Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Meanwhile, Here In Panama. . .

La Prensa/David Mensa

Yesterday the construction workers' union, SUNTRACS, was protesting in the city of Colón, when a riot broke out and the police shot one of the protesters dead. He was appearantly shot in the back. The protest spread this morning to Panamá City. The workers were joined by students from Universidad de Panamá, and they shut down Transístmica, the Trans-isthmus highway, one of the main arteries of the city. The workers and students were armed with sticks and stones and the police with guns and tear gas. When we finished our Healing Eucharist this morning, we were asked to warn the congregation not to go downtown as shooting was taking place. Protests spread from Transístmica to Avenida Balboa, El Dorado, Tumba Muerto, San Pedro, the Multicentro Mall on Avenida Balboa, Via Israel, Costa del Este (next to where the Lovely Mona and I live), Las Mañanitas, Universidad de Panamá, both toll roads: Corridor Norte y Corridor Sur, Via España (San Cristóbal is just off Via España), and Manuel Espinosa Batista, which means all these roads have been closed down. Fortunately I live a half-hour walk from the church, because we can't travel about the city right now.

The protests have now spread throughout the country: Colón, San Carlos, Arraiján, Coronado, Rio Hato, Penonomé, and David, Santiago de Veraguas, where workers have taken streets, bridges and other infrastructure. I figure this will spread to Bocas del Toro tomorrow.

SUNTRACS have been protesting for a year now because of unsafe conditions at construction sites. The kind of deregulation so popular with the Republicans back in the U.S is practiced here and construction workers are in great danger. There is a lot of construction going on in the country right now, especially in the Interiór, where many estadoünidense are retiring and purchasing land and building. I was really surprised when I was in the Interiór last month for Campamento; there were billboards in English!

The president and government officials have condemned the protests but haven't said anything about the worker's demands.

Pray for Panamá during this period of unrest.


Anonymous said...

Prayers for the oppressed and exploited and for the soul of our departed protesting friend...prayers for the oppressors and the exploiters and for those who have blood on their hands.

Leonardo Ricardo

Grandmère Mimi said...

Oh, my. Prayers ascending. May the workers receive justice, and may peace return to Panama.

Caminante said...

Muchas oraciones de Quito Ecuador y de la reunion del Consejo Ejectivo... que lastima que eso deba pasar. Y muy importante, oraciones para Mona y ti. abrazos de la cariñita de Dios, Quito.

Jane R said...

I've had Central America on the brain all day given my Romero sessions with the kiddies, and now I come over and read this. Prayer for you and the Lovely Mona and all in Panamá, and prayers for justicia for all. Abrazos from me and la Señorita Maya Pavlova. Keep us posted.

Paul said...

What all our friends said above. Virgencita de Tepeyac, Imperatriz de las Américas, ruega por los de Panamá. Que la justicia se realice y la paz regrese.

Raspberry Rabbit said...

What everybody said above. Good to know there are a few priests planted where God needs 'em. There's more to the world than 1st world suburbs.


susan s. said...

Why is there nothing about this in the Chronicle?
Prayers for justice.

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