to the country
Stemming from the meeting
held this past January 30 with the Panameñista and Democratic
Revolutionary parties, which formalized their interest in talking
with our organization, the Asamblea Ciudadana, so that we will be able
to exchange discernments about the national situation and at which, as
political collectives, we recognized actors in Panamanian society
who, over the political history of our country, have assumed
responsibility for running the government, we gather to sign this
manifesto to the country.
The Asamblea Ciudadana,
as an open space for dialogue and mobilization in which social actors
participate --- even though they defend diverse and different
interests --- attempts to articulate fundamental issues for our
society, to contribute toward a participatory, inclusive and
deliberative democracy that insures sustainable human development for
all, and to come to an agreement about formulating some points of action with the
conviction that we citizens must demand, sooner rather than later,
new ways to regulate and exercise power.
The current global crisis
through which we are living demands that we seek new relationships
with power. Social inequity keeps a great number of Panamanians
living in conditions of poverty or extreme poverty, without access to
education, health, potable water, or a dignified job with fair
remuneration that creates the capacity to assume the costs of family
necessities and moreover guarantees the capacity to save (which is
the only path to gain true liberation).
Currently we are
confronting the reality of a government that has concentrated nearly
absolute control over the powers of state, leaving the citizenry defenseless and without formal recourse to the law
to have their civic rights respected. It's enough to mention our
ruler's political machinations to impose a Fifth Bench in violation
of the legal order. Thus we reiterated our call to fight against
the imposition of this Fifth Bench that will give the executive
greater control over the courts.
In the face of the recent
events in Veraguas and Chiriqui, where our Ngabe brethren saw
themselves obliged to interrupt traffic on the Pan-American Highway to
make the government respect accords signed a year ago to resolve the
conflict over mining and hydroelectric dams in the Ngabe-Bugle
Comarca, we have now been shown the government's responsibility for
the painful outcome that has again cost human lives, as well as
hundreds of injuries and arrests.
We consider that we must
demand responsibility of the functionaries who did not deal with the
demands with the dignity of public servants and so avoid unjustified
bloodshed, for which reason we demand an independent investigation
that can define the responsibility of those who gave the orders and
those who executed repressive actions against the Ngabe people.
We denounce the use of
deadly force in a crowd control action, which resulted in the deaths
of at least three people, people disappeared, sexual assaults on
women and hundreds of injuries, and we denounce the violation of international
treaties that establish that health centers and churches should be
respected as sanctuaries of humanitarian protection.
Nor can we overlook the
extremely grave violation of freedom of expression, communication and
information which, in violation of precepts in the national
constitution, the government brought about by suspending, without any
legal basis, mobile telephone communications in the area of conflict.
happen in a way that those responsible assume the consequences for
their malfeasance in the protection of order, property and the lives
of citizens and foreigners who live in this country, so that we don't
promote impunity for authorities who have violated the legal and
This country faces the
danger that he who currently leads the government wants to prolong
his term for longer than the law and constitution establish, imposing
some constitutional reforms that don't respond to citizens' desire
for a new social compact, one that guarantees us a democratic,
equitable, inclusive and truly participatory constituent assembly
process, where all of the country's sectors have their say and are
guaranteed that their contributions will form part of a genuine
national debate that will help us to deliberate and decide what sort
of country we want.
Thus we call upon all
professional groups, labor unions, social movements and civil society
organizations to hold meeting leading to the formation of a united
grand social movement.
We thus urge all of us to
take the necessary steps to:
Promote and realize
the opening of a democratic, participatory and inclusive constituent
process, which through respectful and tolerant dialogue would
culminate in a national day to promote a draft call for a National
Make the necessary
civic efforts to strengthen participatory democracy throughout the
national territory, for the purpose of achieving and defending a
constitutional and democratic rule of law.
Call for all
citizens to participate in all activities necessary to promote
permanent citizen participation in order to achieve a constituent
assembly that is the expression of the popular will.
Convene, as soon as
possible, a meeting in which other organizations participate with
the objective of joining efforts to accomplish the purposes
expounded by a citizens' forum.
the Fifth Bench and put out a call to actively oppose it.
As the Asamblea
Ciudadana, we exercise our civic role because we recognize that the
political class has not been capable of guaranteeing the conditions
that would allow all of us Panamanians to be able to count on a
dignified standard of living to which we have a right.
A development model that
concentrates the product of everybody's effort into a few hands in
turn has been used to expropriate the state's assets, which belong to
everyone and should serve all Panamanians.
We also believe that only
a new social pact that is inclusive, that undertakes great national
causes, that is within the framework of an inclusive, participatory
and deliberative democratic process, will serve to overcome the
threat of a breach of the peace and tranquility in which Panamanians
We are convinced that the
current rules that govern the country have been shown to be
exhausted, and that we require a new general order which can only be
had by a constituent assembly, at which true originating power
emanating from the Panamanian people is guaranteed.
February 11, 2012