Panama teachers end long strike that set off wider protests

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. snarl / snɑrl / (v.) – to cause something to be stuck or blocked

    Ongoing road repairs snarled traffic in the city.

  2. fed up / fɛd ʌp / (adj.) – feeling angry and disappointed about something that’s been going on for a long time

    I’m fed up with the long lines at the city hall every time I go there.

  3. dialogue / ˈdaɪ əˌlɔg / (n.) – an exchange of opinions and ideas to resolve an issue or end a disagreement

    The employees said that they’re willing to enter into a dialogue with the CEO to discuss the issues in their workplace.

  4. mediate / ˈmi diˌeɪt / (v.) – to work between two groups that are disagreeing with each other by talking to them and helping them find a solution

    James mediated a discussion between business partners who are having issues.

  5. plague / pleɪg / (v.) – to cause constant problems and difficulties for something or someone

    Fake news and stories have started plaguing people on the internet.


Read the text below.

Panama’s teachers will return to the classroom after a month-long strike that blocked commerce and snarled the capital with traffic. The strike, which was over the high cost of living and government corruption, was supported by a number of other sectors.

The teacher walkout started what became the largest social protest that Panama had seen in years. Educators said they were fed up with the soaring prices for gasoline, food and medicine and wanted more investment in education.

The teachers were eventually joined by construction workers and indigenous groups, as well as frustrated average Panamanians. They erected highway roadblocks that froze supply routes and caused some shortages.

After more than a week of dialogue mediated by the Roman Catholic Church, the government agreed to hold prices on dozens of basic consumer products and a lower cost for gasoline.

The government said it would create mechanisms for the direct purchase of medicines to avoid shortages plaguing public hospitals and promised to set maximum prices for 150 medicines.

The dialogue between protest groups and the government was scheduled to resume August 3. Several pending demands remain, including reducing the cost of electricity, increasing government transparency and reducing government corruption.

Before announcing the end to their strike August 1, teachers held a big rally in the capital.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The teachers’ strike was eventually joined by other groups. Why do you think they joined in the protest? Discuss.
  • The protest led to a dialogue with the Panamanian government. If you were given the chance to participate in a dialogue to communicate your concerns to your government, what kind of issues would you want to discuss with them? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The strike froze supply routes and caused some shortages. However, it ended with the government agreeing to keep the prices of some basic products down. Do you think the benefits are worth the problems caused by the strike? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • A lot of the protesters’ demands remain pending. What do you think will happen if the demands are not met? Discuss.