PANAMA ( Associated Press) – The government on Wednesday called for a new dialogue in the Panamanian capital to seek solutions to the protests that have rocked the Central American country since last week against the high cost of fuel and food, which have not diminished. measures announced by the Executive to mitigate the increases.
The presidency said in a statement that the Catholic Church had offered to facilitate the negotiations, which were due to take place on Thursday, and the leaders of labor and social unions, movements and organizations that are promoting the biggest anti-government protests in recent years in Panama.
The closures and marches keep several sections of the Pan American International Highway and streets across the country blocked.
The government’s call was not immediately answered by the leaders of the protests, which began last week with a strike by teachers and teachers’ unions and were joined by indigenous people and construction workers, who stopped activity on Wednesday, among others. labor and social.
The first negotiations between dissatisfied union leaders and government representatives in a central province of the country did not yield results and had not been reactivated since the beginning of the week.
Early in the morning, thousands of construction workers marched to a downtown plaza next to the National Assembly, where they burned tires and rubbish. Later, another big march led by teachers arrived after passing through a popular and busy area of warehouses and shops of all kinds that did not stop working.
As the days of protests go by, more public health and indigenous groups emerge with their different demands, ranging from better working conditions in hospitals to more medical equipment and better wages. Indigenous leaders east of the capital demand rapid government intervention in areas they have claimed for years and in rejection of invasion and logging of their territories.
The day before, the government of President Laurentino Cortizo ordered price controls on at least 10 basic basket products and “austerity” measures by the government, which added to the temporary freeze on fuel prices.
The government, in its call for dialogue, insisted that external factors – including the war in Russia and Ukraine – were having a “direct” impact on the fuel and food issue, and called for “viable and viable” solutions.
But the measures have not calmed social protests in the country of more than four million people and one of the region’s most stable service economies.
The discontent also points to corruption scandals, waste in state coffers and historical inequality in the country, according to experts.