Panama Commemorates May 1 with Protests and Work

The old-age dilemma of whether or not to rest on Labour Day is no different for Panamanians. This year, the Panamanian government decided to change the date of this public holiday and give the people the day off on Monday, April 30, instead of the traditional day, May 1. The reason for this change in date was to grant the people a long weekend as well as to encourage tourism within the country. The Panamanian newspaper, El Panamá América [es] writes:

Un comunicado de la Presidencia, señala que la oportunidad es propicia para que se traslade el día de descanso y se favorezca el desarrollo del turismo interno a nivel nacional y la convivencia familiar.

A press release from the Presidency points out that the opportunity to move this day of rest is propitious. It encourages the development of local tourism at a national level as well as family time.

Several labour unions were outraged because they consider the date to be a symbol of their rights, earned by the working class throughout history. Kaos en la red[es] indicates that the change of the date is seen as an insult by many:

Como un insulto y una burla a la clase obrera, se interpreta la imposición del lunes 30 de abril como día puente por el 1º de Mayo.

At Work; Guadalupe, Cerro Punta, Chiriquí, Panamá. Image courtesy Lon&Queta on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

We see the imposition of the change of the date of Labour Day from May 1 to April 30 as a joke and an insult to the working class.

Nevertheless, the various labour unions decided they would still carry out the marches and activities that they had planned, explained La opinión Panamá [es]:

Los dirigentes sindicalistas manifestaron que pese al día puente decretado por el Gobierno, realizarán hoy martes las distintas actividades.

The leaders of labour unions express their regret over the the change in date of the public holiday ordered by the Government, but they will still carry out their various activities today, Tuesday May 1.

Uniradioinforma [es] reports that the march became quite forceful, with signs that protest corruption as well as the high cost of living:

“Abajo el alto costo de la vida”, “La corrupción mata”, “Ni corruptos ni coimeros”, se leía en las pancartas que portaban los trabajadores, en alusión a un reciente escándalo de presunto pago de sobornos al presidente Ricardo Martinelli.

“Lower the cost of living, “Corruption kills”, “No more Corruption and No more Bribes” read the placards that were carried by workers. The slogans are in light of a recent scandal where bribery money was allegedly paid to president Ricardo Martinelli.

Netizens also participated in the celebration of Labour Day. Sthaisy Smith (@Staisy09) [es] considers it madness to have to work on a day that commemorates labour:

Y ahora el 1 de mayo a trabajar q loco esta Panamá!!!

Now we have to work on May 1, how crazy is Panama!!!

Leilani Gonzalez (@Le1lani) [es] on the other hand sees it as something logical:

Día del Trabajo, trabajando como una trabajadora!!! #Panamá

Labour Day, working as a labourer should!!! #Panamá

Agenda 507 (@agenda507) [es] wants to call attention to the fact that Labour Day is for everyone and not only for the groups of labour unions that went out to march on May 1:

#FelizDiadelTrabajador ¡El 1 Mayo es de todos! No exclusivo de un grupo, es tmbn de quienes trabajan en casa, ofi, calle, salud, campo y +

#FelizDiadelTrabajador May 1 is for everyone! It's not exclusively for one group, it is also for those who work at home, in offices, on the street, in health care, in the country etc.

It was in this way that May 1 was celebrated in Panama; some persons with slogans and others gratefully turning up at work, their opinions clearly coinciding with that of Tito Herrera (@TitoHerrera) [es]:

La mejor manera de celebrar el día del trabajo es… TRABAJANDO! Saludos a todos, Feliz día, sigamos trabajando por un mejor Panamá!

The best way to celebrate Labour Day is… WORKING! Regards to all, have a good day, we must continue working towards a better Panama!

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