Thursday 15th February 2024.

February 14, 2024


The National Border Service (Senafront) confirmed this Wednesday, February 14, the shipwreck this morning of a boat with migrants in waters near the Guna Yala region and that there are several deaths.

The numbers of irregular migrants who died and the number who were on the ship have not been specified by the Senafront authorities.

Preliminarily, it was reported that information was received about the discovery of bodies of lifeless migrants and that the boat, illegally manned by so-called coyotes, was trying to enter Panamanian territory, but capsized due to bad weather.

In addition, it was reported that irregular migrants were allegedly transported near the Carreto area by a criminal organization.

Likewise, it was announced that search teams have been deployed and efforts are being made with the authorities of the Public Ministry to recover the bodies, rescue survivors and locate the people who are dedicated to transporting these travelers illicitly.

The authorities reported that the area where the accident occurred is very complex for navigation , due to the strong waves, a product of the sea currents and winds. Furthermore, depending on the time of year, the rains are heavy and a safe arrival at port is impossible.

In the last four years, Panama, as a transit country, has been part of a regional migration crisis with hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants, coming from Colombia, seeking to continue their march towards the north of the continent.

Many migrants choose to walk across the dangerous Darién jungle in its entirety and others pay to be transported to the coastal towns of Guna Yala and Darién, and then enter the jungle for a shorter journey.

In 2023, Panama registered the record number of at least half a million irregular migrants who crossed the Darién Gap, with the aim of continuing their journey to the United States and Canada.

The fiscal balance prepared by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) reveals information that rating agencies, investment banks and economists were waiting for. They assure that the fiscal deficit of the non-financial public sector at the end of 2023 was $2,462.5 million.

This figure is equivalent to 2.95% of the nominal gross domestic product (GDP), estimated at $83,486 million for 2023.

In this way, the limit established by the Fiscal Social Responsibility Law has been reached, which stipulates that by 2023 the deficit must not exceed 3%.

The deficit in public accounts occurs when income is not sufficient to cover government expenses.

According to preliminary information from the MEF, total expenses of the non-financial public sector amounted to $17,611 million, while income reached $15,148 million.

The aforementioned income includes the payment of $562.8 million made by Minera Panamá, SA last November, in what would be its last contribution before its concession contract with the State was declared unconstitutional.

In addition, the $500 million obtained from the sale of state land to the Panama Canal is accounted for.

These funds provided a respite for Laurentino Cortizo’s administration, but they are non-recurring income.

Regarding total expenses, the dizzying increase in debt interest payments is notable, which amounted to $2,147 million at the end of 2023 , representing a difference of $ 829.5 million or 63% more compared to 2022. In the event of a deficit in the public sector accounts, that is, when expenses exceed income, the Government is forced to acquire debt to balance the situation.

As debt grows, interest expense also increases, putting pressure on the budget.

Judge Alfredo Juncá , president of the Electoral Tribunal (TE) , affirms that electoral justice is much faster because it does not admit a series of resources that the ordinary justice system does contemplate; However, immediacy is not what is perceived from this institution when making electoral decisions about Ricardo Martinelli as a consequence of the New Business , which is why the former president was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison and the payment of a fine. of $19.2 million.

The proof is in the legal labyrinth that was unleashed when in March 2022, the entity decided to maintain electoral criminal jurisdiction, a shield that delayed the resolution of the process.

On April 20, 2023, the Comptroller General of the Republic endorsed the contract for the construction of the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal , a project awarded in 2018 to the Panama Fourth Bridge consortium (CPCP), made up of the companies China Communications Construction Company and its subsidiary China Harbor Engineering Company. The approval was given in 15 days, a record time taking into account the bureaucracy characteristic of public entities.

But what has happened to this mega-project awaited by the thousands of drivers who take hours every day to cross the Bridge of the Americas at times of peak vehicular traffic? La Prensa consulted the Minister of Public Works (MOP), Rafael Sabonge, who assured that in the coming days work related to the construction of the cable-stayed structure should begin.

He said that the financing of the work for 1,227 million dollars has already been finalized. Originally, the banks Santander of Spain, Mizuho of Japan and Banistmo of Panama would participate in a financial structure to provide the funds needed by the contractor to begin firm construction of the project.

However, in November 2023, the Santander bank withdrew from the project alleging an internal restructuring, leaving the Japanese entity at the head of the negotiation.

According to Sabonge, Mizuho has already finalized the financial agreement together with Banistmo, which is why, in the next few days, work on the west side would begin, specifically in the adjacent area where the attack pit is located where the tunnel boring machine that will build the tunnel will begin its journey. from metro line 3.

The work that would mark the beginning of the construction of the bridge structure will be the installation of gravel columns to improve the soil.

The arrival of international visitors to Panama during Carnival days increased by 73%, going from 57,044 people registered on the same holiday last year to 98,850 tourists during the King Momo festivities in 2024.

This is reflected in the balance carried out by the National Immigration Service (SNM) as part of Operation Apolo, carried out by the different security forces.

Samira Gozaine, director of the SNM, explained that of the 98,850 foreign visitors who arrived in the country during this season, 72,173 entered by air, 19,406 through the country’s different sea ports and 7,271 by land.

The national director of Migration explained that during the Carnival operations, 1,401 units were deployed and were present at 62 immigration points, in addition to 31 support points for the different security institutions.

Gozaine indicated that a total of 8,117 foreigners were verified and due to immigration violations, 111 cases of job evasion were reported, 322 due to expired stays in the country, 205 people were not admitted and 28 relevant cases were registered. In total, the National Immigration Service reported that 724 incidents occurred.

4 days of Carnival, the National Police registers a total of 121,614 vehicles that have returned from the interior of the country to the capital.

This Ash Wednesday , the lane reversal began at 7:00 am and will be activated until 6:00 pm, from El Nance to Sajalices and from Campana to La Espiga de La Chorrera.

John Omar Dornheim Castillo, director of the National Police, reported that since the Carnival operation began, 151,278 vehicles were counted that traveled to the interior of the country.

“During the Carnival operations, 1,124 vehicles were towed in tow trucks and 17,278 traffic violations were applied, the most common being speeding with 3,064 cases, 450 violations for proven drunkenness, and 79 for talking on a cell phone, and 347 cases for expired licenses. ”, indicated the director.

Dornheim Castillo also detailed that in the covered areas, a total of 800,466 verifications were carried out, which resulted in the arrest of 2,207 people for different crimes, of which 409 were for administrative offenses, 73 for micro-trafficking, and 8 people for drug trafficking.

“From February 9 to 13, 37 firearms that people were trying to bring into Carnival activities were seized, in addition to 475 ammunition being seized,” he added.

Likewise, 94 packages of drugs and $14,525 in cash were seized.

During these days, the National Police reported that 411 official Carnival celebration events were held throughout the country, but additionally 350 events that were not authorized were reported, so they intervened in those activities in which three people were also injured by projectiles. of firearms.

He also detailed that 659 people were processed, of which 199 were foreigners, 62 minors and also 3 people for drug trafficking cases.


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