State represses and vilifies protests taking place over social issues

Peaceful Assembly

On 13th November 2017, it was reported that police officers use tear gas to disperse a protest in the region of Veraguas. Citizens had gathered to demand the building of a road that had been promised to them in 2014. Two people were detained, including Juan Manuel Poveda, a representative in the National Assembly who was supporting the citizens during the demonstration. Poveda was later released. 

On 21st December, workers from the Autoridad Maritima de Panama (AMP) blocked access roads to a port in an effort to demand the payment of their Christmas bonuses. The police removed the blockade and a minor clash with police erupted. On 5th January 2018, a new protest by AMP workers took place and police once again dispersed the protest. 

On 9th January, a group of citizens held a protest over cases of corruption, especially in relation to the Odebrecht scandal. The Council of Ministers repudiated the protest calling the citizens who participated “members of a political party whose leaders are in jail for corruption” and accused the protesters of financing the action with corrupt money. Other political leaders in the country rejected the vilification of the protesters and called the government to respect the people’s right to protest.