The strike continues — morning reconnaissance

The Ministry of Education has ordered the public schools to open tomorrow (Tuesday). These local and provincial educators’ organizations advise that the strike continues. The government and the strikers ought to talk, but there is accumulated distrust on the part of the latter and fear of looking weak on the part of the former. Just waiting it out until the court rules sometime in December looks ever less viable of an option. Graphic from X / Twitter.

“One day longer than THEY can!” — how long a determined striker says she will hold out

by Eric Jackson

The first set of November holidays, but not the national strike, having concluded, I set out on the morning of November 6 to get dog food, cat food, cash and something for me to eat. But also to look around and see how the strike was proceeding.

I did not have to wait long to catch a San Juan de Dios / Anton bus into Anton’s Centro Comercial. Near the entrada to Juan Diaz, San Juan de Dios, Altos de La Estancia and beyond, large tree branches had been felled and lay by the side of the road, ready to drag out into the road if the plan came to that. There was nobody tending to potential roadblock, which had gone up and down several times at that place over the preceding week and a half. We got into Anton without a blockage.

In Anton, the materials were ready to close the road at the usual spot — near the Transito cops’ sub-station — but traffic was freely flowing in both directions. NOT MUCH traffic, because people have been staying off the road.

Money in pocket, but needing more, I first went to the ATM machine. It was out of cash. Armored car deliveries have been disrupted. The Western Union booth was down, too.

So, grab the newspapers and be on my way? La Estrella and El Siglo were for sale. La Prensa, Metro Libre and the Martinelista rags were unavailable.

Strikingly absent in the three Anton supermarkets I visited were factory-baked bread product. Meat, poultry and dairy products were in short supply. Most of the fondas I passed were closed.

Onto another bus, in Penonome’s direction but stopping at the Ven y Van at the entrada to Juan Diaz. The ATM there was working. However, they usually have dog food there, but not on this day.

Grabbing another bus headed toward Penonome, I got off at the Machetazo. Those folks usually just carry Ricky Martinelli’s papers, but they had no newspapers this morning. Brunch — Corn empanadas, chicken fingers and one of the last bottles of tea in their cooler in the adjacent cafeteria, and I took time to eat and read La Estrella. They had this off-the-wall Entre las Lineas editorial blasting the Ngabe as these lazy dependent bums, and below that a very good column on what artificial intelligence means for working people under our present system by economist and sometimes radical politician Juan Jované.

Back into the store, animal food and a few other supplies obtained, and then to the bus stop. In the parking lot, a pickup flying the Panamanian flag and the SUNTRACS pennant cruise slowly through, giving and accepting some greetings from sympathizer it passed. No boos, catcalls, harsh words or hate stares. Maybe people who might be so inclined found it more prudent to remain silent and indicate nothing.

I got onto a Penonome to Rio Hato bus back to Anton. Still none of the other papers, still the ATMs were empty, but now the road was closed at the barricade near the transito cops. Then onto an Anton to Juan Diaz bus back to the barrio, which got there without incident but with some police scouts observing at the turnoff.

Home, from which waiting cats and dogs emerged to greet me and get fed.

On the macro scale, a nation waited, wondering if it would be fed. 

If it entailed waiting until mid-December, my fruit and vegetable crops would get me by. The animals, however, don’t care to eat that stuff. I would also expect that the nation is not ready to live off of the land, notwithstanding what our recent hard years should have told us. People are tired, supplies are dwindling and even folks who passionately hate the mine, and everyone who is and has been involved with it, and especially the prospect of part of Panama being sold off as a colony, would like to see the strike end.

Leave it to the company, the PRD and allies and acolytes to try to wait it out, and make the strikers settle for little or nothing — or better yet, get no settlement at all.

Thing is, there is too much dirt to mine about the mine, about the chain of title from the illegal concession back in 1997, through the environmental scandals, through the insider trading pump and dump gold mine swindle, through the disappearance of government securities analyst Vernon Ramos, through all the acts of corruption in the legal system, through the property flips with details not all disclosed to the public, through all the bogus numbers coming from the company and the government, through the threat that retirees will lose their pensions if the mine scam does not continue….

The company and the government are afraid of talks, because they are afraid of those and other embarrassing subjects being raised. Plus the company and government have invested a lot into trying to destroy the credibility of the strikers in order to avoid talking with and “legitimizing” them. If one of the parties won’t talk, it’s hard to settle. If they political caste picks a designated “spokesperson” for the opposing side to accept their and the company’s terms, we have seen THAT one too many times, too. It’s not just the mine proposal, but a long train of abuses. People won’t stand for that anymore, the government is afraid of that.

Yet inertia takes us all toward a breaking point. “How long can you hold out?” goes the traditional UAW hypothetical question. “ONE DAY LONGER THAN THEY CAN!” is the standard answer. The unions here, and the environmentalist movement, know that concept in both Spanish and English.


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