Wednesday 10th July 2024.

July 9, 2024


One day after Irma Hernández , the new mayor of San Miguelito , announced the administrative deterioration in the municipality, the former mayor of that commune, Héctor Valdés Carrasquilla, went on television to try to justify some of the acts.

He said that “the issue of the payroll is not new,” as it dates back to “many administrations.” He admitted that after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Economy and Finance asked him to reduce the payroll by 40%, but added that it is very easy to say “reduce” when people do not have options “to bring sustenance to their homes.” “It is a complicated, complex issue,” said the former PRD mayor on the Radiografía program broadcast by Eco TV.

The politician never explained why he did not reduce the staff of the municipality of San Miguelito. He spoke of unemployment in the district and social conditions. “Firing people can lead to idleness, to bad habits. Therefore, reducing the staff cannot be seen in a cold way,” he said.

The payroll of the municipality of San Miguelito has been in the eye of the storm on several occasions. In August 2021, it was in the news because it was revealed that Ovidio Omar Castro, alias Tulip, murdered in the parking lot of Multiplaza, supposedly for a case linked to drug trafficking, was part of the body of collaborators of that commune.

What functions did he have? At that time, Valdés Carrasquilla was also unable to clearly explain the hiring of Tulip. He said the following: “As a municipality, we have a commitment to eradicate the problems that generate conflict situations in our communities, so we will continue to play our role as promoters, mediators, and facilitators of young people and women who are at social risk.”

According to authorities, Castro was a drug lord from Nuevo Veranillo, San Miguelito, and had ties to the Los Chacales gang, a group accused of the murder of two activists from the Democratic Revolutionary Party.

At a press conference, Irma Hernández said that they found seven forms in total, with a total of 1,250 people. The expenditure in this area exceeds one million dollars , but the income from the tax is 600 thousand dollars.

He also said that he did not find a cashback form in the municipality he heads, but he did find what he called “ cashback appointments .” Hernández also reported that “more is spent than is received and there is very little revenue.” “We owe more than 14 million to suppliers, including the Social Security Fund,” said the new mayor.

Valdés Carrasquilla had no response to this question either. He limited himself to saying that the Land Transportation and Transit Authority owes the San Miguelito mayor’s office 687 thousand dollars. The debt, he said, dates back to “when the transportation modernization took place.”

Serena Vamvas , the new representative of San Francisco, has assured in an interview with La Prensa that she did not come to the position to “put on a show” and that is why she is going head-on against the irregularities in the previous administration, headed by Carlos Pérez Herrera , who held the position for 20 years.

Garbage, waste and discards were found, but the most serious aspect of the discovery was an accumulated debt of $179 thousand dollars, of which $40 thousand correspond to the Social Security Fund.

Other items include fuel, electricity and internet services. In addition, the company reported the disappearance of accounting data from the Peachtree system, which has led to the filing of a criminal complaint .

Vamvas explained that the previous administration had not submitted the assets to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) since 2017, evidencing a lack of transparency in the administration of resources. “It is our job to present complaints and irregularities,” said Vamvas, stressing the need for clear and responsible management.

In an interview, Vamvas tells us about his plans to turn San Francisco into the “era of cleanliness,” whether or not he is seeking reelection, the implementation of a partial land use plan, and much more.

The procedures for requesting financial aid from the Institute for the Training and Development of Human Resources (Ifarhu) have been suspended.

This was announced on Tuesday, July 9, by the general director of that entity, Jaime Díaz , who said that audits in the management and delivery of scholarships have “significant progress.”

“We will soon have an executive summary to present information to the population about the movements in the institution,” he said.

According to Díaz, during his administration “there will be no scholarships based on political commitments” and he assured that the scholarships will be awarded based on merit. In addition, they are currently working on reviewing the processes with a view to simplifying the processing times.

His statements come after the scandal and growing public outrage over the discretionary disbursement of millions of dollars – during the previous administration – in the controversial economic aid program.

A database revealed by La Prensa details that 2,144 people benefited between July 7, 2019, and May 24, 2023. The amount disbursed was $141.6 million. However, these figures only represent part of the complete picture, since the beneficiaries of another 2,759 disbursements are still unknown.

On July 1, during his inauguration, President José Raúl Mulino assured that Ifarhu will cease to be a “symbol of excesses and favoritism” and announced that financial aid will be allocated only to students with merit and whose families have incomes of no more than $2,000 per month.

Luis Eduardo Camacho , a deputy for the Realizing Goals (RM) party , presented a legislative proposal that seeks to modify article 389 of the Penal Code to extend the figure of prevarication to prosecutors of the Public Ministry, judges and magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice.

The draft bill, which was submitted to the legislative plenary session yesterday, Monday 8 July, also contemplates increasing the sentences from four to six years in prison for those who commit this crime.

Currently, Article 389 of the Criminal Code defines the figure of prevarication as follows: “ Any attorney who, through an agreement with the other party or by other fraudulent means, harms the case entrusted to him or who, in the same case, serves parties with opposing interests, shall be punished with imprisonment from two to four years. If the perpetrator is the defense attorney of an accused in a criminal proceeding, the penalty shall be increased by up to half . ”

Camacho admitted that “unfortunately” his proposal cannot be applied retroactively.

The draft bill comes days after Attorney General Javier Caraballo dismissed Zuleyka Moore and Adecio Mojica, who from the anti-corruption prosecutors’ offices investigated high-profile cases such as Odebrecht and Blue Apple, among others. Several of those prosecuted in these cases are currently close to power.

At the time of writing this article, the draft bill was not available on the National Assembly’s website.

“In the last 10 years I have seen conduct by prosecutors and judges that would have been skinned alive if they had been around in those times. The famous New Business case is nothing more than a legal process that was created in this country with the sole intention of politically disqualifying Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, that is the truth,” said Camacho in a long speech when presenting his legislative initiative to his fellow deputies. The proposal would be discussed by the Assembly’s Government Commission. Camacho, considered a confidant of former President Martinelli, has already publicly stated that he aspires to be on that commission.

Panama is home to the new regional office for Central America and the Caribbean of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , located at the headquarters of the United States Embassy in the country.

CDC Director Mandy Cohen said the opening of this regional office in Panama reaffirms the United States’ commitment to promoting public health in Central America and the Caribbean and advancing global cooperation on health issues.

“America’s security and health depend in part on strong ties with countries around the world,” Cohen said.

“The new CDC regional office will manage global and regional public health security, focusing on advanced threat detection, laboratory networks, response capacity building, and other platforms and systems to provide rapid response to current and emerging public health threats,” he added.

During his visit to Panama, Cohen met with Panamanian leaders and experts in the health field, including Health Minister Fernando Boyd.

He also visited the Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies, where he discussed collaboration for disease prevention and response, focusing on joint initiatives to enhance the capabilities of laboratories in Panama, particularly in the detection of influenza, hantavirus and COVID-19. Later, during his visit to the Institute for Scientific Research and High Technology Services of Panama (Indicasat), Cohen discussed the development of joint projects for biomedical innovation and surveillance of vector-borne diseases.

CDC’s collaboration with public health institutions in Central America and the Caribbean dates back to the 1960s, initially focusing on parasitic diseases and arboviruses. The establishment of offices in Guatemala (2003) and the Caribbean (2006) laid the groundwork for a strong regional presence. The new office in Panama aims to advance health security by addressing transnational health threats and promoting regional health initiatives.

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