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Thousands of Panamanians March Against Corruption in Wake of Odebrecht Scandal

LADB Article ID: 80234
Category/Department: Panama
Date: 2017-03-09
By: Louisa Reynolds

Thousands of Panamanians took to the streets on Feb. 16 to protest against graft and corruption in the wake of a scandal involving huge bribes paid by the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in exchange for public contracts. The peaceful march, organized by the civil society coalition Citizens Against Impunity (Ciudadanos Contra la Impunidad, CCI), began at the Church of El Carmen in Panama City and headed down the city’s main avenue, Vía España, toward the Attorney General’s Office. “The goal of the march is to demand an investigation of all the corrupt people in all the [political] parties, as well as of the businessmen, so they return the money and go to jail,” Saúl Méndez, a leader of SUNTRACS, a construction workers’ union that was part of the organizing coalition, told AFP on the day of the protest. Méndez added that Odebrecht is “only the tip of the iceberg” of the “decay of all government institutions created by powerful interest groups.” Miguel Antonio Bernal, a professor of constitutional law and CCI founder, told AFP, “We demand to know the truth of what’s going on with the Odebrecht case so that actions are taken to end corruption and impunity.”

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