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News > Latin America

Panama's Workers Reject Corruption, Demand Constituent Assembly

  • President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela.

    President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela. | Photo: AFP

Published 4 August 2017

"Those who govern us have a permanent attitude of looting the people," the general secretary of a construction workers union said.

Workers in Panama marched on Thursday to reject the “institutionalized” corruption rooted in the country's government, and to demand a National Constituent Assembly, which one sociologist said is the only way to successfully uproot institutionalized problems.

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“The Odebrecht scandal is the drop that has overflowed the glass of Panamanian's patience, but Odebrecht is not the only company that has committed acts of corruption in the coutnry,” the secretary general of the National Confederation of Trade Unions, Genaro Lopez said.

With slogans like “prison for the corrupt,” and “Trump wants the world's governments to be like the one of Juan Carlos Varela,” gracing signs and posters, the demonstrators rejected as corrupt the government of Panama's President Varela. They marched from the center of Plaza Porras to the president's headquarters.

“Those who govern us have a permanent attitude of looting the people,” Saul Mendez, general secretary of the construction workers union said.

Olmedo Beluche, a sociologist and member of Polo Ciudadano association, said that corruption has reached the highest levels of the government in Panama, and the only way to possibly change it is through the convening of a National Constituent Assembly, which was promised by President Varela during his 2014 campaign.

In Panama “there is no institution to be saved, that's why we ask for the Constituent Assembly,” Beluche said.

President Juan Carlos Varela was publicly accused on two occasions of having recieved bribe money from Odebrecht during his most recent election campaign. The first to accuse him was his former minister and adviser, Ramon Fonseca Mora.

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