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Friday, August 29 2014 @ 02:21 PM EDT

The War Of Competing Political Attack Ads Heats Up In Panama

PoliticsThe war of competing political ads is not stopping. The group "Independent for Change", which supports President Ricardo Martinelli, released a new attack ad on Friday, 6 July 2012 against Vice President Juan Carlos Varela, turning his most recent ad around and using it against him. The newest political attack ad against Varela, who is the President of the Panameņista political party, is focused on his dispute with the Ministry of Labor for allegedly not paying the minimum wage in his company Varela Hermanos, SA.

The group that supports Martinelli and is represented by Tourism Minister Salomon "Salo" Shamah, shows the front entrance of the Hacienda San Isidro de Varela Hermanos SA, where in January 2009 the alliance between Martinelli and Varela was sealed. What follows is an interplay of Varela's words where he says he supports an increase in the minimum wage, as well as interviews with people who are assumed to be his workers, with their faces disguised, who are saying they are not being payed the minimum wage.

The dispute is going through the roof. The national government paid for a political ad on Friday, 29 June 2012, accusing the opposition of inciting violence in the special sessions of the National Assembly, showing pictures of Varela together with other opposition politicians such as Mitchell Doens.

In response to this political attack ad, Vice President Varela responded on Monday, 2 July 2012 with an ad of his own, accusing the Martinelli administration of being involved in acts of corruption, while he (Varela) supports social projects such as the increase to the minimum wage.

The very next day, on Tuesday July 3, the Molirena party which is allied to Martinelli, took out their own political attack ad, identifying Varela as "just another politician" who voted for and supported controversial and contentious issues such as the Chorizo ​​Law, the law of land, and the purchase of the radars from Italy (before their alliance broke up in August 2011.)

In the morning of that same day Labor Minister Alma Cortes accused Varela of not paying the minimum wage during an interview on the channel 13 Telemetro morning news broadcast, and she revealed their case file in which they have fined the company Varela Hermanos SA $102,500 dollars - for not paying their workers the proper and legal minimum wage.

On Wednesday July 4 at legal team from the Panameņista political party filed a complaint before the Electoral Prosecutor, for supposed violation of electoral laws, saying the Labor Minister - who is also the Deputy General Secretary of the Cambio Democratico political party - for allegedly talking about politics during working hours.

The push and pull continued in the following days, and have increased since the breakup of the alliance on August 30, 2011, when president Martinelli fired Varela from his position as Foreign Minister.

This Friday July 6th the television media started transmitting a new political attack ad created by the "Independents for Change", now showing interviews with employees who allegedly work for the company owned by the Vice President, who are not being paid the $2.08 minimum wage salary as required by law.

They even show the cover of a recent edition of the Panama American newspaper, which according to their political opponents is owned by the Government, entitled "Unions Ask For Severe Punishments For Varela Hnos." "Juan Carlos Varela claims to defend the interests of the people ... but he put his interests first, denying their workers the minimum wage as required by law," says the attack ad, and it ends - "Juan Carlos Varela - just another politician."

Vice President Varela responded to the new ad on Twitter saying "the truth of Juan Hombrķn and level of responsibility of senior government officials, has caused them to start a smear campaign against all." "Martinelli believes that by attacking me through a false organization will divert attention from the Juan Hombrķn case, but he does not know the intelligence of the people," said the Panameņista Varela. He said Martinelli is using state resources and others that must come from the taxes of the people to make attacks against opposition leaders. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: We are still 22 months away from the May 2014 elections, and these guys are already going at one another's jugular's. Mathematically speaking, Varela and the Panameņistas are already toast. I'm sure the CD is going to pound away on them anyway, but their real threat will be coming from the PRD candidate. Varela's gang is so screwed up, it's almost like beating up the kid who gets to school on the short bus. And I'm sure the CD has more arrows in their quiver besides this minimum wage issue to use later. Any Panameņista with a brain will be jumping ship to the Molirena party, and it's still going to come down to a two horse race - the CD (+ Molirena) against the PRD (+ PP). The Panameņistas will come in third as the "also ran" candidate, just like they did in 2004. They will be lucky to break 10% of the vote.

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