Tuesday 29th August 2023.

August 28, 2023


As announced, this Monday, the discussion of a new contract between the Panamanian State and Minera Panama, a subsidiary of the Canadian First Quantum, which extracts and exports copper concentrate since 2019, began.

The discussion −which began at 1:44 pm− takes place in the Trade Commission, which meets in the Carlos ‘Titi’ Alvarado auditorium of the National Assembly. Until noon this Monday, 205 people had registered to participate in this debate.

The legislative commission has declared itself in permanent session. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the Assembly, clashes between riot police and citizens who oppose the controversial contract took place in the afternoon.

In images broadcast live, social leaders who attended the session denounced that the top positions were occupied by staff in work clothes and sweatshirts that displayed the company logo.

After the reading protocol of the agenda, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Federico Alfaro, took the floor, who defended the new contract as a “substantial improvement” compared to the previous contract, which was declared unconstitutional by the Court in 2017.

Nelson Jackson, deputy for the province of Colón, complained about the discrimination against the coloneses and guaranteed that everyone would participate and that he would fight “until my last drop of blood” so that the contract is beneficial for the Atlantic province.

Elías Vigil, representative of the Panameñista Party, also complained about the methodology. Originally, PRD deputy Roberto Ábrego said that he would discuss the contract by blocks, but this Monday he said that “the matter cannot be divided”, alleging that it can only be approved or disapproved, and that therefore, it would not be discussed in blocks as announced last week.

The independent deputy Juan Diego Vásquez then proposed a new debate methodology: that it be discussed in five topics, in five blocks and that the participants spoke for 30 minutes each. The proposal was rejected with five votes against. He only received four votes in favor.

The interrogation of the expert from the Judicial Investigation Directorate (DIJ), Eliseo Ábrego, is one of the elements that have characterized the fifth day of the trial for the Blue Apple case .

Lawyers for the defense and the prosecution have consulted him about the financial report he prepared on the traceability of the funds managed through that company.

Ábrego referred to checks received by the defendant George Moreno for the purchase of a farm in the province of Veraguas, with money from companies that received State contracts and which were channeled through the Blue Apple company.

The expert was questioned by Arturo Sauri, Moreno’s lawyer, who questioned him about the documentation obtained to write the financial analysis report. He also asked him if he had personally verified the authenticity of the documents that were handed over to him by the prosecution.

According to the investigation, Moreno is linked to a series of checks received for the purchase of land in Torio, in the province of Veraguas, and according to the prosecution, this transaction was related to the former Minister of Public Works Jaime Ford , another defendant in this case.

The witness confirmed that he verified the traceability of the funds, which sheds light on the role that Moreno played in the purchase of the property in Veraguas.

Abrego was also questioned by Marcela Araúz, lawyer for the accused Riccardo Francolini. This jurist asked him about a check for $235,000 that the construction company Rodsa sent to Bristol Resort, a company linked to her client.

Araúz asked the expert if he knew the compensation parameters applied to those funds. The expert replied no.

The Panamanian authorities would give a twist to the treatment of the migratory crisis through Darién , the Panamanian jungle that thousands of people from multiple countries cross daily to continue their course to the United States .

The Minister of Public Security, Juan Manuel Pino , said that from being a humanitarian issue the issue became a “national security problem,” but warned that this “has a limit.”

“This has a limit, and the countries of the south have turned their backs on the problem,” he said on a recent work tour in Darién.

In passing, he announced that as a government they will make “certain decisions.” He did not advance which ones, as the possibilities will be analyzed in the cabinet council.

“All the possibilities are on the table, because the impact we have here in the Darién is very great and especially in the indigenous communities,” he argued.

Meanwhile, Samira Gozaine, director of the National Migration Authority , assured on Monday, that 2,800 people arrived in Panama last night. To this day, she added, 320,000 people have passed through the Darién. In an interview on TVN , Gozaine assured that “the crisis has escalated.”

Like Pino, she stated that the issue is of “national security.” “In the month of August, more than 55,000 people crossed (Darién). It is already a national security problem. This is disrupting the life of the villages (…) There is nothing humanitarian in continuing to allow this migration, ”she added.

When asked about the possibility of closing the border, Gozaine said that as authorities they would like to be able to say yes, but the issue is complex, since it involves 266 kilometers of jungle. “Yes, it can be done, but it requires will, and no country wants to keep the problem. We would like to close it. But no country to the south wants to stay with the problem, ”she said.

For now, the director of the National Migration Authority announced that she will meet with a team of ministers to analyze the measures they will take.

Law 6 of 2002 on transparency allows citizens to know key information from the Government.

These are some:

  1. – How the payrolls of the ministries and other public entities are made up.
  2. – What are the costs of travel, per diem and representation expenses of officials.
  3. – The institutional projects, the structure and execution of the budgets.
  4. – The hiring and appointment of officials.

Among the relevant aspects of the law is the right to request information, a figure that is developed between articles 2 and 7 of Law 6.

This means that any person can request, without the need to support any justification or motivation, information held by the government. You just have to send a letter on paper or via email, without any formality or legal representative, detailing the information required (article 5 of Law 6). This piece of the law is what has allowed it to be known how some ministries have spent millions of dollars.

However, the National Assembly is currently discussing a bill that seeks to repeal this vital norm for citizen oversight. Several organizations have condemned this new step by the government of Laurentino Cortizo.

The 2023-2024 cruise season will begin this Friday, September 1, reported the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP).

To date there are a total of 49 reserves, of which 31 are for operations in transit and 18 that will operate at the base port.

“It is expected that approximately 69 thousand 633 passengers will arrive on board these cruises in transit operations and 12 thousand 974 passengers in operations at Base Port, this last number doubles when carrying out a loading and unloading operation due to the type of operation ”, the AMP said in a statement.

The AMP pointed out that a passenger in transit can spend 100 dollars between tours, meals and souvenir purchases and base port operations generate a greater economic impact with approximately 350 dollars spent since tourists can stay in local hotels.

Due to the arrival of cruise travelers, the AMP estimates an income of 11.5 million dollars this season.

In total there are more than 16 cruise companies will be operating, including several with their base port in Panama.

The list of cruise companies that will operate this season are: Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruise, Phoenix Reisen, Princess Cruise, Peace Boat, Swan Hellenic, Viking Ocean Cruise, Residensea, Scenic Luxury, Holland America Line, Windstar Cruises , Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Silver Seas and Seabourn.

“With the start of the cruise season, the economy is directly boosted by generating income and promoting new job opportunities in the regions that are visited, it also boosts the country’s image and strengthens our position in the maritime, port and logistics sector. worldwide, one of the fundamental pillars of the Panamanian economy”, indicated the AMP.


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