Panamanian daily’s offices blockaded after critical reports

About 30 trucks from Transcaribe Trading (TCT), a local construction company in Panama City, surrounded the offices of the daily La Prensa on August 2, 2012, from around 10 p.m. until 1:30 a.m., preventing the paper’s trucks and employees from leaving the premises, according to news reports. TCT workers told local journalists that they were there because the daily’s reports were jeopardizing the future of the company, and thus their jobs, according to news reports.

News accounts reported that La Prensa had recently published reports alleging TCT had been favored in contracts awarded by the Panamanian Ministry of Public Works. Both David Ochy, one of the owners of the company, and Federico Suárez, director of the Ministry of Public Works, denied the allegations in interviews with Telemetro Reporta, according to news reports.

Police said they could not get the trucks to leave because they were private property, La Prensa reported. The trucks dispersed only when Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli arrived at the scene and called for them to withdraw, news reports said.

The president’s office released a statement on August 3, 2012, saying Martinelli “deplored” the actions of the construction workers, according to news reports.