Conflicts & War

Dialogue easing tension between Panama govt, unions: church

Panama City, Jul 29 (EFE).- The Catholic Church said Friday that tension had eased in Panama following dialog between the government and unions, of which it is a mediator, over social issues such as cost of living.

From the beginning of July, Panama suffered constant demonstrations in different cities and blockades on the main national highway, in what have been the largest protests in years in the country.

There were shortages of food and fuel, millions of dollars in losses, thousands of people had to walk long distances to reach their jobs and homes, and there were some episodes of violence.

Following failed attempts by the Government of Laurentino Cortizo to reconcile separately with the protesting groups, the so-called single dialogue table was opened Jul. 21, in which representatives of the executive and of the guilds, unions and indigenous organizations participate.

There, an agenda of eight issues defined by protesting groups is being negotiated, of which consensus has been reached on two – a reduction in the price of fuel and food in the basic basket – through price controls, subsidies and the elimination of import tariffs.

“The first fruits of the Single Table are materializing and the climate of tension has dropped considerably in the country,” said a Friday statement from the Panama Archdiocese, in which “it emphasizes that it has not excluded any sector or person” of the negotiations.

As of Jul. 15, the team carried out “approaches with those groups identified by the executive as interlocutors,” the archdiocese said, adding that “other actors,” including private companies, merchants and producers, will be incorporated in a second phase of “deeper and broader” social dialogue. EFE


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