Declaration of the Front for an Originating Constitutional Convention

Many have made the demand for a long time.
Archive photo by Eric Jackson.

Declaration on the Bicentennial Dialogue

by various groups

The Front for an Originating Constitutional Convention rejects the “Bicentennial Dialogue” convened by the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, on November 26.

We consider that it is not aimed at solving the main problems that plague the Panamanian people, despite its motto: “Closing Gaps” and the 11 predefined topics to develop it, which leave out the issues of social security and constitutional changes.

On the contrary, through a bombastic and demagogic title and millions spent on misleading publicity, the government of the day seeks to distract the attention of fellow citizens. They don’t want us to reengage in the exercise of political power, after a year of accelerated wear and tear as a result of the corruption scandals in which it has been involved, despite the fact that these are the most critical moments in terms of health and unemployment in the last 100 years.

It is intended to demobilize a population that has taken to the streets, for various reasons, to claim their rights, either spontaneously or through organized sectors. Since the rejection of the constitutional reforms proposed by the government, a few days after his inauguration; all the protests carried out in a pandemic have fallen on deaf ears. These include demands for a more equitable distribution of food bags and solidarity vouchers, for their sufficient increase to cover basic needs; for the payment of salaries and provision of health supplies for health personnel; for various labor claims.

Likewise, the government’s strategy is aimed at muffling the call for a widely representative Originating Constituent Assembly that guarantees real citizen participation, as a mechanism to attack the main evils that we suffer as a society and to move towards a social pact that consolidates the republic. The call for an originating constitutional convention is an approach that vast sectors and many personalities in this country have been echoing.

The methodology and participation in the supposed Dialogue were designed by the executive, from top to bottom, according to the interests of economic sectors protected by the executive, favoring manipulation through the Ágora virtual platform and through supposed regional tables and another table for national discussion, all of which, from the start, detract from any credibility or authenticity.

Participation in Ágora is exclusive and illusory, since it is designed so that each person who wishes to enter the platform presents “their proposal” in a “suggestion box,” weakening and diluting the voices and the legitimacy of the organized sectors of this country, then subjecting “proposals” to selection by a commission – also chosen unilaterally – which evaluates their “scientific-technical viability.”

Technology is a tool that should promote the inclusion of the entire population, not nullify it. In addition to that, Ágora excludes the participation of those who do not have Internet access. This aggravates the great technological gap in this country, especially in the indigenous areas.

On the other hand, the Consultative Council, which is the governing body for compliance with the methodology and dialogue agreements, is made up of 21 people, who mainly represent traditional political parties and business sectors. It’s also 81% male, ignoring the universally recognized principle of parity.

The celebration of the bicentennial of our independence from the Spanish crown should not leave us with that bitter taste of having perpetuated, through a “dialogue between me and myself,” an unequal system with maximum concentration of wealth and political power, privatization of public services, legitimation of the status-quo and an increasingly exclusion of the population. This is what happened in slave-owning Greece and Rome, where the minority of “free” citizens chatted in the “Agora” or “Roman Forum” and enjoyed “democracies” built upon slave sweat.

Signed, December 10, 2020

Raúl González, Defensor de los Universitarios de la Universidad de Panamá
Asociación de Educadores Veraguenses (AEVE)
Asociación de Empleados de la Caja de Seguro Social
Asociación de Estudiantes Ngäbe de la Universidad de Panamá
Asociación de Profesores de la República de Panamá (ASOPROF)
Ciudadanos Unidos por la Constituyente (CUCO)
Confederación Nacional de Unidad Sindical Independiente (CONUSI)
Congreso General Ngäbe-Buglé y Campesinos
Coordinadora Victoriano Lorenzo (CVL)
Evolución Ciudadana
Frente Amplio por la Democracia (FAD)
Frente Nacional por la Defensa de los Derechos Económicos y Sociales (FRENADESO)
Juventudes Revolucionarias de Panamá
Movimiento Panamá Anticorrupción
Movimiento Comunal Nacional Federico Britton (MOCONA-FB)
Movimiento de la Juventud Popular (MJP)
Movimiento Político Patria
Partido del Pueblo
Pensamiento y Acción Transformadora (PAT)
Propuesta Socialista
Servicio de Paz y Justicia en Panamá (SERPAJ-Panamá)
Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Coca Cola y Cervecería Nacional (SITRAFCOREBGASCELIS)
Sindicato Unico de Trabajadores de la Construcción y SImilares (SUNTRACSS)
Sociedad Civil Ngäbe-Buglé y Campesino
Unión Nacional de Mujeres Panameñas (UNAMUP)


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