Yesterday, 26 Oct 2012 was a bad day for the people of Panama. Throughout the country people took to the streets to protest Law 72 which would allow the government to sell the Colon Free Trade Zone.
What made the day bad was not the fact the people took to the streets, that happens here, too often. Taking to the streets is a way to get the government to listen to the people they are supposed to represent. The people of Panama are vocal when they feel the government is ignoring them. The bad part happened when the protests turning into looting and violence.
It is acceptable to block a street or slow traffic, not desirable, but acceptable. What happened in Panama City yesterday and in Colon for several days was looting and destruction of both public and private property. That is not acceptable, that is anarchy.
When a government, any government, turns a deaf ear to the people they encourage acts of anarchy. Anarchy negates government and undoes the role of government completely. Yesterday Panama City experienced localized anarchy, the hope is the government will learn they cannot govern in a vacuum, they must provide a forum for the governed to voice their opposition and weight those concerns.
The problem of unresponsive government is not unique to Panama, but the small size and organized resistance here has proven several times in the last few years that government unrestrained will not be tolerated. Currently the Assembly is busy repealing Law 72. It will be repealed by Sunday, as fast as the law allows. La Prensa
Why did they needed to wait until millions of dollars of damage was done and people died. The government made a big mistake in the way the law was passed and what support they might have had was washed away by the methods used.
Let us hope this lesson is heeded and the tranquil Panama we know and love returns on Monday.