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Thursday, July 24 2014 @ 09:33 PM EDT

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Panama's Prison Guards End Their (Prophylactic) Strike

Protests & DemonstrationsThe strike started by prison guards as a tactic to apply pressure to the new government authorities, to demand improvements to working conditions and pay increases, was suspended after Panama's Human Rights Ombudsman Lilia Herrera achieved mediation between the representatives of the guards and the Deputy Government Minister María Luisa Romero. (more)

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Protesting "Pirate" Taxi Drivers Turn The Northern Corridor Into A Combat Zone

Protests & DemonstrationsNow less than 15 days before the new government of Juan Carlos Varela takes over, and with a change of command coming inside of the Land Transit and Transportation Authority, the ATTT is making a last-minute attempt to exterminate the "pirate" taxis. (more)

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Teachers strike ends after agreement with Meduca

Protests & DemonstrationsBoth sides had to give. That was the condition set by the Human Rights Ombudsman - acting as a mediating body in the conflict - and the negotiations eventually succeeded. (more)

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Striking Teachers Enter Ninth Day Of Hunger Strike

Protests & DemonstrationsThrough clenched teeth, an English teacher who has been on a hunger strike asked the authorities of the Panamanian government and even the United Nations to intercede in their ongoing conflict with the Ministry Education, over the methodology used to determine salary increases. (more)

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Panama’s Construction Union Ends Strike

Protests & DemonstrationsThe union representing Panamanian construction workers reached an agreement with the CAPAC employers association to end a nationwide strike that began on April 23.

“We reached a collective bargaining agreement and we’ve ended the strike,” Suntracs union chief Saul Mendez told Efe, adding that his members will be back on the job Thursday.

An accord that “dignifies the job construction workers do” was achieved during the strike after a long negotiating process with CAPAC, the union leader said.

He said the union and CAPAC negotiated salary increases over the next four years, with the highest pay hikes going to workers involved in big projects such as a new set of locks for the Panama Canal and a third bridge over that inter-oceanic waterway.

The pay raises will take effect starting July 1, Mendez said.

The salary for assistants, now $2.73 an hour, will rise to $3 an hour this year and in successive stages to $3.71 an hour in 2017, while starting construction workers will see their salaries rise from $3.08 to $3.35 in July, reaching $4.18 an hour in 2017.

Salaries of skilled workers will rise from $3.67 an hour to $4 an hour this year and to $5 an hour in 2017.

Suntracs, which has at least 70,000 members, launched the nationwide job action seeking salary hikes of 80 percent over the next four years, compared to a 25 percent raise proposed by CAPAC.

Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano on Tuesday said the work stoppage affecting construction of the third set of locks was costing the government $1 million a day.

He added that the Spanish-led consortium in charge of building the third set of locks, the centerpiece of a $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion project, would present a claim for strike-related cost overruns. (Latin American Herald Tribune)

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SUNTRACS Blocks Calle 50 In Protest

Protests & DemonstrationsMembers of the Union of Construction Workers and Similar (Suntracs) paralyzed traffic on Calle 50 in the capital to protest for a wage increase.

The workers are marching towards the offices of the Human Rights Ombudsman.

Later they will hold a General Assembly in the Urracá Park, to define what actions to take, and to decide if they will continue their nationwide strike. (Siglo)

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Striking Public School Teachers Marching From Via España to Calle 50 Today

Protests & DemonstrationsThe various teachers' unions came out to protest again this morning, but this time they are marching on Via España, near the El Carmen church.

The public school teachers, who have been on strike for the past six days, are marching from the church towards the headquarters of the Human Rights Ombudsman on Calle 50.

So far there has been no "white smoke" from the authorities of the Ministry of Education and the educators, so their protests continue.

The public school teachers, together with their union leaders, hope the Minister of Education Lucy Molinar will arrive today to give them an answer to their demands, and that she will not send a representative.

The striking teachers are demanding the Ministry of Education agree to pay them a $300 per month raise, without conditions, and especially for the raise to be disbursed before 15 May. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Again, politically motivated. They are trying to take advantage of the fact that we are now just a few days before the elections, to press their demands.

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Teachers And Construction Workers Maintain Pressure (Politically Motivated Strike)

Protests & DemonstrationsConstruction workers and teachers unions continue the with the strike they began last week.

The construction workers, in ongoing negotiations with Panama's Chamber of Construction, still have to come to an agreement on five clauses that would put an end to the strike which has paralyzed 400 construction projects.

Public school teachers, meanwhile, continued with their actions demanding an unconditional raise of $300 per month.

They closed Calle 50 yesterday, and they have scheduled a march for today.

Meanwhile, the President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli, who was unable to attend a scheduled ceremony yesterday to inaugurate a newly constructed hospital in Veraguas, blamed the workers for delaying important projects. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: And don't forget about the indigenous people who are protesting against the construction of a hydro electric dam, who have been clashing with riot police. All three of these strikes are - in fact - politically motivated. The construction workers, public school teachers, and poor Indians in the mountains for the core of the "extreme left" elements of the Panamanian political spectrum. It's no coincidence that all three of these branches are simultaneously protesting, marching, and clashing with police this week, now just a few days before the national elections on 4 May. Their goal is to create the feeling that the administration of Ricardo Martinelli is not in control, that they have done a bad job of running the country, and they should take over. Genaro López is the Independent presidential candidate for the Broad Front for Democracy (FAD) political party, and he is the former long-time General Secretary of the National Union of Workers of Construction and Similar Industries (SUNTRACS) labor union.

Remember this. Ricardo Martinelli made his first entry into politics when he was appointed as the Director of Social Security from 1994 to 1996. He then served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal, and as the Minister of Canal Affairs during the presidency of Mireya Moscoso from 1999 to 2003.

This is why the candidacy of Genaro Lopez is worrisome...

Mireya Moscoso ran for president in 1994 and lost by 4% - in an election with seven candidates. She then came back, ran again, and won in 1999.

Martin Torrijos ran for president in 1999 and lost by 7% of the vote. He then ran again and won in 2004.

Ricardo Martinelli ran for president in 2004 and lost. He then ran again in 2009 and won by a (Panamanian standards) landslide.

So the last three Panamanian presidents ran once and lost, then ran again and won the second time around. This is the power of name recognition. Martinelli basically spent five years campaigning between 2004 and 2009, all to build name recognition.

There is a trend in Latin America towards left leaning governments. Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador all have elected presidents who are dyed in the wool communists. Here's the full list, with "left leaning" or "Center-left" presidents marked with an *. Far left or communists are unmarked:

Cuba: Fidel Castro (1976–2008), Raul Castro (2008–present) Note: both Cuban presidents as Marxists-Leninists are Far-left politicians.

Venezuela: Hugo Chávez (1999–2013), Nicolás Maduro (2013-present)

Chile: Ricardo Lagos* (2000–2006), Michelle Bachelet (2006–2010, 2014–present)

Brazil: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva* (2003–2011), Dilma Rousseff* (2011–present)

Argentina: Néstor Kirchner* (2003–2007), Cristina Fernández de Kirchner* (2007–present)

Dominican Republic: Leonel Fernández* (1996–2000, 2004–2012), Danilo Medina* (2012–present) Note: both Dominican presidents party have a centrist position.

Suriname: Jules Wijdenbosch (1996-2000), Dési Bouterse (2010–present)

Uruguay: Tabaré Vázquez (2005–2010), José Mujica (2010–present)

Bolivia: Evo Morales (2006–present)

Nicaragua: Daniel Ortega (1985–1990, 2007–present)

Ecuador: Rafael Correa (2007–present)

Guatemala: Álvaro Colom* (2008–2012)

Paraguay: Fernando Lugo (2008–2012)

El Salvador: Mauricio Funes* (2009–2014), Salvador Sánchez Cerén (2014-present)

Honduras: Manuel Zelaya* (2006–2009) Note: during his presidency Zelaya was a member of the centre-right Liberal Party of Honduras.

Peru: Ollanta Humala (2011–present)

Costa Rica: Luis Guillermo Solís* (2014-present)

And why is this happening? The answer is simple. There are more poor people in Latin American countries than rich people. The left leaning and hard-left politicians spout rhetoric which basically says they will take the money from the rich business elite and use that money to reduce poverty, improve infrastructure, education, and services. For every rich bus owner, there are 500 poor people who ride the bus every day. So, when they all get together to make decisions, and they vote to eat the bus owner, he doesn't stand a chance. That's what's happening in Venezuela today.

Thus far Panama has managed to avoid electing a far-left politician as president. However, it's a possibility at some point in the future. As long as the CD and the Martinelli crew continue to (actually) improve the lives of poor Panamanians then they will probably remain on the job. However if they ever fumble the ball, then guys like Genaro Lopez will be standing in the wings, flush with money donated by all those other communists, who would just love to add Panama to their quiver.

This leftist rhetoric does best when the economy of a country sucks. Panama has been doing so great over the past decade, that the whole "eat the rich" shtick can't get any meaningful traction.

In the meantime, the SUNTRACS, public school teacher's union, and Indigenous organizations continue to lay the groundwork for what they hope will be a brighter future - mostly for them. The reality is that these leftist politicians mostly just use these tactics to obtain power. Once they have it, they become corrupted and bloated, just like any other government anywhere.

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Third Day Of Work Stoppage On Panama Canal Expansion Project

Protests & DemonstrationsThe construction worker strike that has stopped work on the project to expand the Panama Canal, as well as hundreds of real estate projects, is in its third day today while the leaders of the business community and union leaders each accuse the other of intransigence while they insist they want to negotiate.

The National Construction Workers Trade Union (SUNTRACS) began an indefinite strike on Wednesday to demand a wage increase of 80% over the next four years, compared to the offer of 21% over the same period offered by the Panamanian Chamber of Construction (CAPAC).

The executive director of the CAPAC, Eduardo Rodríguez, said Friday the businessmen want a "reasonable" wage increase for the workers, and he accused the union leadership of being "intransigent " by proposing a "disproportionate " wage adjustment.

Increasing the wages of construction workers by 80% over the four years of the new collective bargaining agreement would not only shrink the market, but it would also trigger an increase in housing prices, said Rodriguez.

But the General Secretary of the SUNTRACS Saul Mendez said the only thing that's "disproportionate are the earnings" of the construction companies.

Builders accumulated profits of "337% between 2006 and 2013, while wages grew by 18% in the same time period," said Mendez, who accused the businessmen of amassing "fabulous fortunes on the backs of the workers."

"The strike continues," and he said it is being observed by 98% of construction workers.

This afternoon the SUNTRACS would return to the negotiating table "to see if the business leaders propose something new, because they have maintained a stubborn and uncompromising position," said Mendez.

The Executive Director of the CAPAC said today they would meet with business leaders and others who are linked to the industry to seek a "consensus guideline" that will be taken this afternoon at the negotiating table that has remained open with the union despite the strike.

"This meeting does not guarantee we take an additional or improved proposal (to the bargaining table) unless authorized, but everything will depend on the assessments made ​​and the guidelines to be given to the negotiators," said Rodríguez .

The president of the Chamber of Commerce , Industry and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), José Luis Ford, who attended the meeting with Capac, on Friday called the wage aspirations of the construction workers "disproportionate, excessive, and baseless."

Ford said beyond the damages that may have been been caused in the sector during the first two days of the strike, one has to also quantify the damage to the Panama Canal expansion, "the most important project for the country."

The consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), led by the Spanish Sacyr and in charge of the construction of the third set of locks, the major part of the expansion project, said Wednesday that the strike "impacts the work schedule of the project" that for various reasons has already accumulated a delay of 15 months.

Neither GUPC or Panama Canal Authority (ACP ) have reported on the magnitude of the impact of the strike on the work schedule, expected to culminate in December 2015, the new date set after the contractual dispute between the parties stopped work on the project for 16 days in February. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: The one bald faced lie in this article is the claim that 98% of construction workers are supporting this strike. That's simply not the case. I don't even really understand why the responsibility of negotiating the collective bargaining agreement with the CAPAC falls to the SUNTRACS. They only have 12,000 members and they do NOT represent anything even close to a majority of the workers in this sector. It feels like something that's been grandfathered in, from the days when they were the top dog...

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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.

The GUPC said there has been a delay in the work on the project, and their workers are inactive.

The SUNTRACS labor union leader Saul Mendez said this morning their concern is about the wage increase demanded by the union for the workers working on the megaprojects, and that they will remain on strike until there is an agreement.

Mendez said the workers have the right to a raise.

Labor Minister Reynaldo Medina said although the Suntracs rose from the negotiating table and called on its members walk out on strike, the talks will resume at 6:30 pm today. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Ah, smart move by Saul Mendez. The SUNTRACS doesn't actually represent most of these workers, but they are asking for a big raise for them at the negotiating table with the CAPAC. So (obviously) the construction workers who are on the Panama Canal expansion project walked off in support, because they want the raise.

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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.

Over the past few weeks SUNTRACS has been in negotiations with Panama's Chamber of Construction (CAPAC).

The SUNTRACS and the CAPAC regularly negotiate their collective bargaining agreement, and this year is no different.

However the big difference this year, is that there's an election coming up in just eleven days. And, Genaro Lopez is a leader in the SUNTRACS labor union, as well as an independent presidential candidate representing the recently created "Broad Front For Democracy" (FAD) political party.

The FAD represents the extreme left-wing of the Panamanian political spectrum. Lopez, the FAD, SUNTRACS, as well as all of the other left wing political elements in Panama have been receiving financial support from Venezuela from Hugo Chavez for years. Now that Chavez is dead, that support has continued from his replacement Nicolás Maduro, although in this election Maduro came right out and said he's supporting the PRD and their candidate Juan Carlos Navarro.

Back in the late 1990's - before the start of the economic explosion in Panama - SUNTRACS was a much stronger and more important political element. Back then they represented practically everyone who was active in the economy and working as a construction worker.

Howver over the past fifteen years or so, SUNTRACS' political power has waned due to the explosion of Panama's economy. Right now they only have about 12,000 members but there are hundreds of thousands of people working in the construction industry. The simple fact is that the SUNTRACS no longer represent a majority of construction workers in Panama. Not even close.

This morning the SUNTRACS representatives went on television and announced a "nationwide strike" while saying that "all of the mega construction projects will be shut down" by the strike. Well, not so much.

The fact of the matter is that most - a great majority - of the people working in construction today don't like the SUNTRACS. They won't go out on strike just because the SUNTRACS declares a strike. And, they know that Genaro Lopez is politically motivated, and he's really after the money from the dues paid by their members and Venezuela.

SUNTRACS collects $2.00 per member, per month. With 12,000 members that's $24,000 per month. Genaro Lopez and his closest associates spend that money as they see fit, with no oversight or controls. They do practically nothing for their members in return.

The bottom line is that this "strike" is really nothing more than a political rally designed to achieve headlines. The public school teachers union - also representing a minority and also not representing the grand majority of public school teachers - is part of the "FAD" crew. Again, there are extreme left wing elements in Panama, part of the long existing political spectrum.

The SUNTRACS will be able to make some noise. They might shut down a few streets. There might be some clashes between riot control police officers and striking construction workers. It won't last long. Martinelli will first try to hold back, to give the SUNTRACS some room to make their insignificant and unimportant political statements. The FAD has 0% chance of winning the election in May, and the election is all that matters.

But if the SUNTRACS becomes too much of a problem or a nuisance for the rest of the Panamanian people, then Martinelli will send in the riot control police officers. They will clash with the SUNTRACS guys, who normally like to throw rocks at the police. Then the cops will use tear gas and pepper spray, round them up, and throw them in jail for a few days.

This exact same scenario has played itself out on several occasions in the recent past. For me it's like going to see a play you've already seen in the past. The details will change, the exact way the drama will unfold might be slightly different, however the bottom line is wholly predictable.

The SUNTRACS is looking to score some political points on their side of the equation, and Martinelli is trying to defend or improve his political position on their side of the equation. It just happens to be unfolding with the streets of Panama City as the stage, a construction labor union strike as the backdrop, but with the same actors and final act.

It would be a good day to stay home, make some cool adult beverages, and watch how things unfold on television. Avoid any large crowds or demonstrations. The protests and roadblocks will cause traffic jams. If you just wait a few days, all of this will go away...

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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.

The Ministry of Education basically ignored the strike, and said classes would continue on a normal schedule.

The Deputy Minister of Education Mirna de Crespo defended the self-assessment system being implemented for all public schools in the country, which will be used as a condition to paying a $300 per month wage increase to teachers.

The Deputy Minister said in an interview the assessment was carefully designed to consider the entire learning process, adding that the Ministry of Education would only be responsible for the final review of the results.

"It doesn't make any sense to call a strike" said Crespo.

Panama has about 45,000 public school teachers who are distributed in schools all across the country, and all of them could receive a raise of $300 per month, on the condition that they comply with the requirements of the self-evaluation.

The province of Chiriqui was chosen as a test-bed for a pilot program to implement then self-evaluations, and for the next pay period, the teachers who have been approved will see the pay increases in their paychecks. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: The fact of the matter is that only a very small minority of the 45,000 teachers in the system actually walked off the job to participate in this strike. The Ministry of Education, and the Minister of Education Lucy Molinar are simply telling the teachers to go along with the program and they will get the raise in their paychecks. The relatively weak union radicals are resisting all change, and they have been bucking Molinar's efforts to reform the system from day one. To her undying credit, Lucy has held fast, stayed the course, and has been consistently pushing to reform and improve Panama's education system over the past five years. The only teachers who don't want to participate in this "self-evaluation" thing are those who probably can't cut it, don't have the proper credentials, and who are unwilling to learn new things, change, and improve to make the system better. And that makes them self serving, and therefore dead weight which needs to be cut loose. Rock on, Lucy...

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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.

Union leader Yadira Pino reiterated their rejection of the raise proposed by the government which includes a plan to improve the overall education system, saying a raise cannot be conditioned on the work of the entire team.

Pino said those types of conditions are unfair and discriminatory, saying the $300 granted by the government should be a bonus, rather than an adjustment to the base salary.

At the beginning of the school year, the Government announced broad plan of improvements to the educational system.

This plan included a salary scale for teachers.

And as part of the plan there would be a program of institutional evaluation to be conducted every three years.

Highly performing teachers would be rewarded with a salary increase of $300 every three years, spread out over the coming nine years. During this time the Panamanian government intends to consolidate this process, and transform the Panamanian public education system. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: So, the public school teachers don't like the idea that they will be evaluated, and those evaluations will be used to determine whether or not they get a raise. The fact of the matter is - most of these entrenched union school teachers are not worth a crap. They just slog into work every day, puke up the same old garbage they've been spewing for decades, and the kids don't learn anything.

Lucy Molinar came up with this plan to "transform" the Panamanian public education system. And transforming the system has to start with MAKING the teachers perform at a higher level. I mean, it's hard for me to put into words exactly how screwed up the current system is. Lucy knows what needs to be done. Everyone knows. And the bullshit teachers union is resisting. Fine. Whatever. Declare their strike illegal, fire them, and hire replacements.

And then of course there's the issue of timing. They are timing this for now - because most of these rabid union teachers support the FAD presidential candidate Gerardo Lopez of the SUNTRACS construction union. There's a relatively small group of hardcore left wing radicals who faithfully turn out for every commie organized pep rally, paid for by Venezuela. Hugo Chavez (now a dead commie) started this program of funding left wing radicals throughout Latin America, and his successor Maduro (not yet dead commie) has continued his plan. So, most of these "striking" union teachers will probably get a $20 bill for showing up or something...

One more thing. This teachers union does not enjoy 100% support from among the rank and file. Every time they try to do anything like this, there's a large number of teachers who show up to work anyway, who don't support the strike.

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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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