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Monday, December 22 2014 @ 07:50 PM EST

Welcome to Panama-Guide.com

Panama Guide is the #1 English Language web site about the Republic of Panama. There are currently 24,199 articles in our ever-expanding database and we update daily so check back often. More than 7,000 people visit Panama-Guide.com every day to follow current events and to use the other resources available. We provide fresh English language Panama news daily, as well as information about all of the other things you need to know if you plan to visit or live here. We focus on those topics and issues which are of greatest importance to the English speaking expatriate community. And if you can't find what you need to know, we take requests. Welcome aboard, and tell your friends.

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Panama makes climate splash with wind energy

Infrastructure UpgradesWorld Bank unit backing project with $300 million finance package.

By Daniel J. Graeber - World Bank unit supporting efforts to advance a low-carbon economy in Panama with wind energy developments.

(UPI) A member of the World Bank Group said it was backing a wind power project in Panama that will be able to satisfy 5 percent of the country's energy demands.

The International Finance Corp. announced the completion of a $300 million finance package for the Penonome wind farm, which will become the largest wind farm in Central America once it's completed.

The 86 wind turbines for the project should generate more than 450 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, supplying about 5 percent of the Panamanian energy needs.

"The project is aligned with IFC's strategy to support initiatives that help Central American countries transition to a cleaner and more efficient energy matrix," Gabriel Goldschmidt, IFC head for infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean, said in a Tuesday statement.

The announcement comes amid warnings of the climate effects brought on by the dependence on fossil fuels. In a September report, the World Meteorological Organization said the burning of fossil fuels was in part responsible for the increase in radiative forcing -- the warming effect on the climate.

The IFC said the Panamanian wind farm would offset about 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, each year, which is the equivalent of taking 84,000 cars off the road.

Panama is among the fastest growing economies in the region, with energy demand expected to increase by as much as 8 percent annually. The bank said it expects Panama will need about $3 billion in investments over the next decade to keep pace with energy demands.

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SENAFRONT Dismantles Illegal Mining Camp In The Darien

Gold & MiningThe State Border Service (SENAFRONT) dismantled a criminal organization called 'Bacrin' operating in the province of Darien, specifically in Cerro Tacarcuna of Pinogana. (more)

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Former PAN Director Giacomo Tamburrelli Placed Under House Arrest

CorruptionThe former Director of the National Support Program (PAN) Giacomo Tamburrelli spent about ten hours answering questions before the office of the Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor - as part of an investigation into charges of embezzlement - and at the end of the questioning session Tamburrelli was placed under house arrest and escorted back to his residence by police officers. (more)

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Martinelli Would Have Received $25 Million Dollar Bribe From Finmeccanica

CorruptionIn less than a few hours, the Prosecutor of the Court of Rome disarmed the few defensive arguments being made by the author of the Finmeccanica contracts between Italy and Panama, Valter Lavítola, and his alleged accomplice, former Italian Commercial Director Paolo Pozzessere. (more)

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Tamburelli Faces Charges - Appears Before The Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor

CorruptionThe former head of the National Program of Support (PAN), Giacomo Tamburrelli, appeared before the Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor this morning, where he was interrogated, after the prosecutor accused him of crimes against the public administration after signing a contract for $45 million for the purchase of dehydrated food. (more) <.>You've just hit a "pay wall." Panama-Guide subscribers who have logged in to their user accounts can see the full text of this article. However non-members can only see this short introduction. If you would like to subscribe, please click this link to subscribe via PayPal.
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25 years ago: US invades Panama

History & ReferenceThe US invasion of Panama: On December 20, 1989, the US launched a full-scale invasion of Panama to paralyze the country’s military force and oust strongman Manuel Noriega. The invasion, dubbed “Operation Just Cause,” involved almost 28,000 US troops and 300 aircraft from the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. The simultaneous strike on 27 targets was designed to immediately paralyze the Panamanian Defense Forces. The so-called “surgical strikes” were aimed at isolating Noriega and allowing US forces to capture him.

The US administration of George H.W. Bush had prepared the invasion for months. After the fiasco of the failed US-led anti-Noriega coup in October, both military and political preparations went ahead under the direction of Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

Noriega had been a CIA operative as intelligence chief for the previous ruler of Panama, General Omar Torrijos. He was widely suspected of engineering the death of Torrijos in a mysterious 1981 plane crash, at the behest of the US. Torrijos signed the agreement with US President Carter in 1977 providing for the transfer of the Canal Zone to Panama in the year 2000.

As head of state since 1983, Noriega carried out the interests of the US State Department, particularly in funneling funds to the counterrevolutionary Contra forces seeking to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

As Noriega’s drug corruption and state terror against opponents became a public embarrassment, the US conspired in his overthrow. US military provocation inside Panama became the pretext for the US invasion when on December 14, Noriega called for the arrest of two top US officers, charging them with “constant harassment to the communities using troops and warlike equipment.” A Pentagon spokesman flatly rejected the action, declaring that “all agencies and instrumentalities of the US government are immune from the jurisdiction of Panama.”

Late on the first day of the invasion, the US installed Guillermo Endara as president of Panama, even though Noriega was not finally captured until the next month. The casualties of the assault were vastly underestimated by the Pentagon at some 500 deaths, while independent reports estimate 2,000 to 4,000 deaths and some 15,000 people displaced.

Editor's Comment: All Americans living in Panama should take special precautions to maintain a low profile as we approach the 25th anniversary of Operation Just Cause. While the vast majority of Panamanians will publicly denounce while privately applauding the overthrow of Manual Noriega, as with any controversial cause, there are politicians and operatives who could possibly seek to make some sort of a statement on this date. Plan to stay at home, avoid crowds or demonstrations, and to give a day or two for people to return to their normal lives.

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"The Citizens' Privacy Was Violated" - Varela

CorruptionPresident Juan Carlos Varela yesterday reacted publicly about the scandal generated by the disappearance of some sophisticated spy equipment, purchased during the government of Ricardo Martinelli from an Israeli company for $13.4 million. (more)

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Ave Balboa Closed Tomorrow For Concert

Safety & SecurityThe Mayor of Panama recommended that drivers should use the Centennial Bridge on Monday, December 8th, because the Cinta Costera viaduct and Ave. Balboa will be closed due to a Disney concert, being organized by this entity. (more)

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Huge Crocodile Released in Lake Gatun

Animals & PetsOn Saturday afternoon authorities from the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) moved a huge crocodile that was captured on Friday in the sector of Cuatro Altos in the Province of Colón to Lake Gatun. (more)

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Alejandro Garuz Blamed For Illegal Wiretap Equipment

CorruptionThe former Director of the of the now defunct Social Investment Fund Giacomo Tamburrelli was who, during the last government, purchased expensive spy equipment from the Israeli company MLM Protection - who also no longer exists - according to sources in the office of the Second Anti Corruption Prosecutor who is following the case. (more)

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OfertaSimple Celebrates Mother's Day with Something Special

Food & DrinkOfertaSimple has just launched a campaign, Simplemente Mamá, to showcase some of their hand-picked offers for Mother's Day. Ranging from restaurants to spas, Simplemente Mamá is curating the best of the best for the moms in your life. And if you're a mom, go ahead and treat yourself!

Check out OfertaSimple.com today through Dec. 8th for amazing gifts she's bound to enjoy.

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Prosecutor Seizes Bank Accounts Associated With Moncada Luna Investigation

CorruptionPedro Miguel Gonzalez, the National Assembly Deputy who is acting as the Prosecutor in the investigation of Supreme Court Magistrate Alejandro Moncada Luna, ordered the provisional seizure of 1.3 million dollars found to be on deposit in an account in the Banco Universal, linked to the investigation. (more)

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Varela Says New Comptroller Will "Guarantee Transparency"

PoliticsThe president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez, described as positive the way his appointment for the new Comptroller of the Republic, Federico Humbert, was approved by the deputies in the National Assembly. (more)

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Water Service Suspended in San Francisco Today

Infrastructure UpgradesThe Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN) reported early this morning that water service will be suspended for 76th Street in the area of San Francisco in Panama City today. (more)

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Financial Pacific - Ten Minutes To Erase Everything

Crime & PunishmentIt took less than ten minutes to complete the task. Using a remote access to the computer systems, armed with the company's keys and passwords, the computer specialist managed to delete sensitive information stored in the archives of the Financial Pacific brokerage house. (more)

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Guillermo Ferrufino - Between Riches and Violence

CorruptionGuillermo Ferrufino - the former Minister of Social Development - who is being investigated for alleged offenses against public administration, will submit a new sworn affidavit of assets that includes the properties he claims to have omitted from his original declaration due to a lack of legal knowledge, and for having sought the advice from the notary who signed the document last July. (more)

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Former PAN Director Takes The (Twenty) Fifth ...

CorruptionThe former director of the National Support Program (PAN), Rafael Guardia, did not make a preliminary statement before the First and Second Anti Corruption Prosecutors, where he appeared on Wednesday, because he took advantage of Article 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of Panama. (more)

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Yet Another $2 Million Seized From Former PAN Director

CorruptionThe First Anti Corruption Prosecutor seized another 2 million dollars found in a bank account belonging to the former Director of the National Assistance Program, Rafael Guardia Jaen, yesterday. (more)

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Nationwide Marches Against Corruption Today

CorruptionThe day has arrived. Today, at 7:30 am, citizens will gather on the coastal strip to march against impunity and corruption. (more)

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The DIJ Is "Abusing" Pellegrini - Because She Gave A Television Interview

CorruptionMayte Pellegrini cannot leave the jail cell in which she is being held, because she gave an interview from prison which was aired yesterday on Telemetro. (more)

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Adolfo Chichi de Obarrio Ducks The Press

CorruptionThe former private secretary of the former President of Panama Ricardo Martinelli, Adolfo Chichi de Obarrio, refused yesterday to speak about the origin of the funds he used to purchase an apartment in 2010 in the PH Icon Tower building located in Coco del Mar, valued at $250,000 - a purchase he made only nine months after he started working for the government. (more)

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Balboa Avenue Prices up 12% since March 2013

Real EstatePrices are up nearly 12% on residential high-rise apartments for sale in Panama’s waterfront district, Balboa Avenue compared to March 2013, the last time Panama Equity Real Estate conducted our pricing survey. These findings coincide with overall real estate trends for Panama City in the last 16 months, although prices are up in other areas of the city by even higher amounts (namely Costa del Este which has seen increases of closer to 20% during the same period).

Changes along Balboa Avenue’s waterfront corridor have included creating a separate bus-only lane which has eased traffic somewhat as well as the closing off of several lanes on Sunday for bike traffic only. Both initiatives, combined with an expansion of the park system via the Cinta Costera 3, have brought increased walk-ability and improved the overall quality of life for residents in this upscale neighborhood in Panama. New developments along Balboa Avenue include the recently opened Hilton as well as the soon-to-open retail shopping mall one block east.

The sharpest price gains came, based on a similar study conducted in March of 2013, in buildings such as YOO Tower and Rivage, both of which were, at the time of the study in March, still closing on units with sellers. Many of the listings at that time were from sellers who were in fact unable to close and had to sell at a discount against developer’s pricing, causing prices to temporarily drop well below market averages. Those sellers have either found buyers or rented their properties out, and most of the remaining inventory in those two particular buildings are being sold by the developers. Prices in YOO are up by more than 25% compared to the offering back in March of last year, due mainly to the above.

The average price per square meter for a 100 meter apartment along Balboa Avenue today is $2,377/m or just over $220 per square foot. In March of 2013, a similarly priced property would have listed for $212, 500, or $2,125/m.

Another reason for double digit appreciation is because every single one of the buildings along Balboa Avenue qualified for the full 20 year tax exoneration which has, in some cases, made older properties (as is the case with Bayfront and Grandbay) more attractive than the new inventory coming on the market which will only have between 5-10 years of tax exoneration.

Demand continues to be driven by foreigners who prefer Balboa Avenue because of shortened commute times, ocean views, as well as easy access to the park system and the nightlife in the Historic District of Casco Viejo.

About the Author

Kent Davis, founder and head broker at Panama Equity real estate, has been widely quoted in publications such as Time Magazine, Capital Financiero, and The Panama Guide for his unabashed views on the Panama real estate market. Panama Equity is regarded as one of the most active real estate agencies in Panama and Kent’s articles, reports, and market research projects have been syndicated by press agencies including Bloomberg and the Associated Press.

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Witness Says Briefcases Full Of Cash Handed Out At The Presidency During Martinelli Administration

Corruption"I saw suitcases, not envelopes, full of money that came in the hands of Adolfo ‘Chichi’ De Obarrio, the former executive assistant to the former President Ricardo Martinelli - they were briefcases the size of a portfolio to store a laptop computer." (more)

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739 Kilos of Cocaine Seized In Two Busts

Drug TraffickingAgents of the National Air and Border Protection Service of Panama made two seizures of a total of 739 kilos of cocaine, in the center and Western parts of the country. (more)

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Former PAN Minister Arrested On Corruption Charges

CorruptionThe former director of the National Assistance Program (NAP), Rafael Guardia Jaén, was arrested for the alleged commission of crimes against the public administration and corruption. (more)

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'48 Hours: Devil's Island' Posts Broadcast's Best Audience Delivery Since November

Expat TalesBy Amanda Kondolojy - Saturday’s broadcast of “Devil’s Island” delivered the largest audience for 48 HOURS in nearly a year and was the night’s #1 non-sports broadcast in viewers, according to Nielsen live plus same day ratings for Nov. 15.

48 HOURS: “Devil’s Island” (10:00-11:00 PM) averaged 5.60 million viewers and a 1.3/04 with adults 25-54, the demographic that matters most to those who advertise in news. 48 HOURS posted its largest audience since Nov. 23, 2013 and matched season best adults 25-54 rating.

Saturday’s broadcast featured Peter Van Sant and 48 HOURS’ two-year investigation into the disappearance and death of Yvonne Baldelli, who moved to Bocas del Toro in Panama with her boyfriend, Brian Brimager. Brimager returned to California alone and Baldelli was never seen again alive.

The FBI and Panamanian authorities’ investigation into Baldelli’s disappearance would lead through the swamps of Island Bocas del Toro in Panama and back to San Diego, where they learned Brimager was leading a second life and had gotten married. Baldelli’s family also learned Brimager and Baldelli were not as happy as suggested. Brimager was taken into custody in the U.S. after he was charged with obstruction of justice. He was also charged with murder in Panama when Yvonne's remains were discovered not far from where the couple had been living.

48 HOURS: “Devil’s Island” is produced by Chris O’Connell. Mike Vele, Marlon Disla and Alan Miller are the editors. Anthony Batson is the senior broadcast producer. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.

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CBS 48 Hours "Devil's Island" Aired Last Night - The Murder of Yvonne Baldelli

Expat TalesBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - It was very hard for me to watch the 48 Hours program last might. Michelle Valenzuela was the first person who reached out to me to ask for help. It was devastating to see how she had been ravaged by cancer - an incredibly brave woman who's last act was to seek justice for her sister.

Here's a link to the program. You can now watch it online if you missed it last night: www.cbsnews.com/news/48-hours-devils-island

As expected the entire CBS 48 Hours crew did an amazing job. Peter Van Sant is a compassionate professional, the best there is at what he does. The show was produced by Chris O'Connell who slogged through the swamps on Isla Carenero with the family, searching for Yvonne's remains. They're all pros.

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Chiriqui Coastal Community Development Opportunity

Real Estate

Contact: Thomas H. Brymer II | (E) tbrymer@brymerpa.com | U.S.A. (305) 448-1003 | Panama Cell (507) 6810-1074

We are pleased to announce that Panama Advisory International Group has been selected as Exclusive Agent representing the Seller.

Located on the Chiriqui coast, this property is just 24 kilometers off of the Pan American highway on the newly paved road that takes you to Sona and on to Santa Catalina. The property was developed before the road was paved and it is now positioned for immediate marketing as an ocean view community. With over 3 miles of roadways leading up a mountain, this coastal community has spectacular views out to the islands in the Gulf of Chiriqui. Much of the infrastructure is already in place including roadway, electrical and water systems making this an excellent investment opportunity.

Consisting of 78 hectares or over 193 acres of ocean view hillside land, the property has been subdivided into 90 home sites ranging from a little over 2,000 square meters to almost a full hectare or from half an acre to almost 2.5 acres in size. In addition, there is an area designated for a small commercial development in the future. The project is a private gated community with access to an additional 58 hectares or over 143 acres of land for future phases of development.

With a nearby marina and ocean access, this community’s location is front row to some of the finest fishing grounds in the world. Hannibal Bank, Isla Secas, Contreras and the world famous Coiba Island sit just offshore. Isla Coiba is just 30 miles away and is a designated UNNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the largest island off the Pacific coast south of Vancouver. It offers incredible diving, whale watching, coral reefs, hiking and wildlife exploration.

Record size Black Marlin, Yellow Fin Tuna, Pacific Sailfish, Wahoo, monster Snapper and more inhabit these waters from a 30 minute boat ride away to deep drop offs further offshore.

For a complete offering package, contact Tom Brymer tbrymer@brymerpa.com Thomas H. Brymer II | U.S.A. (305) 448-1003 | Panama Cell (507) 6810-1074

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Moncada Luna Was Martinelli's "Amanuensis"

CorruptionThe cousin Alejandro Moncada Luna, Gonzalo Moncada Luna, admitted today during an interview on the channel 2 TVN morning news that the separated Supreme Court judge acted as an "amanuensis" of former President Ricardo Martinelli - saying that he is conceited, arrogant, belittles people, and denies his family, but he is innocent of the crimes of unjust enrichment and money laundering. (more)

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Early Morning Police Activity in Panama City

Crime & PunishmentThe National Police carried out operations early Wednesday morning in the capital city, in different neighborhoods, in search of criminals as well as traffic operations to detect drivers who violate the law. (more)

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