Tuesday 20th February 2024.

February 19, 2024


The Electoral Tribunal (TE) announced that the first debate with the candidates for the presidency of the Republic will be next Monday, February 26.

The event had to be held this Wednesday, but the TE announced last Sunday that it was postponed, “in order to guarantee that the candidates who will be on the ballot participate.”

The new date is recorded in Decree 13 published in Electoral Bulletin 5573-A, a document in which it is noted that only presidential candidates have the right to participate, according to the provisions of article 275 of the Electoral Code . “Candidates who decide not to attend will have the space assigned to them empty according to the rules of each debate,” it is added.

For the first debate, whose production and organization is in charge of the University of Panama and TVN Media , five rounds of questions were designed with the following topics: citizen insecurity, sustainable development, Social Security Fund, quality education and unemployment.

The second presidential debate will be held on March 13. It will be organized by the Panamanian Debating Association with the production of Sertv, in the participatory public modality. It will take place at the Basita High Performance Center in David, Chiriquí.

While the third will be done on April 17. The host will be the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama and the production will be in the hands of Corporación Medcom . It will take place at the Anayansi theater of the Atlapa Convention Center.

The time of the three debates will be at 7:30 p.m. They will be televised and on a national network.

The TE postponed the debate, after a letter sent by Maribel Gordón , presidential candidate for the free nomination, in which she protested because they had allowed José Raúl Mulino, who is technically still the vice presidential candidate of the parties Realizing Goals (RM) and Alliance, participate in place of Ricardo Martinelli, currently sentenced to 10 years and 8 months in prison for money laundering in the New Business case.

Gordon expressed that the decision contradicted the electoral regulations that establish the “exclusivity” of presidential candidates in debates. He maintained that, in the absence of a presidential candidate, the space should be left empty.

The appointment of officials from the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI) to investigate tax fraud, granting them absolute powers, ranging from carrying weapons to making arrests, has divided the opinion of several lawyers: those who believe that the entity is overreaching in its functions and those who consider that it acts in accordance with the norm.

On the afternoon of this Monday, February 19, lawyer Ernesto Cedeño visited the Third Administrative Litigation Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice to present five annulment requests in which he requests the suspension of the five resolutions with which the prosecutors with supreme powers.

Cedeño requested the immediate suspension of article 2, paragraphs 6 and 7, of the resolutions in which the appointed prosecutors are given power to carry out raids, investigations and provisional seizures, in addition to carrying out arrests, searches and carrying weapons.

According to Cedeño, this article invades powers. “Everything that is arrest and apprehension should be, in my opinion, a matter of the Criminal Procedure Code .” Furthermore, he explains that the permit to carry weapons falls on the Ministry of Security.

“I am asking the Court that article 2, paragraphs 6 and 7 – of the five resolutions of the DGI – be suspended immediately. It will be in the hands of the magistrates to decide if the request complies with the law,” Cedeño told this newspaper.

In fact, with this opinion Publio De Gracia, head of the Revenue office, responded to the attacks of his management on social networks.

The resolutions now demanded explain that the appointment is made based on article 1 of Cabinet Decree No. 109 of May 7, 1970, modified by Law 33 of June 30, 2010 and the Tax Procedure Code, which The Director of Revenue is assigned powers to investigate administrative tax evasion and criminal tax fraud.

Publio Cortés, former Director of Revenue, consolidated his opinion on the fact that people think that this was invented in the recent resolutions issued by the DGI, but this is not the case. These are old standards.

The Public Ministry reported this Monday, February 19, that so far five bodies have been recovered (four of them minors), after the shipwreck of a boat with migrants, while another four people are still missing.

Last Wednesday, February 14, the National Border Service (Senafront) announced that a boat with irregular migrants shipwrecked in the waters of the Carreto community , in the Guna Yala region.

The Public Ministry highlights that the Municipal Office of Guna Yala, in collaboration with the National Aeronaval Service (Senan), Senafront and the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (Imelcf) , has managed to recover five lifeless bodies of foreigners, including four minors.

According to authorities, the accident occurred on the night of Tuesday, February 13.

So far this year 2024, in approximately 50 days, the National Police has recorded the arrest of 44 individuals and the seizure of at least 1,415 packages of drugs, as announced by the entity in a statement.

These police actions have been carried out throughout the national territory. During the month of January, 689 packages of drugs were confiscated, and as of February 18, 726 more were seized.

Regarding the operations directed against micro-trafficking, 2,458 raids have been carried out and 466 people have been arrested.

On the other hand, it has been reported that so far this year, 362 firearms and 7,645 ammunition of various calibers have been seized in different operations carried out throughout the country.

The trial of 32 people for the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering, through the creation of offshore companies through the Mossak Fonseca law firm , scheduled for the morning of Monday, February 19, was suspended due to the presentation of a medical excuse by one of the defense lawyers.

Sources from the Judicial Branch confirmed that Judge Baloisa Marquinez suspended the trial after the presentation of the medical excuse. It was also reported that another of the lawyers could not appear at the trial, although the reasons were not specified.

This is the second time that the Panama Papers case trial has been suspended; last November the trial was postponed due to lack of legal assistance requested from abroad.

The court established April 8 to 26 as an alternative date for the trial. .

At least 19 people are under investigation for their alleged participation in a network dedicated to the usurpation of some 13,500 hectares of land in the province of Darién . These are former officials of the National Land Administration Authority (Anati), the Ministry of Environment (MiAmbiente), as well as surveyors and lawyers.

According to the investigation carried out by the Public Ministry, this group facilitated procedures for obtaining property titles, pretending to be petitioners for possessory rights over parcels of State land and others that were occupied by indigenous groups. The investigation showed that, with the help of surveyors, plans of the plots were drawn up to allocate them to third parties. Some were even already in the titling process by other people.

The processing of the possession rights of the plots was achieved with the help of officials from Anati and MiAmbitente, while the lawyers promoted the adjudication process.

The lands were transferred in the name of companies that then sold them to third parties to convert them into livestock farms or for illegal timber extraction. The cases have been detected in the districts of Chepigana and Pinogana.

Foreign currency earnings from tourism in Panama reached 4,992 million dollars between January and November 2023, according to the latest report published by the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP). This amount of money represents an increase of 16.7%, equivalent to an additional 712.7 million, compared to the same period in 2022, when income of 4,280 million dollars was reported.

However, the flow of foreign currency has not yet reached the resource levels of 2019, prior to the pandemic, when the country registered an income of 7,049 million dollars for an entire year. Currently, income is 29.17% below the 2019 total, which means that more than 2 billion dollars would be missing to reach that figure and affirm that tourism has fully recovered.


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