Tuesday 6th June 2023.

June 5, 2023


“Panama is worth more, without mining.” This was the chorus of a group of citizens who went to protest, on Monday morning, at the headquarters of the Ministry of the Environment (Miambiente), located in the township of Ancón, Panama City.

The demonstration takes place after learning that Miambiente endorsed the environmental impact study, category III, which allows the extraction of gold in Cerro Quema, province of Los Santos.

“Corrupt officials, get out… here is the outraged citizenry,” said the protesters, who carried signs reading phrases such as “No to the mine in Cerro Quema” and “No to the unpatriotic and anti-national mining contract.”

The citizens said they will continue in the streets until the last consequences and that the protests will take place at the national level.

On Sunday, the Realizando Metas (RM) political tournament to choose their presidential candidate for the elections on May 5, 2024 took place without setbacks or surprises. At 5:22 pm, the Electoral Tribunal notified the former President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli, who had won the contest.

However, electoral participation was not what was expected. The general secretary of the collective, Luis Eduardo Camacho, estimated that between 30% and 40% of the more than 234,000 would go to the polls. But the unofficial results of the contest showed 25.3% participation, with 97% of the polling stations counted. In these primaries, 234,700 registered voters were authorized to vote and there were 655 tables in 513 voting centers.

Martinelli , which at the time, had 54,738 votes. He far surpassed Rubén Darío Campos (1,332 votes), Francisco Ameglio (291) and David Ochy (149). The numbers are not surprising either, since none of the three campaigned to win the support of their supporters at the polls.

Walking without discomfort and accompanied by former first lady Marta Linares de Martinelli, Martinelli arrived at the Richard Neumann school at 10:15 am to exercise his right to vote. In that voting center, where 530 voters were expected, Martinelli was expected by his supporters. Some wore sweaters, caps and even sneakers with the party logo. Among them, the lawyers Ronier Ortiz and Alejandro Pérez.

After getting out of his car, Martinelli was approached by journalists, who, among other things, consulted him about the trial of the New Business case that ended last Friday. Who will replace him if he is convicted? What can he say about what his partner Félix Moulanier denounced? were some of the questions that were thrown at him. Moulanier warned that with RM in power there will be a “dictatorship” and that the membership is forced to protest in the streets.

However, the pre-candidate avoided answering several of the questions. But what he did say was all “this is political persecution.” He called the New Business trial “crass” and “false” which “will destroy justice.”

Last Friday, June 2, the arguments phase of the trial for alleged money laundering in the New Business case concluded and Judge Baloisa Marquínez announced that she is accepting the 30-day period granted by law to communicate her decision. The Public Ministry requested the maximum sentence for 13 people, including Martinelli, as well as an acquittal for two defendants: Jack Btesh Hazan and his son Salomón Btesh Btesh.

Martinelli did not attend the trial arguing a medical disability for 60 days for an operation on the spine. However, as this judicial process progressed and the primary of Realizando Goals approached, the former president recovered his active social and political life. His participation yesterday in his party’s primary proves it.

The election of Ricardo Martinelli as presidential candidate by the political group Realizando Metas (RM) “is yet another proof of the decline of the Panamanian political class and institutional weakness.”

This is how the presidential candidate for free nomination Eduardo Quirós reacted, after the former Panamanian president −and without much surprise− was elected as the presidential standard-bearer of RM, with a view to the elections of May 5, 2024.

For Quirós, it was a “shameful election” in which the sum of all the votes represents less than the signatures of an independent candidate. According to official figures, the percentage of electoral participation in these RM primaries was 25.82%.

Martinelli “has become a presidential candidate while being tried for corruption and money laundering,” Quirós said. He insisted on the fact that, if justice worked in Panama, Martinelli (2009-2014) would not be a candidate for president or anything.

“We all know that his candidacy is not motivated by the desire to create well-being for Panama, but rather seeks impunity and to continue plundering the country,” continued the presidential candidate for free application, in a statement.

Through this writing, Quirós emphasizes that “Panama does not look like Martinelli. I know it because I have walked it from border to border of our country. We are not corrupt or launderers. We are better than that.”

The Ministry of Health of Panama announced the opening of the call process for companies interested in obtaining a license to manufacture medicinal cannabis derivatives.

The national director of Pharmacy and Drugs of the Minsa, Elvia Lau, said that as of this Monday, companies or individuals can access the entity’s website where they will withdraw the bases that contemplate the indications to participate and seek to be selected.

The official explained that within the bases there are 11 forms including a “Check List” that mentions all the requirements that the applicant must provide to obtain said license.

As announced by the Ministry of Health, on June 19 an approval meeting will be held where questions regarding the manufacture and marketing of cannabis-derived products can be addressed.

Interested parties have until August 29 to request clarifications, questions on the Minsa website and “we have until September 5 to answer those clarifications,” Lau said..

The official said that the interested parties must deliver the documents in sealed envelopes, which will remain this way until September 18, when the 75 days are completed, as established in the norm.

Then, on September 19, the envelopes will be opened in front of the participants and it will be verified if they meet all the requirements to be selected.

It should be noted that later the Medicinal Cannabis Committee will be in charge of reviewing the documentation and will recommend to the Ministry of Pharmacy and Drugs the companies that obtain the seven licenses (the norm establishes this amount).

Lau clarified that only these seven companies that meet all the requirements will be able to carry out the entire production chain, from planting, controlled environment, harvest, drying, to dispensing.

Last August, the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, signed two executive decrees that regulate Law 242 of October 13, 2021, which regulates the medicinal and therapeutic use of cannabis, and also creates the National Directorate of Monitoring of Activities Related to Medicinal Cannabis.

Some 400 people were affected by the heavy rains, accompanied by electrical storms and strong winds that occurred Sunday, in various sectors of the province of Panama.

Tocumen, Río Abajo, Juan Díaz, Panama Viejo, Parque Lefevre, were the sectors where the most reports were received, explained Carlos Rumbo, general director of the National Civil Protection System, who pointed out that there are no reports of injured or missing persons.

“In Tocumen and Panama Viejo we found a large amount of garbage, which collapsed the sewers. Hence, we reiterate the call not to throw garbage in rivers or streams,” he specified.

The official also detailed that, in the San Miguelito district, a landslide was attended where a house collapsed. People were able to be evacuated to safe areas, he added.

In the case of the province of Panamá Oeste, Rumbo said that there were no floods but collapsed structures (14 houses in total), for which the proper evaluations are being made.

The general director of Sinaproc reiterated that the country is in the middle of the rainy season, so what was registered yesterday was a “normal rain”.

“The rains will continue. With two hours of rain we can see results of flooding and landslides,” he commented.

The official also reported that a warning has been issued for maximum tides and increased waves in the Panamanian Pacific, which will be extended until June 7.



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