According to information received by the ITUC, several acts of repression took place on 8 July in the Province, in which six people lost their lives. These unacceptable acts were targeted against banana workers and construction workers from the Panama Canal in Colón. Leaders of the SUNTRACS and CONATO trade unions were arrested.
The striking workers were protesting against the decision by the Government of Panama to impose Law 30, which undermines fundamental rights, such as the right to strike and freedom of association. Law 30 also penalises workers who take their protests to the streets, an offence which can result in up to two years in prison.
According to the latest news, the government has called a cabinet meeting, which is expected to adopt further repressive measures, such as arrest warrants against specific trade union leaders. The suspension of fundamental rights is also a possibility.
In a letter to the Panamanian authorities, the ITUC urges the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, to take concrete and urgent measures to ease the tension in the country and order an investigation into the deaths to find out how they happened as quickly as possible, identify those responsible and apply the relevant penal and administrative measures.
The ITUC, together with its affiliates in Panama and its regional organisation for the Americas, TUCA, demands the immediate repeal of the controversial Law 30, which has become a licence to kill for the police, creating a climate of extreme violence that led to the events of 8 July and the persecution of the Bocas del Toro banana and construction workers.