Friday 14th July 2023.

July 13, 2023


“Today, I announce the designation of former Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez as generally ineligible to enter the United States due to his involvement in acts of significant corruption.”

In this way begins a statement issued this by the current Secretary of State of the United States, Anthony Blinken, about Varela, who presided over Panama in the period 2014-2019.

In this statement, Blinken stated that “during his tenure as vice president and later as president of Panama, Varela accepted bribes in exchange for improperly awarding government contracts.”

It must be remembered that Varela was vice president of the country in the management of Ricardo Martinelli, who is also accused by the US government of being involved in acts of “significant corruption.”

Regarding the decision adopted regarding Varela, Blinken stated that the designation “reaffirms” the commitment of the United States to combat “endemic corruption” in Panama.

“The Panamanian people place their trust in those who represent them. Corruption unfairly deprives the people of Panama of quality public services such as schools, hospitals and highways, to the detriment of their economic prospects and quality of life. If not addressed, corruption will continue to suppress Panama’s prosperity, weaken its democracy, and prevent the country from achieving its full potential,” said Blinken.

“We hope that today’s appointment urges elected officials and Panamanian authorities to combat entrenched corruption in the country and empower all those who uphold the rule of law. Corruption, anywhere, undermines the national security and economic health of the United States and its allies. We will continue to promote accountability for those involved in acts of significant corruption around the world,” he added.

The public designation is being announced under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2023. It should be noted that officials designated under Section 7031(c), and their immediate family members, in General, they are ineligible to enter the United States.

Varela is one of those called to trial for the Odebrecht case, considered the most important corruption process in recent times. This trial should begin on August 1. With Varela, former President Martinelli is also charged, as well as his two sons and several of his ministers.

This Thursday an administrative complaint was filed against those officials of the Presidency of the Republic who could have ignored the controls in the distribution of $149 million in bonds from the Panama Solidarity plan .

The action, filed at the Administration Attorney’s Office by lawyer Ernesto Cedeño , responds to an investigation by the newspaper La Prensa in which it is reported that the Ministry of the Presidency knew that a small artisanal cheese factory in Chité had $960,000 in solidarity bonds. even though it was not part of this social assistance program.

An internal audit of the Presidency recommended filing a complaint with the Public Ministry, but for some reason, that was never done. The Minister of the Presidency at that time was the Vice President of the Republic and current PRD presidential candidate, José Gabriel Carrizo .

The same internal audit report speaks of “weaknesses” in the distribution of solidarity bonds.

According to Cedeño’s complaint, the actions of the officials in charge of the program would be in violation of the Constitution, which states in its article 17 that the authorities are obliged to comply with and enforce the law.

The Tribunal Electoral (TE) proclaimed Rómulo Roux this Thursday, as the presidential candidate of the Cambio Democrático (CD) party for the May 5, 2024 elections.

Roux, president of CD, was elected the standard-bearer of the opposition party last Sunday, July 9, in a primary election in which he obtained 77,735 votes (52.6%). His rival, deputy Yanibel Ábrego, general secretary of CD, got 68,265 (46.2%).

The event took place in the TE events room. Roux arrived at the TE accompanied by some of his supporters, including former congressman Carlos Tito Afu,

Porfirio Boliita Ellis, congressman Rony Araúz , among others. “This is a victory against a small group of Cambio Democrático (CD), against [Ricardo] Martinelli, [the collective] RM, Gaby Carrizo, Benicio Robinson, the Executive and the Legislative,” he said on the night of July 9, in his triumph speech .

After his proclamation in the TE, the CD candidate assured that the 68,000 members of his party who did not vote for him are joining him. “Thank God this is an inclusive project, and that now seeks the unification of the party with the people who want to do things well.” He reiterated that they cannot have people who bet on candidates from other parties. He was referring to the 14 deputies who support Ricardo Martinelli and who will not be nominated by CD for the 2024 elections.

The mayor of the district of Panama, José Luis Fábrega , presented this last Tuesday, his management report for the first six of the year 2023 to the Municipal Council, where one aspect that drew attention was when he referred to the need to hire 3,000 agents, for the body of municipal vigilantes that currently is 489 for the 26 corregimientos.

Fábrega explained that the municipal guards would be located in the tourist areas, for the custody of heritage and assistance to citizens, both national and foreign.

In addition, to curb the activities of the “well cared for”, assistance in operations on issues of public order and the problem of homeless people.

Currently, the Mayor’s Office of Panama has a larger payroll than four years ago, but taxpayers indicate that they do not perceive an improvement in the public services and attention they receive from this local government. On average, between March and May of this year, eight officials were appointed per day in that local government.

Some 6.79 tons of shark fins were seized by officials from the First Prosecutor’s Office against Organized Crime with the support of the Superior Environment Prosecutor’s Office and the National Police, as part of Operation Shark.

The shark fins remained inside a 40-foot container, located in the community of La Pirámide, in Capira, province of Panama Oeste, it was reported this Thursday.

During the operation, five Panamanian citizens and other people of Asian origin were apprehended, through search proceedings in the sectors of Albrook, Condado Del Rey, Mercado del Marisco, Farallón (Coclé) and Capira.

The investigations determine that the transfer of the shipment of shark fins supposedly had a final destination in the Asian continent.

Among the evidence confiscated in the Shark operation are a pistol with an expired permit, documentation of bank transfers, as well as the location of a clandestine storage and packaging center for the international transfer of these marine species.

The Panamanian coach, Thomas Christiansen , highlighted the conviction with which his team played on Wednesday to beat the United States, current champion of the tournament, in the Gold Cup semifinal (1-1, 4-5 on penalties).

“In the end, you can practice a lot (the penalties), but I think that today the faith and desire have made Panama go to the final,” said the Spanish-Danish coach at a press conference.

Panama will play the final this Sunday against Mexico, which beat Jamaica 3-0 in the other key of the semifinal phase.

Before more than 30,000 people at the Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego with an overwhelming majority of American fans, Panama qualified for its third Gold Cup final and will opt for its first title in this tournament after losing those in 2005 and 2013.

The match ended goalless after 90 minutes in the regulation, Iván Anderson put the Panamanian team ahead in minute 99 and the Colombian-American Jesús Ferreira equalized for the United States in minute 105, which brought the semifinal to the nerves of the eleven meters where the Canal team, with two penalties saved by Orlando Mosquera, sang victory.

“The match against the United States could go one way or the other. We knew how they were going to play, how we had to play them. In the first part I think we were pretty good in the last 20 minutes, we managed to dominate the game. In the second half we lost it a bit”, reflected Christiansen.

The coach was ironic with “what football is”, since he said that they had rehearsed maximum penalty shots before this match and it turned out “fatal”.

“There were more errors than goals, with that I tell you everything,” he said.

Christiansen stressed that this was the second semifinal in three weeks for Panama, after the one they played in the Concacaf Nations League.

“This doesn’t happen every year. Today was the time to take advantage of it and get into that great final, which is the dream of every Panamanian, the coaching staff, the players, those who assist the team… Everyone deserves this victory today. It was very suffered, but that is when it is best savored ”, he explained.

“I am happy with all the players (…). Now it’s time for hard recovery work (for the final) because if I’m already dead I don’t want to imagine the players… ”, he joked.

Christiansen also admitted that they believed it “almost impossible” to beat the United States “at home and with the fans urging them on.”

“But the little hope that was on our side had to be seized. And with faith and illusion, as I have said before, it is where we have won the game”, he said.

“It has been good football on the part of Panama, proposing, having control of the game on many occasions, generating chances. We have also improved defensively. So, in general, if we take all that to the final we can dream a little (…) We want to go all the way. We want to win a title for Panama, which deserves it,” said the coach, who asked his team to continue “with their feet on the ground” for the final to be played on Sunday in Los Angeles.


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