Thursday 2nd May 2024.

May 1, 2024


The Vamos coalition measured its strength against that of large political parties.

While the presidential candidates Rómulo Roux, from Cambio Democrático; and José Gabriel Carrizo, of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) were closing their campaign; one from Avenida México, in the capital city; and the other, in Santiago de Veraguas, the independent deputies Juan Diego Vásquez and Gabriel Silva, together with the candidate for mayor of San Miguelito, Irma Hernández, gathered hundreds of their supporters at the Minuto 90 court in Brisas del Golf.

With speeches against corruption, gambling and excessive spending, the three addressed their supporters to ask for the independent vote, which would allow them to have high representation in the National Assembly, community boards and mayors’ offices.

The first to address the public was Irma Hernández. She assured that the coalition must follow the example of Juan Diego Vásquez and Gabriel Silva to change the country. “We are closing a wound, of people who are tired of being lied to,” said Hernández.

“The rage and anger that the country is being stolen from us has to be translated into a vote,” said Hernández, while ensuring that his team did not have to pay millions of dollars in closures for people to support them.

Silva thanked the attendees and everyone who voted in 2019 for Vásquez and him to reach the National Assembly.

He presented Vásquez as the leader of the coalition. When introducing his partner, he joked that “sometimes I wanted to kill him,” while thanking her for being an inspiration.

Vásquez assured that on May 5, the end of politics “with corruption, clientelism and lies” will come. “Hand in hand with each of you and with the support of the deputies, representatives and independent mayors, we are going to begin that transformation,” he assured. “The dictatorship of the corrupt in the Assembly is over,” said Vásquez.

The plenary session of the Supreme Court of Justice resumed its permanent session this Wednesday, May 1, to analyze the claim of unconstitutionality against the 11-1 Agreement of March 4, 2024 that disqualified Ricardo Martinelli from competing in the May 5 elections as presidential candidate of Realando Metas (RM) and Alianza, and simultaneously appointed José Raúl Mulino as his replacement.

The extraordinary session of the full Court began on Tuesday, April 30, at 10:30 am, and lasted all night. But, around 11:00 pm the magistrates declared a recess until this Wednesday, May 1.

The presiding judge, Olmedo Arrocha, presented his draft ruling to the remaining eight judges who make up the plenary session on Tuesday. However, at the time of writing this note its contents were unknown.

The plenary session of the Court began to meet after former magistrates, jurists and other civil society actors raised their voices to demand that the issue be resolved before the elections next May.

And while the magistrates analyze the lawsuit filed on March 11 by lawyer Karisma Karamañites , uncertainty grows on the streets. All eyes are on the Gil Ponce palace and what it can decide. Will there be seven or eight presidential candidates? is one of the recurring questions.

“The Supreme Court of Justice is not to blame for this situation. They were decisions taken by the Electoral Court and taken by the Realizing Goals party, and Mr. Ricardo Martinelli, who have judicialized the electoral process. In 2022, the plenary session of the Electoral Court decided that Mr. Martinelli was subject to electoral criminal jurisdiction invoking the principle of specialty, which delayed the New Business case for almost a year. That is, we would have had all these decisions in the New Business case last year, in the first half of last year (…),” said lawyer and analyst Rodrigo Noriega.

Martinelli was sentenced to 128 months in prison and to pay a fine of $19.2 million for money laundering in the New Business case. Pursuant to article 280 of the Constitution, the TE disqualified him through Agreement 11-1 of March 4, and designated Mulino as the presidential candidate, who was the candidate for vice president.

The TE magistrates assure that they appointed Mulino without consulting RM and Alianza. They argued that the plenary session “was prevented from carrying out any negotiations” with the parties that nominated him, since the Electoral Code, in its article 362, provides that in the absence of a principal, the substitute must take his place.

This is what judges Eduardo Valdés Escoffery and Luis Guerra think. The presiding magistrate Alfredo Juncá has a different criterion. He argues that the figure of the substitute is not applicable to that of the vice president of the Republic, since the latter performs simultaneous and parallel functions with the president of the Republic. Therefore, in this case, he is not comparable to the figure of a substitute who only acts in the absence of the principal.

Mulino, meanwhile, is trusting. “For the OAS, through its mission, I am a firm candidate for Sunday’s elections, and that is how they consider me and for that reason I was here with them in dialogue,” he said this Wednesday, May 1, after leaving a meeting with electoral observers from the Organization of American States (OAS).

OAS observers have met with the presidential candidates.

“I am going to run on Sunday because I am a firm candidate, with my rights fully in force, as ratified by the Electoral Court. Leaving here I am going to a meeting with the three magistrates of the Electoral Tribunal, at the Ancón headquarters,” he said.

He said he would not comment on what the Court does or does not do. They asked him what he is going to talk to the magistrates? She immediately wrinkled her face and gave a bitter response: “I don’t have to tell you.”

On April 18, the media in Panama and Costa Rica received the news that José Raúl Mulino , the candidate of Realizing Goals (RM) and the Alianza party , had gone and returned that day to San José, Costa Rica, where he was received by the president of that country, Rodrigo Chaves .

On the afternoon of that day, Mulino had a walk scheduled in Chitré , the eve of the inauguration of the Azuero Fair . The presidential candidate, while in Azuero, surrounded by his followers, gave brief statements about his meeting with Chaves, disclosed through the social network X.

He said that they had talked about the closure of Panama’s border with Colombia – to prevent migration – and about the “importance that [the Costa Rican president] gives to the fight against drug trafficking, against organized crime.” Mulino was received by Chaves with almost the same honors as a head of state, something that surprised both there and here, as well as what seemed to have been an untimely trip.

But, to tell the truth, the short trip, apparently, had nothing unexpected, judging by his companions, a strange entourage of which Mulino has not said a single word. To begin with, he did not travel on a commercial flight; He did it on a private jet , which is said to belong to the cousin of one of Mulino’s companions on this strange journey.

Three other passengers were on the plane with Mulino.

They boarded the aircraft – with Panamanian registration HP 715 – in Albrook, and left for San José at 10:42 am

This jet is continuously monitored by members of the Venezuelan opposition (tracks published on the social network X).

In addition, those who monitor this plane link its flights with politicians from the Nicolás Maduro regime .

Likewise, they monitor its multiple flights to Havana (Cuba), cities in Venezuela and Panama City, where it has a hangar in Albrook, and which, according to informed Police sources, is under local surveillance. and American, since it is used to “transport important politicians.”

La Prensa sent a five-question questionnaire to Mulino about the purpose of his trip to Costa Rica, and the presence of the additional passengers (Soto Movilla, Moreno Velázquez and Falabella Napolitano), but so far there has been no response.

Observers from the Organization of American States (OAS), who will monitor the development of the general elections on Sunday, May 5 in Panama, met this Tuesday with the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo .

The international delegation was headed by the head of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission, Susana Malcorra , who together with the delegation spoke with the Panamanian president.

The Presidency of Panama reported that the president reaffirmed the country’s commitment to strengthening democracy with the development of free elections.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Janaina Tewaney Mencomo , accompanied the Panamanian president at the meeting.

Malcorra, former chancellor and former chief of staff of the UN secretary general, was appointed as head of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission by the secretary general of this organization, Luis Almagro. The OAS observer mission is made up of about 67 people.

Observers have been in Panama for days and have been monitoring preparations for Sunday’s elections.

The Ministry of Security confirmed this Wednesday, May 1, that in the first four months of 2024, 139,267 irregular migrants have crossed the Darién jungle from Colombia.

According to the records of the National Immigration Service , between January and April 2023, 127,687 irregular migrants entered by land through the border with Colombia. That is, this year 11,580 more migrants have already entered, compared to the first four months of the previous year.

The majority of irregular travelers who have entered Panama through the Darién Gap this year are Venezuelans. There are 88,660 people. Ecuadorians follow, with 10,640; another 8,997 Haitians and 8,813 Colombians.

According to Panamanian authorities, 20% of all these migrants are minors.

The high number of irregular migrants crossing the jungle has put Panama authorities on alert, which in recent months has detected members of criminal groups from South America, who are trying to move to the north of the continent.

Last year, 520,85 irregular migrants entered through the border; a record number, according to historical data.

The main objective of most migrants is to reach the United States and Canada.

The National Border Service (Senafront) seized 4.7 million units of cigarettes that were transported inside a cargo truck, intercepted in the Baco sector, province of Chiriquí.

The shipment, of at least 472 boxes of supposedly contraband cigarettes, was seized last Monday by the Senafront anti-narcotics units, after verifying that the cargo truck was driven by a Panamanian with a history linked to smuggling.

In each individual pack there are 20 units of cigarettes, and assuming that the contraband product is sold at prices between $4.00 and $5.00, the seized merchandise could be valued at at least $1 million.

“Actions like these put the economy and health of all Panamanians at risk,” Senafront indicated on its social networks.

According to Crime Stoppers , 92% of cigarettes sold in Panama come from the illicit trade.

Based on its statistics, the country stops receiving about $165 million in direct taxes for undeclared sales and 15 containers full of cigarettes arrive at local ports every month.

In the case of land smuggling, the entry and exit route would be the Panama border with Costa Rica.

Baco is a town in the district of Barú very close to the border crossing.

Crime Stoppers has warned that of every 10 people who smoke in the country, 9 are consuming a product that is illegal.

In addition, of the shipment of 4.7 million units of cigarettes seized, another 40,460 units of cigarettes were seized, also in Baco, after seizing a van-type vehicle driven by a citizen, who was transporting four boxes inside the car.


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