As happens often in Panama, protests are going to create havoc along the InterAmerican Highway.
This time it is being scheduled for Carnival. Of course that is a holiday I choose to avoid anyway because of the drunks on the road.
Here is an article from the Panama News.
UPDATE: Apparently, they have negotiated and the protest has been called off.
Received from a Chiriquí Chatter reader.
Protesters from the Suntracs Labor Union have effectively shut down traffic from entering and leaving David on the InterAmericana Hwy. around Noon today. Traffic was backed over several kilometers on each side of the InterAmericana as Protesters were centered around the Chiriqui Mall area of the Autopista. Police told motorists that they were not intending to intervene to clear the roadway and would let the protesters carry on. The Protesters were lighting tire fires in the middle of the InterAmericana roadway.
The timing of the Protests seemed designed to inconvenience as many people as possible with the Noon time commencement of the Protests. Those traveling to David this morning on business will be unable to get back in a timely manner this afternoon to their homes, while those going to David this afternoon will not be able to get in.
The Suntracs Union Protesters are in collusion with the Ngobe Bugle Indians and other indigenous peoples over the Mineral Rights debate over their lands. The offer from the National Government for payment for mining rights appears most unsatisfactory to the Indigneous peoples and now, Suntracs.
Suntracs is perhaps, the most powerful labor union in Panama, and represents many of the country’s construction workers. There appears to be enough anarchists and nihilists on both sides of the political spectrum in the Union that they wish to show solidarity with the minority Indians in their dealing with the National Government in shutting down main traffic routes and basic transportation services.
This is only an initial report based on my experiences trying to access David just earlier. I am sure that as more information develops, that we can determine just how long the protest may last, and if there will be a continuance tomorrow or the next few days.
If you tried to go to the Chiriquí Mall or PriceSmart yesterday around 11:00 AM, then you most likely ran into a protest stopping traffic in all directions.
The protest was being held by the administrative workers in the Social Security hospital. Nurses and Doctors were not a part of the protest. My understanding is that they are asking for $75 dollars more a month salary increase.
I never try to cross any of these type of protests. Doing so can cause even the more peaceful ones to have a rock thrown through the window.
I took the following photo, made a U-turn across the grassy median and decided PriceSmart would be another day.
The President of Panama was in Chiriquí yesterday and because of that, the farmers had an elaborate parade for him. This was not the typical marching band parade with high stepping majorettes.
This was a parade of farmers in cars and pickups and in tractors protesting the importation of foreign rice. The farmers want to be provide all rice for Panama, but it can be imported cheaper and the farmers can’t compete with the cheaper rice from the outside.
This is my understanding of yesterday’s protest. Anyone with a better or more complete understanding, feel free to elaborate. The high price of gasoline and diesel is taking its tole on all of the products in Chiriquí. Milk, cheese, vegetables, etc can’t be produced and delivered to market as cheaply as before.
I have to say, that this was the most orderly and best organized protest I have seen in Panama. There had to be over 50 tractors and over 200 cars and pickups in the caravan. At least that is my guess. I first saw it on the InterAmerican highway traveling in the eastward direction. I stopped close to the Pizza Hut and took a few photos.
I then drove to the Optica Lopez and then to Super99. When I was leaving Super99, the parade of tractors had made it around the loop and was passing in front of Supep99 where I took the residual of the photos. Below are a small portion of the protest parade.
In this first photo, it would be easy to think the man on the tractor is angry. He appears to be shouting something. The sign on the tractor says “No more imported rice”.
Continue reading The Price Of Rice Parade in David
I understand that there will be Social Security Reform protests tomorrow in Panama City. When there are protests in Panama City there are usually some in David as well. That could mean that I will have pass on my weekly trip to PriceMart. Darn and I was looking forward to some TCBY Yogurt.