An unprecedented blocking of the La Prensa building by workers from a company that had been the focus of a investigation brought back memories of the Noriega years for some
Starting at 10 pm employees of the Transcaribe Trading Company (TCT) with at least 30 dump trucks, besieged the premises of the newspaper to prevent the Friday edition being shipped to Chiriqui. They also prevented workers who had finished shifts from going home.
Police were called but took no action to move the trucks. Differing stories emerged from the TTC workers some of whom said they were there to pave the roads, while others said they were awaiting orders on what to do next. As the hours dragged by political and civil society leaders and media began to arrive.
They included Vice President, Juan Carlos Varela, Deputy Jose Isabel Blandon Panamenista, Grisell Bethancourt, president of the National College of Journalists, Irvin Hallman, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture environmental groups and dozens of people who condemned the actions by TCT employees..
In the early hours of Friday, the participants created a human chain to enable newspaper employees load papers destined for Chiriquí.
Soon after President, Ricardo Martinelli, arrived and declared the blockade "regrettable" and "deplorable".
He struck up a conversation with labor leader Ariel Garay, who promised to clear the way after a three hour stand off.
The trucks blocking the building were surrounded by Ministry of Public Works cones, and when this was pointed out, TCT workers spray painted the MOP name said media reports.
Transcaribe Trading Company had been the subject of stories in LaPrensa highlighting hundreds of millions of dollars for roadworks the company had received from the Martinelli government, and alleging that the latest multi-million contract included a road that needed no repairs.
Ariel Garay, of TCT, said La Prensa jeopardized the jobs of the company and said the workers would stay all night and would be back in the morning.
Grisel Bethancourt, president of the Journalists Association of Panama, said that "drivers have said they are here because this is a war “ Luis Navarro President of La Prensa said that "Events such as this strengthen the commitment of the corporation to investigate, analyze and report as a key part of the rights of citizens."
"We call on authorities to investigate the blockade of La Prensa and Mi Diario, identify those responsible and obey the law," he added.
Businessman David Ochy threatened to sue La Prensa after publications about his involvement in the business of land use in banana Baru and contracts obtained by the company Transcaribe Trading TCT versus La Prensa, "he said.
In a telephone conversation with the newspaper on Thursday, he said the reporters who did the research received bribes and he warned journalists and the editor of the Economy section, "Yolanda Sandoval. “We will watch what they do when they finish the report ... I'll take care of them,” he threatened. "You're not going to play with me or I will strike your buttocks three times. I'm not going to stay silent."