After Panama faced weeks of angry protests and street blockades demanding the government take measures to offset the rapidly rising cost of living, protesters are starting to see results.
After Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo met with Powerful Unions and was mediated by the Catholic Church, the government announced Monday that it intends to lower the cost of 72 food items.
With Central American protestors stopping truckers through intimidation and road blockages, the need for change is at an all-time high, almost as high as inflation rates. This year, up to June, inflation in Panama rapidly rose to 5.2%. This rapid inflation throws families out of alignment with their budgets, an increase from the annual inflation rate of 2.6% in December 2021.
To quell the widespread protests, Cortizo’s government initially fixed the price of gasoline and diesel at $3.95 per gallon before lowering it to $3.25, showing how workable inflation can be, but sometimes one change isn’t enough.
The government of President Laurentino Cortizo has already implemented price limits on dozens of food goods and welfare cuts for public institutions, which affected 10% of government employees. After the President and Unions came to an agreement, President Cortizo rationed to the public how they came to the compromise they did by giving numbers, “With the regulation of the 72 products, the cost of the basic food basket would decrease by 30%, a savings of more than $80.”
Although numbers don’t lie, protesters are still demanding more be done, including cuts in public spending, greater government transparency, and more investments in health and education.
Negotiations continue to be an ongoing event so long as protests continue. However, the government did ask protesters, at least for the time being, to end street blockades; the protestors refused to do so until an agreement on all demands was reached.