Tuesday 7th May 2024.

May 6, 2024


The dispute for the country’s main mayoralties came to an end after the general elections last Sunday, May 5. The new mayors elected by popular vote will face various challenges, ranging from urban planning problems to resource management in the largest and most populated districts of the country, such as the capital city, San Miguelito, Panamá Oeste and Colón.

Mayer Mizrachi , standard bearer of the Popular Party and recently elected as the new Mayor of the Capital District, faces a challenging panorama.

It will have to address urgent problems such as coordination in inefficient waste management, the scarcity of public spaces, sidewalks in poor condition and a Panama City Hall characterized by its bureaucracy and an oversized payroll.

Mizrachi will be the one to replace Mayor José Luis Fábrega , who was seeking reelection for the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) .

In the district of San Miguelito, Irma Hernández, independent candidate of the Vamos Coalition , has won.

Hernández will face significant challenges, including insecurity, waste management, lack of public spaces and poor urban planning. Hernández would replace the current mayor Héctor Carrasquilla , who was seeking to occupy the position for the fourth time, this time, together with the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) .

While in the district of Colón, the candidate Diógenes Galván for the free nomination obtained an important victory over Alex Lee , current mayor who was also seeking re-election with the PRD.

Galván already aspired to this position in the 2019 general election, when he was defeated by the now outgoing Mayor Lee.

In the case of Arraiján, Stefany Dayan Peñalba, a free candidate for the Popular Party, was the one who won.

This district has 193,289 voters and is the third with the highest electoral weight in Panama, surpassed only by Panama with 732,022 and San Miguelito 257,567 voters.

While the mayor of La Chorrera will be led by Eloy Chong , representative of the alliance between the Democratic Change and Panameñista parties . La Chorrera is positioned as the fifth district with the highest number of voters in the country with a registered electorate of 159,092.

From emblematic figures to those on the margins of power. This is the new reality of deputies Dalia Bernal, Roberto Ábrego, Francisco Pancho Alemán, Leandro Ávila, Marylín Vallarino and Tito Rodríguez. They all intended to be re-elected, but they will not return to the National Assembly after decades in the legislative system.

Tito Rodríguez, a veteran of politics with two consecutive periods in the National Assembly (2009-2014 and 2019-2024), found himself relegated. In the last ordinary session of the legislative plenary session he dared to say: “see you on July 1.”

Rodríguez was not nominated by the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (Molirena). He barely obtained 9,593 in a circuit with an electoral roll of 152,482.

Dalia Bernal, from the 8-2 circuit (San Miguelito) and nominated by the Realizing Goals (RM) party , had been in the Assembly for 20 years with the Democratic Change flag (from 2004 to 2024). The independent opponent Eduardo Gaytán, obtained 64,777 votes compared to Bernal’s 15,194.

Roberto Ábrego, who had exerted his influence in the National Assembly during the periods 1994-2004, and then from 2019 to 2024, is now outside the legislative sphere. The deputy of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) , for circuit 13-4 (La Chorrera) was one of those who approved the mining contract and said that “the majority of the deputies were in favor” of said activity He obtained 7,857 votes, not even half of the most popular at the polls in his sector.

Francisco “Pancho” Alemán seemed to be eternal in the Assembly. He had been there for 25 years, from 1999 to this year. He experienced a resounding defeat in the 8-2 (San Miguelito), with only 6,231 votes in his favor, in 98.4% of the tables counted.

Marylín Vallarino, from Cambio Democrático , nominated by RM, was another deputy who had been sitting in the Assembly for 20 years (2004-2024).

They told her “You’re not going”, the famous phrase that many citizens shouted at the candidates seeking re-election. Vallarino will no longer be the deputy of the 13-1 in Panamá Oeste, Arraiján.

Leandro Ávila of the ruling PRD is another to whom they closed the door, after 20 years.

He arrived at the National Assembly in the government of Martín Torrijos, in 2004, and believed himself invincible. He even challenged critics of his administration to run to see if they were elected.

But on Sunday, May 5, he only accumulated 8,702 votes, in the close 8-2, in San Miguelito.

José Raúl Mulino’s victory speech at his headquarters was close to the end last night when some of his supporters interrupted him.

“Let it go, let it go, let it go!” some attendees shouted on the night of May 5 in reference to the omnipresent guest, former president Ricardo Martinelli .

But Mulino, who on several occasions has said he would help his former running mate with his problems with the law , continued with his speech as if nothing had happened. (He won the presidency with a little more than 34% of the votes).

“I want the best for Panama,” he said shortly after that order from his supporters. “…We won the election because the people wanted it that way.” The audience shouted, “Long live Ricardo Martinelli.”

“Freedom, freedom, freedom!” other attendees chanted as Mulino continued with his words. People shouted Martinelli’s last name as the president-elect reached the final part of his speech that lasted a little more than 20 minutes.

A little later, someone in the audience shouted “safe conduct.”

Another person followed: “And the safe conduct?”

Martinelli, Mulino’s political godfather, could not be present in the Casa Veranda room of the Sheraton hotel on the night of Sunday, May 5. The former president and until months ago presidential candidate for the Realizing Goals and Alliance parties is barricaded in the Nicaraguan embassy in Panama.

Since February 7, he has been taking refuge in the diplomatic residence, and a recent annex , with his dog Bruno after the Electoral Court (TE) disqualified his candidacy following his conviction for the New Business case.

“A hug to Ricardo until there,” said Mulino. He mentioned it at least twice in his speech, but he didn’t commit to anything publicly that night.

The Panamanian singer-songwriter Rubén Blades reacted to the triumph of José Raúl Mulino as President of the Republic in yesterday’s elections, pointing out that this result represents support for corruption.

“In a public demonstration of support for corruption, a candidate chosen “by hand” by a declared corrupt convict and fugitive, with only 33% of the votes in today’s election, May 5, 2024, has become in the new president of the Republic of Panama, despite the combined rejection of 67% of the rest of the electorate,” Blades stated on his website last night.

Blades affirmed that there will be those who will try to avoid this horrible message that Sunday’s result sends to the country and the world, and that it will be highlighted as a victory for democracy.

“Pointing out with strange pride the purity of the voting process that has legitimized the rise of the worst possible representation of Panamanianism. And although it is true that democracy is by nature unpredictable, the acceptance of this candidate by the majority of the electorate, no matter how small his margin of victory, decrees a dangerous reality for Panama, the consequences of which have yet to be quantified.”

For Blades, a result that opens the way to highlight a corrupt act, by eliminating the usual consequences of punishment for committing it, cannot be described as positive.

“Who said crime doesn’t pay? There is no other way to interpret what happened at the polls today, despite the fact that the elected president time and again boasted of having received “a popular mandate” with his victory. How can we insist to youth that civic virtue is superior to opportunism, cheating, and “playing alive?”

With the title Corruption won, but democratically! In his message he indicated that almost 900,000 people gave their approval to Ricardo Martinelli by voting for his choice.

Blades acknowledged that for months he hoped that this result would not occur. However, he says that he is convinced that a country can still be forged in Panama where opportunity and justice are available to everyone.

“Young people like Juan Diego Vásquez and Gabriel Silva, and those who participated in the “Vamos por Panamá” coalition as candidates, confirm my certainty that Panama can create honest and intelligent responses with which to carve out an honorable and successful destiny, despite of the sorrows and disappointments that many of us experience today.”

It should be remembered that Blades was supporting the Vamos coalition and days before the elections he was walking various parts of the city with the leaders and candidates of this movement.



More articles