Friday 6th October 2023.

October 5, 2023


The Electoral Tribunal (TE) tried to bring closer positions with the National Assembly (AN) , but the modification to the Electoral Code promoted by the bench of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), with less than seven months left for the general elections, seems imminent.

The first vice president of the AN, Ricardo Torres, confirmed that bill 1092 (proposed by himself), which modifies the application mechanism by residue (R) in multi-member circuits, will be discussed in the second debate next Monday.

The decision was communicated by Torres this Thursday, October 5, at the end of a meeting with the magistrates of the Electoral Tribunal (TE), who have been completely outside of this discussion and have expressed their strong opposition to project 1092, alleging that it is “extemporaneous.” , would cause “distortions” and lacks “legitimacy.”

“In a responsible manner, as we have always done, even when proposing the draft law that modifies article 380 [of the Electoral Code ], we always called on the Electoral Tribunal to listen to us, to sit with us. After the adoption and approval in the first debate, and today that we were going to start the second debate, we had a call from the three magistrates of the Electoral Court,” Torres said.

Whatever was discussed at the meeting, apparently it will not change the course of events, because the project is not only maintained, but is advancing to the next phase.

“We have sat down. We are going to continue legislating and on Monday we are going to return to the proposal that is already in the plenary session to discuss,” Torres told journalists, before leaving the TE headquarters.

Project 1092 has already been included in the agenda of the day of the legislative plenary session, which must approve it in the second and third debate. It was presented by deputy Ricardo Torres , who is also a member of the National Executive Committee (CEN) of the PRD . But the proposal not only has the support of the PRD bench. In the first debate, it had the votes in favor of deputies Crina Cano, from Molirena, and Mayín Correa and Alaín Cedeño, from Cambio Democrático (CD) . Only the Panameñista Luis Ernesto Carles voted against, which earned him several insults from the PRD deputy, Raúl Pineda , who is part of the aforementioned commission.

Leandro Ávila , president of the Government Commission, defends the proposal, despite the fact that in 2019 it arrived at the Assembly with the current residual formula.

“Those who have modified the Electoral Code , by decree, have been the Electoral Tribunal and the proposal that we are presenting is to maintain the same article 380, which guarantees the possibility that all parties can have an R and that there are no parties that can have up to nine R’s in an electoral process in the same circuit,” said Ávila, ignoring that there is no circuit with nine deputies or more, so it would be unfeasible for a circuit to award nine seats per remainder, as he suggests.

The circuit with the most seats is that of San Miguelito, where there are seven seats.

Ávila warns that if an “understanding” is achieved with the TE magistrates, “it is not necessary to make the modification in the Assembly, because that is already in the Electoral Code. What happens is that a decree has modified the law, which is the Electoral Code .”

First Quantum , whose subsidiary Minera Panamá develops the copper extraction project in Donoso (Colón), announced this Wednesday, October 4, that it is prepared to review the adjustments to the mining contract with the Panamanian State.

“We have always maintained an open position to dialogue and are prepared to analyze and review the four adjustments mentioned in the Resolution. Our objective is to collaborate with the government to find a solution that allows the approval of the contract,” is reflected in a statement published by the company on social networks.

The reaction of the mining company comes after the Cabinet Council authorized the Minister of Commerce and Industries, Federico Alfaro, to request before the National Assembly the withdrawal of bill 1043 , which approves the mining concession contract, concluded between the Panamanian State and the Minera Panamá company, to make the required adjustments.

On September 28, the Assembly’s Trade and Economic Affairs Committee suspended the discussion, in the first debate, of the project. The reasons why the deputies proposed to the Executive to take their bill were: the articles that have to do with the restriction of airspace, the possibility of expropriation and the distribution of the final benefits of the mining concession.

The company said that it was aware of the resolution of the legislative commission that proposes adjustments to the contract and that the priority is to ensure a contract that protects the investment made, guaranteeing its legal security and providing stability for workers, communities, suppliers and shareholders.

The decision of the Commerce Commission came after several weeks of consultations with the parties involved and now it is up to the Executive and the company to sit down and discuss the points to reconsider.

Likewise, it is worth remembering that several environmental and union organizations are calling for a complete review of the document.

The results of the 2023 Census of the National Institute of Census and Statistics of the Comptroller General of the Republic confirm that the majority of the population is concentrated in the provinces of Panama, Panama Oeste and Chiriquí.

The data shows that in the province of Panama there are 1 million 439 thousand 575 inhabitants, while in Panama Oeste the number of people registered was 653 thousand 665 people and in Chiriquí, more than 450 kilometers from the capital city, there are at least 476 thousand 7 inhabitants.

Panama continues to account for the majority of the country’s population (35.4%), but now 16.1% of the country’s total population is in the new province of Panama Oeste, that is, the population that lives in the new limits of the province of Panama.

Next on the list are Colón with 281,956 people, Coclé 268,264 and finally in Veraguas with a figure of 259,791.

Meanwhile, the provinces with the fewest inhabitants are Los Santos , Herrera and Bocas del Toro , according to data published from the 2023 Census.

For example, in Los Santos there are 98,466 people with an average age of 39 years, then there is Herrera with a figure of 122,071 inhabitants with an average age of 36 years and in Bocas del Toro 159,228 people were registered. with an average of 20 years.

There are large gaps between provinces. For example, in Los Santos, the average age is 39 years, while in Chiriquí and Coclé it is 31 years. In Colón and Darién, the average age of the population is 28 and 24 years, respectively. This gives indications of the movement of the young population to specific provinces to seek life opportunities.

In addition, from the increase in the population from 3.4 million people in 2010 to 4.06 million in 2023, some other important comparative variables include the gradual fall in the population growth rate, going from 2.00 between 1990 and 2000 to 1.84 between 2000 and 2010, and then continue dropping to 1.4 between 2010 and 2023.

The decrease will continue in the coming years because it is a consequence of the decrease in average fertility, which—although slight—decreased from 2.3 to 2.00 children per woman.

The next 80 days are crucial so that storage can be increased in the Gatún and Alhajuela reservoirs, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) reported in a statement.

These lakes supply water to guarantee the operation of the interoceanic route and in turn supply water for the water treatment plants that distribute the resource to the population.

The ACP expressed that increasing storage and therefore the level of the lakes in the next month and a half will be strategic to “in this way have the capacity to regulate the available water during the next dry season 2024.

The ACP points out that the measures that have been taken, such as the reduction in the allowed draft of 44 feet, and the reduction in the number of daily transits, which first dropped from 38 to 32 per day and from November 1st will drop to 31, allow for daily savings. 1.2 million cubic meters of water.

This amount of water, according to the Canal, is equivalent to 80% of what is consumed per day in the provinces of Colón, Panama and Panama Oeste.

“Faced with the growing demand for water and the variability in rainfall patterns, the Canal has modified operational and commercial processes to ensure the supply of fresh water both for the consumption of the population and for transit during the next dry season, expected from December to April 2024″, reported the ACP.

They indicate that the Canal is adopting measures to ensure the availability in volume and quality of water both for the operation of the Canal and for the consumption of the population.

The Panama Canal indicates that, added to the drought, the El Niño phenomenon has a negative effect on the evaporation of bodies of water, which is significant on crucial sites such as Gatún and Alhajuela lakes; that feed on the contributions of rains and rivers.

They explain that currently, the daily contributions obtained through rainfall and the flow of the rivers that feed the Gatún reservoir are located at seven cubic hectometers (hm³), while the outputs through human consumption, industry, Channel and evaporation is located at ten hm³, which creates a deficit of three cubic hectometers each day. In a year of regular rains, the inflow of water would be an average of 15 cubic hectometers per day.

“This means that during the year 2023, more water has been consumed than what enters Gatun Lake through rain and rivers and the Canal has been working with the water that it had reserved in December 2022 to sustain operations during the summer of 2023. , plus the transfers from Lake Alhajuela, which has better levels.

The ACP explains that three cubic hectometers are equivalent to the water stored in 1,200 Olympic swimming pools, and this daily deficit has caused the Gatún reservoir to be seven feet below the expected level for the date, which represents the lowest level recorded during a season. rainy in the entire history of this reservoir.



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