Wednesday 6th September 2023.

September 5, 2023


Twenty-one unions and civil society organizations request President Laurentino Cortizo to formally withdraw the project that repeals the 2002 Transparency Law and replaces that norm with new legislation “that favors the lack of transparency, the discretion of officials called to protect it and bureaucracy in the search for information by citizens”.

“We believe that this bill represents a setback in the fight against corruption and the lack of transparency in our country, in addition to the fact that it does not comply with the parameters of the OAS Inter-American Model Law 2.0,” the letter to Cortizo states. dated this Tuesday, September 5, with a copy to Elsa Fernández , director of the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai) ; the deputy Leandro Ávila , president of the Government Commission of the National Assembly, and the attorney for the Administration, Rigoberto González .

A copy of the note has also been sent to the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Unesco and the United Nations Development Program System of Panama.

The letter also alleges that, with eight months to go before the general elections of May 5, 2024, this is not the time to modify Law 6 of 2002, because “the electoral political environment that we are experiencing does not favor the debate that should count with the highest citizen participation”.

The signatory organizations and unions consider that Law 6, which celebrated its 21st anniversary last January, meets the needs for transparency. “The problem lies in the lack of commitment of officials to comply with it,” he points out.

The note also reminds Cortizo that, on January 29, 2019, when he was a presidential candidate, he was a signatory of the #RetoTransparencia2019 , a commitment that he also included in his work plan and that calls on him to update Antai’s organic law and to “strict compliance and reinforcement of Law 6 of 2002″.

Among the signatories are the Citizen Alliance for Justice, the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture, the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (Apede), the Environmental Advocacy Center (Ciam), Cívitas Panama, the National Commission for Civic and Moral Values , the Foundations for the Development of Citizen Liberty (Panamanian chapter of Transparency International) and Espacio Cívico and the Independent Movement (Movin), among others.

Also journalistic unions such as the National Journalism Council (CNO) and the Forum of Journalists for Freedom of Expression and Information, and eight private citizens: Angélica Maytín, Aurelio Barría, Enrique de Obarrio, Fernando Berguido, Roberto Eisenmann, Juan Antonio Tejada , Juan McKay and Rubén Arosemena.

The former president of the Panamanian Football Federation (Fepafut), Ariel Alvarado, was sentenced to 144 months (12 years) in prison, and disqualified from exercising public functions for the same term, due to the commission of financial crime, in the modality corruption in the private sector and money laundering.

This is stated in mixed sentence No. 5 of August 28, 2023, of the First Settlement Court of Criminal Cases, in charge of Agueda Reintería.

This case was in the hands of the Descarga Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, represented by prosecutor Manuel Barrías.

As reported by the Public Ministry (MP), Alvarado was found to have received −from the marketer “Traffic Usa”− three payments totaling 230,000 dollars, as bribes, in exchange for granting him the rights to broadcast the matches of the Panamanian national soccer team during the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This would have been executed through a false contract to hide said payment, the prosecutor’s office indicated.

The MP remarked that the crime of corruption in the private sector is adopted by Law 15 of May 10, 2005, which approved the United Nations Convention against corruption. This regulation seeks to promote and strengthen measures to combat corruption more effectively and efficiently.

It must be remembered that Alvarado was in charge of Fepafut between 2000 and 2011.

Different organized groups marched this Tuesday, September 5, towards the National Assembly to demand that this State body reject the mining contract that establishes the extraction of copper in Donoso, province of Colón.

Teachers, construction workers, social movements, environmental organizations and other groups demonstrated in the streets in rejection of this project, which is being developed by the company Minera Panamá.

At a time when the crowd of demonstrators continued to protest outside the Assembly, a group of representatives from various groups entered the legislative palace to be heard by representatives of this State body.

Saúl Méndez, from the Construction Workers Union; Luis Sánchez and Fernando Ábrego, from the teaching sector; and Nelva Reyes, from the labor sector, were among the spokespersons who expressed their rejection of the mining project in the plenary session on Tuesday.

“This mining contract is leonine for many reasons. In a way it was declared unconstitutional, as you know,” Mendez said. “It was not submitted to a tender, it was negotiated again directly with the company; for that very reason it was declared unconstitutional.”

For her part, Maribel Gordón, presidential candidate for free nomination, stressed that this contract establishes a mining enclave that they want to impose.

Alberto Diaz, from the Colón teachers, questioned the benefits that mining is leaving in Donoso, affirming that there are deficiencies in the place. At the same time he warned that if the contract is approved they will go on strike.

After listening to the spokespersons of the organizations that oppose the contract, the full legislature declared a recess until this Wednesday.

However, after this there were clashes between the protesters and agents of the Crowd Control Unit of the National Police, who used tear gas canisters to disperse the people.

Afterwards, there was a moment of some calm and a group of demonstrators continued with the protest in the vicinity of Plaza 5 de Mayo, next to the National Assembly, under the gaze of the police agents.

The march began in Plaza Porras and chanting slogans against mining and carrying banners with messages such as Panama is worth more without mining, the demonstrators gradually reached the vicinity of the Assembly.

“No to mining, yes to life”, “Panama is not for sale”, “This fight belongs to everyone”, was part of what the protesters chanted on their way to the vicinity of the Assembly.

Indigenous groups also participated in the demonstration and with typical dances of their culture also expressed their rejection of the contract.

In Azuero, teachers, workers, producers, salt workers, students, members of the Santeño Front against Mining and members of civil society protested against the mining contract on the bridge over the La Villa river, which divides the provinces of Herrera and Los Santos. .

The presidential candidate of the Popular Party (PP) and former president of the Republic, Martín Torrijos assured that the expulsion process that the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) opened for him is an action carried out by the current leadership of the party as a “defensive method”. because they know what they have done, where they have led the party and the questions about corruption they have.

Although he did not deny that it hurts him to be expelled from the PRD, the former president affirmed that “with this action they are not going to silence me, on the contrary, it reaffirms my commitment to return to the essence of recovering the country, to recover the decency of recovering the democracy, which they neither practice nor know how to do”.

An expulsion process was opened for the former president for the alleged violation of the PRD statute, after Torrijos was nominated as the PP’s presidential candidate for the 2024 elections. The former president ran as the PP’s presidential candidate, but with the agreement of that he would not resign from the PRD , a group founded by Omar Torrijos, his father.

The expulsion demand was presented by Víctor De Gracia, current member of the PRD Election Commission. In 30 days, the PRD prosecutor, Roy Torres, would give Torrijos a transfer so that he can defend himself.

The Public Services Authority (ASEP) reported that as of this Monday, September 4, the public consultation began to end the charges for national long-distance calls between fixed telephone lines.

According to ASEP, the consultation is open to receive comments, it began on Monday, September 4, and will run until October 31, 2023, through the email address .

It was reported that it seeks to create a single area for local charging that allows calls made between fixed lines nationwide to be charged as a local rate. This would put an end to the concept of domestic long distance rates.

According to data from the local industry, fixed telephony went from 205 million outgoing minutes in 2005 to 71 million outgoing minutes by 2022. ASEP explains that this decrease of more than 60% in this type of calls occurs in largely because of the broad scope of the mobile services market.

The ASEP recalled that in our country the national long distance call is defined from the fact that a user originates calls outside his local service area for which an additional charge is generated in this concept.

Tropical wave No. 29 remains over the Panamanian isthmus.

This was reported by the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology of Panama (Imhpa), which recalled that this will generate rainfall over the country.

In the afternoon, downpours of varying intensity could be expected in the eastern part of the country. However, in the west there is a greater probability of rainfall with electrical discharges (Coclé, Veraguas, Ngäbe Buglé region).

According to the Imhpa, at night for the rest of the country there will be cloudy skies with light rains, mainly in areas of the Gulf of Panama and some coasts.

In these cases, the authorities reiterate the call to the population to be aware of the flooding of rivers and possible landslides.

In turn, the Imhpa issued a warning notice for waves and rip currents in the Panamanian Pacific. This notice is valid from September 5 to 11:59 pm on September 6, 2023.


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