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Panamanian Trade Unions Reach Agreement With Government

After three weeks of national strike and nationwide demonstrations and roadblocks in protest against the cost of living crisis in Panama, the right-wing government of President Laurentino Cortizo was forced to engage in negotiations with the organizations behind the protests in Penonomé on July 21. On July 24, the fourth day of negotiations, representatives from various popular movements and social organizations, which have been mobilizing across the country since July 1, reached the first agreement with the government. The leaders of the People United for Life Alliance from the capital Panama City, the National Alliance for the Rights of the Organized People (ANADEPO) from Veraguas, and the Indigenous organizations from the Ngäbe Buglé region, the three organizers of the ongoing national strike, succeeded in convincing the national government to reduce the cost of essential commodities by 30%.

Panama: Government And Protesters Resume Dialogue With Little Progress

Dialogue between government and protesters in Panama continued for the second day on July 22, discussing the cost of the basic food basket, one of the main causes of the protests that have rocked the country over the past three weeks. The protest leaders proposed a reduction of 30% of prices of the items of the basic food basket, while the government proposed a 15% cut, as well as including 17 more products in the price control scheme. This would take the list to a total of 35 products. There was also a discussion for creating a committee on price control to follow up on the issue. Government representatives said that, in any case, the responsibility to ensure these issues would fall on the authority for consumer protection and defense of competition (ACODECO). Meanwhile, posts and videos circulating on social media show empty shelves in supermarkets and grocery stores.

Negotiations Underway In Panama As National Mobilizations Continue

After more than two weeks of mobilizations and strikes and several attempts by the national government to fragment the movement, the people of Panama continue their struggle to demand immediate solutions to the cost of living crisis. On July 19, the People United for Life Alliance announced that it would partake in dialogues mediated by the Catholic Church. The organizations part of the Alliance which drafted the list of 32 demands for the national government and organized the series of national mobilizations that began on July 1, have in the meanwhile continued their nationwide protests. On July 18 and 19, thousands mobilized in cities and towns across Panama, maintaining road blockades and organizing pickets outside public institutions.

Two Weeks Of National Strike In Panama

The protests began on July 1 after the government showed no interest in addressing the issue or meeting with activists for negotiations to solve the crisis. The last two weeks were marked by massive mobilizations against the high cost of living and an escalating economic crisis in Panama. Movements with the People United for Life Alliance have presented a list of 32 demands to the government to address the crisis but the government has refused to take serious action. The protests have seen broad participation from people across Panamanian society such as workers, fisherfolk, Indigenous communities, students, educators, and civilians.

After Ecuadorians, Panamanians Say No More Pillaging

The situation in Panama is becoming increasingly tense as more people join in what has become a permanent strike expressed in street protests. During the last few weeks, there have been several strikes in the transportation sector, especially in agricultural transportation, but the government has not offered any solutions to the demands so far. The lack of response has generated growing discontent, and since last Thursday, teachers have joined the transport workers declaring a permanent strike, paralyzing a large part of the country’s economic activity.

Wealthy Americans Targeted By US In Panama Tax-Fraud Probe

The Internal Revenue Service can now get information about electronic fund transfers and courier deliveries between the firm, Panama Offshore Legal Services, and its US clients, the Justice Department said in a statement Thursday. The IRS seeks to identify clients who used the law firm to “create or control foreign assets and entities” to evade taxes, the department said.

Prolonged Protests In Panama Over Proposed Constitutional Reforms

Protests in Panama started on October 22 when 1,000 students, teachers and administrators from the University of Panama marched to the National Assembly to protest proposed changes to the Constitution that would undermine higher education. When the marchers arrived at the National Assembly, they were prevented from entering and some climbed over the fence to get in. Since then, protests have continued every day and more groups have joined them. Telesur reports that trade unions, movements, and social organizations have also joined. Telesur explains why the demonstrations are growing: "...after the first debates of the reform on October 15, a group of assembly members included amendments that would give them the power to alter the general state budget, appoint a superior prosecutor to investigate attorneys, censor ministers and adjust the salaries 

Panama: Students Defy Blockade, Deliver Message Directly To The National Assembly

More than a thousand students, teachers and administrators of the first house of studies of the University of Panama, made a march on Tuesday October 22 from the Transistmica to the facilities of the National Assembly.  The measure was given as a rejection of the proposals that would modify the articles of the Political Constitution of the Republic, in which, according to the university authorities themselves, they revealed that they would affect the operation of the higher education center. 

Panama Launches Commission To Investigate US Atrocities

By Staff of Tele Sur - The new initiative will produce the first "truth report" on the U.S. invasion of Panama and could pave the way for reparations for victims. Panama launched a new special commission Wednesday morning aimed at uncovering the historical truth behind the 1989 U.S. invasion of the Central American country to overthrow the dictator that the CIA had propped up for years.

How US President And JP Morgan Made Panama

By Ed Vulliamy for The Guardian - This goes back a long way. The Panamanian state was originally created to function on behalf of the rich and self-seeking of this world – or rather their antecedents in America – when the 20th century was barely born. Panama was created by the United States for purely selfish commercial reasons, right on that historical hinge between the imminent demise of Britain as the great global empire, and the rise of the new American imperium.

‘Panama Papers’ Demonstrates Global Wealth Corruption

By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams - An anonymous source, an enormous cache of leaked documents, and a year-long investigative effort by around 400 journalists from more than 100 media organizations in over 80 countries have yielded the Panama Papers, an unprecedented look at how the world's rich and powerful, from political leaders to celebrities to criminals, use tax havens to hide their wealth. The investigation went live on Sunday afternoon.

Voices & Images From The People’s Summit In Panama

The Summit of the Americas, beginning Friday in Panama City, has incorporated parallel meetings. The Youth forum, the Academic forum, the Business forum and the Civil Society and Social Actors forum were organized after a process of selection by the Organization of American States, which also organizes the presidential summit. However, more than 2,000 social movements and progressive organizations have organized the People's Summit, an event that seeks to express backing for the policies advanced in the region in recent years, following the election of numerous left-wing governments. The social movements that will participate in the parallel summit include small farmers, indigenous groups, human rights activists, political movements, worker unions and environmentalist organizations. With such a diverse array of different issues the organizations agreed on an extensive agenda to discuss the most important problems which they believe will not be present in the official presidential event. “We are not an anti-(Americas) Summit. We are a summit that aims at giving voice to the popular movements that are not part of the Summit of the Americas. Our objective is to raise the issue of fighting poverty, for social equality and the sovereignty and right to self determination of the people. We are discussing things completely different to the Americas Summit agenda,” explained Dr. Fernando Cebamanos, organizer of the People's Summit and President of the Broad Front for Democracy party in Panama.

Banana Workers’ Strike Highlights Abuses By Corporations

A strike that has brought activity to a halt since January on three major banana plantations on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, along the border with Panama, has highlighted the abuses in a sector in the hands of transnational corporations and has forced the governments of both countries to intervene. More than 300 labourers, almost all of them indigenous Panamanians working on plantations for a branch of the U.S. corporation Del Monte Foods, have been on strike since Jan. 16 to protest harassment of trade unionists, changes in schedules and working conditions, delayed payment of wages and dismissals considered illegal.

The War To Start All Wars

As we end another year of endless war in Washington, it might be the perfect time to reflect on the War That Started All Wars -- or at least the war that started all of Washington’s post-Cold War wars: the invasion of Panama. Twenty-five years ago this month, early on the morning of December 20, 1989, President George H.W. Bush launched Operation Just Cause, sending tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of aircraft into Panama to execute a warrant of arrest against its leader, Manuel Noriega, on charges of drug trafficking. Those troops quickly secured all important strategic installations, including the main airport in Panama City, various military bases, and ports. Noriega went into hiding before surrendering on January 3rd and was then officially extradited to the United States to stand trial. Soon after, most of the U.S. invaders withdrew from the country.
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