Wednesday 22nd March 2023.

March 22, 2023


It was not just any internal election. The tournament held by the Cambio Democrático (CD) party last Sunday, March 19, could define the future of the country’s opposition towards the elections on May 5, the day Panamanians will vote for a new president of the country, among other offices.

CD elected the 1,945 conventional members who will later have to choose a new board of directors, in addition to the authorities of the Women’s and Youth Secretariats and the corregimiento directives. However, the fate of a large opposition coalition depends on the results.

For this reason, actors from other political parties closely followed all the events of the election on Sunday. One of them, José Isabel Blandón, the president of the Panameñista Party, also an opposition party. It is no secret that Rómulo Roux, president of CD, in recent months has explored the possibility of an opposition alliance with the Panameñistas, either to defeat the candidate of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in 2024, or to combat the Former President Ricardo Martinelli, who from the platform of his party Realizing Goals (RM) and with the help of a group of CD deputies, led by Yanibel Ábrego, CD secretary and Roux’s adversary, seeks to return to the Palacio de Las Garzas.

In fact, Blandón, who was mayor of Panama City between 2014 and 2019 and presidential candidate of the Panameñista Party for the 2019 elections, indicated that he was interested in seeing the faction led by Roux win the internal elections, since that this gives continuity to the conversations that have taken place for a possible alliance for 2024.

Until yesterday, Monday March 20, at the close of this edition, there were no official results of the CD elections. Both sides, Roux’s and Yanibel Ábrego’s, declared themselves winners.

Mari Carmen Aponte , United States ambassador to Panama, spoke about corruption, the role of the press in democratic societies, migration through the Darién and the loss of doses of fentanyl in the Social Security Fund (CSS ) .

During a visit to Corporación La Prensa SA, Aponte assured that corruption is his priority, the embassy and the Joe Biden administration , because it undermines democracy. “For us, the preservation and work to maintain democracy in this hemisphere is very important. Corruption undermines processes within governments that discourage processes of economic activity, and we don’t want that to happen,” she added.

After referring to corruption, the ambassador requested a space to talk about the role of the press in society. “It is the key to a sustainable democracy in the long term. Without information, citizens and the people who live in a country cannot make correct decisions. What we want to do and what we want to promote is that it is responsible information. Responsible investigative journalism is a master key to democracy and keeps all governments on the right track,” she explained.

In her opinion, if the projects we have as a society are not based on correct and solid information, they will not prosper. “And God knows the path that society ends up taking, that’s why I want to emphasize the press. There are times when we all get upset with the press, but the press has to do that and be able to inspire, ”she said.

Regarding what they call “undocumented migration”, he advocated discouraging the networks that are dedicated to the trafficking of migrants through the Darién jungle. “There is no one who can cross that jungle alone. He needs help and what we want is to discourage criminal chains that are trying to help people cross the Darién,” she said. He expressed that attention must also be paid to the passage of people through the sea. “Now we are noticing that there are traffickers who use boats to move people from Ecuador, from Colombia, to sometimes even further north in Panama. That again (…) ”, she explained.

Regarding the issue that currently dominates the public agenda, the loss of thousands of doses of fentanyl from the CSS, she stated that investigations must be carried out to identify what happened and to bring people to justice involved. “Any information that is asked of us or with which we can contribute, we are going to work with the Panamanian government because this not only affects Panama, but it is a scourge that is a precursor to so many drugs that we later see on the streets in the United States. . That motivates us to help the Panamanian government succeed,” she added.

At the headquarters of Corporación La Prensa, Aponte spoke with members of the board of directors, the editorial management team, and journalists. The ambassador arrived in the country on November 17, 2022 to begin her mission. Her style is marked by her anti-corruption discourse, a message that gained strength on January 25, 2023 when the US State Department announced the appointment of former President Ricardo Martinelli “for his participation in acts of significant corruption.”

That same day, the ambassador informed the country that Martinelli’s designation on the corrupt list would not be the last.

Bill 841 that ” Modifies Law 1 of 2001 and regulates the acquisition of medicines and other products for human health, in the public sector and dictates other provisions ” has received 32 modifications in a period of one and a half years that took the second debate in the National Assembly .

The initiative authorizes the government so that at any time and exceptionally it establishes maximum prices for medicines , in order to preserve the interest of the consumer in circumstances in which the behavior of prices in the national market is not related to the prices of said products in the international market.

In this sense, the Authority for the Protection of Consumers and Defense of Competition (Acodeco) will be the entity that will recommend to the Executive every six months, after the corresponding analysis, the proposal of medicinal products and maximum prices that will be applied in the country.

In addition, during the period of validity of the measure, importers and distributors may request the revision or elimination of the maximum price of a specific medicine in accordance with the corresponding legal procedure.

In fact, the legislation instructs Acodeco to carry out an analysis of national price trends compared to international prices in order to make recommendations to the Executive.

The ceiling prices that are set will begin to apply 30 days after the decree that sets them is promulgated and will be valid for six months that may be extended only once for six months.

Bill 841 is expected to be approved in the coming days for its respective review by the Presidency of the Republic.

This legislative initiative arose from a technical table created by the legislative commission on August 5, 2021, in which authorities from the Ministry of Health, the Social Security Fund, the Directorate of Public Contracts, businessmen dedicated to the import and commercialization of medicines, representatives of patient organizations, among others.

Panama has prohibitive costs for medicines, as has been denounced by social sectors and patients with chronic diseases. This was one of the reasons for the massive protests in July 2022 and the trigger for the Laurentino government to take measures to calm the claims such as a 30% reduction in a group of medicines that extended the measure for six more months, last February 14th.

In the midst of the scandal involving the theft of between 10,000 and 19,000 doses of fentanyl and the bidding for a system of oxygen production plants for $101.2 million carried out by the Social Security Fund (CSS), rheumatoid arthritis patients have weeks requesting the administration of Enrique Lau Cortés to purchase the drug rituximab (mabthera).

Rheumatoid arthritis patients request the purchase of rituximab, since they have not accepted automatic substitution by a biosimilar, since they wish to continue their treatment with this monoclonal antibody.

The president of the Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation of Panama (Funarp) Enma Pinzón, met last week with the CSS authorities, but there was no progress because she was told that the Directorate of Pharmacy and Drugs of the Ministry of Health ( Minsa) must issue a decree establishing the names of the drugs that cannot be substituted.

The meeting took place one day after the patients protested on March 15 at the facilities of the Dr. Arnulfo Arias Madrid Hospital Complex. There the patients with banners in hand chanted “my life is priceless”, “I am the report”, “if things go wrong, who will be responsible?”, among other phrases.

After a three-year hiatus due to covid-19, this Saturday, March 25, the seventh edition of the Panama Greek Fest will take place.

An event that combines religion, culture, music, dance, gastronomy and more, which will be held at the headquarters of the Hellenic Community of Panama, located on Via Porras, the organizers announced.

That day, attendees will be able to take tours inside the Greek Orthodox Cathedral and also enjoy Greek culinary arts, music, dances and traditions. Among these customs is the breaking of plates, a symbol of celebration in Greek culture.

And, as in each edition, the funds raised are destined for social, charitable, cultural and educational works throughout Panama, emphasizes Antonio Androutsos, president of the organizing committee.

Androutsos estimates that this Saturday’s activity, which will begin at noon and last until 11:00 pm, will be attended by some 5,000 people, taking into account that the last time it was held was in 2019 and that the interest in knowing of Greek culture is on the rise.


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