Viewing cable 05PANAMA436
Title: PANAMA LAUNCHES DOL-FUNDED LABOR TRADE CAPACITY

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05PANAMA4362005-02-25 20:43:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Panama
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PANAMA 000436 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN 
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD 
DOL/ILAB FOR LAURA BUFFO 
PASS USTR FOR WILLIAM CLATANOFF 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM EAID ELAB ETRD PGOV PM LABOR HUMAN RIGHTSPOLMIL
SUBJECT: PANAMA LAUNCHES DOL-FUNDED LABOR TRADE CAPACITY 
BUILDING PROGRAM 
 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
¶1.  (U)  With a Panama-US FTA Agreement still in limbo after 
the 8th negotiating round, on February 17 Panama's Labor 
Ministry launched Panama's participation in the DOL-funded 
labor trade capacity building project called "Cumple y Gana" 
(Comply and Win).  The four-year project includes the CAFTA 
countries and the Dominican Republic and costs $8.75 million. 
 The event highlighted the Labor Ministry's organization, 
energy, and initiative.  Ambassador Watt's participation 
raised the event's profile, bringing attention to the 
benefits for smaller businesses of more transparent labor 
compliance.  End Summary. 
 
PROGRAM ASPECTS 
--------------- 
¶2.  (U)  DOL-funded Cumple y Gana, which began in the CAFTA 
countries in 2004, provides technical assistance to countries 
in the region negotiating free trade agreements with the U.S. 
 The project includes: 
 
- a website that answers the most frequently answered labor 
questions by employees and businesses in the project 
countries; 
 
- increased standardization and computerization of labor 
inspection systems; and 
 
- improved use of mediation and conciliation. 
 
LABOR MINISTRY APPROACH 
----------------------- 
¶3.  (U)  The Labor Ministry helped project grantee Foundation 
for Peace and Democracy (FUNPADEM) organize an energetic 
launch event that included over 75 participants from 
government, labor, and the business community.  The Labor 
Ministry also included a representative from the National 
Council for Organized Workers (CONATO), a labor union 
umbrella organization, and the National Council for Private 
Enterprise (CONeP), an umbrella business organization, at the 
head table.  A strong media contingent covered the event. 
 
¶4.  (U)  Labor Minister Reynaldo Rivera spoke passionately at 
the event.  He argued that the modern tri-partite approach to 
dispute resolution is the key to social peace within a 
democratic system.  Minister Rivera characterized the new 
methods promoted by the project as the "future," noting that 
such methods help the Labor Ministry to serve more as an 
educator than a policeman. 
 
MINISTRY INITIATIVE 
------------------- 
¶5.  (U)  Minister Rivera was quick to point out his historic 
interest in modern labor compliance tools.  During his 
speech, he recalled his trip to the United States in the 
1990s in which he observed the DOL inspection system.  (Note: 
 Minister Rivera has mentioned with enthusiasm his visit to 
the U.S. to PolOff and to DOL representatives on numerous 
occasions, usually emphasizing his time with U.S. mediators 
and his interest in mediation.) 
 
¶6.  (U)  Acting DOL Director of Foreign Relations Gary 
Russell, who also spoke during the event, was impressed by 
the level of activity in the Labor Ministry and its current 
initiative in renovating its inspections division. 
Similarly, FUNPADEM coordinators told PolOff after their 
visit to the Labor Ministry in October 2004 that Panama's 
pre-project computerized labor inspection system was the most 
advanced they had seen in the project countries. 
 
AMBASSADOR RAISES PROJECT PROFILE 
--------------------------------- 
¶7.  (U)  Ambassador Watt's participation raised press 
interest in the event.  Despite an impassioned speech from 
Labor Minister Rivera that echoed many of her comments, most 
press coverage focused on Ambassador Watt.  She explained 
that Cumple y Gana could help business and labor to work 
together to attract investment, create employment, and 
protect workers' rights.  Ambassador Watt noted that the 
project approach helps increase understanding of labor laws 
and the transparency of the inspection process, benefits that 
could help smaller businesses stimulate employment.  The 
Ambassador also emphasized the link between increased 
employment and a strong democracy. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
¶8.  (U)  The Labor Ministry's enthusiastic, tripartite 
approach to the launch and its enthusiasm for modern 
inspection and mediation tools bode well for project success. 
 Ambassador Watt's participation helped raise the event's 
profile, placing respect for labor rights squarely with 
efforts by the mainstream business community to increase 
government transparency and strengthen democratic 
institutions. 
 
Watt