The government of Panama announced on Sunday a commitment with union and popular organizations to completely free the routes that are blocked in the country, after reaching an agreement to reduce fuel prices. The government and the leaders of the National Alliance for the Rights of the Organized People (Anadepo) “achieve an agreement on the price of fuel at 3.25 dollars per gallon and the lifting of closures at the national level,” said the presidency.
“These agreements are the result of consensus and the willingness of the parties to maintain social peace,” he added.
The signed commitment establishes the fixed price of fuel for 91 and 95 octane gasoline and diesel, and is effective from this Monday, July 18, directly at fuel stations, without paperwork or registration that the government had previously proposed. The commitment was signed in Santiago de Veraguas, a city located 250 km northwest of Panama City, the epicenter of the negotiations and where the strongest closures were maintained, with hundreds of trucks blocking the Pan-American highway, which connects the country with the continent. .
“Everything is open. The traffic of cars and heavy equipment in Veraguas is free,” Eduardo Cortés, who participated in the demonstrations on the highway, told AFP by telephone. The proposal of 3.25 dollars per gallon (3.78 liters), was better than the 3.30 offered separately this morning to the indigenous community of the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca and peasants in the extreme Chiriquí province, west of the country. , an approach that was criticized by the bulk of the protesters, who called for a single negotiating table.
Most of the country’s fresh food is produced in Chiriquí, so the blockade in that area complicated supply. The agreement also contemplates continuing to negotiate reductions in the basic food basket and medicines. Some union organizations have rejected the agreement and have announced protests for Monday throughout the country.
– Release of routes begins –
“The agreement for 3.25 dollars per gallon for fuel has already been given, and that implies that the closures of the streets will be lifted,” farmer Juan Morales told AFP by telephone from Capira, a city located 58 km. west of Panama City, where there is a blockade.
“The strike continues for the basic food basket and medicines. But the roadblocks are lifted immediately,” he added. The government had initially offered a cut to $3.95 a gallon (from $5.20), but it was rejected.
The demonstrations took place in a scenario of growing inflation, an increase in the price of fuel that reached 47%, and an unemployment rate of around 10%. The protests have generated shortages of gasoline and food, in addition to millionaire losses, according to business associations.
– Demonstrations in the capital –
Panama, with 4.2 million inhabitants, is experiencing one of the biggest social crises since the military dictatorship of General Manuel Antonio Noriega fell in 1989, after the US invasion. For more than two weeks the country has been the scene of demonstrations and roadblocks to demand the government of Laurentino Cortizo to lower prices and take measures against corruption and waste of public resources. Despite its dollarized economy, high figures of economic growth and income of more than 2,000 million dollars a year through the Panama Canal, the country has one of the highest rates of inequality in the world and poor public services in health, education and, in general, some areas, intermittent access to drinking water.
In Panama City, a hundred people demonstrated this Sunday on the seafront, dressed in black, as opposed to the white suit worn by parliamentarians in official ceremonies.
“The basic basket is higher than what is earned, we are in a big social problem. People are fed up and have taken to the streets to demonstrate so that things change,” Panamanian lawyer Jaqueline Hurtado told GLM.
“In the 68 years of life (that I have), I am tired of seeing governments that promise, rise, steal, fall, the next one follows and here we are lacking everything, medicine, education, food, there is an inequality that does not have name,” added retiree Iliana Arango. The National Migration Service of Panama announced that due to street closures, the transfer of migrants who arrive through the Darién jungle to Panamanian territory and who continue their journey by bus to the border with Costa Rica, on their route, has been affected. towards the United States.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.