There were fresh demonstrations and obstacles in Panama on Monday as pressure groups turned their backs on an arrangement signed with the government to end their protests in exchange for lower fuel prices.
Luis Sanchez, leader of the Anadepo Citizens’ Group, said it was decided to continue the protest after union leaders consulted grassroots supporters about the deal announced on Sunday.
“We warned executives that we still have to look at ranks and files,” he told TVN-2 channel.
The agreement was “signed under pressure,” he added, and members chose to continue mobilizing to see truck and flag-waving demonstrators paralyze the strategic Pan-American Highway.
“In the meantime, there is no agreement,” Sanchez said, tearing a piece of paper.
On Sunday, the government and some protest leaders announced a contract to end more than two weeks of demonstrations over rising fuel prices and rising living costs in 4.4 million countries.
According to the private sector, spills have cost the economy millions of dollars and have led to fuel and food shortages in some parts of the country.
Angelica Lewis, who lives in Pakora, eastern Panama, said, “We are in bad condition. We have no food or bath. I wanted to buy rice, but the ones I can hardly find are very expensive. Vegetables It’s damaged. ” She also had a hard time going to her workplace.
-‘We will not weaken’-
The government agreed on Sunday to reduce the price of gasoline to $ 3.25 per gallon and discuss lowering food and drug costs, which was important in protesters’ concerns.
Last week, it had already lowered gasoline prices from $ 5.20 per gallon in June to $ 3.95, which wasn’t enough to appease demonstrators.
After the announcement on Sunday, some unions said the so-called agreement was inadequate and excluded many groups.
“We stay on the street,” said protester Juan Morales, a farmer from Capilla in western Panama City.
“We will not be weakened. We need a strong and positive answer,” he told AFP.
The biggest protest on Monday took place in the capital, where members of the Suntracs Construction Union burned tire barricades to close access roads, causing massive traffic back-up.
There is also a new blockage on the Pan-American Highway, which connects Panama with other parts of Central America, and is the main transportation route for goods through the country.
Protests occur in difficult economic conditions for countries with 4.2% inflation recorded in May, unemployment rates of about 10% and fuel prices rising by nearly 50% since January.
Despite the dollarized economy and high growth rates, the country has a high rate of social inequality.