Sports community and citizens in general protested this Wednesday, November 28, in Panama City’s coastal strip, against the alleged diversion of public funds that affects the “Canalero” athletes. The athletes themselves denounced that they must cover their expenses to represent Panama abroad.
"Expenses come out of our own pocket. It does not have to be that way because we are bringing a medal and we are representing the country," said Rodrigo Torres, a member of the Panamanian national baseball team, who hopes that authorities will be more interest in sports.
Carolina Dementiev, ironman athlete and Panamanian influencer believes that politics should be separated from sport and that money that has been diverted should be returned to athletes, "Most of the great athletes come from families with very low resources. The only way they project a better future for themselves and their family is by betting on the sport and becoming good and from there, doors open. We are going to open the door to that child, the child who wants to represent Panama, who wants to leave where he is with the talent he has in any sport branch and we are going to make him grow. That ultimately favors the country."
Roberto Brown, former player of the Panamanian national soccer team, believes that there is still no strong response from the population; the apathy of the citizens is the main problem that exists, "the most serious thing is numbness, passivity, it does not matter that many of the citizens manifest".
Other sectors of society were also present in the activity, in protest against the alleged diversion of resources that aimed to benefit the national sport. Let us recall that the newspaper La Prensa published an investigation on the disbursement by Pandeportes of at least 14 million dollars between 2014 and 2017.
Lawyer Iván Chanis, president of the Iguales Panama foundation, said, "sport is very important for the social development of the people and if we do not put a stop to this corruption in sports we will not have a better society. You have to protest, you have to reclaim spaces, not to allow the system to be more displeased than it is."
The candidate for independent deputy, Freddy Pitti, questioned the role of legislators in the handling of public funds, "it is unfortunate how deputies in this case, making use of actions outside the Constitution and the Law are injuring the heritage of the Panamanians and affecting today, in this case, the athletes who have seen their future, their career compromised. It is not only the issue of having no reelection, but that an investigation is made and the people who have been proven to have damaged the Panamanian heritage suffer the consequences".