PANAMA ( Associated Press) – Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo set up a negotiating table Thursday to seek a solution to claims of the high cost of fuel and food. However, at the start of the talks in Panama’s capital, the leaders of the two-week-old protests were not present.
“I consider this an opportunity for Panama to convene and establish a process of dialogue so that all regions can participate without exclusion, alliances that have raised various problems, mainly the cost of food, fuel, among others. Beach,” Cortizo said at the convention center of the City of Knowledge in the capital, the venue he called for the talks.
Teacher leaders, who have launched a nationwide mobilization, warned that they would not go to the capital for talks.
“We do not recognize the table set up in Panama in the city of knowledge (the capital),” Luis Sánchez, leader of the Association of Educators of Veraguas (AEVE), told reporters from inside. Country. ,
Sánchez pointed out that they are still in a meeting and expect government representatives to present a coherent proposal for their demands on Friday.
Protests and road closures continue in Panama and have begun to affect the transportation of goods and fuel, and shortages have been reported in some parts of the country.
From the outset, nurses, who had announced the day before that they were in solidarity with the protests, marched through the streets of the neighboring province of Panama Oeste, while parts of the highway in that city were blocked. In the capital, teachers and other activists again marched towards the National Assembly.
Police cleared a busy road in the congested San Miguelito sector, prompting a response from ombudsman officers, who argued that there was no need for police action and made an agreement with the protesters to voluntarily open that road. had compromised.
In the western province of Chiriqui – on the border with Costa Rica – indigenous people who blocked the Inter-American Highway reopened it after 24 hours, but have not ruled out closing it again.
The protests – which began with teachers’ demands in the central province of Veraguas – were joined by other unions, movements and labor and social organizations, carrying out the largest anti-government demonstrations in recent years in Panama. Huh.
A day earlier, the government called for a dialogue to contain the protests, which did not subside despite measures announced by the executive to curtail increases like price controls and austerity measures on 10 products in the basic food basket in the state. , which were added to the temporary freeze in fuel prices.
Meanwhile, police released 17 people who were arrested the day before at a protest in a square near the National Assembly, where protesters gather almost daily.