Friday 18th November 2022.

November 18, 2022


The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor filed an appeal against the decision of criminal judge Baloisa Marquínez not to prosecute Importadora Ricamar, SA for alleged money laundering and insists that the company did receive funds from Odebrecht . According to the prosecution, the investigation shows that the accounts of Importadora Ricamar – which operates the Super 99 chain, owned by the family of former president Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal – were used to receive funds from the Odebrecht construction company, “that came from activities related to international bribery, corruption and embezzlement.” This money came to Ricamar through the Caribbean Holding company , controlled by Aaron Mizrachi , Martinelli’s brother-in-law. The payments that came to Ricamar, according to what André Rabello , former Odebrecht manager in Panama, declared, were a retribution for “the favors rendered for the payments that were due [to Odebrecht] from the previous government and the projects that the company would carry out during the command of Martinelli Berrocal”. For the Odebrecht bribes, Judge Marquínez did issue a summons to trial for Martinelli Berrocal, his two sons ( Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique, imprisoned in the United States for laundering $28 million in Odebrecht bribes), former President Juan Carlos Varela and several former ministers, among others. In total, there are 36 people called to trial; another 11 were favored with provisional dismissal and one with definitive dismissal. The trial will take place August 1-18, 2023. The alternate date was scheduled for September 27-October 17, 2023.

Criminal activities have occupied an important space on the public agenda in recent months. Statistics from the Public Ministry reveal that between January and October of this year, 5,975 complaints had been registered in Panama for the commission of various criminal acts, a figure slightly lower than that of the same period in 2021, when 6,303 were reported. However, both figures exceeded the 4,899 cases in 2020, the year the covid-19 respiratory pandemic was declared. The numbers also show that robberies, assaults and similar acts are more frequent in the streets and neighborhoods of the country. In the first 10 months of 2022, 4,777 theft complaints had been reported in the Public Ministry, 303 more than in 2021. It means that until last month, on average, 16 cases of theft were registered per day. Among the most relevant criminal acts are the three assaults and a robbery perpetrated against four banks in the capital. These events took place between August and September of this year. For which there are 20 people arrested, according to John Dornheim, director of the National Police. Rodolfo Aguilera, former Minister of Public Security, believes that the “repressive” strategy of the current administration has not yielded results, since the levels of insecurity on the streets have increased after the covid-19 pandemic. Aguilera emphasized that without a defined prevention policy, aimed basically at young people at social risk, it is very difficult to reduce crime. The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama considers the criminal activity in the streets “regrettable” and worrying. The union called on the authorities to make “effective use of security cameras, as well as police action.”

The National Council for Private Enterprise (Conep) sent a letter to President Laurentino Cortizo to ask him to address the crisis and the deficit of the Disability, Old Age and Death (IVM) program with determination. “The debate on this issue must be rational, free of ideological and political passions, and always with the interest of generating a sustainable situation,” specifies the note signed by the union’s president, Rubén Castillo Gil. Conep warns that maintaining the ” status quo is a mistake.” “The erratic criteria of unifying the two subsystems should not be accepted either, since it would affect the future of young people, who would watch with astonishment how their savings vanish under the pretext of false solidarity.” Conep attached to said correspondence the report of what was the recent forum it organized and which had as its central point the structural problems of the exclusively defined benefit subsystem.

The Judicial Branch reported this Wednesday that the guarantee judge Oris Medina determined the provisional detention and indictment of a 19-year-old man for the alleged commission of the crime of homicide against a National Police agent, an event that occurred in the Panama sector Old, Lefevre Park.Sergeant Rigoberto Valdés lost his life on the night of Monday, November 14, after being shot when he arrived at a residence located on Eighth Street, Panama Viejo, to carry out a search. Another police officer, Daniel Salinas, was wounded during the  shooting; he is out of danger. It was reported that the defendant was charged with the alleged commission of crimes against life and personal integrity, aggravated intentional homicide, attempted homicide, for the crime against collective security, illegal possession of a firearm and explosives and for the crime against public servants in the aggravated modality.

Next year, our country will once again host an event in which athletes put their physical and mental strength to the test. This is the Ironman 70.3, which will take place on the Amador causeway and the coastal strip, on Balboa avenue. On Wednesday morning a press conference was held in which details of what the event will be, in which some 1,500 athletes from all over the world are expected to participate, were released. Rina Aguirre, general director of Iron Man 70.3 Panama, spoke about the news that the next edition will bring.”On March 12, 2023 we will be holding the new edition and the good news is that next year we will be part of a Latin American triathlon team championship,  which gives us additional importance in the region, since we are the only country of Central America that will have this championship”, highlighted Aguirre. “The event is in the hands of Panamanians and we are proud to have it,” added the board.  As is traditional in this type of event, the athletes will cover 1.9 km of swimming, 90 km of cycling and 40 km of running.

The Juan Díaz river is one of the many tributaries of the country that have become a plastic dump in the district of Panama. The situation became evident during the first month that Wanda Díaz, the water wheel that traps floating solid waste in the Juan Díaz river, near the South corridor, has been in operation. One month after it was put into operation, on September 22, this water wheel, which works together with the floating barrier known as BoB, collects plastic bottles, balls, shoes, foam , deodorant containers, children’s toys and refrigerators, among other materials that float in the river. In fact, on October 13, when the first heavy rain of that month fell, 22 plastic bottle bags were collected, each one measuring 1.3 cubic meters, which represents a container full of garbage for a week. Faced with this scenario, the environmental organization Marea Verde, which is carrying out the Wanda Díaz project, has launched its Environmental Awareness and Education Program, to raise awareness among the population about the problem of pollution of rivers and seas and provide information on how to mitigate it. Among the communities selected to implement the actions of the program are the districts of Panama and San Miguelito, specifically the districts of Belisario Frías, Arnulfo Arias, Rufina Alfaro, Omar Torrijos, Ernesto Córdoba Campos and Juan Díaz.

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