Monday 19th February 2024.

February 18, 2024


The Electoral Court announced this Sunday that the presidential debates will be rescheduled and that the new dates will be consulted with the organizers and producers of each of these events.

The first debate was scheduled for this Wednesday, February 21 and was hosted by the University of Panama (UP) and produced by TVN Media .

In this debate, aspects related to social service, education, migration, citizen security, unemployment, the Social Security Fund and health in general would be addressed.

According to Electoral Bulletin 5572 published this Sunday, February 19, “ to date a presidential candidate on one of the lists has been convicted by a court of justice for an intentional crime with a prison sentence of more than five years, and the sentence is in the process of becoming executory and the disqualification process before the electoral jurisdiction being completed .”

The same document also indicates that in order to guarantee that the candidates who will be on the ballot participate in the presidential debates, it is necessary to reschedule the date of the three debates.

The TE also annulled the Plenary Agreement 6-1 of February 8, 2024, which established that José Raúl Mulino, candidate for vice president of the list between Realizing Goals and Alianza, would participate in the debate to replace Ricardo Martinelli, who He was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for money laundering in the New Business case. On February 2, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice reported that it did not admit an appeal against the conviction.

The Political Constitution of the Republic of Panama establishes in its article 180 that “anyone who has been convicted of an intentional crime with a custodial sentence of five years or more may not be elected president or vice president of the Republic, by means of an enforceable sentence issued by a Justice Court”.

This conviction causes the absolute nullity, due to a constitutional disqualification, of Martinelli’s candidacy for the general elections on Sunday, May 5 of this year.

Maribel Gordón , presidential candidate for free nomination, had expressed her dissatisfaction with the TE for giving endorsement to Mulino to participate, even though he is not a presidential candidate. She sent a note to the presiding magistrate of that entity, Alfredo Juncá, reminding that within the electoral regulations it is established that, in the aforementioned debates, participation is “exclusive” of the presidential candidates, which is why there can be no substitution.

He also stated that in the event that a presidential candidate does not attend the debate, the space will be left empty.

For Gordon, this decision contradicted the tenor and spirit of the Electoral Code, as well as the Regulatory Agreement on presidential debates, which could generate a “partialized” process, with a lack of objectivity and transparency in the guaranteeing role that the TE must maintain. ahead of the May 2024 elections.

The prolonged dry season that Panama is experiencing with the El Niño phenomenon, and also the arrival of the summer season, usually triggers electricity consumption in homes, companies and businesses due to the use of air conditioners.

This Sunday, February 18, Panama registers an average maximum temperature of between 29 and 35 degrees Celsius with a thermal sensation of 42 degrees according to the report from the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology of Panama.

In real time, the National Dispatch Center (CND) details that at 3:45 pm most of the energy generation was being produced through thermal plants with a participation of 44.32% in generation, followed by solar. with 21.03%, surpassing water generation which stood at 17.92% of the total energy generated. And wind energy reached 16.73% this Sunday afternoon.

The monthly report of the CND, an organization attached to the Electric Transmission Company (Etesa), details that in January more than one million Megawatt hours (MWh) were generated, of which 35.83% were invested in thermal plants, mainly gas plants. , 40.08% corresponded to hydroelectric plants, 13.41% to wind plants, 10.05% to solar plants, 0.002% to self-generation and 0.62% to imported energy from Central America.

Regarding energy consumption by region, Central Panama concentrated 56.53% of consumption, followed by the central provinces 15.60%, Panama Oeste with 11.05% and Chiriquí with 8.63%.

The day with the highest demand for energy coverage in the system was January 18, which was largely covered by thermal plants, followed by hydroelectric and wind and solar plants, in that place of importance in terms of energy that was provided .

The maximum generation in January was reported on January 24 with 35,762 megawatt hours and for consumer companies the day of maximum consumption was also on January 24 with 34,969 MWh.

In January 2024, there was a total energy consumption of 1,011.38 GWh, which means an increase of 0.43% more than the month of December. In 2023, the month with the highest energy consumption in the country was March with 1,066 MWh.

The report from the National Dispatch Center details that the Fortuna and Bayano reservoirs, although they have been recovering their levels in relation to the months of greatest decline which were between May and part of September, are not yet at their maximum levels. Specifically, it is indicated that for January 2024 the average level of the Bayano reservoir increased by 0.40% and that of Fortuna decreased 0.26% compared to the previous month.

When asked about the impact of the drought, spokespersons for Enel Green Power, which operates 300 MW of the Fortuna Hydroelectric Power Plant, the largest in the country, in addition to other solar plants, indicated that they strictly monitor climatic conditions.

“To minimize the impacts that the El Niño Phenomenon may have on the energy production of the Fortuna Hydroelectric Power Plant, Enel Panama has been strictly monitoring the climatic conditions, the contributions and reserves of its reservoir, seeking to identify the measures necessary to guarantee reliability in the supply of the service,” the company told the newspaper La Prensa.

They indicate that the studies on hydrological expectations, which have been shared with the National Dispatch Center, are taken into account to be prepared for critical situations that may arise.

The Ombudsman, Eduardo Leblanc , announced this Sunday, February 18, that he will carry out consultations on the functions to be performed by the fraud prosecutor’s office of the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI).

Leblanc’s reaction comes after learning of the appointment of a fraud prosecutor , who would have the power to carry out raids and even carry weapons.

“I am concerned about the inquisitorial, police and punitive functions of the new figure created by the @DGIpma. “We are studying the decree and we will be holding consultations with the president of @PanamaCNA and the academy,” the Ombudsman wrote on the X social network.

The DGI appointed Flor Ceballos, a DGI official, to carry out the summary investigation for the possible commission of cases of administrative tax evasion or criminal tax fraud at the national level, according to resolution No. 201-0472 of January 22 of 2024, published on February 15 and signed by Publio De Gracia, director of the institution.

Ceballos may carry out proceedings, statements, testimonies and other acts that lead to determining the tax liability of the authors and participants of the investigated conduct.

This figure, under the umbrella of the DGI, can also audit books, documents, receipts and inventories that certify and demonstrate the negotiations and operations of those responsible.

In addition, you can request the assistance of the public force for inspection tasks, as well as carry out raids, investigations and provisional seizures, make arrests and carry weapons.

This Sunday, De Gracia stated that he understands all the questions generated by the new measures, but that they have all “been studied and adhered to the law.”

“Fighting crimes such as corruption and evasion require that those who investigate them have the necessary tools. I know that discretion may be a concern, but for our part we have acted fairly, and if this has not been the case, I am humbly open to improving it. For the future, we will have to demand that those who will come use tools that adhere to the law and are correct,” he stated on the social network X.

A group of workers arrived this Saturday afternoon at the Nicaraguan embassy in Panama, where Ricardo Martinelli is seeking refuge , with a metal door and specialized equipment for its installation.

Four workers lifted the heavy door in front of the television cameras and immediately entered the diplomatic headquarters, which in the last week has undergone renovations after the arrival of the former president, sentenced to 128 months in prison for the New Business case .

The new door was placed behind the main wooden door at the embassy entrance. According to Luis Eduardo Camacho, Martinelli’s spokesperson, any change in the embassy is decided by Ambassador Consuelo Sandoval Meza. “Remember that Ricardo [Martinelli]’s safety is the responsibility of the Nicaraguan government,” he said.

The arrival of this security gate occurs hours after Martinelli’s lawyers complained about the presence of National Police agents.

Martinelli barricaded himself in that Nicaraguan embassy since last February 7, after proclaiming himself as “politically persecuted” and after Daniel Ortega’s regime granted him asylum.


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