Wednesday 30th August 2023.

August 29, 2023


While the Commerce Commission of the National Assembly continued this Tuesday, for the second consecutive day, the consultation period for the mining contract, National Police agents placed security fences around the headquarters of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD ) located on Avenida Mexico.

A new day of protests is expected this afternoon in the vicinity of the Assembly in rejection of the new contract between the State and Minera Panama.

Groups that oppose the operation of the mine in Colón called on the citizen to protest in front of the legislature at about 4:00 pm The PRD headquarters is located a few meters from the Assembly.

Meanwhile, the Trade Commission continues with the stage of citizen participation in the discussion of the first debate on the mining contract.

In total, 221 people signed up to participate in the discussions. As of noon on Tuesday, August 29, 42 people had spoken, both for and against the mine.

After spending almost 15 hours in three days sitting on the bench, the expert from the Judicial Investigation Directorate (DIJ) of the National Police, Eliseo Ábrego , concluded his statement in the trial for alleged money laundering through an account in the name of the company Blue Apple Services .

Ábrego began his statement on Friday, August 25, and ended on Tuesday, August 29.

The perifo defended his financial performance report, which is the document used by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor to support his accusation against 18 people and his theory of the case: that through a basket account of the Blue Apple company, about $80 was received and moved million , product of funds from contracts with the State.

Ábrego was questioned by the lawyer Rosendo Miranda, defender of the former minister Federico José Pepe Suárez and the lawyer Valentín Martínez Vásquez , the latter from the firm Martínez Acha y Asociados. Valentín Martínez is linked to the Olimpo Foundation, through which a property was acquired in Buenaventura Golf & Beach , in the province of Coclé.

Last month, Martínez Vásquez was sentenced in the first instance to 80 months in prison for another case of money laundering, the so-called New Business , about the use of public funds in the purchase of the shares of Editora Panamá América, SA (Epasa). , in December 2010.

According to Miranda, the final beneficiary of the Olimpo Foundation is Riccardo Francolini (also charged for this cause) and that his client only established said company as a professional service.

The expert Ábrego indicated that Valentín Martínez Vásquez appears in the transactions to make payments for the maintenance of that property.

Prosecutor Manuel Barrías questioned Ábrego about the formation of a company at the request of Francolini, to which the expert responded that this information appeared in his report.

According to the investigation, $235,000 from the Blue Apple basket account was used to pay part of the debt of the Olympus Foundation .

the accountant Julio César Aguirre , whose testimony was requested by Arturo González Baso , lawyer for Melina Cano Achurra , who worked as Federico Suárez’s secretary when he was Minister of Public Works, between 2009 and 2012.

Cano Achurra is pointed out as the person who acted as an intermediary for the acquisition of turbines for a hydrological project called El Síndigo, in Chiriquí, with funds from Blue Apple. According to the investigation, Suárez had interests in this project, whose visible face is Teófilo Gárrido, from the Los Naranjos Overseas company. Garrido was also accused, but he died before the trial was held.

The accountant Aguirre, as a witness requested by Melina Cano’s lawyer, indicated that the former official did not act as an intermediary in the purchase of the turbines. This version was refuted by prosecutor Edwin Juárez, who assured that Cano was the person who handled the documents to promote the hydroelectric project.

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office has managed to recover some $40 million of the total $80 million that circulated through the Blue Apple company.

This was confirmed by the anti-corruption prosecutor, Aurelio Vásquez, in the development of the trial of 18 people for alleged money laundering through the Blue Apple company.

Vásquez explained that 15 collaboration and penalty agreements were reached in which the defendants promised to return money, real estate and other values ​​acquired illegally.

He stressed that in the more than 12 hours of statement made by the expert from the Judicial Investigation Directorate (DIJ), Eliseo Ábrego, part of the evidence presented by the Public Ministry has been established.

Yesterday, Monday, during his statement, Ábrego was questioned by defense lawyers for alleged inconsistencies in the financial analysis carried out on the accounts linked to the Blue Apple company.

Rosendo Miranda, defender of the former Minister of Public Works, Federico Suárez, alleged that Ábrego never went to the banks to verify who the final beneficiaries of the accounts were, nor did he establish the methodology he used to prepare his report.

Meanwhile, Arturo Saurí, George Moreno’s lawyer, also strongly criticized the report submitted by Ábrego, pointing out that they had many inconsistencies and unverified information.

For today, Tuesday, the court plans to culminate with Ábrego’s testimony and evacuate another five witnesses and two experts.

The Blue Apple plot, according to the Public Ministry, is related to the embezzlement of some 80 million dollars and involves crimes such as money laundering, corruption of public servants, criminal association and falsification of documents.

On August 21, one day before the trial began, Judge Baloisa Marquínez sent the file of two defendants -Luis Enrique and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli- to the Supreme Court of Justice after they took office as deputies of Parliament Central American (Parlacen). Kristelle Getzler is also in that condition

The Cabinet Council endorsed this Tuesday, August 29, the draft budget of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) for the fiscal period of 2023-2024, which amounts to $4,776.5 million.

In addition, it authorized the Minister of Canal Affairs, Aristides Royo, to present the project before the National Assembly.

The project estimates contributions to the State for $2,470.8 million. For 2023, contributions of $2,544.6 million were estimated.

The document indicates that expenses are estimated for B/. 1,542 million. The budget for fiscal year 2023 was $4,652.9 million.

The National Authority of Public Services (Asep) applied a fine of $599,320 to Naturgy’s Metro Oeste Electricity Distribution Company (Edemet) for deficiency in the quality of electricity supply in the province of Veraguas.

According to the entity, technical personnel from the National Electricity Directorate detected “serious deficiencies” in circuits 34-17 of the Soná Substation, circuits 34-21 and 34-22 of the San Antonio Substation, which are mainly caused by lack of of maintenance.

Armando Fuentes, administrator of the ASEP, sent a message to the distribution companies to make the respective investments “that contribute to improving the quality of life of their clients, otherwise they will adhere to establishing the sanctioning processes in accordance with what is indicated in Law 6 of February 3, 1997, complying with due process”.

He recognized that this province is not the only one that registers these irregularities, for which reason he revealed that the same decisions are being evaluated for West Panama, where investigations are also being carried out.

Tourism generated an economic impact of 902 million dollars in the first semester, according to the report of the Tourism Promotion Fund of Panama (Promtur).

The general director of Promtur, Fernando Fondevila, indicated that their goal was to reach an economic income of 769 million dollars in the first semester, so the figure achieved of 902 million dollars exceeded the initial objective by 17%.

Fondevila specified that by the end of the year they expect international tourism promotion plans to leave the country with an impact of 1.8 billion dollars.

He assured that the arrival of tourists from the 9 priority markets where the promotion of Panama has been reinforced has increased, such as the United States, Colombia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, France and Germany).

Tourists from these countries registered an increase in arrivals in the country by air, during the first half of 2023, reaching 58.7%, compared to 41.3% in other markets.

Fondevila highlighted that the length of stay of tourists from priority markets increased on average, from 8 to 11 days. “We are progressively generating more demand from our key markets and attracting our priority audience, those travelers whose interests align with the vision of sustainable tourism for Panama and who generate a more significant economic and social impact, since they tend to stay longer. carry out more activities and spend more at the destination”, explained Fondevila.

After the earthquake that shook three provinces and a region around midnight this Monday, the security authorities reiterated to the population the steps to follow in the event of this type of event.

  1. One of the main recommendations given is to remain calm when registering an earthquake.
  2. Likewise, it is recommended to eliminate possible sources of fire , such as disconnecting the equipment from the current outlet.
  3. Those who live in multi-story buildings or structures should not use elevators.
  4. It is recommended to find a safe area.
  5. Stay away from windows and objects that can be detached.
  6. Locate the evacuation route.

The tremor was recorded at 11:59 p.m. this Monday, August 28, 2023, and had a magnitude of 6.2 degrees. It was located 67 kilometers from the community of El Porvenir, Guna Yala region, with a depth of 49 km.

In the morning hours of this Tuesday, the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc) reported that the earthquake was felt with greater intensity in the provinces of Panama, Panama West, Colon and Guna Yala. In addition, they have not registered damages.


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