Friday 8th September 2023.

September 7, 2023


The Supreme Court of Justice refused to receive an incident of contempt against President Laurentino Cortizo, ministers and deputies who allegedly ignored the ruling that declared Contract Law 9 of 1997, which authorizes mining exploitation in Donoso , unconstitutional .

The incident was prepared by the Single Union of Construction Workers ( Suntracs ), the National Confederation of Independent Union Unity ( Conusi ) and the National Front for the Defense of Economic and Social Rights of Panama ( Frenadeso ). Representatives of these three groups, accompanied by the presidential candidate for free nomination Maribel Gordón , appeared on the morning of this Thursday, September 7, at the Court.

But the General Secretariat of the Judicial Branch refused to receive the appeal, arguing that neither Suntracs nor Frenadeso nor Conusi “were part of the process.”

Contract Law 9 of 1997 is a precedent for the one that is currently being discussed in the National Assembly and with which it is intended to legalize the operation of Minera Panama.

Saúl Méndez, from Suntracs, announced that they will return to the Court with a notary to present their incident again and that, if they cannot do so, they would then file a complaint.

The spirits flared this Thursday in the debate on the proposed law contract between the State and the company Minera Panamá SA , which takes place in the community of La Pintada, in Coclé.

The consultation that started after 10:30 am is not being transmitted by the National Assembly. After an hour, it stopped for a few minutes, after several of those present questioned an “alteration” in the list of exhibitors.

This motivated several of the deputies of the Assembly’s Trade Commission to get up from the table, although 10 minutes later the interventions were resumed.

On the participation list there are more than 20 people who wish to intervene. This would conclude, for the moment, the consultation process in the communities most impacted by the mining project.

This Thursday the citizen consultation takes place in the community of Sabaneta, in the township of Llano Grande, district of La Pintada, in Coclé. Last Monday, it was held in Miguel de la Borda, district of Donoso, Colón, and this Wednesday in Coclesito, district of Omar Torrijos Herrera.

Four journalistic organizations requested the immediate withdrawal of the project that repeals the 2002 transparency law , considering that the Executive should expand consultations and rethink its proposal, since the current document limits access to public information and bureaucratizes the habeas action. data.

“The reforms to the existing law should have been worked on jointly with the organizations and citizens interested in these matters, in work groups focused on strengthening and expanding its scope. There were already multiple documents that listed the needs to reform the current legislation to deepen its scope, but these references were not taken into account,” said a statement released this Thursday, September 7 by the National Journalism Council (CNP) , the Forum of Journalists , the Panamanian Broadcasting Association (APR) and the Association of Chiriquí Journalists.

They are not the only ones: twenty professional associations and civil society organizations have asked President Laurentino Cortizo to withdraw bill 1031, which was presented to the National Assembly (AN) by the Minister of the Presidency, José Simpson, on 27 last April.

The project, which is promoted by the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai) and the Presidency of the Republic, is pending the first debate in the Government Commission of the AN. The commission decided to broaden the consultations; There will be a meeting on September 13, to which the Administration Attorney, Rigoberto González, is invited, who has also announced that he favors the withdrawal of the project.

The four journalistic unions reminded Cortizo that in January 2019, when he was campaigning for an election, he signed the so-called #RetoTransparencia2019, which implied “reinforcing” (not repealing) compliance with Law 6 of 2002, on access to public information.

“Producing a new law that was not nourished by the experiences and concerns of experienced organizations and citizens in the right to access information is contrary to the agreement made,” the statement said.

Two important elements marked the agenda yesterday Wednesday of the debate on bill 1031 that repeals Law 6 on transparency. The Government Commission of the National Assembly received the report prepared by a group of deputies on the project; and the Administration Attorney, Rigoberto González, sent a letter to the Assembly in which he requests that the debate be postponed to allow a process of participation, discussion and the search for consensus.

During the session of the Government Commission, Elsa Fernández , director of the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai) recognized that the entity she directs has a mandate that corresponds to that of the appointing entity; that is to say, “it accompanies the presidential term”, for which reason “it does not play the role of balance that it should have, as in the case of the Ombudsman’s Office”.

However, its approach does not coincide with the content of the controversial project 1031, on the contrary, this proposal attributes to Antai, the role of the governing authority and guarantor of information, that is, the entity that is responsible for promoting and guaranteeing the right of access to information.

The Public Ministry has a free hand to track the bank accounts of Alvaro Testa, husband of the presidential candidate for free postulation and PRD deputy, Zulay Rodríguez ; like those of the lawyer Rafael Araúz . Both, like Rodríguez, are being investigated for the alleged appropriation of sheets of gold owned by the Mexican José Luis Penagos (now deceased).

The First Superior Court of Justice did not admit an amparo of constitutional guarantees promoted by Rodríguez, through the lawyer Ángel Álvarez, against resolution 143 of August 2, 2023, with which the second prosecutor for crimes against economic heritage, Elizabeth Carrión , commissioned the Money Laundering Division of the Judicial Investigation Directorate to prepare a report on the traceability of funds that have no justification from Testa and Araúz.

In the amparo, Rodriguez’s defense argued that the order of the prosecutor Carrión reaches the accounts and credit cards of the deputy and her husband, therefore the Public Ministry exceeds and usurps the competence that the Supreme Court of Justice maintains to investigate the deputies.

This case is divided into two: the part handled by the Public Ministry, which involves Testa and Araúz; and the one that follows the Court, which investigates Rodríguez.

The complaint was filed for the alleged commission of the crimes of theft, money laundering and illicit association to commit a crime.

On July 26, the Supreme Court of Justice held a guarantee control hearing for the process that follows the deputy, but she was not present. She was represented at the event by attorney  Danilo Montenegro , a court-appointed public defender. Yes, the magistrate María Cristina Chen Stanziola was present  , acting as prosecutor of the case.

Magistrate  Ariadne García was appointed as guarantee judge. Congresswoman Rodríguez has repeatedly stated that the accusations brought against her are false.

Every time a job fair is announced, the image of the long lines with people carrying their resumes reflects the need of many Panamanians who are looking for a formal job. Today, September 7, has not been the exception.

Under the city drizzle and very early, hundreds of young people lined up to wait their turn and enter the Expo Konzerta 2023 job fair, which the recruiting company organizes together with the Ministry of Labor and Labor Development (Mitradel).

The call began today, Thursday, and ends tomorrow, Friday, September 8, at the Atlapa Convention Center, to concentrate the offer of some 4,000 jobs in one place , although between 20,000 and 25,000 applicants are expected to arrive. This means that only 16% of potential participants would manage to get a job.

The first person who entered the fair this morning arrived yesterday, Thursday, September 6 at 8:00 pm, in the vicinity of Atlapa. His goal was to make sure he was one of the first to be interviewed, which demonstrates the scarcity of formal jobs in the country.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, Janaina Tewaney , informed that she will attend the Summit of the Group of 77 and China (G77+China), which will be held in Havana on September 15 and 16.

The president of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo , “appointed me to represent him in Cuba at the G77. I feel very excited to go because the issues that are going to be discussed have a lot to do with the refounding of what the G77 should be in the future,” the Panamanian foreign minister told reporters during a meeting.

Tewaney applauded Cuba for the “quite positive convening power (…)” for this meeting, where the Central American country will take the opportunity to “establish new relations with some of the participating countries”, especially from the African continent.

There will be “a large participation of African countries, where we also want to take advantage of the summit to connect with that part of the world that Panamanian foreign policy often ignores and we are going to establish new relationships with some of those countries,” he explained.

The Panamanian foreign minister added that “they will have a proactive participation in issues of the future and the new role that countries must play”, since “groups and coordination in foreign policy cannot lose relevance if they do not cease to exist.”

“For a long time, the G77 was perceived as irrelevant, which is why I feel that the summit is going to be extremely important to reactivate that relevance,” he concluded.


More articles