Journalist unions in Panama say firings at three newspapers are "politically motivated"

The National Journalists Union (CONAPE in Spanish) and the Journalists Syndicate of Panama on Tuesday called on the new owners of the newspaper publishing company Editora Panamá América (EPASA) to stop firing journalists, adding that the groups would continue to vigilantly monitor the situation.

EPASA, which publishes the newspapers Panamá América, Crítica, and Día a Día, was sold at the end of 2010 to a group of business owners linked to the government of President Ricardo Martinelli, according to El Siglo. The new owners immediately fired at least three journalists, in addition to an assistant editor at Panamá América, reported La Estrella.

According to Hora Cero, CONAPE and the Journalists Syndicate believe the firings had "political motivations" and “violate labor laws.” The three journalists were fired “without having done anything irregular," said Jesús Morales, director in charge of the National Journalists Union, as quoted by La Estrella.

Recently, the government of Martinelli had to pull back from a proposed law that would have included sentences of up to four years in prison for people who offended the president.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.