Catholic Peacebuilding Network

Enhancing the study and practice of Catholic peacebuilding


Bishops issue Pastoral Letter speaking out on national insecurity and violence

According to Fides News Service, the Panamanian Bishops’ Conference (CEP) has indicated through a document that Panama is going through a serious situation of insecurity and violence, and urged all sectors to contribute to the construction of a culture of peace and strengthen democracy.

The statement was made by Bishop Jose Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan, OAR, Bishop of the Diocese of David and President of the CEP, during the presentation of a pastoral letter that makes a diagnosis of the social situation and presents some recommendations for consideration by the government.

The prelate said that the document contains the foundations of support for a national dialogue, which was convened by the government of President Ricardo Martinelli after the popular rejection of Act 30, amending three codes and six laws, including environmental, on labor issues and public safety.

Bishop Lacunza expressed his regret for the riots of last July which took place between workers and employees of the national police in the Province of Bocas del Toro, on the border with Costa Rica These incidents have caused death, injury, and serious damages to the economy local (see Fides 13/7/2010).

The publication of the Pastoral Letter coincided with the visit of Deputy United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang, to the Panamanian Vice-President and Foreign Affairs Minister Juan Carlos Varela, to learn about the humanitarian situation in Panama. Kang also met, during his visit to the other national authorities such as members of the Supreme Court, with the authorities of the National Assembly, the ombudsman, and civil society organizations to discuss human rights issues. Before Kang’s departure, there are plans for establishing a “table of dialogue” on the three articles regarding the labor law included in Law 30 and which led to the protests in Bocas del Toro. This “table of dialogue” also include authorities of the Catholic Church who have had an important role in the affair. (August 5, 2010)