Panama City, Nov 5 (EFE).- Panamanian businessmen this Sunday condemned “the kidnapping of citizens through” blockades on some roads due to anti-mining protests, which have produced shortages of basic products and tensions between drivers. and protesters.
The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), one of the most important business associations in the country, also demanded the opening of the roads and the “liberation.”
In its Sunday statement, that business union, which brings together 1,600 companies from 15 economic sectors, noted that in “recent weeks the urgent obligation for each Panamanian to get involved responsibly and respectfully with their fellow citizens in this process of reconstruction”.
The businessmen add that “this commitment has been palpably demonstrated in the peaceful protests, in which thousands of Panamanians, especially young people, have raised their voices against the systematic institutional deterioration and governing with its back to the citizen.”
“Witnessing these events, we strongly reject the kidnapping of citizens through the closure of roads and the deterioration of the living conditions of the different communities in the national territory and we demand their opening and release,” the statement highlights.
This Sunday, Panama marks 14 days of intense protests against a controversial contract law that renews a 20-year extendable concession to Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of the Canadian First Quantum Minerals, to exploit the largest open pit copper mine in Central America.
These anti-mining demonstrations have caused an internal crisis with the most massive street protests in recent decades and blockades on the main roads, which keep the country semi-paralyzed.
As a result of these road closures, there are shortages of food, gasoline and medicine, mainly in the interior provinces, as well as tensions between protesters and drivers.
Also, this week there have been clashes between indigenous people who were blocking a road and agricultural producers in the Tierras Altas area, in the province of Chiriquí, bordering Costa Rica, and which produces most of the legumes and vegetables consumed in the region. country, according to local media.
At least two people have even died from being run over while carrying out these closures, according to local media and the Police.
Some points of the Pan-American highway, the main highway in the country that connects it from north to south, have continued to be blocked this Sunday, according to reports from users on social networks.
On Saturday, the Government of Panama called for the “opening of roads at the national level and the return to the social peace that the Panamanian population needs” since the mining moratorium law – one of the demands of the demonstrations – was sanctioned last Friday by the Panamanian president, Laurentino Cortizo, and promulgated in the Official Gazette.
Business associations and the Ombudsman’s Office also requested the opening of the roads, calling for the “right of free transit.”
The “Alliance” for the United People, which brings together several unions and organizations, announced yesterday that they will maintain “the street actions, the patriotic and civic mobilizations that have been undertaken with each characteristic of each organized sector” until the mining contract.
However, Professor Diógenes Sánchez, teacher leader and member of that alliance, confirmed this Sunday to EFE that they have already “opened a humanitarian corridor” where “they have control”, as he warned that not all blockades on the roads are made by the organizations that make up that alliance.
Panama City, Nov 5 (EFE).- The educational authorities of Panama announced this Sunday the restart of classes starting next week, after they were suspended on October 23 due to the beginning of protests against a controversial mining contract, although the teachers warned that they will continue on strike.
The Ministry of Education reported in a statement that “the measure” of restarting classes starting next November 7 “is intended to guarantee compliance and completion of the school year, 29 business days after its end in accordance with the official calendar (…), which has been interrupted by the teaching strike”.
The Education Ministry instructed “the directors of school facilities to keep them open during their regular hours, and to include the attention of young people and adults, to generate support (including regional and national supervisors) and teamwork, which requires the educational community”.
And he reiterated “the call to teachers, parents and/or guardians, students and administrative collaborators of official and private schools throughout the country, to join forces and value the importance of the normalization of classes.”
The Ministry of Education also urged “educational communities to maintain an open, respectful dialogue, value a culture of peace and the right to express opinions.”
The state University of Panama, whose main headquarters in the capital is usually the scene of demonstrations and blockades of a vital road artery, will continue without teaching classes next week, as announced last Friday.
Classes have been suspended since last October 23 due to the start of protests against a controversial contract law that renews a 20-year extendable concession to Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of the Canadian First Quantum Minerals, to exploit the open pit copper mine largest in Central America.
The Association of Teachers of Panama (Asoprof) also declared a “teaching strike” that same day, which is still in force.
The teacher leader and member of Asoprof – one of the teaching organizations with the greatest calling power – Diógenes Sánchez told EFE this Sunday that they will continue on an “indefinite strike” until what “the bases” decide.
“The indefinite strike continues. The only thing that can call off the strike are the teachers’ bases (…) and not the Ministry of Education. We continue with our forceful actions and we are going to remain in the streets (…), but Still, up to this moment, we have not suspended any strike,” said the teacher leader.
This Sunday, Panama marks 14 days of intense protests against this controversial contract law: the most massive street demonstrations in recent decades, blockades on the main highways and union strikes keep the country semi-paralyzed.
Now, the future of that mining contract is in the hands of the Supreme Court of Justice, which must declare whether it is unconstitutional or not after Parliament gave up on repealing it through a bill.
The vision of the unions, who insist on “repealing” the contract, clashes with that of the environmentalists, who allege that a ruling of unconstitutionality by the Court, the highest body of justice, would put the State in a more advantageous situation in the face of a possible future international demand from the mining company.