Friday 27th January 2023.

January 27, 2023


The Fundación Libertad Ciudadana, the Panamanian chapter of Transparency International, affirmed that the appointment of former President Ricardo Martinell i “for his participation in acts of significant corruption” is a clear consequence of the ethical degradation in which the country has fallen. “The withdrawal of the visa to the former president and his family for acts of corruption is just a warning that our common home needs a vigorous fight on the part of all against corruption,” it is highlighted in a statement. On the night of this Wednesday, the United States Department of State announced this measure, citing Secretary of State Antony Blinken. At the same time, the United States ambassador to Panama, Maria carmen Aponte, announced in another statement that “this will not be our last designation in Panama.” The position of the US government was given hours after the arrival in Panama last night of the brothers Ricardo and Luis Martinelli Linares, sons of the former president, after serving a prison sentence in the United States, after confessing that they laundered up to $28 million in bribes from Odebrecht. The reactions for these events have not been long in coming. One of those who spoke was the former president of the Chamber of Commerce, José Ramón Icaza Clément, who stressed that “those who, by corrupting themselves and corrupting the institutions from power, betray the people who trusted them.” “The new Panama cannot be built without honest management. The Martinelli case is the turning point of a dark past and a bright future”. For his part, the lawyer and former magistrate of the Electoral Tribunal, Guillermo Márquez Amado, proceeded to transcribe Blinken’s statements on the situation of Martinelli. While the president of the Panameñista Party, José Isabel Blandón, commented that the United States took this measure, the Panamanian justice system has taken years to make decisions. Until noon this Thursday, former President Martinelli on the social network Twitter referred to the reunion with his children and that he will defend his innocence. “Thankful to God for allowing my family to be reunited. It was an emotionally charged moment. Now I am preparing to meet with my lawyers and advisers to evaluate the latest facts. I have always been clear; I will defend my innocence, my rights and guarantees wherever it is”. Meanwhile, the former first lady, Marta de Martinelli, thanked the messages of support. “I want to thank so many people who sent us messages of support and empathy. I love you so much! As a family we have gone through very sad and difficult moments, irreparable. I reproach people who wanted to take advantage of other people’s pain. Grateful to God for his infinite mercy. Until now, the Panamanian government has not ruled on the measure taken by the US government on former president Martinelli.

A special session in memory of the victims of the Holocaust was held this Wednesday, by the National Assembly, the Embassy of Israel in Panama and the United Nations Organization. This, on the occasion of the International Day of Annual Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, which this year commemorates the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz. The activity took place at the Justo Arosemena Palace. In the session, Resolution 111 of January 25, 2010, by which the National Assembly commemorates the international day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, was read and a minute of silence was observed. “The holding of this special session has a deep meaning for the Jewish people and for the world, because we remember the systematic and planned murder of innocent human beings,” said the Israeli ambassador to Panama, Itai Bardov. As part of the activity, six candles were lit in the Blue Room of the Assembly, in memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazi regime (1933-1945) led by Adolf Hitler.

The Ministry of Education (Meduca) reported that nearly 14,000 students from private schools migrated to the official sector for the 2023 school year. According to the entity, Minister Maruja Gorday de Villalobos stressed that this migration has caused the closure of private schools and a decrease in the hiring of new teachers, with respect to the years 2021 and 2022. In the midst of the covid-19 pandemic and its effects on jobs, it is estimated that between 2021 and 2022 some 30,000 students went from the private to the official education sector. Minister Gorday de Villalobos announced that the areas with the highest demand for enrollment are North Panama, West Panama and San Miguelito and among other factors that are influencing this situation is population growth and new housing projects in these areas. Regarding this increase in demand in the official sector, the head of Education said that she is coordinating with the Ministry of Housing and Territorial Planning to study the demographic growth of these regions. In addition, this leads to the challenge of creating more professional and technical schools. Similarly, Meduca reported that 19 new educational centers are scheduled to be delivered between February and May of this year. Also that $36 million have been allocated to meet the needs implied by student demand for 2023 in terms of furniture, equipment, laboratories. The 2023 school year will begin on March 6.

From now on, the Electoral Tribunal issued the warning: that as of next February 1 and until May 5, 2024, the day the general elections will be held, pre-candidates and candidates for a position of popular election, are prohibited from participating in inauguration events of public works, or in activities financed with money from the State. Otherwise, they could be disabled. The measure also applies to so-called turnkey works. This last figure is one of the most used by the government of Laurentino Cortizo. Until September of last year, the Ministry of Public Works had delivered 18 orders to proceed for contracts under this modality, which amount to 776 million dollars. However, this prohibition already applied to free applicants since June 1, 2022, the date the race for signatures began. A statement from the TE, which cites articles of the Electoral Code , adds ” excluded from the prohibition are pre-candidates whose nomination was not firm as a candidate and official activities inherent to the exercise of office, financed with the national or municipal budget, unrelated to the inauguration of public works” .

Starting this Friday, today, gasoline prices will rise again in Panama. The National Secretariat of Energy reported that the liter of 95 octane gasoline will rise seven cents and will be sold at $1.08. While the liter of 91 octane gasoline will increase six cents and will be on sale at $1.02. Low sulfur diesel will increase by three cents and will cost $1.10 per liter. When converted to a gallon, the 95 octane will rise by 24 cents, selling at $4.10; the 91-octane will increase 24 cents and will sell for $3.86. While diesel will increase 14 cents and will sell at $4.18 a gallon. The new prices will be in force from 6:00 am this Friday, January 27, until February 10, 2023. The Government currently grants a fuel subsidy so that it is sold to the public at $3.25 a gallon of 95, 91 and diesel. But, it will only be valid until February 15 of this year.



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