We express our total rejection of the Panamanian government and our unconditional support to our working class comrades in Panama, following the appalling acts of bloodshed and repression carried out by the government of Panama led by Ricardo Martinelli against the Panamanian people and, specifically, the persecution, killing and imprisonment of leaders of the Frente Nacional por la Defensa de los Derechos Sociales (National Front for the Defence of Social Rights – FRENADESO) and the Sindicato Unico Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Construcción y similares (Single National Union of Construction Industry Workers – SUNTRACS).
This wave of repression has resulted in six deaths, 150 injured and hundreds arrested. There have also been the very selective arrests of comrades such as Jaime Caballero, Assistant General Secretary of SUNTRACS, who was arrested in Chiriquí and transferred to the capital (where he is still confined in La Joya prison). Also incarcerated at the same time were FER-29 leader, Kuna youth leader and member of the FRENADESO Noticias alternative media site, Ronaldo Ortiz, together with Alexis Garibaldi of the SUNTRACS trade union.
SUNTRACS leaders Genaro López and Saúl Méndez are now in hiding, along with other comrades, as a result of a warrant being issued for their arrest. It has been revealed that the authorities intend to send them to La Joya and La Joyita prisons, where they would be killed by common criminals under the orders of the State security forces.
According to official data, it is estimated that nearly 20 union leaders have had arrest warrants issued against them. Besides those already mentioned, also in the firing line are comrades Andrés Rodríguez, Mario Almanza, Marco Andrade, Gabriel Castillo, Dalia Morales, Yaritza Espinoza, Juan Saldaña, Ariel Rodríguez, Gloria Castillo, Juan Carlos Salas, Carlos Obaldía, David Niño, Eustaquio Méndez, Marco Guzmán, Maribel Gordón, Cristian Díaz, Cle Osvaldo Gómez, Juan Ramón Herrera and Juan Jované, amongst others.
All the above events are connected with a series of demonstrations that have carried out by the workers and the Panamanian people against the recent onslaught from the government of Ricardo Martinelli at the behest of the bosses, forcing on the people things such as changes to labour legislation (designed to curtail unionization and strikes), the passing of three executive orders and Law 30 (known as the “Sausage Law”), as well as an increase in consumer taxes of almost 40%, which has had a violent effect on the cost of living for Panamanian people. Finally, the government has passed a Prisons Law that criminalizes social protest.
At this stage it is essential that the support and solidarity of our class goes to the Panamanian people and social activists, who are aware that such an abuse of authority cannot go unpunished. We therefore demand the release of all political prisoners and the trial and punishment of these tyrants.
For workers’ unity and organization!
Long live those who struggle!
Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Construcción (SINTEC), Chile