Panamanian agricultural leaders today announced new protests to demand to stop the lack of control over imports and the Government of Juan Carlos Varela establishes the basis for "a momentous change" in land management.
New demonstrations are being convened for next Wednesday in several areas of the interior of Panama and would include road block, according to some of the driving forces of the measure.
Land producers began with public protests at the end of last July, and on Friday they gave up a negotiation table installed by the Executive in the absence of timely responses to their demands, including the control of imports that, they say, flood the local market.
"We are broken (...) the animals are hungry," Juan Guevara, a member of the Association of Porcupines, told local television on Monday, reiterating the producers demand that President Varela be the one to "take the control" of the issue and present a roadmap to overcome the situation.
Guevara said, like many other leaders, the Panamanian countryside is affected by an uncontrolled import of products under the free trade agreements (FTA), and by the lack of public policies that help local production, greatly diminished and that represents only about 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
"There are things that are of immediate solution and that has to do with lack of controls in sanitary matters", but "our central point is the Panamanian Food Safety Authority (Aupsa) that is born in a way that avoids the necessary dialogue", said Guevera.
The producers demand that the Aupsa disappear and that a new body in which they take part assume the functions of controlling imports, Guevara told TVN.
However, the Secretary General of the Rice and Grain Federation of Panama, Nodier Díaz, agreed with Guevara that the producers "are open to dialogue" proposed by the Government, provided it is based on specific proposals because they do not want to waste time on unproductive tables.
According to Díaz, the answers to the demands of the sector are in the laws established in the country, and told Telemetro "if they have to be modified, let it be done," but rejected the possibility of continuing to sit at a table with the Government while "imports are coming" excessively.