Sat, Feb 18, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Thousands protest in Panama against state corruption


People protest against corruption in connection with a scandal involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in front of the Panamanian Congress in Panama City on Friday.

Photo: AFP

Thousands marched in Panama on Thursday to protest a scandal over huge bribes paid by a Brazilian company in exchange for public contracts.

“No more governments of thieves and the corrupt,” read some placards as the crowd moved through the center of the capital to the Panamanian Congress building.

“The goal of the march is to demand that all those corrupt in all the parties and businessmen are investigated, so they return the money and go to jail,” Saul Mendez, a leader of the Suntracs construction union that was among the organizers, told reporters.

The scandal surrounding the Brazilian company Odebrecht, which US authorities said paid US$59 million in bribes in Panama between 2010 and 2014, was just “the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Odebrecht has admitted to paying US$788 million in bribes to win fat construction contracts in 12 countries.

Panama, which is trying to clean up its image after the Panama Papers scandal last year, has asked Interpol to issue wanted alerts for the sons of Ricardo Martinelli, who was Panama’s president at the time.

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