Protest in Colon ends with 5 injured and 35 arrested
On 13th March 2018, the organisation Frente Amplio por Colon (FAC) called for a protest of the rising cost of living in the city of Colon, as well as the deteriorating security situation and health care and infrastructure problems. In the morning, the protest went as planned, but in the afternoon, several acts of vandalism were reported. Provocateurs allegedly began attacking police officers, burning tires, and burning down a building in town. Police intervened, and 35 people were arrested and five reported injured.
In April 2018, several protests took place in the community of Kuna Nega near the capital city. For instance, on 17th April citizens blocked the streets to protest the lack of water services in the community. In a different protest, the same community gathered to condemn the building of a new road that would pass through their community and affect houses. Police officers intervened to unblock the road. On 2nd May, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Public Works met with the community to explain the construction project and make assurances that no home would be impacted.
Since mid-April, the biggest workers’ union in the country, Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de la Construcción y Similares (Suntracs), has held a series of protests in the context of the ongoing negotiations over a new collective labour agreement with the Panamanian Chamber of Construction. No cases of violence or prevention and disruption of the protests have been reported thus far.
The Office of the Ombudsman reported that five activists supporting an amendment to Act 566 on creating a more dignified health system have been receiving threats to their physical safety. The names and details of the threats have not been revealed.
On 15th March, activist Lucy Cordoba reported that she had been harassed for several months. Last year, unidentified men broke into her house causing several damages, and most recently she was sued for an alleged scam, and the bank where she has her accounts notified her that the accounts could not be kept open. Cordoba believes this is in consequence of her work supporting an indigenous person in a land dispute against the National Authority of Land Management.