Monday 16th October 2023.

October 15, 2023


A clear presidential leadership, which carries out specific actions that give “confidence and tranquility” to society in the face of a “tornado of situations” that Panama is going through, the country’s business sector requested this Sunday from President Laurentino Cortizo .

In its weekly statement, the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) recalled that the uncertainty generated by the negative outlook of an international rating agency persists, “which has sown doubts at the center of official financial policy.”

Last September, the Fitch Ratings agency changed Panama’s outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’.

So far, the Chamber indicated, “we do not see due importance or realistic receptivity on the matter. Not to mention coherent explanations in this regard.”

The Cciap also highlighted the recent reform to the Electoral Code in the middle of an electoral contest, which was converted into law of the Republic last Friday by the president.

According to the Chamber, this action ignores the feelings of the citizens, “thus weakening confidence in a democratic system that must show signs of strength now more than ever.”

The businessmen also said they were unaware of the austerity measures that the Government plans to implement, in the midst of an income crisis.

“The continued juggling to raise more revenue only worsens that perception. For this, we demand an urgent and necessary reduction to the budget presented,” they asked.

In addition, they pointed out that Laurentino Cortizo’s administration continues to extend a series of subsidies that were originally established as temporary, without offering solid arguments about their source of financing.

Only between 2021 and 2024, through the Ministry of Social Development (Mides), the Government will allocate more than $900 million to pay for the 120 at 65, Opportunities Network, Guardian Angel and food bonus programs.

Furthermore, the union points out, there is a perception that this administration is unconcerned about the “serious financial situation” of the Social Security Fund ‘s Disability, Old Age and Death program .

Additionally, the Executive’s explanations regarding the management of Decentralization funds are still pending, coupled with an unpresentable request for a budget increase, highlighted the business union.

For this reason, they demand concrete actions from the President of the Republic “as head of State, to guide Panamanians and show the will to return to the direction of the country.”

“In the face of great challenges, great leadership. We Panamanians deserve that.”

The Bocatoreño deputy and president of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) , Benicio Robinson, will seek a seat in the controversial Central American Parliament (Parlacen) .

On the morning of this Sunday, October 15, he assured his candidacy for that regional forum: the National Board of Directors (CDN) chose him after an internal election.

Robinson appeared number one on the list of candidates, so he was elected without any problems.

Rubén De León , general secretary of the PRD, was also elected . De León was in second position on the list of candidates for Parlacen.

Parlacen candidates Amado Cerrud -current deputy in that organization-, Jorge Carrasquilla, Gilberto Succari and the representative of San Francisco, Carlos Pérez Herrera, were also elected.

The 38 members of the CDN, the internal body of the PRD that defined the names for the various popularly elected positions that were reserved and chose the candidates for Parlacen, attended this CDN.

Meanwhile, the capital’s mayor José Luis Fábrega will seek re-election: he ran in this internal election.

At the moment, he is the only candidate in the PRD for that position, so he could be chosen this Sunday.

The party reserved 114 spaces, of which 86 are in local governments: 22 for mayor positions and 64 for councilors. While for deputy he reserved 23, Bocas del Toro and San Miguelito being one of the areas where all the spaces were saved.

power was felt through the bureaucratic Official Gazette. Exactly number 29889-A, with which he sealed the fate of the 2024-2029 National Assembly and unleashed the fury of the opposition parties, citizens and organized civil society.

Cortizo gave his blessing to the reform of the Electoral Code that was pushed by his co-partisans, the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) bench, with the support of the deputies of his ally, the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (Molirena), and the rebels of Democratic Change (CD).

The new Law 403 of October 13, 2023 is short but powerful: it modifies article 380 of the electoral norm that talks about nominations by remainder in multi-member circuits.

Its text is dense and technical. It says the following: “ in multi-member circuits, parties that have signed national alliances and/or partial electoral alliance agreements duly formalized before the Electoral Tribunal may nominate a common candidate for deputy per alliance, who will compete subject to the following rules. In their match they compete for the quotient, half quotient and remainder. In the allied party or parties they compete only for the remainder and will be identified by the letter R, for this purpose, only the votes obtained by the candidate in the different parties of the alliance that nominated him will be added .

He adds that: “the political parties in alliance will decide by common agreement which of them will receive the letter R. If there is a national alliance that establishes a local partial electoral alliance agreement with one or more other parties, for the purposes of this article it will be taken as a single alliance. This rule will apply in the case of councilor nominations provided for in article 384 .

What does that mean? According to representatives of opposition political parties, the change threatens the so-called territorial alliances. Recently, the presidential list made up of Rómulo Roux , from CD, and José Isabel Blandón , from Panameñista, announced a territorial alliance with the Popular Party (PP), which has as its presidential candidate former president Martín Torrijos , a member of the PRD.

Herbert Young, Panameñista representative on the National Electoral Reform Commission, recently recalled that following the alliance supposedly promoted by Benicio Robinson, president of the PRD, and Ricardo Martinelli, presidential candidate of Realizing Goals (RM), to nominate candidates in set did not materialize, they had “no choice” but to try to modify the electoral law so that each party could apply on their own.

Cortizo sanctioned the rule that modifies the rules of the elections of May 5, 2024 just two days after the Legislature approved it in the third debate.

Theories are woven in political circles. They point to a barter: the Electoral Code in exchange for the approval of the mining contract. Last Tuesday, the Cabinet Council adopted modifications to the document, after massive citizen rejection and the National Assembly returning the original proposal to the Executive. Now the contract must go to the Comptroller’s Office for review and inspection.

Then, the Minister of Commerce and Industries, Federico Alfaro, must present it again to the Assembly for approval or rejection. The first filter will be the Commerce Commission, an organization that is controlled by PRD deputies.

Panama’s security authorities seized a total of 1,358 packages of illicit substances in anti-drug operations carried out in the Panamanian Pacific and Caribbean in the last 24 hours, official sources reported this Friday.

The largest shipment, 800 packages of drugs that were stored in 25 packages, was seized by agents of the National Aeronaval Service (Senan) after intercepting a boat manned by two people in the Taboga Island area (Pacific).

The drug, its weight or type not determined, was found inside the boat and its unidentified crew members were arrested and placed under the orders of the corresponding authorities.

In another operation, Senan units and personnel from the anti-drug prosecutor’s office of the Public Ministry (MP) found 550 packages of a drug that was not determined in weight or type inside a container located in a port terminal in the province of Colón. (Caribbean).

The container with the 550 packages of narcotics was en route through Panama “coming from the United States bound for the Netherlands,” the Public Ministry said on its social network account “X” (formerly Twitter).

The National Aeronaval Service highlighted that so far in 2023 “it has achieved the total seizure of 58,216 packages of illicit substances.”

The authorities reported this Wednesday the seizure of 1,274 packages of drugs, equivalent to 1.2 tons, inside a boat that was sailing through Panamanian Pacific waters. In this action, the two men on the boat’s crew were arrested.

In 2022, Panama seized the historic amount of 138.41 tons of drugs, of which 108.82 were cocaine. So far this year, seizures exceed 83 tons, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

The Central American country is used as a bridge for drugs produced in South America and whose main destination is the United States, the largest consumer of cocaine in the world, and also Europe.


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