Contributed by: Don WinnerThe announcement of the merger of Immigration and the Customs Authority is having its effects. Yesterday, the deputy director of the National Immigration Service (SNM), Jaime Ruiz, resigned to give 'greater flexibility' to President Ricardo Martinelli in choosing his team for the new institution. Ruiz denied to La Estrella that his resignation is related to differences between him and the director of NMS, María Cristina González. On the contrary, he said, 'we had a very good relationship." His resignation comes weeks after the scandals over alleged human trafficking and the granting of visas to Chinese citizens mainly that shook even the director herself and a number of officials. Ruiz only worked at Immigration for nine months. (La Estrella)
Editor's Comment: The National Immigration Service in Panama is one screwed up, corrupted organization. It always has been, I mean for years if not decades, and things have been no better under the administration of Ricardo Martinelli. Foreigners are in weak and vulnerable positions and it's easy for corrupt government officials to exploit them and their weakness, to extort bribes in exchange for services, visas, or to not be deported. The victims have nowhere to turn. If they try to file an official complaint the Director of Immigration has the unique authority to quickly deport any troublemakers - to literally toss them over the border and to get them out of her hair before anything can stick. She has already been officially and formally sanctioned by the Supreme Court - twice - for abuses of authority and human rights violations. I have no idea why she is still sitting in that position. None, whatsoever. Martinelli promised to clean up the corruption. Well, he has failed miserably with regards to Immigration. They are taking steps, and it takes time, but it's been a long two years thus far...