Tuesday 14th November 2023.

November 13, 2023


The closures on the main avenues of Panama City and the blockade of the provinces in the interior of the country have left a balance of 67 thousand missed appointments that correspond to general medicine and another 60 thousand to specialized medicine, without accounting for support services such as laboratory, x-ray, dentistry, nutrition and nursing.

This is the calculation made by the Social Security Fund (CSS) after nearly 20 days of intermittent closures due to the rejection of the mining contract signed between the State and the Minera Panamá company.

The CSS detailed that of the 175 thousand missed appointments, the most affected areas have been the provinces of Chiriquí, Bocas del Toro and Colón.

“At this time we have no indication that the roads will be opened, and given this, we have a population that requires these services. In Panama we have missed appointments and people go to high-demand specialties that only occur in the capital city,” said Dr. Gustavo Santamaría, national director of Health Services and Benefits of the CSS, who validated with this the effect of closures for patients living outside the capital city.

Santamaría pointed out that during the weekend it was possible to supply the different health facilities in the provinces of Chiriquí and Bocas del Toro with supplies required by patients with peritoneal dialysis, whose treatment is three times a week.

However, he warned that current supplies only cover needs for 10 to 12 days, so more transportation of medicines and supplies will need to be carried out in the future, given that demand persists.

The caravan of trucks with agricultural merchandise and other products that left early this Monday, November 13, from David, Chiriquí province, managed to cross the Horconcitos, Las Vueltas and San Lorenzo sectors after the temporary opening of the Inter-American highway by of a group of indigenous people.

The protesters relented and allowed the drivers to continue on their way to the capital. The caravan also managed to cross San Félix, but a few kilometers later it was stopped.

Another group of indigenous people closed the Inter-American highway near the Chiriquí Oriente Professional Technical Institute, in Escodu, Remedios. At this point they began cutting down trees to block the road.

Meanwhile, the merchandise trucks that left the capital towards Chiriquí managed to pass Tolé and Viguí despite the refusal of another group of indigenous people. On Sunday night, most of the indigenous bases had agreed to the temporary reopening in Tolé.

However, they have also been stranded in Remedios, waiting for the reopening.

In Santiago, province of Veraguas, the groups that have remained in the protests against the mining contract also announced that they will continue with the blocked road, under the vehicular bridge.

Since 6:00 am this Monday, several sections of the Inter-American highway in Chiriquí that have been closed for the last 23 days, due to protests rejecting the renewal of the contract with Minera Panamá, were gradually reopened.

The road will be open for about 12 hours, according to the indigenous groups of the Ngäbe Buglé Region. Dozens of trucks with agricultural merchandise – coming from Tierras Alta – began to leave early in the morning from David to Panama, monitored by the National Police.

Meanwhile, the trucks that had been stranded for 20 days at the closure points in eastern Chirican, heading to David, began to circulate.

The authorities hope that the trucks with agricultural cargo will soon arrive in the capital, after weeks of shortages. Most supermarkets do not have vegetables such as lettuce, tomato, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, among others. Additionally, the prices of these products have been increasing.

Minera Panamá , a subsidiary of the Canadian First Quantum, reported this Monday that it began to reduce its mineral processing capacity.

Through a statement, the concession company for the Cobre Panamá project alleged that the reduction in operations is due to an “illegal blockage” caused by small vessels in the mine’s Punta Rincón port, in Colón.

“Illegal actions at the port have affected the delivery of supplies to the power generation plant, which is necessary for full operation and for the safe management of the environment, including the operation and maintenance of the tailings management facility. In addition, illegal actions have hindered the loading of copper concentrate on ships,” the company details.

Beyond the specific effects of the closures, First Quantum has lost more than 40% of its value since President Laurentino Cortizo called for a public consultation on the mining contract. His shares have plummeted while mining activity faces fierce opposition from citizens, environmental groups, indigenous peoples and unionized workers.

There is widespread discontent over the approval of the contract, the terms reached and the possible irreparable environmental damage during the term of the agreement, for 20 years, extendable.

“In the event that normal activities at the port are not restored, the decrease in mineral processing at Cobre Panamá will have a direct impact on more than 7,000 employees and contractors, as well as another 40,000 people whose livelihoods directly depend on the provision of services to the mine,” the company said.

Minera Panamá detailed that they are adopting a “systematic and responsible approach to adjust their operations based on these circumstances.”

Currently, there are nine unconstitutionality lawsuits filed in the Supreme Court of Justice against Law 406, of October 2023, which renewed the contract between Minera Panamá and the Panamanian State. At the same time, various groups in the country maintain their protest actions rejecting the contract, which has generated a social crisis.

Street closures, clashes and riots in the country have resulted in the death of 4 people and more than 1,000 detainees.

The logistics sector, which covers land, sea and air merchandise transportation processes, customs agents, warehouses, importers and exporters, accumulates losses of 200 million dollars per day due to transportation that has not been able to move due to the blockades, which adds to the amount of payment resources to employees and workers that has also been harmed.

Hugo Torrijos, president of the Logistics Business Council, pointed out that in almost 23 days or 3 weeks of blockades, these losses for both the logistics industry and the economy in general amount to between one billion and 1.5 billion dollars.

“We need to free the country, the partial opening of the roads does not help the country to recover normality and comply with local and international trade dispatches.”

Torrijos explained that surcharges of between 100 and 350 dollars a day in fines are estimated for each container that is not returned or delivered on time to the shipping companies.

It also indicates that the country is ceasing to be a reliable supplier with these blockades that impact both transportation to Central America and the transshipment of merchandise and goods to other countries because although maritime transportation is not paralyzed, the arrival of containers and the departure of The merchandise that is shipped by land has been delayed. “The delay of cargo transported by land harms the country’s entire logistics chain.”

It wasrecalled that the logistics sector, which includes maritime activity and land and air cargo transportation, generated more than 135 thousand jobs in 2015 and in recent years it has increased 30%, so it may be covering between 150 thousand to 200 thousand direct jobs that general currently.

This situation has an international impact since the country is losing customers who prefer to go to other markets to transport their merchandise.

The Administration Attorney, Rigoberto González , sent three other opinions to the Supreme Court of Justice, in which he insists that Law 406 of October 20, 2023 , which adopts the contract with Minera Panamá, SA, is unconstitutional .

González’s criteria are set out in three writings in which he issues a concept within the unconstitutionality claims against Law 406, promoted by Martín Molina, Ernesto Cedeño and a group of lawyers including Harry Díaz and Ariel Corbetti, among others.

The three opinions were issued on November 9.

It is the fourth time that Attorney General González issues a ruling in relation to Law 406. He previously did so as part of the unconstitutionality lawsuit presented by Juan Ramón Sevillano . Both González and the Attorney General, Javier Caraballo , have already warned the Court that this rule conflicts with several articles of the Constitution .

In total, the Court has admitted nine lawsuits against Law 406.

Seek and thou shall not find…… About six subjects robbed the safe of the branch of the National Charity Lottery (LNB) of Los Pueblos early this Monday, November 13.

This was confirmed by the institution. The incident occurred at around 2:26 am. The local security agent was gagged.

According to the entity, inside the safe there was only documentation from the Treasury department. They were unable to take any money or lottery tickets.

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office reported that it began investigation proceedings after the robbery.


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