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Security Message from the U.S. Embassy


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U.S. Embassy in Panama

Security Message for U.S. Citizens

February 10, 2017



Today, February 10, 2017, the SUNTRACS (Sindicato Unico Nacional de Trabajadores de la Construccion y Similares)  union (and others) have threatened protests and road closures “across the country”.  It is the Embassy’s understanding that the protest leaders are meeting this morning to determine what they are going to do and where.  Subsequently, the Embassy does not have a good read-out of the scope or location of possible protests and road closures.  We have seen unconfirmed media reports of protests planned on Calle 50 at McDonalds, line 2 of the metro, in Costa del Este, near Ciudad Hospitalaria, and on Avenida Peru.


Some schools are closed for the day, while others remain open.  The main concern seems to be the unpredictability of the impact of possible road closures on bus routes this afternoon.


All U.S. citizens are reminded to remain diligent in your personal security.  U.S. Citizens should plan their travel accordingly and avoid all confrontations.  Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.  You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.  Review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates.  Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.


For further information about security in Panama:

·                See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Panama Country Specific Information. 

·                Enroll in the Smart Traveler-Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

·                Contact the U.S. Embassy in Panama, located at Building 783, Demetrio Basilio Lakas Avenue Clayton, Panama, at +507-317-5030, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Friday.  After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +507-317-5000.

·                Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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IN Panama City where the traffic is so bad the SUNTRACS - Construction workers union- know for his communist preferences, close some important avenues protesting against the recent scandal involving president Varela with Odebrecht and other aromatic flowers.


WhatsApp Image 2017-02-10 at 1.09.39 bPM.jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2017-02-10 at 1.09.39 PM.jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2017-02-10 at 1.09.39 aPM.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Keith Woolford said:

According to a report on Twitter, protesters have closed the PanAmerican Highway in David and there is currently a major traffic jam at the intersection of Via Boquete .

I just traveled the Pan American highway from Price Smart to Novey and there is no visible protest action and no part of the highway was closed.

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Moderator comment: The below news article provides the background as to why the labor unions were protesting in various parts of Panama. The reference to Odebrecht in the below article is about the ongoing corruption scandal involving Odebrecht. For more information about the scandal, please see: http://www.chiriqui.life/topic/4568-odebrecht-corruption-and-fraud-investigations-prosecutions/


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Screenshot 2017-02-16 08.46.41.png

The Panamanian way of arguing with the government

photos by Kermit Nourse

February 15 was a payday, with added numbers of people driving downtown to do banking or shopping. It was also the 25th anniversary of a dispute that began shortly before the 1989 US invasion. Workers for the old state-owned IRHE electric company and INTEL phone company were not paid their 13th month salaries back then — the Panamanian wage system gives workers an extra month’s pay per year, in two semi-annual installments — and after the invesion many were fired and others told that they would be eventually paid. They never were and in the late 1990s the utilities were privatized, leading to more job losses. The privatization laws had it that the new buyers would assume the obligations of the old government companies but by and large they never did. They didn’t pay the 13th month arrears, and sent both current but mostly former workers to the government to collect — which sent them to the companies to collect. Now it’s a quarter century after the last IRHE and INTEL arrears were accrued and the former employees want their money. Everyone points in a different direction or tells them to just accept their loss, but in the Panamanian political culture that’s an invitation to block the street unless and until some solution, or promise of a solution, is forthcoming.

As you may see, the inconvenienced drivers were not amused.
















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