Protests continue in Panama

In Panama protests and closures continue, in the provinces of Panama, Panama Oeste, Veraguas, and the Darién. With an impending nationwide strike from several sectors in the country, talks continue.

Local media sources have stated the reasons for the protest are various ranging from corruption to public debt and environmental destruction. However, at the heart of the conversation are gas prices and basic foods. 

Forbes reports that protests began in Panama at the beginning of the month with demands for the government to address the country’s high cost of living. 

An advocacy group for Indigenous Peoples’ rights writes "It began on July 2 when workers for the Bocas Fruit Company went on strike because they had not been paid for two weeks." They reported that on July 9th a protest began in the province of Chiriqui speaking out against newly passed laws that weaken labor unions, eliminated Environmental and Social Impact Studies, and allowed for up to 2-years of jail or protesting in the street. 

On July 11th an agreement establishes a 90-day peace period during which the government will review the new laws, and establish a citizens panel to investigate and respond. 

Inter-American highway remained blocked at various points with protesters and barricades throughout the night of Monday, July 11th into July 12th, 2022 until the time of writing. 

La Prensa reported in the afternoon on Tuesday, July 12, that in the province of Chiriquí the affected points are Tolé, El Salado, San Félix, and the Horconcitos intersection.

In Panama West, there are reports of demonstrations taking place in Punta Chame and Gorgona. In the district of Natá, Coclé, the closure is in Capellanía. And in the Darién the bridge over the La Villa river remains closed. 

There were also several reported closures in Panama City. While cars seemed to be permitted to pass in small spurts, the closures are affecting traffic and the movement of goods and services along with people. 

Several local news sources have reported that teachers, members of the construction workers union SUNTRACS, university students, and other unions will continue to protest this week. And SUNTRACS maintains its call for a 24-hour strike starting Wednesday, July 13.

La Prensa reported that for their part the Panamanian Association of Hotels (Apatel) expressed – through a statement –their concern. 

"The situation has resulted in national and international tourists stranded and without the possibility of moving to their destinations, in the temporary closure of establishments and in the cancellation of reservations made weeks ago, especially in Bocas del Toro, Chiriquí and central provinces.”