Friday 28th June 2024.

June 27, 2024


In a recent interview with CNN, President-elect José Raúl Mulino addressed crucial issues for the nation ahead of his inauguration on July 1.

During the conversation, Mulino spoke about the situation of former President Ricardo Martinelli , expressing his opinions regarding the legal and political challenges he faces. He also touched on the topic of Venezuela, analyzing the crisis the country is going through and its impact on the region.

One of the highlights was his focus on controlling migration across the Panama-Darién border , stressing the importance of implementing effective measures to manage migratory flows and ensure national security.

The president-elect stressed that he does not deny his friendship with Martinelli, but emphasized that he is very respectful when it comes to compliance with the law.

“I do not deny my friendship with Martinelli, but that friendship ends where compliance with the law begins. Let me be very clear: I would not tolerate that because it would be disrespecting the rule of law,” said Mulino when asked if the former president would be at his inauguration.

Regarding the possibility that the elections in Venezuela are not transparent, the president-elect pointed out that they would have to evaluate bilateral relations with that country, since Panama’s position is to recognize legitimate governments.

“I wish Venezuela the greatest civilized and democratic success in the world. I hope that the current government foresees this reality and takes into account the effects that a decision adverse to respect for democracy and the popular will of the people may have in the elections of next July 28,” he added.

Regarding the closure of the border in Darien, as promised during his campaign, Mulino said that he will not build a wall or fence, but he raises the possibility of an agreement with the United States in the repatriation process with the supervision of human rights organizations.

An average of 1,200 migrants arrive through Darién every day.

The Supreme Court of Justice declared unconstitutional two paragraphs of Law 376 of March 31, 2023, which allows them to choose what salary they want to receive if, at the time of being elected, they already held a public office.

The lawsuit, under the leadership of Judge María Cristina Chen Stanziola, declared unconstitutional two paragraphs of Law 376 of March 31, 2023, which modified Law 37 of 2009, which decentralizes public administration and refers to the salaries earned by representatives of districts and their elected substitutes, as well as elected mayors and vice mayors.

The ruling states that “the idea of ​​granting an elected person, who previously held a public office, the possibility of choosing the salary that he will earn, constitutes a clear breach of the principle of equality enshrined in Article 20 of the Political Constitution ; given that those who previously worked in the private sector can only aspire to an unpaid leave, which results in an irrational and unjustified privilege, which lacks objectivity and is disproportionate compared to other people who were elected to the position, but who in this case, work in the private sector . ”

The ruling had the unanimous vote of the nine magistrates that make up the plenary session of the Court and was communicated through an edict posted today in the secretariat of that justice corporation.

The lawsuits were presented by lawyers Ernesto Cedeño and Roberto Ruiz Díaz .

Cedeño and Ruiz Díaz attacked Law 376, which establishes that local authorities who “work as public servants at the time of being elected shall be granted leave without pay during the period in which they hold the elected office.” If the salary corresponding to the position of representative or mayor is lower than what they receive in said state institution, “they may be granted leave with pay,” but they must first give up the salary they are entitled to in the local government.

This law had been approved by the National Assembly and sanctioned by Laurentino Cortizo after in April 2022 the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) declared it “unconstitutional” for officials to enjoy controversial paid leave, that is, to receive two salaries paid by the State.

The new ruling highlights that the challenged law does not recognize a benefit for anyone who is elected, whether as mayor, vice mayor, district representative or his alternate, and that the law merely limits the benefit contained therein to those people who at the time of the election hold the status of public servant.

In this sense, he explains that this distinction constitutes a limitation that operates to the detriment of those people who come from the formal or informal sector, since the benefit is only recognized to those who, at the time of being elected, are working for the State. , thus creating discrimination between one another.

The new government, which will take office on July 1, manages among the solution options, related to the Donoso mine, Cobre Panamá, the proposal to open to definitively close operations.

This was confirmed by the Minister of Commerce and Industry, appointed Julio Moltó, when he indicated that as soon as he takes the reins of the office he will dedicate himself to analyzing the data and information that the Government has on this issue, including the legal processes and arbitrations open against the State.

“This is an issue that will be addressed with great firmness and transparency, the issue of opening and closing the mine, is what the President [José Raúl Mulino] has mentioned and we will do everything in a transparent manner,” said Moltó upon leaving a forum of the American Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Panama (AmCham).

He indicated that due to the arbitrations and lawsuits against the State, a legal team should already be in place, which the outgoing government left behind. One of the conditions that President Mulino mentioned for talking with First Quantum was that any existing lawsuits be suspended, he specified.

First Quantum is, however, expected to begin arbitration at the end of July.

Moltó also revealed that it is very likely that a new contract will not be negotiated in the process that is being carried out.

“It is very likely that whatever the solution to this problem [of the mine] is, it will not be resolved with another contract,” he revealed before the audience of businessmen of the Panamanian American chamber.

During his speech at the Amcham Panama forum, he said that they will stand firm on the decisions they make regarding resource management.

“The mining issue, which is of national importance, will be addressed in a responsible and transparent manner at the appropriate time. This country is the owner of its natural resources and in this new administration this criterion is fundamental. Our president-elect has expressed the possibility of an open-to-close agreement. I cannot go into further detail on this issue at the moment, but I want to assure you that we will address it as a priority once we enter and have all the information at our disposal.”

Although he did not specify actions on what will happen to the copper concentrate that currently exists in the mine facilities, he announced that they do not plan to enter into a new contract.

“What I can tell you is that whatever solution we agree on, it is most likely that this issue will not be resolved with another contract.”

Moltó assured that they will respect legal security and promote the arrival of new investments in Panama, in addition to promoting non-traditional exports. He assured that he will work hand in hand with private companies.

“We are going to take on this role and I am committed to continuing with the projects to boost the economy. Panama must become a regional trade center with an aggressive investment promotion program through international events,” he said.

The Comptroller General of the Republic has approved a regulation of salary adjustments that will be implemented starting next year, which has provoked a virulent reaction from the elected president José Raúl Mulino and an angry response from the comptroller Gerardo Solís .

On his account on the social network X , Mulino wrote a message that is a declaration of intent: “It is completely foolish of the Comptroller to try to continue with salary increases approved at the last minute by the government.”

“You should know how precarious our finances are and avoid these decisions that will not be possible in [the] new budget,” added Mulino, who will take office next Monday.

Solís, consulted by La Prensa , responded without hesitation: “The president is not the head of the comptroller.”

“It is not my custom to call anyone names, I respect freedom of expression and the power of those who want to do so. That is not my style,” he added, adding that he has not had any personal communication with Mulino so far. “For my part, I will treat the Executive with respect, as I have done with the outgoing government,” he concluded.

“What is Mulino’s tone with these messages on social media?” Solís asked, adding that “President Laurentino Cortizo never sent me a message asking me to do or not do something. He respected the independence of the Comptroller’s Office.”

Although he does not provide further details, Mulino in his message could be referring to the Resolution of April 23, 2024 , promulgated in the Official Gazette last Tuesday, June 25, which approves the “regulation of the merit increase policy in the Comptroller’s Office.” . The last one was updated in 2013.

In this resolution, it is agreed to manage the achievement of the corresponding budgetary resources to make the application of the new salary scale effective as of January 1, 2025.

The resolution was signed by Solís, whose term as comptroller ends on December 31, 2024, and Zenia Vásquez de Palacios , general secretary of the entity.

Solís believes that these increases are “incentives for staff productivity,” since the minimum salary in the Comptroller’s Office is $800 per month and he hopes to raise it to $1,000, although this amount is not established in the adjustments. These adjustments would apply to 4,003 permanent-status officials.

He says that the review had been planned since the pandemic, but was suspended. The issue was taken up again last year.

When La Prensa asked about the salary adjustment, Solís responded: “There is no certain figure.” He indicated that adjustments would be made when the situation in the country allows it.

“This is not a goal, this is part of what we do with programming and does not depend on the emotional swings of the Comptroller,” he added, adding that everything will depend on the approvals of the general budget when it is discussed in the National Assembly.

About 600 packages of drugs were located inside a panel-type car in the vicinity of the Metromall shopping center, located in the Rufina Alfaro district, San Miguelito district.

This seizure was made after receiving a citizen report about an exchange of gunfire between several individuals, who apparently were trying to seize the narcotics.

Sergio Delgado, head of the Judicial Investigation Directorate (DIJ), explained that the Police were alerted to an exchange of shots recorded in the vicinity of the shopping center, which led to the intervention of the agents who managed to arrest two people and recovery of two firearms.

During the police operation, a panel-type vehicle was recovered, inside which 600 packages of drugs were located. Another vehicle was also located that was abandoned in an area near where the shooting occurred.

The Police activated a series of checkpoints in the sectors of Cerro Viento, San Antonio and Juan Díaz to locate more people involved in this event.

Sources linked to the investigations reported that the drug could have been introduced through the Juan Díaz coastal area and that it was moved to another place to be hidden.

Also, according to figures from the National Police, during this year a total of 1,636 people have been arrested for micro-trafficking and 27,211 doses of illicit substances have been seized. So far this year, authorities have seized some 53 tons of drugs in operations carried out throughout the country


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