Panama protests enter second month

protest panama
Blocked road near Panama City. Photo courtesy of Victor Carmo

Negotiations have progressed between the government in Panama and groups who have staged nationwide protests against the rise in living costs over the last month, but demonstrations will continue regardless.

Protesters want President Laurentino Cortizo to create a price-control agency, reducing the cost of the basic basket of necessities by at least 30 percent. They also insisted that the government ratify a proposal earmarking 6 percent of GDP for education spending.

Mr. Cortizo’s administration, in turn, announced new fuel subsidies that will freeze the gallon price at USD 3.25; before the protests, it sat at USD 5.17. However, Mr. Cortizo said the financial aid primarily targets low-income families, pleading with the more wealthy not to use the subsidy. 

Despite advances in negotiations, new organizations have ramped up calls for protests. Indigenous organization Coonapip decided to join the nationwide strike and promised new roadblocks until minority groups are listened to.

The Panamanian government has urged civilians not to resort to violence amid reports of looting and vandalism in capital Panama City. 

The Brazilian Report spoke with Victor Carmo, a Brazilian administrator living in Panama, who reported massive traffic jams in the capital and a scenario of “utter chaos” that further enhances political tensions.