Costa Rican truckers have blocked and are keeping closed the passage of cargo at the Panama border crossing of Paso Canoas, demanding that Panama stop the “abuse of authority”.
The president of the Cámara de Transportistas Unitarios de Costa Rica, Marjorie Lizano, said that the crossing of tourism and light vehicles is NOT impeded by the blockade, only trucks carrying cargo are being stopped from making the crossing.
The blockade or strike began on Thursday and so far there are some 400 trucks parked by the roadside on both the Panamanian and Costa Rican border.
“There is an abuse of authority by the SENAFRONT. They stop vehicles (cargo and passenger) with Costa Rica license plates for up to three and four hours, then the traffic police issues them a ticket and takes away the keys and documents”, said Lizano.
According to the union leader, the keys and documents are returned if and only when the fine is paid, even though Panamanian laws allows up to one month to pay the fine.
Lizano was firm that the blockade will continue until authorities in Panama demonstrate a willingness to remedy the situation.
Letters have been sent to Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry, the Presidencia, the Ministry of Foreign Trade (Comex) and the Costa Rica consulate in Panama, according to Lizano. The union leader confirmed that the only reply is from the Comex, with a “we are very attentive of the situation”.
Last October, Costa Rica and Panama authorities agrees to resolve the dispute of overcharging of fines issued by Costa Rican authorities to Panamanian drivers. But the situation continues.
On February 6, Presidenta Laura Chinchilla, after meeting with Panama’s president, Ricardo Martinelli, said there would be a review on the detention of Costa Rican vehicles in Panamanian territory, though she did not elaborate on the details.