to the store owners. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Looting is one crime, but it's a more serious crime to steal from someone while you're pointing a gun at them, or threatening them with a knife. So, some of those who have been charged are facing longer prison sentences.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Talks Getting Underway in Colon

Protests & DemonstrationsBefore the start of the dialog with government representatives, leaders of the Colon Broad Front requested that the talks should be open, but it was not possible. Felipe Cabeza, of the Colon Broad Front, said they accepted that the talks could be held today at the home of Bishop Audilio Aguilar, who in turn were presented the proposal that they be allowed to enter with 10 advisers, the 14 members of the head table, and another 15 observers, which was accepted by the leaders. Additionally, they are asking that the families of the victims of the fighting be allowed to enter the talks. (Telemetro)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Talks Talking Place In Colon After Law 72 Riots

Protests & DemonstrationsThe leader of the Colon Broad Front, Edgardo Voitier, reiterated the requests made ​​to the government representatives at the talks being held in Colon. He said among their demands are the releasing of the prisoners who were arrested during the protests against Law 72, and the closing of the files against them (they want the charges dropped.) They are also demanding care for the patients who were injured, and help for the families of the three people who were killed during the riots.

He said they do not agree with the reduction of the size of the committee that is representing the Executive branch of government, and the consider it to be a condition that has been imposed by the government. The FAC will be represented by 14 people, while the government has sent the Minister of Government Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, the Minister of Housing José Domingo Arias, and the Minister of Health Javier Diaz. The Governor of the Province of Colon Pedro Rios will also participate, as well as the Mayor of Colon Dámaso García, and the Manager of the Colon Free Trade Zone Leopoldo Benedetti.

The meeting to be held at the home of Bishop Audilio Aguilar. (Panama America)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Colon Broad Front Establishes Preconditions For Talks With Government Representatives

Protests & DemonstrationsThe Colon Broad Front is making a series of demands as conditions, before they will participate in a dialog with the government that's programmed to start tomorrow, Wednesday, 7 November 2012. One of them is the release of all of the prisoners, both in Colon and in Panama, who were arrested during the riots against Law 72, that would have allowed for the sale of the lands of the Colon Free Zone. They also seek to annul the precautionary measures in the judiciary, against demonstrators, because according to their leader Edgardo Voitier the protests were a legitimate right to defend the property. Voitier also said they are demanding compensation for the families of those who were killed in the fighting, and for the wounded.

The Front called for respect, good faith, willingness, and the ability of the government to create a solution, whose members have expressed that they are open to dialogue, without biases, and with the aim of reaching an agreement. They also say the talks should be broadcast live on the radio.

Members of the Colon Broad Front marched dressed in black and presented the proposal to the Minister of Government, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, who heads the delegation, before the criticisms over the absence of the President, Ricardo Martinelli, and the Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar, who failed to show at the ceremony for the commemoration of November 5 in Colon. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Broadcast the talks live on the radio, sure, no problem. Release all of the criminals who burned and looted stores and killed police officers? Not so much. Their argument is literally "the ends justifies the means."

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Police Chief Moltó Said He Would Not "Patronize" Police Abuse

Protests & DemonstrationsThe National Police director, Julio Moltó said on Friday he would not patronize abuse by the police, and he hopes the Public Ministry will conduct their investigations into the riots in Colon. Molto said the agent who appears in a video released on YouTube beating a detainee during the riots in Colon has been transferred and was administratively suspended from his functions. He said an official investigation has been opened against the agent, and he will be subjected to the Disciplinary Board. Molto said the internal process parallels the investigations that are being conducted by the Attorney General, so we must wait for the courts to specify responsibilities.

Meanwhile, the police officer Bartolomé Agüero, who was in command of the officers during the protests in Colon, said the officers were sent to attend a situation of public order, but delinquents who were from outside of the protest movement committed vandalism and looted more than 50 stores. Aguero said more than 200 suspected gang members were arrested during the unrest in Colon.

The statements of Moltó and Agüero were given during the ceremony in honor the police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty, on today the "Day of the Dead," after the Human Rights Ombudsman said there were incidents of police brutality during the protests in Colon. (TVN)

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks