Tuesday 14th March 2023.

March 14, 2023


The Second Court of Criminal Cases sentenced Adolfo Chichi De Obarrio, former private secretary of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli (120-2009), to 2014 months in prison.

The court, in charge of Águeda Rentería, declared De Obarrio criminally responsible – who currently lives in Milan, Italy – as the author of the crime against the economic order, in the form of money laundering, in the Blue Apple case.

As an accessory penalty, the court imposed on De Obarrio the payment of 5 million 91 thousand 486 dollars with 92 cents, which must be paid within 24 months to the National Treasury once the main sentence is served.

According to the Judicial Branch, this amount is equivalent to twice the economic benefit received and duly quantified.

And, as stated in conviction No. 3 of March 10, 2023, the court declared proven that De Obarrio was the final beneficiary of large sums of money that were delivered to them – mostly in cash – which came from the crime of corruption, product of state projects.

The investigation of this case began in 2017 and consists of 369 volumes. The process was opened after it was revealed that state contractors bribed high-ranking officials to keep millionaire contracts for public works.

PRD deputy Kayra Harding said on Monday, March 13, 2023, that she does not feel that the appointment of Juana Herrera as Minister of Women – instead of the now former director of the National Institute for Women (Inamu), Nellys Herrera – has been a “bill pass” towards her by the President of the Republic Laurentino Cortizo.

“We don’t feel this as political, the president [Cortizo] has the constitutional power to name whoever he wants,” Harding said in an appearance before the media.

The deputy took the opportunity to call on ministers, directors of institutions or middle managers to “stop pressuring” officials with their positions for political issues. “Stop threatening staff with the issue of dismissals, sanctions, transfers,” he added.

Harding was accompanied by Nellys Herrera, former director of Inamu, who assured that she has already fulfilled her job and leaves. He had initially said that he would stay in other functions and that his resignation from the position would be from March 15.

“I am not a minister [of the new Women’s portfolio] by choice. My decision was not to accept the position, they can say whatever they want,” Herrera said.

“Do not mess with me or my family, I did my name,” added the former director of Inamu, while showing her satisfaction at the appointment of Juana Herrera as Minister of Women.

In the midst of the internal campaigns of his party, Democratic Change (CD), the mayor of Capira and cousin of Deputy Yanibel Ábrego, Jorge Ramos, receives an injection of $ 400,<> for “donations”.

With the endorsement of the heads of Comptrollership, Gerardo Solís; of the National Decentralization Authority (AND), Edward Mosley Ibarra González, and the Municipal Council of that district of Panama Oeste, Ábrego’s right hand also managed to authorize a change of use of the money: the approved funds were to acquire a farm, but now they will be invested in economic support, food, stoves and refrigerators.

This happens just at a time when Ábrego wants to snatch the presidency of CD from Rómulo Roux and at the gates of the celebration of the internal elections to choose conventionals and presidents for the secretariats of Women and Youth, on March 19.

The extra credit received by the mayor was approved through Municipal Agreement No. 29-22 of October 18, 2022, but did not enter into force until it was promulgated in the Official Gazette, which occurred on January 5, 2023.

The funds, which represent a quarter of the 2023 budget, had initially been raised to acquire a farm. Now they will move on to the line of “donations”, which is how economic support is called to pay for funerals and buy food, stoves and refrigerators.

In October 2021, Ramos was denounced for the alleged commission of crimes against the public administration and against the economic order, because he was an official on leave with a salary of $ 3,304 a month in the National Assembly, where he was paid as a driver assigned to the Ábrego office. She was one of the <> local authorities, including mayors, representatives and alternates, who had double salaries until the middle of last year, when Comptroller Solís, compelled by a ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice, ordered the suspension of the payment of these licenses.

As of the afternoon of Sunday, March 12, Minera Panama, a subsidiary of First Quantum, had dispatched two vessels loaded with copper concentrate that it kept in storage.

Michael Camacho, director of the Union of Workers of Minera Panama (Utramipa), confirmed that the company had already reactivated processing operations that had been suspended since February 23, when the maximum storage level was reached, 10,<> tons of copper concentrate.

On Friday, March 10, Minera Panama reported that the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) had annulled the suspension it had decreed on January 26 on the operations of the port of Punta Rincón, determining that the mining company had not demonstrated that it had the certifications of the scales installed on the belts that transport the material to the vessels.

The leader of Utramipa said that the union signed an agreement with the company so that each worker works a period of 4 hours of overtime per day until the end of March.

In addition to trying to recover the time that the mine was paralyzed, the agreement seeks to compensate for the decrease in the number of personnel who will be working on the Cobre Panama project. Camacho says 2,300 workers were sent on vacation for 15 days, a process that took place before March 8. On that day, the mine and the government reached an agreement on the final text of the new contract.

For an amount of $231.6 million, the director of the Social Security Fund (CSS), Enrique Lau Cortés, signed a contract for the supply, complete adaptation of the imaging area, installation and commissioning of imaging equipment in the radiology departments of the 62 health facilities it has in the country.

The contract was signed by the Tele-Radiology consortium, formed by the companies Telecomunicaciones Digitales, S.A. and Biomedical Support & Systems, Inc., which will be responsible for installing and commissioning the equipment, as well as the improvements, configuration and maintenance of the integrated diagnostic imaging information system for a period of 72 months.

The bidding process to renovate the technological park of radiology and imaging equipment began in July 2022 with the publication in Panama Compra of the tender, which then had a reference price of $189 million.

The CSS signed the contract after it was awarded on January 27. The selected consortium was the only one that submitted an economic proposal on October 12, 2022.

On the subject, the national director of Purchases of the CSS, Ana Patricia Cuestas, insists that the bidding process was handled with transparency.

He added that all the processes that the law indicates for the pertinent purposes were complied with. “In this institution we act with total transparency and honesty in each of the public acts,” he said.

For her part, Lili Espino de Weng, national coordinator of Radiology and Teleradiology of the CSS, indicated that this is an exceptional project because there will be resonance equipment in each province; there will be high-level computed tomography equipment in the different hospital facilities nationwide and even in the metro area three tomography equipment will be equipped in the polyclinics of Betania, San Francisco and José Joaquín Vallarino (Juan Díaz).


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