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Trouble in Colon, Civil Unrest, Labor Protests, Construction Worker Strike, Vandalism, Arson, etc.

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Historic house torched in Colon

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The Wilcox House  in Colon declared a historical heritage site – – was burned by on  Monday night  March 12, by local youths  during protests over broken government promises to provide housing and restructuring  in the City

The National Directorate of Historical Heritage says that the Wilcox House -which dates back to 1919- is considered a property of urgent social interest.

The National cultural body (INAC)  has been working on property recovery techniques to optimize and reinforce its structure that for the

moment, is in good condition. Extreme security measures had been recommended

including closing the House to avoid people entering,

INAC  said in a press release that studies will be carried out to determine the damage to the structure, by the fire.

Casa Wilcox, owned by Banco Hipotecario Nacional, is part of the urban development renovation project which the government awarded to the  Odebrecht construction company.



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Looting follows Colon anti-government protests

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CRIMINAL elements, many in their early teens,  took advantage of anti-government protests in the city of Colon on Tuesday, March 13 to loot stores and burn a police vehicle.

Meanwhile the Governor of the province Jennitt Campos declared a 6 pm curfew for minors and the  Committee for the Salvation of Colon . announced a 24 hour extension of the province-wide general strike to demand answers from the government of President Juan Carlos Varela.

Looters  went to work during confrontations between protesters and the National Police to carry out acts of vandalism in one area of the city People living near the conflict area indicated that there was an exchange of gunfire between police and people in residential buildings says an El Siglo report. There were numerous arrests.

A TVN News team  filming  hooded  gangs looting a warehouse was attacked



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Trouble in Colon, Civil Unrest, Vandalism, Arson, etc.
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Government to meet Colon strikers

Leaders of the Committee for the Salvation of Colon who led two days of nonviolent protests and a province-wide strike  only to see their efforts hijacked by criminal elements intent on looting will meet with a Government delegation to seek agreements over what the see as inadequate and badly handled redevelopment in the provincial capital.

The decision came after the leaders met on Wednesday, March 14 with the vicar of the Diocese of Colon and Guna Yala, Julio César Lau. The Minister of the Presidency, Álvaro Alemán, communicated with the leader Felipe Cabeza to schedule a meeting for  Thursday, March 15.

It was reported that a government delegation, headed by Alemán, will move to Colon to start the conversations.

Rdgardo Voitier, one of the Colón leaders said that they will present a list of requests of about 15  pages.

The vicar Lau was representing the Bishop of Colón, Manuel Ochogavía. The conversations took place at noon in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

The group, which organized the two-day strike, accepted that the Catholic Church would act as mediator before an eventual dialogue with the government of Juan Carlos Varela.

The Government blamed criminal groups supported by a political sector for the events that took place on Tuesday..

The commission will be preparing a presentation for the Cabinet for the month of April and will have the doors open to listen to the opinions and contributions of civic organizations and the churches of Colon, said a statement from the Presidency, read by Aleman.

“We understand the dissatisfaction of citizens who feel affected by the work of the Renovation project in the City”  it said.

The strike and demonstration ended on Tuesday as it began: without major incidents.

However, once the march was over, the Casco Antiguo of the Atlantic city became a battlefield due to the clash between the National Police and another group of colonists, with 35 arrested for looting.

The march began in the early hours of Tuesday morning and ended at the city center at noon. Until then everything was calm, and the police escorted the marchers who claimed more job opportunities, investments, and completion of the renovation work as soon as possible since the delay affects the activity commercial and the health of the residents.

Leaders said the violent episodes were the product of the historical frustrations of the Colonists since their problems of lack of water, unemployment and land titles are not resolved. “These problems do not date from now, they are decades old and they are not resolved,” they stressed.



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“Dangerous social destabilization” warning

COLON: What started as a peaceful protest over infrastructure turned to violence and looting
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PANAMA’S Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (Cciap)  has joined the growing clamor for President Juan Carlos to demonstrate leadership and convene a national dialogue to solve the political crisis that the country is currently experiencing.

In a brief, delivered on Sunday, March 18,  the Chamber said that  “facts, added together, warrant a climate of confrontations which can lead to dangerous social destabilization.”

The CCIAP points out that the conflict between State powers, projected as a way of measuring forces on the next electoral contest, “may affect the development of such  citizen consultation citizen with incalculable damages to our democratic system

“The foregoing, in the context of a situation that keeps justice hostage of a state of things that prevent it, on the one hand, being fully  effective to fight against corruption and impunity, and on the other, the delay in shaping the institutional scheme of the Supreme Court of Justice, highlight the need to promptly manifest  concrete and effective solutions for these problems “,

The organization highlights the importance of dialogue as an outlet to “Find answers to our most pressing priorities.”

The CCIAP says  “the ideal” is that the President of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela, lead the dialogue, being the head of the efforts to  “Ensure the maximum possible social stability”.

“No force legitimately representative of the interests of the country should be left out of a call to debate with tolerant, respectful participation  issues  that today  make up the agenda facing our country.”

Varela has dodged sitting down with leaders in Colon, the scene of a recent two-day province-wide strike, looting, and confrontations with security personnel. He has been criticized for finding time for photo-ops with soccer leaders and others while avoiding urgent national issues and moving on replacing retired Supreme Court judges.



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National construction strike set for April 18

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After a show of force as hundreds marched and closed the six westbound lanes of Avenida Balboa on Thursday afternoon, April 5, The National Union of the Construction Industry and Similar (Suntracs) confirmed that it will call a national strike in the construction industry starting Wednesday, April 18, from 7:00 a.m.

The call will be made after six months of negotiation with the Panamanian  Construction Chamber  (Capac) and after frustration over the parameters of the collective agreement c that will be in force between 2018 and 2021.

Herasmo Cerrud, representing the Suntracs at the negotiating  table, said  that the Capac offered an increase of 2 cents per hour per year, a proposal rejected by the workers,

The union has given an ultimatum said  Cerrud but  the meetings will continue every day at the headquarters of the Ministry of Labor and Work Development (Mitradel), but if  an agreement is not reached and if the Capac does not up  its proposal,  the strike will go ahead, affecting major projects including Metro Line 2 which  has revised its finishing dates in order to complete some  sections for World Youth Day in January.



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Colon may renew strike that led to looting

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A Call for a possible renewal of the strike in the province of Colon despite the fact that there is a dialogue in which ministers of State participate. is “regretted” by Panama’s government

Minister of the Presidency, Álvaro Aleman, on Sunday, April 8,  emphasized the commitment of the government of maintain the dialogue in Colón as ” the method of resolving conflicts “. and reiterated the availability of the Executive keep the dialogue in Colón so as not to disturb public order.

Aleman was referring to incidents that took place on March 13-14, following peaceful protest marches to underline local concerns over incomplete renewal projects. Some stores and warehouses were looted.

The general strike was called by different organizations to request solutions for the province. Marches were carried out to denounce corruption and the living conditions of  Colonenses.

On March 19, with the mediation of the Catholic Church, a dialogue table was established seeking to avoid confrontations.

Alemán said that this is “a government of dialogue, willing to seek consensual solutions,

but it cannot be allowed that through pressures the majorities are affected “.

The Committee for the Salvation of Colon said that on  Monday, April 9  it will announce at a press conference the actions to follow. We cannot rule out a call for a general strike like the one that occurred between March 13 and 14. The members of the committee have asked the Government to formalize by decree the dialogue tables for Colon.



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Concern Over Strikes in Panama

Paralysis of works by construction workers and organizations in the province of Colon, is causing concern among Panamanian businesses.

Monday, April 16, 2018

From a statement issued by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP):

April 15, 2018. Announcements of strikes by the Single Union of Construction Workers and Similar (Suntracs) and civic organizations in Colón are the reason for concern on the part of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP) and several other sectors, regarding the impact of these measures on Panama's economic performance.

It is a reality that our economy can not cope with a drastic adjustment such as would occur from a scaled increase in the price of real estate, which is no longer accessible to a large part of the population that does not satisfy bank's credit requirements as a result of several factors, including an increase in unemployment.

Strikes are a fundamental guarantee for workers, but their exercise can not harm the rights of other citizens. That is why the Chamber insists that the policies and decisions in this matter must consider the maintenance of current jobs and the creation of all of the many more that our development will demand.



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Government pledges public order on Wednesday

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PANAMA’S  Minister of Government, María Luisa Romero,  has promised that public order will be guaranteed. on Wednesday, April 18 if the construction workers union (SUNTRACS) follows through on its promise of a day of protests and closures of routes announced by the leaders of the Syndicate.

Romero stressed that the government is committed to dialogue and peace but freedom of transportation will be guaranteed across the country as the nationwide strike unfolds.

On previous occasions, riot police have been mobilized and tear gas used on Suntracs demonstrators in city streets.



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Construction workers reject 2 cents an hour raise

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Social networks in Panama are alive with conflicting views on the actions of members of the construction workers union (Suntracs) who blocked streets in Panama city from 7.a.m. on Tuesday, April 17 on the eve of a  planned national strike.

The guild that represents construction companies, the Panamanian Construction  Chamber  (Capac), sees the approaching end of a golden era and has offered workers a two cents an hour increase each year of a four-year collective agreement (2018-2021).

Suntracs wants the standard pay of $711 a month to increase  over the four years to $1,137.

Capac claims that “the construction industry is going through a remarkable period of decrease, with a significant reduction in the real estate market, and the number of start projects.

Meanwhile the time spent getting to work for the rest of the workforce, already the highest in the region, increased  From 7:00 a.m. many roads were  blocked including, Avenida Balboa, Octobre 12, Vía España, Vía Centenario, Tumba Muerto, Villa Lucre, Tocumen, Howard and Vía Boquete in front of Federal Mall.

If the strike goes ahead, expect even more of the same tomorrow.



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Leaders haggle as workers take to streets

WHILE thousands of members of the Construction and Allied Workers  Union (SUNTRACS) took to the streets across the country on Tuesday, April 17  their leaders huddled in a Panama hotel to continue negotiations with The Panamanian Construction Chamber  (Capac) that have dragged on for six months.

With a national strike set to begin  at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, they are endeavoring to reach a collective agreement, which would be in force between 2018 and 2021.

The meeting began at 10:40 a.m. and included representatives of the Ministry of Labor and Development (Mitradel).

So far, there are 11  outstanding clauses of the 155 that were up for negotiation, all of an economic nature – an increase in basic salary, special conditions and salary adjustments in mega-jobs).



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Concern Over Labor Strikes in Panama
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Minister knocks employers as strike talks collapse

Saúl Méndez, Suntracs secretary  said that the businessmen do not have the will to negotiate  Photo La Prensa.
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AFTER 17 HOURS of talks with the leaders of 90,000  construction workers set to strike at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18 the negotiators for Panama’s Construction  Chamber (Capac) earned the ire of Labor  Minister Luis Ernesto Carles.

He called their position “regrettable” when they announced in the early hours that they could not present another economic proposal to the Union of Construction Workers and Affiliates (Suntracs) without the authorization of their board.

Carles said that the Ministry had convened another meeting of the two parties for 11 a.m on Wednesday, four hours after the strike call.

Héctor Ortega, president of Capac, who arrived at the negotiating table after midnight said  that the board of the employers’ chamber would meet at 8:00 a.m, to analyze what happened at the negotiating table, but indicated that Capac maintains its offer of 0.5% salary adjustment per year for construction workers and said that the numbers support this offer.



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Work stoppage at 260 construction sites

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THE NEW Tocumen Air Terminal and Metro Line 2  are among the major projects affected by the strike called by the construction workers union  (Suntracs) which brought work to a halt on 260  building sites across the country at 7 a.m. on  Wednesday. April 18.

At least 1,900 workers affiliated with the Suntracs are supporting the strike at the air terminal.

Workers line 2 of the Panama Metro, were also off the job awaiting news of the negotiations between the employers’ guild (Capac) and union leaders in the presence of the Ministry of Labor.

Work on Metro Line 2 has advanced between 72% and 73% and is on a speeded-up schedule in an attempt to be ready for the anticipated influx of hundreds of thousands of visitors for World Youth Day and the visit of Pope Francis in January 2019.

Terminal 2 of the Airport will have the capacity to serve aircraft at 20 boarding gates bringing the total to 54.



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STRIKE :Construction guild ok’s  new pay offer

CAPAC Assembly
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After six months of negotiations which ended with a strike of 90,000 construction workers the representatives of the employers’ guild (Capac) were given the ok by their  General Assembly on  Wednesday, April 18,  to return to the negotiating table with new salary adjustment offers to the workers’ union, Suntracs.

“Our team is fully empowered to make the decisions that they consider best at the  negotiating table negotiation, to seek an understanding in the search for an agreement on wages, always within the concepts that we have proposed: that they serve the sustainability of the industry, which favors the capacity of the buyers and which in turn take care of the jobs in the sector, “said Eduardo Rodríguez, director of Capac and spokesperson of the negotiating committee.

He stressed that the Assembly “endorses all the decisions adopted by the committee at the negotiating table.” He said that they will remain at the table “until an agreement is reached with the Suntracs”.

However, they reject the adjustment proposal that Suntracs has reiterated, as  Capac considers it “out of reality since that figure is not in line with the current declining state of the industry.

Suntracs leader Saúl Méndez: said earlier in the day that Suntracs was ready to negotiate but could not accept p the two cents an hour originally proposed by Capac.

According to Capac construction workers are better paid than other productive groups in the country and, the 90,000   workers affiliated to the Suntracs have received $6 billion dollars in wages in four years and 80% additional in labor benefits that add another $4.8 billion.



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Colon gears up for black day of protests

Commercial centers protecting windows and doors
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Another day of protests organized by the Committee for the Salvation of Colon will start at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 19 with marchers dressed in black.

The Minister of the Presidency, Álvaro Alemán, who has called the province-wide strike illegal said that the government is open to dialogue “without pressure or threats from sectors that seek confrontation. ”

The committee has asked the population to wear black to participate in the march that departs at 5:30 a.m. from Sabanitas.

At 7:00 a.m., the march leaves from 16th street to Los Cuatro Altos, said Colonist leader Felipe Cabezas.

The teachers’ unions reported that they will support the strike, And have asked parents and guardians not to send their children to classes. The Ministry of Education (Meduca) said that classes will be taught, as established in the school calendar.

Gustavo Becker, collective transport leader, reported a lack of consensus on the 12 public transit routes to support the protest, but, some route presidents said their buses will not circulate for security reasons reports La Prensa

Owners of commercial premises in Colon have opted to strengthen their windows and access doors as a safety and prevention measure, to avoid being victims of acts of vandalism, such as occurred on March 13 and 14 last.

The Minister of Security, Alexis Bethancourt, visited the province and promised to guarantee the security of the population warning that street closures, tire burning or acts of vandalism will not be allowed.



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Colon condemns Varela innaction

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Hundreds of citizens, many dressed in black marched from various start points in Colon to converge on the center of the city on Thursday, April 19 during the second province-wide strike called by the Struggle for Salvation of Colon Committee to protest government inaction in dealing with local problems.

Participants  chanted anti-government slogans carried banners denouncing Juan Carlos Varela as “the worst president ever” and “the city defends itself”

Many parents followed the call of teachers who support the protest and decided not to send their children to classes and most of the educational centers were empty reports La Prensa.

Minister of the Presidency, Álvaro Alemán, has said that the government is open to dialogue “without pressure or threats from sectors that seek confrontation”.

colon-1.jpg But the organizers  say that the strike is due to the lack of follow through by the government in meetings in which the Catholic Church has acted as a mediator after riots during a previous strike on March 13

Campaign leader Edgardo Voitier said they are protesting the lack of will of the government to solve the social problems of the province.

President Varela who has been involved in a series of trips abroad has distanced himself from the debate, after campaign promises to level the playing field for citizens of the province.

Sectors such as the Chamber of Commerce,  do not support the general strike, although they consider the struggle valid.




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Construction strike talks resume

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Representatives of 90,000 striking construction workers (Suntracs)  and the employers’ guild (Capac) returned to the negotiating table at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 19.

When they parted at 11 o clock. the previous night they were far apart on the issue of pay over the next four years, although both sides had made fresh offers.

As the strike seemed headed for a third day, economists were forecasting potential damage to the economy if it drags on as the industry makes up 17 percent of the country’s GDP, and Capac claims it is already on a downward path as a  reason for rejecting Suntracs pay demands.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Trouble in Colon, Civil Unrest, Labor Protests, Vandalism, Arson, etc.
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Construction strike moving to day 4

Labor Ministry tapes on 260 sites
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Representatives of the construction employers’ chamber (CAPAC) and the workers’ union (Suntracs) returned n to the negotiating table on Friday, April 20 As the nationwide work stoppage on 260 sites entered its third day.

On Thursday the opposing parties agreed on another clause in an agreement to cover the next four years. The signing brings the total agreements to 146.

The major sticking point is over wages with the union asking for a 12½ percent increase over four years and Capac proferring two cents an hour each year, an increase of one cent over its first bid.

“We have received a penny increase as a counterproposal to our adjusted  12.5% per year to negotiate … there is no agreement, the strike continues, ” said union leader, Saúl Méndez on Thursday.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Trouble in Colon, Civil Unrest, Labor Protests, Construction Worker Strike, Vandalism, Arson, etc.

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