PanamaTimes

Monday, Apr 22, 2024

What is behind the largest protests in Panama in years?

What is behind the largest protests in Panama in years?

As the country continues to battle ongoing protests and a financial crisis, we take a look at the protesters’ demands and the government’s response.

Thousands of Panamanian protesters have taken to the streets in recent weeks to demand the government put a stop to rising inflation and corruption.

President Laurentino Cortizo recently announced measures to cut fuel costs and put a cap on the price of basic food items – but protesters said they were not enough and promised to continue demonstrating.

Here is what you should know about the protests, some of the longest to have taken place in Panama in decades.


Why is Panama having protests and what are the protesters’ demands?


*  The latest protests come as Panama battles an inflation rate of 4.2 percent in May; unemployment numbers of about 10 percent; and an increase in fuel costs of almost 50 percent since January.

*  Teachers were the first group to demonstrate at the start of July but they have since been joined by other groups, including construction workers, students and members of Indigenous groups.

*  Initially, the protesters called for the freezing and reduction of fuel prices, a price cap on food and an increase in the budget for education, but the demands have since widened to include a national negotiation to address political corruption and discuss larger political reforms.

*  “The current situation in Panama is unbelievable,” Janireth Dominguez, who studies medicine, told Al Jazeera.

*  “There are no medical supplies, there are salary cuts, and there is no work. There is no money to pay the doctors,” she said. “As a student, the future worries me a lot.”




What has been the impact?


*  In the central province of Veraguas, protesters blocked the Pan-American highway affecting the access of goods to the Panama Canal from other Central American countries. The highway is the route through which 80 percent of Panama’s fruits and vegetables are transported.

*  Economists warn the demonstrations have cost the country millions of dollars in losses and are leading to shortages of fuel and food. On Monday, most of the stalls at Panama’s main produce market closed early because of a lack of fruits and vegetables.

*  “Everything is stuck; few things arrive,” Roberto Villarreal, a seller, told Al Jazeera. “A little tomato, onions, peppers, or carrots and potatoes. And usually, we can only sell 30 percent or so of what arrives. The rest is already ruined for being blocked for days.”

Passengers walk as union workers block the entrance to the Tocumen International airport, in Panama City


What has the government done?


*  Responding to the protests, Cortizo, the president, announced a reduction in the price of fuel and plans to cap the price of 10 basic products.

*  He blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine for the cost increases.

*  “One of the problems now hitting Panamanians and the world is rising fuel prices and the consequences. For that reason, I set up talks to address high fuel costs directly impacting the cost of staple foods, with the objective of finding concrete and feasible solutions,” Cortizo said.

*  Cortizo’s administration agreed on Sunday to further reduce the price of gas from $3.95 to $3.25 per gallon, a stark contrast to June’s $5.20 per gallon. But the move was not enough to appease the demonstrators, who erected new roadblocks and pledged to continue protesting.

*  Analysts say part of the problem lies in an unequal economic recovery for Panama’s various social classes following the pandemic.

*  “The macro numbers are based on a few items – logistics, the national airline, mining, and the Panama Canal,” Guillermo Ruiz, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera.

*  “But that growth did not trickle down to the population while prices went up. So working-class Panamanians are wondering why, if the country is growing by 6.5 percent, they are unable to pay for medicine or gasoline,” he said.



Comments

Mike 2 year ago
Cannot understand why they speak of the price of gasoline in $/gallon when it is sold by the liter in Panama. And has been for several years. The teachers didn't have a long enough paid vacation during the almost two year school closure? F the students at every opportunity!! Verdad!

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
Global Law Enforcement Dismantles Lockbit Ransomware Operation
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police
×