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Thursday, September 19 2019 @ 02:45 am EDT

Perez B. Promises To 'Settle Accounts' With La Prensa

CorruptionBy KEMY LOO PINZÓN for La Prensa - Former President Ernesto Pérez Balladares yesterday reiterated his threats against La Prensa for the investigations conducted by this newspaper linking him with a company engaged in the operation of games of chance. On Saturday 15 August, Perez Balladares said through an email sent to a reporter from this newspaper that at some point the "accounts will be settled" referring to the series of publications that revealed his links with the gambling business. Yesterday in an interview published in the newspaper Panama America, the former president, claiming that La Prensa hurt him with the publications, reiterated that he will settle the account, but did not specify exactly what action he would take. He did rule out the possibility of filing a lawsuit in the courts. The attitude of the former President of Panama drew criticism from at least three news organizations. The Forum of Journalists, the Union of Journalists and the National Journalism Council rejected the threats. The Forum stated that to threaten the media and journalists for seeking the truth is an outburst, "a caveman attack." La Prensa tried to obtain the position of the Ombudsman, but Ricardo Vargas did not return messages. (See Comments)

Editor's Comment: Let's see, if Ernesto Perez Balladares is threatening to "settle accounts" but at the same time is ruling out legal action, then what's left, car bombs? IEDs? Really mean spirited emails? Shit bombs on the front porch? OK, he's unhappy, we got it. But here's my question - if in fact it turns out over time La Prensa got the story right and in fact Ernesto Perez Balladares made and continues to make millions of dollars from slot machine contracts he handed out between 1994 - 1999 while he was Panama's President, then that would mean he's just another corrupt Latin American ex-President. I mean, there are literally hundreds of them out there running around. Remember, the cornerstone of the Perez Balladares administration was "privatization." When he took office the power companies, the telephone companies, and things like the casinos were all owned and operated by the Panamanian government. Remember INTEL? If you wanted a telephone line installed it would take like two months or more to get put in. And then every time it rained the lines would go out. Anyway, another one of Panama's "open secrets" - meaning that everyone knew or suspected but never could (or would) prove - was that there were millions of dollars in bribes paid to get those contracts. And after Perez Balladares left office who did he chum around with? The next president (from the opposition) Mireya Moscoso. Big numbers, big money, and no one has ever gone after this guy. His 10 year "you can't touch me" PARLACEN protection expires this year as well. Maybe Martinelli has designated Perez Balladares as the first former President to take a turn on the "barbie." If that's what's going to happen, then it would be a first. Name any former Panamanian President who has gone to prison for any reason. Anwser - ZERO, none, in the history of the Republic. Remember, Pedro Miguel Gonzalez was "acquitted" on Ernesto Perez Balladares' watch. The United States pulled his visa to travel there. He was only elected with 33% of the vote in the first place, and he tried to change the constitution to allow for this reelection (and failed.) Now, he's trying to position himself to take over the PRD from Martin Torrijos. Politics, corruption, and millions of dollars. Let's see how this one works out over time.

Pérez B. insiste en ‘saldar cuentas’ con La Prensa

KEMY LOO PINZÓN kloo@prensa.com

El ex presidente Ernesto Pérez Balladares reiteró ayer su amenaza contra La Prensa por las investigaciones realizadas por este diario que lo vinculan con una empresa dedicada a la explotación de juegos de azar.

El sábado 15 de agosto, Pérez Balladares advirtió a través de un correo electrónico enviado a una periodista de este diario que en algún momento cobraría la cuenta, en referencia a la serie de publicaciones que revelaron sus vínculos con el negocio del azar.

Ayer, en una entrevista publicada en el diario Panamá América, el ex presidente, tras alegar que La Prensa le hizo daño con las publicaciones, reiteró que saldará la cuenta, aunque no precisó exactamente qué acción tomará. Lo que sí descartó es que se trate de una demanda en los tribunales de justicia.

La actitud del ex gobernante recibió críticas de al menos tres gremios u organizaciones periodísticas. El Fórum de Periodistas, el Sindicato de Periodistas y el Consejo Nacional de Periodismo rechazaron las amenazas.

El Fórum manifestó que amenazar a los medios o periodistas por buscar la verdad es un exabrupto, “un atentado cavernario”.

Se intentó conocer la posición de la Defensoría del Pueblo, pero el titular, Ricardo Vargas, no contestó los mensajes.

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