Date: Sun, 6 Dec 1998 19:38:31 -0600 (CST)
6,000 Clash in Panama City
Associated Press, Thursday, December 3, 1998; 11:13 p.m. EST
PANAMA CITY (AP) -- Police used tear gas Thursday to turn back a demonstration by anti-privatization union members in Panama who attempted to storm the Congress building.
About 6,000 demonstrators, some armed with sticks and stones, attempted to tear down gates leading into the building before being driven away by riot police. The protesters are against privatization of the country's state-owned water system.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the clash.
The government has already privatized half of the state-owned telecommunication and electricity companies, and argues it needs to privatize water service to attract private investment and improve service.
Construction union leader Saul Mendez, a protest organizer, said those demonstrating fear rates will increase if the water utility is privatized.
Copyright 1998 The Associated Press