PANAMA CITY – At least four students were arrested and two police officers injured on Monday in Panama City during a protest by university students demanding the cancellation of a controversial decree on updating real estate values and other information.
An official with the Panamanian National Police told EFE that the arrest and injury tally was an unofficial tabulation of the results of the violent demonstration, which is continuing after police used tear gas to drive the students into the interior of the University of Panama (UP) campus after Transistimica Avenue, in front of the campus, was closed.
During the protests, two police officers were injured by rocks hurled by the students, the source said.
The university, meanwhile, announced on its Twitter account that “to protect the safety of the university students, classes at the Octavio Mendez Pereira Campus are suspended for (Monday).”
Students at the UP Regional Center in the city of Colon, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the capital, also demonstrated to demand the overturning of Decree 130, published by the government on June 7, which establishes that real estate information is to be updated among state-run entities that deal with that sector.
The temporary suspension of the decree was announced on Sunday by Panamanian Economy and Finance Minister Dulcidio De La Guardia after another demonstration on Saturday ended in clashes in Panama City.
Opposition lawmaker Zulay Rodriguez, one of the most visible and vocal figures against the decree, says that the only thing it is intended to do is “get money” and “take away houses” from people, because updating the real estate information is synonymous with revaluing properties and, ultimately, increasing those values, and thus the property taxes on them.
Meanwhile, De La Guardia said Decree 130 is not designed to create new taxes or revalue properties but rather it seeks “to improve the coordination among the institutions that have responsibility for administering real estate in Panama.”