Saturday, January 18, 2020

Demonstrations against a constitutional reform project in Panama

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Workers protest against the constitutional reform project in Panama on Thursday (October 31st). LUIS ACOSTA / AFP

The social protest that engulfs South America spreads to Panama. Clashes erupted on Thursday (October 31st) in Panama for the third day in a row, during protests against a constitutional reform project that would notably prevent any legalization of same-sex marriage.

In Panama, the capital, students who tried to go to the National Assembly launched rockets against the police who fought back with pepper gas and made several arrests, according to images broadcast on television. . Subsequently, incidents broke out at the University of Panama, where students erected barricades and threw stones at the police.

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Future gay marriage legislation

This is the third day of turbulent demonstrations in Panama, following the adoption, on Monday, by Parliament (unicameral) of a draft reform of the Constitution of 1972. Originally, this reform was the subject of a broad consensus among political forces; it was aimed at strengthening institutions and fighting corruption. But MEPs heavily amended the original text, including an article preventing a future legalization of same-sex marriage (currently unrecognized in Panama), and granting much broader powers to Parliament.

These amendments have angered many social organizations, as well as the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) movement. The Panamanian President, Laurentino Cortizo, has himself deplored the attitude of the deputies. "I will not allow an article, or anyone, to sow social confrontation", he said at a press conference. Constitutional reform must be submitted to a referendum in 2020.

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