Friday 19th January 2024.

January 18, 2024


The administrator of the Panama Canal, Ricaurte Vásquez , said yesterday Wednesday that the decision on a future water project that guarantees the availability of water for the Canal and human consumption is a decision that is in the hands of the Executive.

Vásquez reiterated that the proposal presented by the board of directors to the Executive Body includes two specific points: that the restriction on the construction of new reservoirs be eliminated and that the limits of the basin be defined.

“Once this happens, we will be ready to start,” emphasized the administrator, in a press conference this Wednesday, January 17.

One of the requirements is to expand the limits of the hydrographic basin. And this must be done by the central government and the National Assembly through the approval of legal reforms.

The Government of Laurentino Cortizo has avoided giving a public and definitive position on the issue. But this newspaper has been able to learn of several things that happen within the Executive and that would be delaying decisions on this issue.

Apparently, the Government was behind having and managing a water reservoir that would be made available to the Canal. They then embraced the idea of ​​piping water from Lake Bayano to Lake Gatun, but this was another decision that was off the radar of the ACP.

Río Indio involves the construction of a reservoir that would affect approximately 2,000 people. But the Government would be avoiding saying yes to a reservoir that could be an obstacle to some organizations, after having gone through the recent rejection of the mining contract.

Therefore, there could be political management in the middle of the pre-electoral period with the water crisis.

In that same press conference, Vásquez estimated that toll revenue from the Panama Canal will decrease between 500 million and 700 million dollars in fiscal year 2024, due to the restriction on the transit of ships that can use the canal. via, currently limited by the drought.

A lawsuit of unconstitutionality against Law 20 of June 21, 2006, which modified the limits of the Panama Canal basin , was presented before the Supreme Court of Justice by lawyer Juan Ramón Sevillano.

Sevillano alleges that said law violates article 319 of the Constitution , which establishes that the board of directors of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has among its powers to propose the limits of the hydrographic basin of the interoceanic waterway, but that the ACP It was never consulted by the National Assembly for its approval.

The lawsuit states that the aforementioned law also violates article 163 of the Constitution , which prohibits the National Assembly from approving laws contrary to the letter and spirit of the Magna Carta.

It argues that its approval was carried out without consultation and has caused serious damage to the Panama Canal, by preventing it from having vital resources for its operation, such as water.

At the same time, the violation of article 120 of the Constitution stands out , which establishes that the State must ensure, supervise and timely apply the necessary measures to guarantee the use of terrestrial, river and maritime fauna.

This is evidenced by preventing the implementation of timely actions to protect and conserve the water necessary for the operation of the Canal and the consumption of the residents of Panama City, said Sevillano.

The lawyer presented the lawsuit on behalf of the former presidential candidate for the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Juan Carlos Navarro, who assured that the law now being sued was approved during the administration of former Panamanian president Martín Torrijos and eliminated all protection in one fell swoop. of the basin, according to him, without any justification.

Navarro adds that, with the approval of Law 20 of 2006 – which repealed Law 44 of 1999, which established the limits of the Canal basin – these areas were handed over to mining.

Sevillano was the plaintiff lawyer for Law 406 of 2023 , which adopted the contract between the State and Minera Panamá , which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Justice, on November 28, 2023.

The National Immigration Service (SNM), in coordinated action with Interpol Panama, deported two Ecuadorian citizens required by the justice system of the South American country.

One of these people maintained a red alert from Interpol and another had an internal threat alert in Ecuador, reported María Isabel Saravia, deputy director of the SNM of Panama.

“These people are linked to prisoner escape operations and possibly corruption cases,” said the Panamanian official.

The deputy director of Immigration Panama indicated that the deportations complied with due process in both cases and that direct coordination was carried out with the Ecuadorian government to execute these measures.

Ecuador is going through an escalation of acts of violence. In addition to the recent assault on a television station, there were kidnappings of police officers, murders of at least eight people, explosive devices, burning vehicles and riots in seven prisons. The Ecuadorian Government has declared a “state of exception” and a situation of “internal armed conflict.”

Once again, the Supreme Court of Justice rejected a protection of constitutional guarantees from former President Ricardo Martinelli in the New Business case.

On this occasion, it is an appeal against the second instance ruling issued by the Superior Court for the Settlement of Criminal Cases , which maintained his sentence of 128 months in prison and the payment of a fine of $19.2 million.

It is the eighth protection that the Court and the First Court of Justice have rejected to Martinelli’s lawyers, either against decisions made by Judge Baloisa Marquínez or against the magistrates of the Superior Court of Liquidations.

The ruling was presented by Judge María Cristina Chen Stanziola and was made public through Edict No. 55 posted in the Court’s secretariat on the afternoon of this Wednesday, January 17, in which the parties of the ruling were notified. plenary decision.

The amparo presented by Carlos Carrillo, from Martinelli’s team of lawyers, sought for the Court to annul the ruling issued by the Superior Settlement Court on October 24, 2023.

On that occasion, judges José Hoo Justiniani, Manuel Mata Avendaño and Eyda Amarilis Juárez confirmed the conviction against Martinelli, Daniel Ochy, Janeth Vásquez, Valentín Martínez Vásquez and Iván Arturo Arrocha.

The Court also rejected a protection of guarantees against this same resolution presented by Arrocha, also notified this Wednesday, January 17.

Martinelli’s defense also filed an appeal and a warning of unconstitutionality in this case. Both are in the admission process.

The Superior Court of Appeals confirmed the provisional arrest of a 39-year-old citizen accused of running over a cyclist in El Espavé, in the district of San Carlos, Panama Oeste, and driving to the Casamar residential complex, with the body of the victim on the bodywork.

The accident occurred on the night of December 30, 2023, when Jimmy Szkolnik was driving a BMW sedan and hit a 26-year-old cyclist. For this fact, he was accused of manslaughter in a hearing held on January 1. Then his provisional arrest was also ordered.

The new updated vaccine against covid-19, from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, is already in Panama.

This Thursday, January 18, 2024, a batch with 183,360 doses of this vaccine that protects against the Ómicron variant and its subvariants arrived in the country.

Of this batch, Itzel de Hewitt, national coordinator of the Expanded Immunization Program (PAI) of the Ministry of Health (Minsa), explained that 4,800 are for the population from six months to 4 years of age; 28,800 are aimed at the population from five years to 11 years old, while 149,760 are aimed at the population over 12 years old.

The official added that the distribution of the doses in the different health regions will begin this Thursday. The vaccination process with reinforced doses will be carried out throughout the country, she stressed.

It must be remembered that the updated formula of the covid-19 vaccine was approved last October by the European Medicines Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.

Given the increase in covid-19 cases in the country, health authorities have called on the population to get vaccinated and maintain self-care measures.

During the week of January 2 to 14, the Minsa Epidemiology report shows that 1,843 new positive cases of covid-19 were reported, raising the accumulated number of confirmed cases to 1,057,841 since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

In this last epidemiological week, a total of 7,249 tests were carried out, with a weekly positivity percentage of 25.4%, the report states.

With 45 votes in favor , the National Assembly approved bill 1007 in its third debate , which seeks to resolve the problem of shortages and public purchases of medicines and other health products.

pharmaceutical establishments in public tenders of the Ministry of Health (Minsa), the Social Security Fund (CSS) and health boards, establishes a “medicine observatory” and proposes the use of platforms, applications and other technological tools that allow consumers direct access to information sources.

This initiative allows the Minsa and the CSS to make joint purchases, nationally and abroad, through expeditious mechanisms, in the event of a critical shortage of medicines or to prevent shortages of these.

Project 1007 was brought to the Assembly on March 29, 2023 by the Minister of Health, Luis Francisco Sucre . As it is a direct proposal from the Executive, the prompt sanction of President Laurentino Cortizo is expected .

Previously, the Assembly had approved bill 841 , an original initiative by deputy Daniel Ramos. However, that proposal was vetoed by Cortizo on April 27, 2023.

The Executive undertakes to provide “sufficient resources” to the Comptroller General of the Republic, so that it can exercise prior control “with priority”, as well as the appropriate endorsements in public purchases of medicines and supplies.

The system of “solidarity pharmacies” is also implemented, which are those in the private sector that request authorization from the Minsa to purchase their merchandise with the prices negotiated by the “National System of Reference Prices for Medicines.”


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