Tuesday 18th October 2022.

October 18, 2022

An annulment claim before the Third Contentious-Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice against articles 6, 11, 12 and several sentences of article 17 of Executive Decree 236 of October 4, 2022 – which adopts the operation and functioning regulations of the recreational and cultural park Omar – was presented by the lawyer Ernesto Cedeño. The appeal presented by Cedeño states that article 6 of the aforementioned decree establishes a price rate for the use of the park’s parking lots, without any type of citizen consultation having been carried out. In addition, that in article 17 of the aforementioned decree it is stated that the Ministry of the Presidency, through the secretariat for the coordination of community affairs, may establish rates for the use of showers, restrooms, dressing rooms and parking lots, also without having made the corresponding public consultation, as established by Law 6 of 2002 (Transparency Law). According to the lawsuit, Executive Decree 236 of October 4 was promulgated in the Official Gazette without the citizens being able to comment on a rule that establishes the creation of a series of costs for services that will affect them imminently and severely. In the lawsuit, Cedeño asks the magistrates of the Third Chamber of the Court to decree the immediate suspension of the decree due to the serious damage it causes to the community, while it is resolved.

Data from the Public Ministry (MP) reveal that the number of complaints for the commission of criminal acts between September 2021 and September 2022 has increased by 754 more cases. The crimes of theft and armed robbery register a palpable increase. In the first 10 months of 2021, there were a total of 2,380 complaints for these crimes, while in the same period of 2022, 2,645 were registered. That is, an increase of 265 crimes. Also between September and October 2022, several robberies and robberies have been perpetrated on banks and jewelry stores, many of which are not yet reported in the statistics cited above. For example, between August 3 and 4, a group of officials from the National Bank (BNP) and individuals entered the branch located on Calle 25 Calidonia and stole the sum of $678,000. In this case, the police and the Public Ministry managed to arrest five people, three of them bank officials and two individuals allegedly involved in the theft. Another case was reported on September 3 at Banesco. At 9:30 a.m. that day, four people with firearms in their hands entered the bank’s branch, located at the corner of 72nd Street and 50th Street, San Francisco, exercising violence and intimidation against the security, managing to get away with $6,725.  More recently, on September 27, four armed individuals entered the branch of the Caja de Ahorros de Villa Lucre, district of San Miguelito, and took $39,633. And this same state bank was the victim of another robbery. On October 10, five armed people entered its branch located in El Ingenio, Betania and stole some 60 thousand dollars. This Sunday a judge legalized the detention of a man, apprehended this weekend in the San Isidro sector, San Miguelito, allegedly linked to this assault. Jewelry stores have also been victims of common crime. On October 12, five men robbed the Brilat jewelry store, located on Samuel Lewis Avenue, Obarrio. The next day, a group of armed people robbed a jewelry store on Avenida México. In both cases, the authorities have not yet been able to quantify the amount of what was stolen. In the midst of this wave of robberies, the National Police ordered the suspension of the vacations of all its personnel to redouble the work of surveillance in the streets. Vacations have been suspended since last Friday and all operational personnel had to report to duty at 10:00 am this Sunday, October 16.

The authorities of the Ministry of Education (Meduca) and representatives of 23 groups of teachers met on October 15 at the monitoring table of the consensus in the single table of dialogue for Panama, where it was expected to discuss the issues that were scheduled since the last meeting. However, Meduca reported that there was no progress, since the unions did not agree on the formation of the tables that should be integrated to address issues such as the budget, the investment of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Minister of Education, Maruja Gorday de Villalobos, recalled that the issues to be discussed had to do with those approved at the dialogue table in Penonomé (province of Coclé), that is, the budget allocation of 5.5% for 2023 and 6% for the 2024. For his part, the general undersecretary of the Association of Veragüenses Educators, Joaquín Rodríguez, acknowledged that the debate did not progress as it should, however, he considers that “dialogues are always good and we have believed in them.” According to Rodríguez, “we have sat down to reach a consensus and see if we can solve the big problems that the educational system has. We are on the right track, in achieving an increase in the budget at this time for the Panamanian educational system and we hope that it will go directly to the Ministry of Education to resolve those needs that the entity has”. While Armando Espinosa, a member of the Association of Independent Teachers (AMIA), pointed out that in this dialogue with Meduca, it is important to agree on all aspects, because these meetings must produce a clear roadmap on what is to be needed to improve the status of teachers and education in the country.

Around 9,000 migrants who entered the country irregularly through the Darien Gap, mostly Venezuelans, are now in a kind of limbo in Panama and anxious about their future after the United States announced that they will be deported once they try to cross the border and in the future would not be eligible to enter that country. But this number could be much higher. For example, this Saturday at the Lajas Blancas shelter in Darién there were only 73 people, but in a single day 1,500 people arrived, according to a group of law students from the Santa María la Antigua University (Usma) who were this Saturday October 15 in the area carrying humanitarian aid. “For them it has been a terrible emotional blow. After days of walking, tired and with injuries to their bodies, many feel disconsolate with the news. They don’t know whether to go back, stay or move forward,” said Arles Araúz, who along with six members of the USMA Law Students Association, visited Darién in support of the Panamanian Ombudsman’s Office.They are entire families with children and even babies in their arms in a painful march in search of an American dream that becomes increasingly distant with the recent decision of the US president, Joe Biden -with the  endorsement of his Mexican counterpart Andrés López Obrador- to stop the migratory wave by giving a quota to enter the United States, by air, only to 24 thousand Venezuelans. Many of them come directly from Venezuela, but others come from second or third countries such as Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru or Colombia, where they had already tried to establish themselves in their flight from Venezuela, a country from which, according to the United Nations, some 6 million people in recent years (one in five Venezuelans).

Despite the fact that the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo , informed the country nine months ago that negotiations with Minera Panamá on a new contract had concluded, the company confirmed that there are still issues that have not been defined. The mining company specified that the drafting of the new contract with the State “is underway” and “the protections requested by the company continue to be negotiated since January 17 of this year when the proposed term established by the National Government to respond to the economic regime expired.”. Cortizo had indicated that it was only necessary to “comply with the relevant paperwork and procedures.” At that time, he said that only the drafting of the new contract, the public consultation, the endorsement of the Comptroller General of the Republic and the approval of the National Assembly were pending. However, in a statement to TVN , last Saturday, the Vice Minister of Commerce and Industries, Omar Montilla said that all issues are being analyzed at the table, including the percentage or royalties that the company must give to the Panamanian State for the mineral extraction. The president announced on January 18 that the State would receive at least $375 million a year in royalties, and on March 28 he announced that “starting this year, 50% of the annual minimum income, around $190 million.” they would be earmarked for the Social Security Fund’s Disability, Old Age and Death program. But according to the company, the economic issue is still under negotiation. “It is important to take into account that the price of copper has fallen dramatically in international markets while the costs of inputs have increased worldwide,” said Minera Panama, after a query from this newspaper.  He added that “it is the type of factors for which protections are required to guarantee the continuity of operations, of jobs, of the contribution to the economy, while at the same time achieving the objectives announced by the National Government and the performance that the company expects to obtain. the largest investment made in the country’s history”.

The 2022-2023 cruise season began last Sunday, October 16, with the arrival of the MSC Divina at the Colón 2000 port, from Cartagena, Colombia. The boat carries 2,835 tourists and 1,100 crew members. For this month of October, the arrival of 8,000 cruise passengers at the Colon 2000 Cruise Port is expected, informed the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Colon, Michael Chen.It is estimated that the average consumption of each cruise passenger or tourist in the province of Colón will be between $100 and $150, causing a direct economic  impact calculated between $500,000 and one million dollars each month, Chen said.

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