Teachers went on a national strike today in Panama, complicating a dialog started with part of the educators working in rural areas and surrounding the capital in difficult conditions, who were already on strike for the last two months.
Causes explaining the extreme measure are to support the protest of their colleagues and lack of agreement on the terrible situation faced by teachers in those zones, both for dangerous access, as the lack of attention in general, as well as government non-compliance with previous pacts.
Juan Jose de La Lastra, general secretary of the Association of Educators of Veraguas (AEVE) declared to reporters that their bases do not recognize agreements between authorities and some guilds that do not support the strike.
The protest spreads to central provinces of Veraguas, Herrera, Los Santos and Coclé; the Caribbean city of Colon and the western Chiriqui, Bocas del Toro and Comarca Ngäbe Buglé; and Panama West, next to this capital.
Some 18 teachers lost their lives over the last decade trying to get to work, according to statistics of the Association of Professors, whose secretary general, Diogenes Sanchez, confirmed the high concern of the guild because their lives are at risk.
Sixty-three percent of the 10 thousand 360 Panamanian rural teachers concentrate in the provinces of Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro, in the border with Costa Rica, mostly surrounded by mountains and roads in very bad conditions, mainly during the rainy season.
The prolonged strike which paralyzed at least 100 classrooms of those two regions, demands an integral solution to the educational system in far-away zones, where the students also risk their lives through flooded rivers and dangerous roads, denounced educators.
Yadira Pino, of the AEVE, defended the position of those that did not accept to put an end to the strike, because they mistrust the State, as authorities did not comply with agreements and protesters demanded a response with a date of enactment in order to return to their posts.
Education guilds went on strike last year in the public schools of the main cities, including the capital, and forced the executive to accept a rise in salary promised by the previous administration, besides increasing the budget allotted to the sector, among others.