Monday 21st August 2023.

August 20, 2023


“The reality is undeniable, the numbers are accurate, and we cannot afford to sit idly by as it would be irresponsible.”

This is part of the pronouncement made by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap), after the International Labor Organization (ILO) recently supported a report −which was delivered last year− and which reveals that the pension crisis in the country is critical.

The union, through the column La Cámara Opina , pointed out that on repeated occasions it has made urgent calls to the national authorities to act with the haste that this serious situation demands.

“The solution is not to go back to a system that has already proven to be a failure; this has also been reiterated by the OIT and by the actuaries of the Social Security Fund. Nor is it taking away from the taxpayers of the individual accounts subsystem, what they have contributed for so long”, stated the union, chaired by Adolfo Fábrega.

In the organization’s opinion, preventing poverty in old age, guaranteeing the financial sustainability of an equitable pension program and including the participation of workers and employers through voluntary savings to improve pensions are the objectives that must be considered in the face of this crisis.

“Those who are called to lead a country will not always be able to make easy decisions, but due to the responsibility they have assumed, they must seek the best alternatives, with a long-term vision,” the union said.

In the letter, the Cciap emphasizes that it is aware that reaching agreements is complex and that this will not be fully resolved in this period, but “neither can the President of the Republic and the current authorities be exempted from this responsibility, especially in light of the clear recommendations of the ILO”.

“At least it is urgent to start the process, and in the same way commit the next rulers,” he added.

This statement comes after the board of directors of the Social Security Fund (CSS) received ILO representatives last Thursday, who warned of the consequences of merging the two public pension programs, which would create a cushion until 2028 to face the payment to retirees. But this would only be a temporary exit to later experience an increase in the deficit that would drag down the contributors of the mixed system and those of the defined subsystem.

The former president of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela, would be one of the Panameñistas who would be evaluating running for the Central American Parliament (Parlacen), for the five-year period 2024-2029.

This was confirmed to La Prensa by his brother, former deputy José Luis Popi Varela.

On October 1, at an Ordinary National Convention, the Panameñista Party, chaired by José Isabel Blandón, will choose the candidates from its list of representatives to this regional forum.

It was precisely, Varela, foreign minister in 2009, signed together with the then president Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, Law 78 of December 11, 2009, which repealed the laws that ratified the Constitutive Treaty and other protocols of Parlacen, signed by Panama in 1994 .

Varela will be prosecuted for the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering in the Odebrecht case. The trial should begin on September 27.

The legal team that defends Varela is of the thesis that he is a member of Parlacen “in fact”, although they acknowledge that he has never been sworn in as such. In 2019, Varela decided not to join the regional forum, despite the fact that as outgoing president he had a guaranteed seat in this body, until 2024.

These days, there is a public debate on whether Panama should remain in this forum classified by many as an instrument to evade justice, after the swearing in of the brothers Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, who will also be prosecuted by Odebrecht, just like than his father, former President Martinelli Berrocal. Before, the Martinelli Linares brothers will go to trial, next Tuesday, for the case called Blue Apple.

The Panameñista Party established a calendar and regulations for the selection of its candidates for Parlacen, which establishes, for example, that from September 13 to 17, Panameñistas who aspire to be members of this body may apply. Said applications will be presented to the National Elections Committee of the party.

It will be on October 1, when the vote for the convention takes place, that the list of the Panameñista al Parlacen will be known. This convention is made up of about 1,500 people elected by corregimiento, at the national level.

According to data from the Electoral Tribunal, El Panameñista currently has 245,075 registered members.

This week, the country witnessed a hate crime. Last Wednesday, August 16, a video circulated of an irate man savingly beating a woman in the middle of the street, while shouting insults.

The victim is Estrella, a 27-year-old trans woman, who recently moved to the capital, who today is torn between life and death in the intensive care room of the Santo Tomás Hospital, while her family, friends, rights defenders Humans and members of the LGTB+ community demand, once again, that the authorities put a stop to the growing phenomenon of violence in the country.

And it is that day by day more acts of violence are disseminated in the streets, since several are recorded by citizens with their cell phones or by surveillance cameras installed in sectors and provinces of the country.

For example, on Friday, the same day that hundreds of citizens marched to Santo Tomás to hold a vigil and demand justice for Estrella, a court in Chiriquí sentenced a former priest to 30 years in prison for aggravated rape, obscene exhibitionism and acts libidinous to the detriment of a 5-year-old child.

In Panama, the most common cases of violence occur against the family legal order and civil status, mainly domestic violence.

So far in 2023, the Public Ministry has registered 13,910 cases of domestic violence. In five years, between 2018 and 2022, the cases went from 18,611 to 22,602. The figure includes cases against minors and against older adults.

These cases are those that are presented before the Public Ministry. There are many others that do not reach the judicial spheres, especially those that occur in the intra-family sphere.

Violence is also taking the lives of thousands of Panamanians. In the last five years, the cases went from 439 in 2018 to 501 last year. In the first six months of 2023, 323 homicides have been registered.

The public tender for the restoration and improvement project of the administrative offices that operate in the Demetrio H. Brid Municipal Palace, located in the Old Town, was declared void.

Through a resolution, the mayor of the capital, José Luis Fábrega, ruled that the proposal received did not meet the requirements and demands of the statement of objections.

The only company that submitted an offer was Carrizo Construcciones, SA, for the amount of $333,333. It should be remembered that this tender had a reference price of $351,076.18 and the offers had to be submitted on July 28, 2023.

An evaluation commission was in charge of analyzing the proposal. After reviewing the documentation, the commission determined that the company did not comply with all the minimum requirements established in the statement of objections.

Among the breaches is that the company did not have the “green” commitment letter notarized. The company did not present any claim, so the Mayor’s Office proceeded to declare the act null and void.

The contractor that achieves the project must restore some areas such as the roof, the dome, the wooden baseboards, doors, bathrooms, kitchen, plumbing, ceiling and stairs, among others.

Some 1,248 packages of presumed drugs were seized this Saturday, August 19, south of San José Island, Las Perlas archipelago.

In this action, the apprehension of two citizens of Colombian nationality was achieved, who were traveling in the speedboat that was verified by the authorities.

Officials from the First Drug Prosecutor’s Office and the National Aeronaval Service participated in this procedure.

Those apprehended will be placed in the next few hours at the orders of the corresponding authorities.

Some 49,906 ammunition and 1,927 firearms of various calibers, including 834 pistols, have been seized by the National Police so far this year, the entity reported this Sunday, August 20, 2023.

Of these firearms there are 396 revolvers, 136 shotguns, 4 Mini Uzis, a submachine gun, 108 rifles, 18 rifles, 10 AK-47 rifles and 420 pellets.

Deputy Commissioner Marcos Rodgers, from the Veraguas police zone, specified that 114 firearms have been seized so far this August. All these items were placed under the orders of the corresponding authorities.

The air connection between Panama and Venezuela is increased with a new airline that will connect Panama City with Puerto Ordaz in Bolívar state, with a stopover in Maracaibo (Zulia state) twice a week on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Raffoul Arab, general manager of the Tocumen International Airport, said that the incorporation of Rutaca Airlines strengthens Panama’s air connectivity with Venezuela, since it promises to bring more tourism, trade and dynamism to the region.

The connections between Panama and the Venezuelan market already include the cities of Caracas, Maracaibo, Valencia, Barcelona and from October 17 of this year, flights to Barquisimeto will be added.

The flow of passengers through the Tocumen international airport between January and June of this year to and from Venezuela stands at 279,935 people.


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