Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said today that only by guaranteeing citizen security, which is a "joint effort," the Caribbean city of Colón will achieve the progress it deserves and for which its government has "created real conditions" with an ambitious renovation plan.
The city of Colón, located in the homonymous province and located about 80 kilometers north of the Panamanian capital, houses the Atlantic side of the Interoceanic Canal and the largest free zone of the continent, but at the same time it is one of the poorest and most conflictive areas of the country.
In the framework of the celebration this Monday of the 115 years of the consolidation of the separation of Panama from Colombia, Varela delivered several infrastructure works framed in the urban renewal plan, and signed the law that optimizes the Special System of Free Port for Colón, with what he tries to turn to the city into a "great shopping center".
"The only way that the private company will invest in these 16 streets" covered by the law of Puerto Libre, "is opening the stores that I know will be opened; the trade will come with Colón Puerto Libre, is if we have a safe city," warned the Panamanian president.
And a safe city "is not achieved only by the president and the security forces, a safe city is achieved by us all working together, teaching the right path to future generations and convincing those who are on the wrong path to change their ways," he added.
The province of Colón is one of the most conflictive areas of the country due to the presence of gangs to which the authorities have linked to the international drug trade and are responsible for the crimes.
"To the present public force I ask you (...) give this people the security they deserve (...) act with a firm hand in front of those who want to divert Colón from the future of peace it deserves," said the Panamanian president.
The Varela government has moved special forces to fight gangs and drug trafficking in Colón, which is also the province with the highest open unemployment: 7.1 percent as of March, above the national average of 4.6 percent according to official data.
The urban renewal, a project still underway developed by Odebrecht with an investment of some 537 million dollars, and Colón Puerto Libre, "that is the future we offer today (...) that tourists can walk these streets", and that more than "7,000 families" can live "in a dignified manner as they deserve".
"It has been a great effort, a lot of work for 4 years and 4 months without stopping (...) a strong applause for the more than 4,000 workers of the renovation of Colón," said the president, and asked the colonists a "change" radical from now on".
In this regard, the Head of State stressed to the inhabitants of Colón the need to "take care of what they have and improve it, take advantage of the new sources of employment that are generated, understand that it is an obligation to take care of the goods (...) which are a blessing from God for you."
"Let us not allow a small minority that wants to take (Colón) down the wrong path to take it. I ask the people of Colón, I beg of you, embrace peace and give yourself an opportunity," he added.
Among the works delivered Monday by the Panamanian president is the renovation of the government building "the oldest of the republican life of Panama, which is heritage and is a jewel of this city," said Varela.
Also the renovation of the public market of the city and the Bolivar main avenue, where schools and public organizations paraded as part of the celebrations of the Separation of Panama from Colombia.