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Thousands of Panamanians took to the streets across the country this week to protest rising fuel prices and government corruption, the first time inflation has become a problem in the wealthy Central American nation, the Associated Press reported.

Indigenous groups, workers’ and teachers’ unions marched across a number of cities and brought traffic to a standstill on the Pan-American Highway – a network of highways connecting North and South America.

President Laurentino Cortizo vowed to extend a freeze on gasoline prices to all Panamanians rather than just the public transport system. The president acknowledged the situation and blamed the coronavirus pandemic and the Ukraine conflict for the price surge.

But demonstrators said that Cortizo’s measures are not enough while lamenting the rising price of food and other basic goods.

Panama has a very steady service-based economy that uses the US dollar as its national currency. Inflation has essentially been a non-issue in recent years as a result but economists have now estimated it at four percent.

Still, the figure is considerably below that of other countries in the region, such as Mexico, where inflation is hovering around eight percent.

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