Tuesday 27th June 23.

June 26, 2023


32 people accused of the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering are prosecuted as of yesterday Monday, the so-called Lava Jato case, in the court presided over by the liquidating judge of criminal cases Baloisa Marquínez.

There are 15 witnesses, seven of whom are from the prosecution, indicated the prosecutor Isis Soto, who will request sentencing for the 32 defendants. Among the evidence there is information provided by judicial assistance, bank documentation, collaboration agreements and testimonies.

Despite the appeals filed, the former Ombudsman, Patria Portugal, she must serve the imposed sentence of 96 months in prison for embezzlement.

This, after the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office managed on Monday afternoon to confirm the sentence.

Portugal was arrested on June 20 to begin serving the sentence.

Portugal’s defense filed an appeal against her detention, and it was up to the Court of Appeals to decide on the issue.

The defense argued that there is currently an appeal to review the sentence that had not been ruled and that for this reason the former official should not have been detained.

Before the start of the hearing, at the facilities of the Accusatory Penal System in San Miguelito, relatives and friends protested against the measure and demanded the release of Portugal.

After her arrest last Tuesday, it was reported that Judge José Carrera ordered the execution of the conviction against the former Ombudsman, following the request of the Compliance Section of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, represented by prosecutor Johaira González.

It must be remembered that the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice had rejected a request for clarification of the sentence of August 10, 2022, in which it confirms a sentence of 96 months in prison for the former Ombudsman for the crime of embezzlement.

The investigations in this case, carried out by the Discharge Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, are related to two contracts that Portugal signed as Ombudsman (April 2011-July 2013). One of them with the company Imaginarium Studio, SA, for an amount of $249 thousand 845, for the redesign of the entity’s web page, and the other for $199 thousand 983, for training, awarded to the company En Avant, SA

The deputy and current president of the National Assembly, Crispiano Adames , assured that he will follow the line of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and that he will vote for deputy Jaime Vargas, to preside over the new board of directors of the legislature, the position will be voted on July 1st.

Last week, at an extended meeting of the National Executive Committee (CEN) and the National Board of Directors, it was notified by resolution that the party line is to vote for deputies Jaime Vargas and Ricardo Torres, as president and first vice president, respectively. It was reported that whoever does not support these deputies will be subject to sanctions, including a process of expulsion from the party.

“We are going to vote for Jaime Vargas. Who got the resolution; Which, by the way, we have not seen, is surely in the hands of the general secretary, Rubén De León, who in 2015, went outside the party line and at the hands of Juan Carlos Varela,” Adames said. in statements to TVN.

“I imagine that this apprehension that he [De León] had put on the table because they say that everyone judges according to their condition,” he added.

Adames was not present at the meeting held last Tuesday, as he was out of the country. Vargas and Torres were elected on May 25, by 23 of the 35 deputies that make up the PRD bench, to lead the Assembly in the first legislature of the fifth regular session that starts next month. Nor did Adames participate in this meeting, nor did the deputies who sympathize, including Kayra Harding, Víctor Castillo, Petita Ayrza, and Daniel Ramos.

The candidates proclaimed in the primary elections of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) have until yesterday, June 26, to submit their income and expense reports.

This was pointed out by the Electoral Tribunal (TE), based on articles 240 and 241 of the Electoral Code and article 171 of Decree 29 of May 30, 2022. It should be noted that the delivery of reports after yesterday will be sanctioned, according to article 558 of the Electoral Code. The fines range from one thousand to two thousand dollars, depending on the political office in question.

The sale of homes and an important part of the mortgage loans in Panama are governed by preferential interest. These are special rates that encourage mortgage lending and stimulate construction. This is achieved because the State assumes a part of the interest and with this it achieves that the debtor of the credit obtains a lower rate in the loan granted.

The rate discount percentage has varied over time and its scope also varies according to the price range of the homes.

The last reform occurred in 2021, when President Laurentino Cortizo approved, among other things, that homes with an occupation permit until December 31, 2022 would have a preferential tranche of up to 4% for 10 years in loans for homes with value of $45,000 up to $120,000.

With the idea of ​​maintaining this percentage, the builders tried to push a law, which ended up being vetoed by President Cortizo, in which it was intended to extend this preferential section of 4% until the year 2028.

The Government did not see the proposal as viable, because in the words of José Batista González, Deputy Minister of Territorial Planning, state funds were committed without having consulted the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF).

Once the law was vetoed and the current norm applied, the discount subsidy would be 4% only for houses of up to $80,000, while for houses over $80,000 and up to $120,000 a 3% would apply.

And for homes above $120,000 to $150,000, only 2% would apply, and for the range above $150,000 to $180,000, which is where the preferential interest reaches, the rate would be 1.5%.

When trying to portray what happened and its effect on Panamanian families, the lawyer specializing in real estate, Marta Luna, explains that the loans will be more expensive, which translates into the ineligibility of many clients for a mortgage with preferential interest.

When large multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, CAF, ECLAC and others make their economic forecasts, Panama always stands out with a higher growth than the rest of the countries in the region.

For this year the economy will grow between 3.8% and 5.7%, everyone is betting and there is no doubt.

The country stands out for its air connectivity, logistics infrastructure with the Panama Canal, soundness of the financial system, growth in connectivity and digital businesses, large skyscrapers in its capital, headquarters of multinational companies, but it does not pass the exam in quality of education, nor in public health, which is deficient, and much less in the distribution of wealth because social inequality persists.

A review of these deficiencies shows that it is not for lack of resources that the weaknesses and inequalities have not been overcome, everything indicates that the priorities of “investment” or public spending have been channeled to bulge the state payroll and some municipalities, divert resources from decentralization to municipalities allied with the government of the day, to the primaries of the parties that raise billboards that fall on the roads.

“In Panama we have been victims of our own success. The economic growth that is mainly measured by macroeconomic indicators has led us to obviate and ignore the indicators that most reflect reality, such as social progress, human development and social well-being, and the reality is that economic growth is not reflected in the well-being of the population”, says Carlos Araúz, economist and financial consultant.

It indicates that indeed in Panama there are resources, but the last government administrations have chosen to intervene and create a society dependent on subsidies, instead of investing more in improving education, science and technology, and health.

“A parallel world has been created where clientelism and the urgency for votes prevail over social welfare. We have ignored the creation of productive employment, instead a state labor recruitment agency has been created where the State hires without justifying and with a lot of improvisation”, questions Araúz.

He points out that there are many distortions that positive economic growth hides. “And these problems are not only in the public sector, on the private side there are also oligopolistic structures, monopolies that unfortunately have also led to prices and the cost of living becoming more expensive in such a way, that the saving capacity of each Panamanian It’s very much affected.”


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