Wednesday 10th January 2024.
January 9, 2024
The Cabinet Council would have ignored several complaints about possible contamination of the Caimito and Botija rivers in the province of Colón, which would have caused fish mortality , as well as other alleged environmental breaches at the time of signing, last June, the now unconstitutional contract. law with Minera Panamá, subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals, Ltd.
In addition, the alleged damages would include the accumulation of white and gray sediments that would have changed the tone of the river water, according to the findings of the personnel of the Ministry of the Environment (Miambiente) and the Ecological Police during inspections carried out in 2020, after receive citizen complaints.
This contamination would have been observed in a 3.2 kilometer route along the Botija River bed , which joins the Brazo River. The Botija flows into the Coclé del Norte River, through the San Juan River. The sediments found – even in the stones – “ come from the open pit area of Minera Panamá, representing a non-compliance with the Environmental Impact Study, for not managing these contact waters within the mining project and current environmental regulations ,” the report highlights. August 2020.
Although environmental non-compliance would have been evident , one of the defenders of the contract-law – at the time – was the Minister of the Environment himself, Milciades Concepción, who claimed to feel “comfortable” with the agreements reached with the company, despite the findings of your field staff.
Another of the latest reports from the Regional Directorate of Miambiente in Coclé, from 2020, reveals that “several complaints” from citizens about the contamination of water sources located near towns in the northeast and southeast sectors of the mining project were attended to. Due to these complaints, “different administrative processes” were initiated.
In the inspections of the Miambiente regional plant in Coclé, in which Minera Panamá personnel also participated, an unusual fact stands out: during the route in which the samples were collected “no presence of aquatic fauna was observed ,” the report highlights. .
But representatives of the mining company deny that these findings are linked to the mine’s operations. “The fish mortality was not associated with the operations of Cobre Panamá; “It was attributed to illegal mining activities in the area,” they responded to La Prensa .
The same sediments were found in the Caimito River, displaced through the Chicheme Gorge, in August 2021. The residents of this area are mainly dedicated to fishing, agriculture and livestock as a method of subsistence.
Did Miambiente apply any sanctions to those responsible for the possible water contamination that caused the death of marine fauna? There was no response from Miambiente.
Two years after these events, Miambiente informed La Prensa that the administrative processes against Minera Panamá “follow due process within the environmental administrative sphere” in the Regional Directorate of that entity in Coclé.
Lawyer Ernesto Cedeño presented a request to the Attorney General of the Administration, Rigoberto González , to investigate and, if necessary, file a criminal complaint about the reasons why the Ministry of Environment (MiAmbiente) did not make a coercive collection of $12 million that the Minera Panamá company owes for the construction of ecological parks.
The attorney had recommended MiAmbiente, in July 2019, to manage this collection. But an investigation by La Prensa revealed a “report of findings” from Miambiente, prepared in May 2021, which indicates that the mining company has evaded its economic responsibility, “exceeding $11.6 million”, coming from a debt accumulated between 2012 and 2018. , after the signing of a “letter of understanding 2012-2017.”
Although the report requests an update of the amount of the debt, it is not known if this aspect has been fulfilled, since the Minister of the Environment, Milciades Concepción, did not mention it in his appearance before the National Assembly in January 2023.
The president of the board of directors of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) , Aristides Royo , assured on the morning of this Tuesday, January 9, that a reservoir will not be carried out on the Indio River, “if the inhabitants of that area oppose it.” ” to the idea of building a reservoir that guarantees the storage of the water necessary for human consumption and the transit of ships through the waterway.
Royo ‘s statements took place during the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the deed of January 9, 1964 and are a reaction to the letter sent by the Minister of the Presidency, José Simpson , in which he asked him to clarify whether The ACP has carried out public consultations among citizens residing in the proposed area, to find out their opinions on the legal limits of the Canal’s hydrographic basin and the possibility of building reservoirs.
Royo specified that the consultation will be carried out and hopes that this will occur before the end of Laurentino Cortizo’s administration (on June 30, 2024), who was informed that legal reforms need to be proposed to expand the basin and eliminate the restriction of build reservoirs, according to Law 28 of 2006.
This consultation with the communities would be carried out before the Government can make a decision regarding the necessary legal changes, Royo explained, anticipating that the ACP has worked for years in the area, which it interprets as “fertilized land,” but that still “remains to be paid.”
The Minister for Canal Affairs was also optimistic regarding the Cabinet’s decision regarding the legal changes that it must propose and that would make the construction of a reservoir possible.
“I believe that the Cabinet Council will agree with the Panama Canal,” he indicated.
The festival of economic aid for family and friends of the PRD power today added a new chapter that reaches the intimate core of President Laurentino Cortizo: his niece, Mía Sofía Cortizo, received $85 thousand to study abroad.
Mía Sofía is the daughter of the president’s younger brother, Raúl Cortizo , a lawyer who presents himself on social networks as a “politician by vocation” and “proud father.” In addition, she was his substitute when Cortizo was a deputy in Mireya Moscoso ‘s five-year term (1999-2004).
Raúl’s political vocation emerges in the party that brought his older brother to the government, the PRD: he appears on the list of delegates for the National Congress that ended up choosing the candidates for popularly elected positions who did not go to primaries with a view to the elections. elections in May 2024. Twenty years before, in 2004 and during the presidency of Martín Torrijos, he was in charge of the Gaming Control Board. Upon leaving there, he founded the firm Abogados y Consultores Estratégicos (ACES).
Now the news of financial aid for his daughter came to combine the two qualities with which Raúl presents himself on his networks: politician and father. La Prensa tried to contact the president’s younger brother about this matter through his signature and email, but did not receive a response.
He is not the first relative of a politician to appear associated with this aid nor the first Cortizo to appear mentioned in a scandal. Several media outlets have denounced children, nephews, employees of deputies or ministers for the same reason. The complete list of total beneficiaries does not exist, because Ifarhu does not make it transparent, but among those reported there are at least 28 who have received a total of 1.8 million dollars during the Cortizo government.
Another brother of the president – and of Raúl – is Roy Cortizo, who shares with Vice President Carrizo the board of directors of Caja 2 of the PRD .
Last November, La Prensa revealed that Carrizo set up a parallel structure through which hundreds of thousands of dollars flowed to the PRD campaign for the 2019 presidential elections without declaring to the Electoral Tribunal (TE). Those millions went from Bagatrac to companies such as Contac Global Services, Corp. , of which Roy Cortizo is president.
The selection of a company for the management of the Cerro Patacón landfill , in the town of Ancón, will be carried out by the Urban and Home Cleaning Authority (AAUD) in the coming weeks through the online quoting process.
This was explained by the Minister of Health and president of the board of directors of the AAUD, Luis Francisco Sucre , who explained that the entity was authorized to carry out the online quote to select a company for a period of three years.
The Sewage entity is working on the terms of reference for the online quote, so that a company can be urgently selected and handle not only the entry and disposal of waste, but also the vats of leachate.
In addition, Sucre added that a team of experts from the Technological University of Panama is preparing a document of charges to subsequently carry out a tender, since an international or transnational company with experience in waste management is being sought. This is due to the need to implement cutting-edge technology in landfill management, as in other countries, he said.
The Health Minister assured that the main problem they face in relation to garbage collection is the filling of Cerro Patacón, since the trucks must wait in long lines to enter the place. On April 11, the Government declared a “state of environmental emergency,” which implied an inter-institutional intervention to mitigate and restore “the environmental disaster” that occurred at the site.
The decision was made during the session of the Cabinet Council , which instructed the ministries of Environment and Health, the AAUD and other institutions to take measures to mitigate the damage present in the landfill.
However, eight months later, the situation persists: with leachate without any type of treatment ending up in rivers and polluting gases released into the atmosphere daily.
As you will remember, the company that operated the landfill for 10 years was Urbalia, but its concession contract expired and the Government carried out a new tender, in which they chose the company Ecolimpia.
However, a few weeks later and surprisingly, the AAUD announced the cancellation of the contract, due to not reaching an economic agreement with said company.
The Minister of Health, Luis Francisco Sucre, stated this Tuesday that for now there are no plans to restrict any activity, amid a spike in Covid -19 cases in the country.
“We are going to be meeting with the Public Health team, but we do not see in any way that we put any of the normal activities at risk,” said Sucre, who was present at the events commemorating the deed of January 9, 1964. .
The Health Minister reiterated the call to the population to maintain self-care and recalled that a resolution was issued in which those who have respiratory symptoms are recommended to wear a mask to avoid infecting other people.
Sucre reported that in the report it received in recent weeks, some 2,100 positive cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed nationwide, but that the majority are patients who have symptoms of the common cold.
In addition, 9 deaths were recorded, 52 people hospitalized in the ward and 5 in the Intensive Care Unit.