There are various folks in the MDP, a small organization of Panama’s democratic left. They are by and large a political expression of the country’s Liberation Theology Catholics.
Citizens’ discontent and a national crisis
by the Movimiento Democrático Popular
Almost a month after the protests began, we must point out that they have been triggered by the extreme increase in the price of gasoline, although that has been nothing other than the spark that set fire to the prairie of accumulated discontent for 30 years of neoliberal governments that have impoverished the entire population. Suffice it to point out that less than 30% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is received by wage earners, when in Chile, to give just one example, they receive 50%.
This results in the 20% of people with the highest income receiving 18.6 times more than the 20% of people with the lowest salaries. Hence, this deep multidimensional inequality has put the discussion on the cost of living on the table as a priority, at the same time stripping bare the public policy model that causes such aberrant inequality. We are the third country with the most inequality in Latin America and the sixth worldwide.
Some consequences of the crisis
It should be noted that the mobilization and protests have covered, for the first time in our history, the entire national territory, including the comarcas. Also for the first time the teachers’ unions have been at the head of such a mobilization of protest and bid for vindication of rights that are of a fundamentally social nature, going beyond — although including — what are the typical union demands.
Even more important is the unification of the two organizations that emerged in the heat of the struggle: the National Alliance for the Rights of the Organized People (ANADEPO) and the Alianza Pueblo Unidos por la Vida. That unity has made it possible to defeat all the government’s maneuvers aimed at dividing, diverting, cutting back and diminishing the objectives of the popular struggle. This unity also created the conditions to incorporate countless different professional associations and social sectors that are also affected by the impoverishing policies and disastrous political blunders of the Laurentino Cortizo administration, probably the most corrupt, incapable and inept in our history.
We confront a national crisis that will have shocking consequences in the immediate future. This is indicated by the first agreements reached at the Unitary Dialogue Table, made up of social leaders and the government: a gallon of gasoline at $3.25 and 72 products that are now included in a basic family basket whose prices will be frozen. However, such achievements are temporary. What is missing now is the discussion about the price of medicines, six percent of the Gross Domestic Product for education, and the great debate about corruption and other matters.
The present threats and dangers
Although the popular mobilization has put demands on the Mesa Unitaria that reflect popular aspirations about things felt by the vast majority of citizens, it has also revealed, for the first time, in a generalized way, the nature of our impoverishing economic model. Overcoming this neoliberal model at this juncture would require proposing a welfare state. For that a favorable correlation of forces, a clear consciousness in the popular movement and a political organization capable of winning an electoral majority would be necessary. These elements do not exist at this time.
Work must be done quickly on this, as well as on correcting delicate situations that arose during the mobilization: the absence of a humanitarian corridor for the sick to transit, food shipments for the population, the small gas tank, the fuel, and others, which seriously harmed the population in general and the producers, also causing the disaffection of social and popular sectors that supported the struggle. Nor was a solution addressed to continue learning in the schools.
If the foregoing constitute dangers at the juncture, serious threats have arisen alongside that which cannot be ignored. Some speeches far from the specific objectives to be achieved at the Mesa Unitaria made possible an absurd and lying anti-communist campaign and the creation of the so-called Great National Alliance for Panama, a meeting of more than 50 employers’ organizations that is directed by the most ultra-conservative sectors. of the country – Panama’s version of Trump’s MAGA crowd.
This right-wing alliance’s true objectives are none other than to prevent popular gains that threaten to reduce oligarchic privileges in all sectors of national life. Just to get an idea, the current President of the Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Marcela Galindo de Obarrio, is an integral and prominent business member of one of the companies that is part of the exploitative oligopoly of distributors of medicines and other health supplies.
The Movimiento Democrático Popular extends its greetings and support to all those who fight to make a more democratic and fair Panama possible.
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