Friday 17th March 2023.

March 17, 2023


The President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, requested this Thursday, March 16, 2023, that the Public Ministry be allowed to advance in “an important investigation” that is being carried out by the “alleged” disappearance of doses of the drug fentanyl, of controlled use.

Cortizo’s pronouncement comes after it was confirmed that at least 10,000 doses of the fentanyl drug that the Social Security Fund (CSS) had acquired disappeared several weeks ago from the entity.

“The important thing is that the Public Ministry, which is responsible for investigating, does the work and determines who has participated or articulated in this case,” said Cortizo, during a community work tour in David, Chiriquí province.

The Panamanian president said he prefers not to advance criteria in this process since he “trusts in the administration of justice.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid (lab-made) that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat severe pain related to surgery or complex pain conditions.

In the past decade, illegally manufactured and distributed fentanyl (sometimes called “illicitly manufactured fentanyl”) and other illegally manufactured synthetic opioids have been discovered more frequently in drug supply. During this time, fentanyl and related substances have contributed to a dramatic increase in drug overdose deaths in the United States, the institute notes on its website.

Personnel of the Public Ministry carried out this Thursday, March 16, a new diligence in the sector of Las Trancas, San Miguelito, in search of new clues that help find the girl Aderlyn Llerena, who has been missing since last September.

The Homicide and Femicide Prosecutor’s Office of San Miguelito drew at least two points to carry out a series of excavations in the area. Judicial officials, carrying some shovels and rakes, on their men, have placed an awning in the area.

Last week, prosecutors said a luminescence test was performed at a community residence to detect the presence of blood or other fluids. This, after information that would have provided a protected witness.

That diligence lasted until the early hours of the morning, but the results were not reported.

The girl was last seen leaving for the Gabriel Lewis Galindo school.

The International Banking Center and the Panamanian financial system as a whole, is quite stable and solid. This was reiterated by the Superintendent of Banks of Panama, Amauri Castillo, who attended the inauguration of the seminars of the General Assembly of the Inter-American Development Bank.

“The risk for Panama is very limited, there is really no relationship or exposure, neither on the side of interbank deposits, nor on the side of the investment portfolio,” said the Panamanian banking regulator.

He said that the Panamanian financial system is well armored and with a focus on regional and local deposits.

“We have a strong, strong, well-capitalized banking center with sufficient liquidity levels to generate the confidence that every banking system in the world should have.”

Castillo said they are closely analyzing what is happening in the United States with the situation of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank and also in Europe with Credit Suisse.

“It’s an issue we’re monitoring very closely. Regulators from all over the world including Panama are very attentive to the development of the situation,” he said.

The Superintendent of Banks believes that in the face of recent events it is feasible to generate less pressure from the Federal Reserve of the United States and contain a little the pace of increase in interest rates.

He indicated that in Panama the adjustments that have been given of interest rates began with some banks for corporate clients, and in consumption in the case of credit cards and sooner or later will be felt in mortgage loans although in less impact because there is a large number of credits that have preferential interest that will not suffer increases in the interest rate.

“What has happened in the United States and the rapid action of American regulators is intended to generate a little more peace of mind and confidence,” he added.

Next April, the first works will begin on the underground section of Line 3 of the metro, which will allow the monorail to cross the bed of the Panama Canal.

This was reported by Héctor Ortega, general director of the Panama Metro, who said that the Korean contractor HPH Joint Venture, will begin the earthwork to dig the pit through which the tunnel boring machine that will build the underground section that will have an extension of 6 kilometers will enter.

The “attack moat”, technical name given to the area through which the TBM enters, will be located 300 meters after the entrance of Panama Pacifico in the direction of the Bridge of the Americas.

Ortega explained that between July and September the pieces of the tunnel boring machine currently being built in Germany should arrive in the country.

“Once the pieces arrive in Panama, the assembly process will take 4 months and we expect the TBM to start working in January 2023,” Ortega explained.

In March 2020, the Government decided to include the tunnel in the original design and remove the central lanes of the fourth bridge from the project, due to the fact that the latter project did not have financing for its execution.

The Category 3 Environmental Impact Study, approved by the Ministry of Environment, indicates that the work would cost 528 million dollars, but the final figure will be known when the Korean contractor delivers the final design.

On the progress of the elevated section, the general director of the Metro, explained that the work, which is executed by the companies Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd, and Posco Engineering Construction, registers an advance of 35%.

“We have 20 work fronts, there are 4,200 direct workers, and we hope to launch the entire project during the second half of 2026,” Ortega explained.

When work begins on the tunnel in January 2024, it will have been 35 months since the Korean contractor started work on the underground section.

The embassies of Germany, Belgium, Canada, the United States, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom in Panama spoke out on Thursday, March 16, in defense of the rights of the LGBT community.

“We believe that all people are born free and equal in dignity and deserve to be treated that way. The rights of non-heterosexual people, gender diversity and the LGBT community are human rights and must be guaranteed,” a statement said.

These embassies are part of the Coalition for Equal Rights (ERC), which works to support the construction of safe and inclusive spaces in which the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people are respected, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics.

Through a statement, the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) announced on Wednesday, March 01, the ruling that declared that the phrase “between a man and a woman”, contained in the Family Code, nor the expression “persons of the same sex” is not unconstitutional.

With this ruling, which to date is not known in detail, experts have indicated that the door to equal marriage in Panama is closed.

Although Panama has been recovering from the disastrous paralysis of tourism during the worst years of the pandemic, the country has not managed to reach or exceed the number of visitors of 2019, the year that is now the reference, since it is the period prior to confinement, travel restrictions, the massive use of masks and the application of vaccine against covid-19.

The administrator of the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), Iván Eskildsen, said that the official figure of visitor arrivals should reflect that one million 945 thousand people arrived in the country through its different “doors” of entry during 2022. “This means that they were more than double the 800,000 visitors registered in 2021, a low figure, as we were coming out of the pandemic.”

However, the number of travelers who arrived during the past year is still below the 2.2 million visitors the country received at the end of 2019.

A positive point, according to the authorities, is that the month of November 2022 exceeded the same period of 2019, for the first time since the coronavirus appeared, so they calculate that 2023 will be the total recovery of the ground that had been lost.

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