Friday 18th August 2023.

August 17, 2023


The Central American Parliament (Parlacen) has been in the news since last Thursday, August 10, when the country learned that Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares (both convicted of conspiracy to launder money and with two trials about to begin) wanted to seek refuge in Parlacen.

They tried twice at the headquarters in Panama, but in those meetings the quorum was not reached to hold the investiture session as substitute deputies. Finally, on the night of this Wednesday, a “solemn session” held in Nicaragua allowed the agency to swear in the sons of former President Ricardo Martinelli, a condition that allows them to avoid trials for the Blue Apple and Odebrecht cases, both for alleged money laundering. The process would now go to the Supreme Court of Justice.

The issue has raised criticism about the advisability of being in a forum that is regularly the subject of scandals, precisely because it has allowed politicians to evade judicial processes.

Ricardo Lombana , presidential candidate of the Movimiento Otro Camino (Moca) , through his Twitter account, described Panama’s presence in Parlacen as “unacceptable”.

“Now with even more reason Panama must get out of Parlacen. Giving refuge to those who are facing justice. Unacceptable,” he stated.

José Isabel Blandón , standard-bearer of the Panameñista Party, recalled that his position on the subject is well known: “I have always been opposed to it being used as a shield to circumvent the action of justice.”

Two deputies to PARLACEN came out with the Panameñista flag . One, @AlcibiadesVV , is a nut and bolt Panamanian; and the other, José Ramos, from the Popular Party (postulated by alliance agreements in 2019). Our position is that they do not lend themselves to using the institution as a tool for juego vivo. It is acts like this alleged act of swearing in that discredits PARLACEN and generates rejection among the people, ”he added on Twitter.

Melitón Arrocha, candidate for the presidency by free nomination, stated that this “indirect election” of the deputies to Parlacen, which arises from a closed list, based on the votes that the candidate for the presidency of the Republic draws from each party, “we have to change it”.

Martín Torrijos, who intends to return to the Las Garzas palace with the Popular Party flag, spoke yesterday Thursday.

“ With regard to the two deputies, sworn in PARLACEN, enough of privileges and evasions in politics. We demand ethical foundations in institutions and equality before the law. There can be no organisms that are used as means to evade justice. It is time to be accountable and assume the consequences of our actions ”.

However, on social networks they remind him that he sought “immunity” in Parlacen for the Cemis case. Because he was a Parlacen deputy, Torrijos was prosecuted by the Court, which later annulled all the proceedings, considering that the prosecutor, Alejandro Moncada Luna, had initiated the investigation when Torrijos enjoyed criminal electoral jurisdiction.

The Popular Party, which is now nominating Torrijos for the presidency of the Republic, repudiated the swearing in of the Martinelli Linares brothers and recalled that its only deputy in Parlacen, Cirilo Salas, did not participate in the sessions called at the Parlacen branch in Panama, to swear them.

A total of 18 candidates running as a deputy for free application came together to demand that the National Government adopt the necessary measures so that Panama ceases to be part of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen).

Among the candidates who signed the agreement are the former deputy and ex-prosecutor Ana Matilde Gómez and the current deputy and candidate for re-election Raúl Fernández. Also featured are Daniel Lombana, Sandy Correa, Ulises Green, Bertserai Richards and Suky Yard, among others.

The main approach is that historically the Parlacen has been used as a refuge by people who seek to evade justice.

In particular they are referring to the case of the brothers Luis Enrique and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli, who on Wednesday were sworn in as substitute deputies. Both have already been convicted in the United States for conspiracy to launder money and, in addition, they have two pending trials, soon to start: Blue Apple and Odebrecht, which begins on August 22 and September 27, respectively.

Now, after taking office, their cases would go to the Supreme Court of Justice, the competent body to prosecute the deputies of the National Assembly and Parlacen.

For the candidates for deputy for free application, it is “impossible” to ignore that the Parlacen has not obtained the expected results and, instead, has become a place of protection and immunity for people who have to account to our justice system.

The President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, announced this yesterday, that the Panamanian government formally requested before the United States (EU) the review of five sensitive products covered under the free trade agreement between our two countries. The Presidency’s communiqué does not specify what these products are.

According to the official bulletin, President Cortizo said that this review was requested during the recent visit of the US Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, which took place on July 20.

The president pointed out that in that meeting he expressed to the official of the US government his interest in meeting with the Secretary of Agriculture of that nation −in charge of Tom Vilsack− and other authorities of the United States to discuss this request from the Panamanian government.

Cortizo reported that Panama has made progress in efforts to expedite sanitary equivalence with the US, which would imply the export of Panamanian meat to the US market.

The Panamanian president’s statements were made during a National Livestock Congress held in La Villa de Los Santos.

The trade agreement was signed between Panama and the United States in 2007 and entered into force in 2012.

In recent months, the poultry and swine farmers associations have urged the Cortizo administration to request a review of the trade agreement that the country maintains with the United States. The unions have indicated that the producers have not had access to sell their products in the American market, much less to the import volumes that the country ceded to the United States.

With the arrival and spawning of sea turtles in the province of Los Santos, the seizures of their eggs has increased. In the last few days alone, 2,760 turtle eggs have been seized.

This was announced by Elida Bernal, regional director of the Ministry of Environment (MiAmbiente), who explained that these seizures occurred in the Horcones sector in Tonosí, and in Las Peñas de Los Santos.

The official explained that the first of the seizures occurred in Horcones, Cambutal, Tonosí district, where MiAmbiente personnel found 1,857 turtle eggs that were hidden with zinc sheets.

The eggs were stored there and were several hours old after being extracted, and they were no longer working to be planted on the beach again or to be consumed, he added. He said that no one was apprehended in this instance.

Bernal explained that the second case occurred in the La Peña sector, Llano Largo Los Santos district, where two buckets with a total of 903 turtle eggs were found in a residence. “Here the apprehension of a person who was charged by the Tonosí Municipal Ombudsman for the crime against wildlife”.

Last weekend there was the first arrival of turtles on La Marinera beach.

It was also mentioned that in Cambutal, Pedasí, Playa Venao and El Uverito the turtles also arrive, but fortunately there are several groups that are dedicated to their care and preservation.

Bernal also specified that the spawning period occurs from May to December. “Offenders of the law know when the turtles are going to spawn and that’s when they take advantage,” he lamented.

The governments of Colombia, Jamaica and Panama launched a $42 million project on August 15 to jointly combat plastic pollution by integrating circularity in cities.

This was reported by the United Nations Environment Program (Pnuma) , which details that plastic is a ubiquitous material, used in everything from products to packaging.

UNEP data indicates that almost a third of all plastic is single-use, 32% contaminates the soil and freshwater ecosystems, and up to 10 million tons are dumped annually into the ocean, aggravating the planetary triple crisis.: climate change, the loss of nature and biodiversity, and pollution and waste.

The United Nations agency indicates that the project ” Reducing marine plastics and plastic pollution in Latin American and Caribbean cities through a circular economy approach” will help Panama, Colombia and Jamaica to adopt closed-loop policies to municipal level, to involve the private sector to do the same and to create an interurban network between the cities of Latin America and the Caribbean on marine plastics and plastic pollution in general, raising awareness of best practices.

The initiative is led by UNEP, with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and support from the Secretariat of the Cartagena Convention.

In addition, UNEP noted that early interventions will be prioritized and products containing chemicals of concern will be identified.


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