Wednesday 15th November 2023.

November 14, 2023


Although several points on the Inter-American highway, in Chiriquí and Veraguas, were reopened on Monday night, dozens of trucks with food have not been able to reach their destinations, including Merca Panama .

This morning, Augusto Jiménez , a producer from Tierras Altas, reported that dozens of trucks were trapped at the entrance of Atalaya (Veraguas).

Jiménez reported that these products left Tierras Altas yesterday Monday at 6 in the morning bound for Merca Panama, but that they were trapped in the closure.

In the province of Chiriquí, more than 12 closed points are reported, from the entrance of Pan de Chorcha to the entrance of Volcán. Likewise in Veraguas there are 10 other blocked sectors.

Various groups are still in the streets protesting and closing roads in rejection of the mining contract.

Yoris Morales , a Merca Panama merchant, reported in the morning the arrival of trucks with products was almost non-existent.

“Actually the trucks couldn’t get in. Some who were on the road were able to,” said Morales, who added that merchandise was received through the improvised ports that were enabled for loading.

“But the shipment from Tierras Altas, the fort, that the caravan was talked about has not arrived. And as far as we know, it will be difficult to get there quickly.”

Morales explained that they had been informed that about 45 vehicles, including containers and trucks, were going to arrive from Cerro Punta. “That was going to provide a fairly important supply today. “We are waiting for them to arrive.”

Meanwhile, from Merca Panama it was reported that this Tuesday 123 vehicles with cargo from different provinces entered; from Panama Oeste, Darién, Veraguas, Los Santos, Chiriquí and Bocas del Toro.

The country is experiencing a situation of uncertainty and anarchy that is generating accumulated losses of $1.7 billion for the economy, which is also increasing day by day.

This was warned by Rubén Castillo Gill , president of the National Council of Private Enterprise, Conep, who pointed out that if this stoppage due to road blockades continues, 15 thousand jobs that traditionally open at this time temporarily in many businesses will no longer be generated.

It also states that 10% of small and medium-sized businesses will not survive.

“There are sectors that intend to destroy the productive apparatus and a signal is being sent from an insecure country full of uncertainty, we cannot allow this, that is why we created the initiative to liberate Panama,” said Castillo.

The president of Conep insisted that one cannot wait patiently to see how the future of the nation is affected, which is why he urged the Government and the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, to uphold the law and guarantee the continuity of democracy.

Businessmen indicate that the way out is participatory democracy.

“We support peaceful protests and the majority knows that they should wait for the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice but not block the streets.”

Castillo indicated that in this scenario the minimum wage meetings have not taken place.

“We are entering a very complex dynamic for companies that are affected by the conditions that are occurring. The president of Conep points out that the situation is quite critical and demanded that the Government apply the law. “If we continue with this dynamic in which anarchy rules the country, as a society we will become an unviable country,” he warned. He insisted that the business fabric cannot be allowed to be affected.

Operations in the logistics sector are at half speed. Investments in many sectors are on hold waiting for a way out of this crisis, the businessmen mentioned.

“The image of the country has deteriorated,” warned Conep.

Elija Suarez, from the National Council of Coexistence Housing Promoters, maintained that it is imperative to free Panama. “We cannot continue to allow jobs to be lost. A company that closes does not recover. This fight cannot continue happening. We need authorities present”

The president of the Panamanian Chamber of Construction, Capac, Carlos Allen, indicated that all the recovery and investments that had been achieved until September are now at risk, because the blockades generate absenteeism from work, supplies do not reach the works and Therefore, projects or half-machine work are paralyzed. Situation that worsens in the interior of the country.

91 octane gasoline and diesel will maintain the fixed price of $3.25 per gallon until December 14, in accordance with what was approved this Tuesday by the Cabinet Council.

The Government reported that the benefit for consumers will come into effect this Wednesday, November 15.

The Executive recalled that with this decision, the effects of article 1 of Cabinet Resolution No. 60 of May 19, 2022, which temporarily stabilizes the price of fuel, are extended.

The Government agreed on the fuel subsidy with the social groups that were protesting the high cost of living in July 2022. In previous months of that year, it had also been approved to subsidize fuel consumption in public, commercial and agricultural.

The difference is assumed by the State before the shipping companies.

It should be noted that 95 octane gasoline is no longer in this subsidy plan and has been sold at regular price since last April.

According to data from the Authority for Government Innovation, since the measure came into effect for private vehicles, in July 2022, $290.6 million have been subsidized. Meanwhile, the subsidy for collective, agricultural and commercial transportation, which has been given since June 2022, amounts to $201.5 million.

Shopping centers have lost 70% of customer traffic during the last four weeks, as a result of street closures and protests in rejection of the mining contract, which prevents the arrival of employees and customers.

“Given the current situation, we face the risk that many business owners will be forced to lay off staff to mitigate the effects of the social crisis we are going through. More than 15,000 temporary employment positions, characteristically associated with the end-of-year season, have already been rejected and will not be filled,” revealed the Panamanian Association of Shopping Centers (Apaceom).

Nadkyi Duque, a member of this organization, emphasized to this newspaper that the situation is unsustainable. “It went from being a peaceful and legitimate demonstration in the streets to becoming a kidnapping.”

At the national level, shopping centers handle an average of 300,000 visitors per month, so a drop of more than 50% will obviously have repercussions.

“The purchase of merchandise, temporary hiring, and the rental of more commercial spaces stopped. Tourists do not arrive, while businesses have had to coexist in an atmosphere of chaos, during the first days of the protest, where acts of vandalism were seen that have represented losses and new expenses in terms of security,” Duque pointed out.

The country’s dairy sector has recorded the loss of at least 420 thousand liters of milk in Chiriquí since the road closures began on October 23, to protest against mining.

Carlos Eliécer Argueta, vice president of the National Chamber of Cargo Transportation, confirmed that in a first trip (eight trucks) 240 thousand liters of milk were lost that could not be delivered for processing.

Later, another contingent (six trucks) with 180 thousand liters could not be distributed either, for a total of 420 thousand liters that have been discarded in the Chiricana province.

“We currently have 640 thousand more liters in collection centers, which if they do not open between today and tomorrow would also be lost,” said Argueta, who reported that they distribute the product for three milk companies.

Between sectors such as Tierras Altas and at various points on the Inter-American highway, closures are maintained by groups calling for the repeal of Law 406, which establishes the contract between the State and Minera Panamá for the exploitation of copper in Donoso, Colón. .


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