The Panamanian government’s decision to sell land in the free-trade
zone at the Caribbean entrance to the Panama Canal has sparked violent
protests. Clashes with police on the streets of the sea-port of Colon
reportedly left 15 people wounded.
According to Venezuelan state TV channel Venezolana de Televisión,
there have been at least 25 protesters detained by police. Information
about a 15-year-old person killed in clashes has found no confirmation.
Curfew has been enacted in Colon immediately after the clashes when protesters were burning tires to block the streets.
Demonstrators in Colon believe the government’s decision to sell
state-owned land in the Colon Free Zone (CFZ) will hit those who work in
the free-trade zone and affect the income of many citizens of the
country. The protesters insist the law is unconstitutional.
The head of the Colonense Broad Movement, Felipe Cabezas, told the AP news agency,"We do not want the land to be sold because these are assets that belong to Colon."
Ricardo Martinelli said those instigating protests are protecting
“small-minded interests” of their own and that sale of state-owned land
will benefit the country.
The law supposes creation of a “social
investments” trust that would manage 35 per cent of the revenues
received from the sale of the land just outside the former Panama Canal
The larger, 65 per cent, share will go to the country’s central government.
free trade port of Colon is one of the largest in the world. In
operation for over half a century now, the port hosts over 2,000
companies doing business in the profitable free-trade zone.
1999, the United States passed control over the Panama Canal to the
Panamanian state. Since then the waterway linking Atlantic and Pacific
oceans is the principal source of the revenues for Panama.
It is expected that in 2014 the works on expansion of the waterway will be over just ahead of the Panama Canal’s centenary.
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