Panama: Protesting Groups Agree on a Single Agenda…

…to present to the Government

Talks on Tuesday July 19th that led to a unified agenda in Cocle, Panama

The unified demands will address measures related to fuel, food, medicine, electricity, corruption, and 6% of GDP for education.

By Telemetro

HAVANA TIMES – Around midnight on Tuesday, July 19, the numerous protesting groups that have partially paralyzed Panamá, concluded a meeting in Cocle where they managed to unify the agenda of petitions that will be presented to the Executive Branch, informed the Catholic Church mediators.

According to the leader of the powerful Construction and Allied Workers Union (Suntracs), Salu Mendez, the unity table will address measures related to fuel, the Basic Foods, medicines, electricity, corruption, the 6% GDP for education, and follow-up to a series of side issues.

Representatives of the United People for Life Alliance, the National Alliance of the Organized People (Anadepo), leaders of the groups of the Ngnöbe-Bugle indigenous regions and peasant communities participate in the dialogue to promote unity.

The talks are set to resume this Wednesday, July 20, at 10:00 a.m., at the Cristo Sembrador Center of the Diocese of Penonomé, and the technical foundations of each of the prioritized topics will be analyzed.

Anadepo asked to stop the repression against the demonstrators in Santiago de Veraguas, in the center of the country, (see the article below) “who never did anything inappropriate against their own people” and only fight for their rights.

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Police Attacked a roadblock in Santiago de Veraguas causing numerous injured and 20 arrests

Tuesday night at a roadblock in Santiago de Veraguas, Panama.

By Flor Cogley L. (La Prensa)

HAVANA TIMES – Strong clashes took place on the afternoon of this Tuesday, July 19, at two points in the city of Santiago, in the central Panamanian province of Veraguas, between demonstrators who kept the roads closed and members of the National Police, who left at least 20 people arrested and 12 injured.

Starting at 3:00 p.m., on the elevated bridge of Canto del Llano and in San Antonio, the entrance to the Atalaya district, protesters clashed with riot police, who were trying to open the Inter-American highway.

On this road there was a barricade of vehicle tires, which were ignited causing a huge cloud of black smoke.

Photographs of people injured during the clashes were published on social networks, but the Police, on its Twitter account, claimed they are from the protests that occurred in 2010 in the province of Bocas del Toro..

However, some of these photographs show people wearing masks, the use of which became mandatory with the covid-19 pandemic, declared in March 2020.

The Police reported that five civilians and seven police were injured due to stone attacks, and 20 people were arrested during the protest.

The Ombudsman’s Office indicated that human rights promoters from that institution went to the Luis “Chicho” Fábrega hospital, in Santiago, to verify the health conditions of the civilians and police units that were injured as a result of the clashes and were treated in this hospital.

After the confrontation, the Inter-American highway was reopened, but after the Police withdrew from the place, the protesters resumed the blockade of the international road, at the height of the Canto del Llano vehicle bridge.

Dozens of trucks remained stranded on the highway due to the closure. On TVN, it was said that some truckers heading to Chiriquí or Central America were considering taking the route that leads from Sona to Guabala, whose distance is 71 kilometers and requires almost an hour of travel.

The protesters continued on the Interamerican Highway, on the elevated bridge of Canto del Llano. A group of them seized a police vehicle, which they vandalized and then set on fire.

The Ministry of Public Security, through a statement, indicated: “we strongly reject the criminal acts of aggression and violence against seven agents of the National Police, which were injured by the actions of destabilizing groups, likewise, the misappropriation and damage caused to the vehicles of this institution, which are used to guarantee the safety of that population.”

“Given this, we will legally proceed to file the corresponding complaints against those who are responsible for committing crimes such as attempted murder, personal injury, deprivation of liberty and damage to public property,” they added.

“We have been persistent in calling for dialogue, peaceful negotiation, respect for the rights that we all have to free movement, the right to life, health and food,” the statement said.

After 11:30 p.m., crowd control police returned to the area of ​​the Santiago bridge to clear the protesters.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Santiago, Samid Sandoval, asked President Laurentino Cortizo, to stop the police offensive. “If a single human life is lost, you will be solely responsible. We do not want any misfortunes in the people of Santiago,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Acts of repression and violence criticized

In Penonomé, where a meeting is being held between the alliances that have been protesting in the streets for two weeks (above), demanding a reduction in the price of fuel, basic food, among other requests, the Archbishop of Panama, Jose Domingo Ulloa, said that the Catholic Church has always repudiated violence and repression, especially when a new process of dialogue is beginning to try to build a better country.

He lamented that this Tuesday, when this dialogue began, in the midst of a deep crisis and great social sensitivity, these situations have occurred, which can ruin this effort to achieve harmony and unity among all Panamanians.

Efraín Kenio Rodríguez, of the National Alliance for the Rights of the Organized People, announced this group’s rejection of the clashes in Santiago. “I hope it doesn’t blow up and the situation gets out of control,” he added.

The Construction Workers Union also expressed its “total rejection of the government’s repression against the people.”

The Teachers Association of Panama asked that there be no more “strategies of war against the people of Veraguas.”

The Ombudsman’s Office urged leaders of civil society organizations, citizens and the country’s security forces to suspend all acts of violence in Santiago that can cause human rights violations.

Through a statement, the Ombudsman rejected the excessive use of force or the possible use of lethal weapons during the process of opening blocked roads, as well as the confrontation of protesters against police units, endangering third parties, including the elderly and children, who are not part of the social protests.

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