Protests in Changuinola, Bocas del Toro Province

Here is the latest ACS message.

Date: July 7, 2010

To: U.S. Embassy Warden System

Subject: Protests in Changuinola, Bocas del Toro Province

Dear Wardens: Please disseminate this message to U.S. citizens in your
area. Thank you.

The U.S. Embassy in Panama City alerts U.S. citizens about large-scale
protests in Changuinola, Bocas del Toro Province. According to
information we have received, protesters have blocked the roads in and
out of Changuinola, and the areas of Punta Torre, Finca 3, Finca 8,
Finca 15 and Finca 30 are also blocked off. These protests may last for
several days. U.S. citizens in Bocas del Toro are urged to exercise
heightened security awareness and to avoid the Changuinola area.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should
regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at
http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public
Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can
be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by
calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the
U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers
are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through
Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
For updated information on the security situation in Panama, please
contact the American Citizens Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy at
207-7030. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located in
Clayton, Building 783, in the Clayton section of Panama. The Consular
Section fax is 207-7303. The Embassy web site is
http://panama.usembassy.gov/ and e-mails should be addressed to
Panama-ACS@state.gov. After hours and emergency phone number: 207-7000
or 207-7200

3 thoughts on “Protests in Changuinola, Bocas del Toro Province

  1. According to this link : http://www.panama-guide.com/

    These are protesting banana workers who are burning Martinelli in effigy and such since he cut off gov’t subsidies to them for not working and instead always striking.

    Here is the general body of text from this link.

    This union of banana workers were constantly on strike against Chiquita, and eventually the company just sold out and bolted for greener pastures. The same banana workers union supposedly took over the lands and the responsibility for banana production and exportation, however in classic fashion they demonstrated the difference between a professional company with managerial know how and administrative experience – and rabble rousing union worker who can organize a strike. Their efforts to produce and export bananas failed miserably. All of this has been slowly evolving or developing over the past several years. The administration of Martin Torrijos and the PRD paid millions of dollars in “subsidies” to these banana union guys – government tax money being paid directly to the banana unions. They distributed the money to the workers – like paying people to “work” even though there was no “work” to be done. In short, the money was being spent more like a kind of unemployment benefit.

    SOLUTION: Recently Ricardo Martinelli – the smart and successful businessman – has been trying to find a way to fix this problem for the long haul. He turned off the artificial subsidies because banana production and exports have dropped to practically nil – why pay money to these guys for doing nothing? Several private companies have expressed their desire to move in, take over, buy the plantations, and to restart the banana production and exportation business in Panama. However, all of these companies have voiced the same concerns. They don’t want to repeat history and they are looking to avoid the problems Chiquita had in the last few years they were here in Panama. They want to avoid a banana workers union stranglehold on their business – which hasn’t even started yet. The union leaders, who are in exactly the same position as the SUNTRACS leaders – the dominate this union and get money paid directly to them from the union dues – are blocking everything and just protesting all the time. The money has stopped coming in from all sources so they are all pissed off. This is a classic situation in which an organization of workers basically squeeze their employer to the point where he says “screw this, we’re outta here” and the workers end up unemployed. Well done, banana union. Now those same banana workers are out there protesting. To whom? What do they want? And, who’s going to listen? It’s a damn shame that these guys are now unemployed, but they brought a large portion of this pain upon themselves.

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