Continued pensioners protests face tear gas

Peaceful Assembly

As previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor, pensioners have been demonstrating in Panama since December 2018 to demand the approval of legislation that would increase their pensions. On 7th February 2019, the government and Coordinadora Nacional de Jubilados y Pensionados (National Coordinator of Retirees and Pensioners) signed an agreement stating that the Government will pay pensions through an additional bonus. The details of the bonus still have to be developed by the authorities and present it to representatives of the pensioners. However, there are groups who don’t feel represented by this agreement. This led to new protests and clashes with the national police. 

In a separate incident, on 14th February 2019, clashes were reported between the national police and unemployed representatives of the union Federacion Sindical that were demanding jobs to the company Constructora Urbana. While the national police said that they were protecting the private property and safeguarding public order, representatives of the demonstrators claimed that the police provoked them to start the confrontation by pushing protesters and some journalists. 

Expression

On 17th March 2019, supporters of the Congresswoman Yanibel Abrego attacked the photojournalist Mauricio Valenzuela. Valenzuela was covering a political meeting in which Abrego’s supporters were allegedly giving bags of food to people in a rural community in a bid for their support. When the organisers of the meeting realised that Valenzuela was recording the activity, they attacked him destroying his car and camera.