Panama: Protests, Roadblocks and Negotiations Continue

One of the roadblocks. Screenshot euronews

HAVANA TIMES – With trucks stopped or with barricades where neighbors spend the night, the Pan-American highway continues to be blocked. A citizen clamor demands that the authorities lower the prices of fuel, basic foods and medicine, reports euronews.

The Inter-American Highway woke up this Monday closed in several sectors of the city of Santiago and also remains closed in the East of Chiriquí, in these points several carriers with agricultural products are stranded, who decided to take to the streets after the announcement of an agreement and the reopening for a few hours.

From Panama City to the west, along the highway that connects the country with Central America, there are at least a dozen roadblocks that prevent the arrival of farm products and other merchandise not only to the capital but also to the provinces.

The price of fuel has increased 47% since January and was the first point in the protesting groups demands. A first agreement has the government lowering the gasoline price to $3.25 a gallon for the coming two to three months starting today, July 18th. However, the protests continue until other issues are resolved. Some groups lifted roadblocks on Sunday night for a few hours, while others continue and promise to extend the protests on Monday.

Faced with this situation, carriers and producers ask the authorities to mediate for the reopening of these roads, which is causing huge losses.

Screenshot euronews

To enter Santiago de Veraguas, some 250 kilometers from the capital, lines of trucks block the way. In the nights the drivers eat from a common pot that the neighbors prepare.

“This fight belongs to all working-class Panamanians, for the increase in fuel, basic foods and medicines,” explained Eduardo Arroyo, deputy mayor of the district of Atalaya, in Veraguas.

“We have shown that we poor people are more. We have been hit hard [from the higher prices and other policies]. [In Panamá] the governments change but the poor are always forgotten,” he told europress.   

Negotiations continue in Santiago de Veraguas as the participating unions, including the construction workers, teachers and indigenous organizations pressure the government, considered aloof to the problems of the poor and with rampant corruption.

Read more news here on Havana Times.