Wednesday 6th December 2023.
December 5, 2023
The Ministry of Labor and Labor Development (Mitradel) rejected, in the first instance, the request made by the Minera Panamá company to suspend approximately 7 thousand labor contracts.
“The ministry, yesterday [December 4] rejected outright the request for contract suspensions as inadmissible and made the notification,” reported Minister Doris Zapata.
The decision was appealed by legal representatives of the company, Zapata explained. “It is up to us in the second instance to respond… we, in fact, have taken care of the legal procedure and that is why you have seen that we have maintained a bit of discretion,” he said.
The minister indicated that they rejected the request because there is a cessation of mine operations that is not temporary, but definitive. “Obviously this results in the termination of employment of each of the workers,” she said.
“We continue in the process depending on the times, to guarantee that all workers’ rights are respected and the benefits that workers are entitled to receive are attended to,” said the Minister of Labor.
He indicated that regarding the voluntary retirement agreement announced by the company, which implies the termination of the employment contract by mutual agreement, this must include the payment of the seniority bonus, the thirteenth month, vacations and 100% of the compensation.
Mitradel reinforced the special mines office with personnel to guide Minera Panamá workers who seek to know the calculations of their benefits.
Minera Panamá signed a contract with the State to exploit copper in Donoso, province of Colón, but the agreement was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Justice last Tuesday, November 28.
Following this ruling, the company Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals, announced that on November 29, it began an arbitration process before the International Court of Arbitration. At the same time, it presented the request to suspend more than 7,000 employment contracts, in order to address the situation of employees.
The first inter-institutional meeting of the Executive to implement the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice that declared the mining contract unconstitutional took place this Tuesday, December 5, and was headed by the head of Commerce and Industries Jorge Rivera Staff .
According to a statement from the Government, in addition to Staff, the Minister of Security , Juan Manuel Pino, participated in this first meeting ; the Minister of Labor, Doris Zapata ; and the Minister of the Environment, Milciades Concepción, who were accompanied by their respective technical teams.
It was reported that these meetings were called to evaluate the next steps for the implementation of the Court’s ruling, which declared Law 406 unconstitutional on November 28 , which adopted the contract between Minera Panamá and the State, for the extraction of copper in Donoso, Columbus.
In this meeting, the teams analyzed the information that is available to present the recommendations to the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo .
The Court’s ruling was published in the Official Gazette last Saturday, December 2.
In his last public intervention on the ruling, Cortizo said that the process for closing the mine’s activities will be inclusive, participatory and transparent.
The approval of this contract generated protests, road closures and a teachers’ strike for more than a month, which plunged the country into a social crisis.
Panamanian David Ochy was arrested in Costa Rica in a police operation carried out early this Tuesday, December 5.
The Teletica network showed images showing that Ochy was captured in a small chalet in Guápiles de Pococí , where there are many banana farms. “Simultaneously, the Judicial Police carry out two other raids in La Selva de Guácimo and in Batán de Matina . At that last point, a farm where a packing plant recently purchased by Ochy operated was intervened,” says the teletica.com note.
Ochy was later handcuffed and escorted by police officers, who were wearing bulletproof vests. Before him, a woman came out, also handcuffed, who was wearing a towel over her hair. According to the EFE news agency , she would be Ochy’s wife. A second woman was also arrested. Their names are unknown.
In the raid, almost $9,000 in cash, jewelry, vehicles and agricultural machinery were seized.
“This is going to be fixed in Panama, because mine is a political persecution that began in the time of Juan Carlos Varela and was followed by Nito Cortizo,” Ochy told the journalists who were waiting for him, as he left that house.
“I have never violated the law in Panama,” he indicated.
The Attorney General of the Nation, Javier Caraballo , confirmed Ochy’s arrest and indicated that he will be subjected to a “deferred” extradition process, since he must first answer for crimes that he is accused of in Costa Rica. He added that the extradition was requested by the Second Criminal Cases Court for his involvement in the New Business case , on October 6, through the Foreign Ministry’s International Affairs Directorate. The court had previously declared him in absentia.
The prosecutor highlighted that the arrest of Ochy, as well as that of drug trafficker Dangelo Dayan Ramírez in Cali, Colombia, on November 22 , “is a sign that international collaboration is an effective tool in the fight against organized crime.”
The Attorney General of Costa Rica, Carlo Díaz, said in a press conference that Ochy will be prosecuted for money laundering and the use of a false document, and confirmed what Caraballo already said about an eventual extradition to Panama.
“We must conclude our criminal process and we could extradite him until after the execution. It will be until Costa Rica finishes its criminal process,” Díaz said.
The President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo , returned to Panama on the afternoon of this Tuesday, December 5, after undergoing his periodic examinations for the diagnosis of myelodysplasia syndrome at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas, United States.
This was reported by the Ministry of the Presidency in a statement. According to the Presidency, the results of the examinations obtained, up to the time of his departure from Houston, “have been satisfactory, maintaining the remission of the disease.”
Hospital specialists have recommended President Cortizo, 70 years old, continue with treatment.
The president left the country last Sunday, December 3, in the company of the first lady Yazmín Colón de Cortizo.
Myelodysplastic syndrome is a type of cancer in which the patient has a decrease in hemoglobin and an alteration in the number of platelets and white blood cells.
This health condition was diagnosed with Cortizo in June of last year.
The deputy of La Chorrera and candidate for re-election, Roberto Ábrego , resigned from the board of directors of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), which he joined on April 13, 2020.
Ábrego confirmed the information and said that he resigned on October 30, because the rule prevented him from remaining in the ACP, while he campaigned to be re-elected in his circuit.
The deputy held the only position on the board of directors that is appointed by the National Assembly and joined the ACP to replace former deputy Elías Castillo .
Under his command, the Assembly’s Commerce Commission has been widely questioned by the plenary session of the Supreme Court of Justice and by the Attorney General of the Administration, Rigoberto González. Both instances questioned the aforementioned commission’s treatment of Bill 1011 (which eventually became Law 406 of 2023 ), which adopted the contract between the Panamanian State and Minera Panamá, SA.
Ábrego proposed that the bill be returned to the Executive, so that it could make modifications. Both the Court and the attorney highlighted that this action is not supported by the regulations of the Assembly, since it was up to the commission to simply approve or disapprove it.
Law 406 was declared unconstitutional unanimously by the full Court on November 28.
The Municipal Council of Panama approved this Tuesday the budget presented by the mayor and candidate for re-election José Luis Fábrega for next year, an amount that amounts to $325.5 million.
This amount represents an increase of $15.5 million over the 2023 budget, which was set at $310 million.
The budget was approved in the absence of Fábrega, who has not appeared in the Municipal Council for weeks. This behavior of the mayor was questioned by some councilors such as Don Bosco’s councilor, Guillermo Bermúdez, who said that Fábrega is “hidden”, is afraid and does not want to face public scrutiny.
The only two representatives who voted against the budget were Bermúdez and Ricardo Domínguez , from the Bella Vista district. Both are part of the ranks of the Panameñista party.
”I think [Fábrega] thinks that by doing these things behind the backs of the citizens and with the majority of votes secure from his bench, nothing will happen and he will have his budget for his re-election. In the end I think he will be wrong in his analysis, since the punishment vote for his terrible management will sink him,” said Bermúdez, who is also a candidate for mayor of Panama for the Panameñista-Change Democratic (CD) alliance. .
According to the document presented, of the total budget, $153 million will be for operation and $172.5 million for investments. There is an increase in payroll expenses.
In 2023, Fábrega allocated $145.8 million for operation, but in 2024 it will be $153 million, which represents an increase of $7.2 million. Within this line is the payroll expense.
In investments, the Municipality of Panama allocated $164.5 this year, while for next year, it will be $172.5 million, that is, $8 million more.