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Violent Protests in Belize and Panama

January 6, 2006

PROTESTS related to market reforms and privatizations turned violent this year in Guatemala, Belize and Panama.

 

Following Guatemala’s ratification of CAFTA in March, hundreds of students, campesinos, Indians and union leaders clashed with riot police in Guatemala City, resulting in two deaths and dozens injured.

 

In April, normally quiet Belize erupted in violent street protests linked to a dispute over the privatization of the telephone company. Tourists ran for cover as phone and telecom services (including ATMs) were shut down, making it very difficult for people to get information about what was happening, or money to leave the country. The violence, which lasted several days, claimed one life.

 

In May, normally orderly Panama City also broke into violence with clashes between police and students protesting government reforms to the social security system. The protests lasted more than a week, resulting in several injuries.

 

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