Friday 1st September 2023.

August 31, 2023


The Minister of the Presidency, José Simpson, went to the National Assembly this Thursday to present a bill that seeks to modify the administrative career, an initiative with which the government of Laurentino Cortizo intends to shield 48,000 civil servants in pre-electoral times.

The proposal to modify Law 9 of 1994 , which establishes and regulates the administrative career, was authorized on August 8 by the Cabinet Council. The same, according to the government, “intends to accredit 48,000 public servants in the administrative career , benefiting officials from various state entities.”

Simpson indicated that the project seeks to regulate in the “most effective way” what is related to the promotion and labor mobility of public servants.

The entry of civil servants into public service, said the minister, will be through a special procedure. He added that the project contemplates the benefit of breastfeeding for public servants, the restructuring of the organic regime of the Administrative Court of Public Function and the modification of some grounds for dismissal currently provided for in the norm.

The issue of back wages in case of restitution will also be modified, equating this benefit to the one that has existed for several decades in the Labor Code.

According to the official, the project that is being presented in the middle of an election year “will contribute to achieving a better management model, giving priority to a mechanism of transparency, specialization, efficiency and effectiveness (…)”

In 2019, when the Cortizo government began, the Ministry of the Presidency equated work experience with academic training. A year and a half later, the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) threw out this strategy to hire officials based on work experience and not academic training.

The project to modify the law of the administrative career already has resistance. Génesis Arjona, deputy for Cambio Democrático, says that she only seeks to shield officials of the Democratic Revolutionary Party.

The favorite candidate in all the polls for the 2024 presidential elections in Panama, loses points, just after being convicted last July for money laundering. In a survey commissioned by this medium, Ricardo Martinelli is at his lowest point: 37% of preferences in August 2023.

The survey, conducted by OMG and The Marqueting Group, reveals that former President Martinelli remains popular, albeit declining. If the elections were already held, 37% of the total number of people consulted would vote for him, but two months before, those who answered the same question to the Gallup Panama company, favored him much more, according to what Panama America –the newspaper of the former president– published in last june.

In the middle of both opinion polls, there was a trial, a conviction, and another poll that reaffirmed the trend. On August 18, another Gallup poll also ranked him at the top of the list. In any case, nine months before the presidential elections, the former president and candidate for the Realizing Goals party leads his opponents.

A survey commissioned by this means reveals interesting data that could be interpreted as an electoral ceiling. When the respondents were asked that, regardless of who they will vote for or not, who or who would they definitely not vote for in the 2024 elections? The answer of 52% of those surveyed was José Gabriel “Gaby” Carrizo.

In the midst of the pause in talks with the Social Independent Alternative Party (PAIS), the presidential candidate of the Panameñista Party, José Isabel Blandón, hopes to expand the dialogue with the Popular Party (PP) standard bearer, former president Martín Torrijos.

“I have stated that last week I had a conversation with Mr. [Martín] Torrijos. I have spoken with other people linked to his campaign, I hope throughout this week to have more meetings with some of them,” Blandón said last Tuesday, hours before the national board of directors of his group made the decision to suspend meetings with PAIS.

Last Tuesday, August 29, at night, the board of the Panameñista Party suspended, for the moment, the talks for a possible alliance, with a view to the 2024 elections, with PAIS, chaired by lawyer José Toto Álvarez . The Panameñista will continue talking with Cambio Democrático (CD)..

The anti-corruption prosecutor Javier Cuadra requested this Thursday the conviction for money laundering of the former Minister of Public Works, Jaime Ford Castro , after at least three State contractors declared that they made deposits of $3.8 million in the basket account on behalf of the Blue company Apple Services .

The prosecutor remarked that Eduardo Di Bello, Julián París and Jorge Espino confessed that they made these payments as “political aid”, in exchange for facilitating the execution and billing of their contracts.

With that money, real estate and land were acquired in the district of San Francisco and in the Old Town, as well as in the province of Panama Oeste, prosecutor Cuadra alleged, on the eighth day of the trial followed by 18 people, in the courtroom. the criminal judge Baloisa Marquínez .

The prosecutor added that Jorge Espino , from the Conceptos y Espacios company , operated as a front man or intermediary in these transactions , who facilitated the transactions for the delivery of funds for the purchase of those lands.

The day before, the prosecutor’s office had requested the conviction of Federico José Pepe Suárez , Ford’s predecessor in the MOP.

In his plea this Thursday, Cuadra also requested the conviction of Luis Alberto Arias and Jaime Martín De La Espriella , as final beneficiaries of the company Inversiones y Servicios LJ , which in May 2012 received a check from Blue Apple for the sum of $600 thousand, according to the investigation. Cuadra explained that, with those funds, a check for $30,000 was written for the purchase of a BMW X5 at the Bavarian Motors agency.

He also requested the conviction of the architect George Moreno , whom he links to the crime for having used $63,000 from the Blue Apple account to buy land in Mariato , Veraguas province.

But the prosecutor not only requested convictions: he also requested an acquittal for two defendants (Silvia Rojas and Marcelino Martínez) , who participated in the creation of corporations used to move money to Blue Apple. According to Cuadra, Rojas and Martínez did not know why these companies were created and they did not receive any benefit or advantage from those acts.

The construction of Line 3 of the Panama Metro registers a 42% progress, according to Carlos Cedeño, project director, during a tour with the media to see the work.

He indicated that the trains that will use this route will be in tests in Japan throughout the month of September and are expected to arrive in the country in the first quarter of 2024.

He explained that the trains of line 3 will be made up of six wagons instead of the 5 that Lines 1 and 2 have. With a capacity to transport a thousand passengers per train.

Line 3 will depart from the Albrook station and will go through Arraiján, Nuevo Chorrillo and will arrive at Ciudad del Futuro. It will have a route in its first phase of 24.5 kilometers, along which between 12 and 14 stations will be distributed.

Line 3 will also have a battery system that will allow the train to arrive at a station in the event of an interruption in the electrical service.

“We are working on a unified schedule that considers the completion of the project up to Ciudad del Futuro, by the end of 2026,” Cedeño announced.

The project director reiterated that Line 3 is 24.5 kilometers long. “Currently we have closed with the contractor, and approved an amount of 350 million dollars, which includes the entire part of the 5 kilometers underground, but we still have some design issues pending and the connection of the ramp with the tunnel and the elevated among others”. he added.

The latest figures from the National Migration Service reflect that the entry of irregular migrants through the Darién jungle continues to increase significantly to the point that between Monday and Wednesday of this week the entry of 10,928 travelers was registered.

On Monday, August 28, 4,106 migrants entered, a record number for this year, while 3,696 did on Tuesday and 3,126 on Wednesday.

August registers the highest monthly number of income of migrants from Colombia with 79 thousand 265 travelers.

The Minister of Security of Panama, Juan Manuel Pino, announced that this Friday a bilateral meeting will be held with the authorities of the neighboring country of Costa Rica to address this migration crisis.

He announced that the meeting will take place in the city of David, Chiriquí province, and will include the participation of Foreign Ministry and Security officials from both countries.

“Costa Rica also has the same effect as Panama, which is a transit country, it does not originate migration,” Pino said. “The effects of migration in the protected areas of the Darién are environmental, which also affect the population,” he added.


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