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Saturday, August 30 2014 @ 08:28 AM EDT

Weeden: The Titling Of Land In Juan Hombron Was Illegal

Law & Lawyers
Alvin Weeden - Former Comptroller Of The Republic
Alvin Weeden - Former Comptroller Of The Republic
The former Comptroller of the Republic, Alvin Weeden said the titling of the lands of Juan Hombrón was illegal since it was not framed in any of the two situations of Law 57 of September 30, 1946. He explained that Article 5 states there will be no right to compensation in the case of the expropriation of land taken from their owners to be used for public roads, but this is not the case with Juan Hombrón. However, Weeden said the expropriation of 54 hectares of land is supported in Article 8 of the same law, which establishes that any land transferred to the Nation by way of expropriation has to indemnified, and only partially if it is less than 20% of the land, and if it is more than this percentage then for the total.

Weeden said while speaking on the channel 2 TVN morning news broadcast that the only thing the President Ricardo Martinelli has done was to open the way for the Papadimitriu family to go to court and sue the nation to demand compensation for $25 to $30 million dollars. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: OK, I know this is very confusing. Let me try to explain it to you. First of all, back when Panama was first created as a nation, many people held titles to land granted to them when it was part of Colombia. Issuing land titles is a function of the Executive branch of government, and from the birth of Panama in 1903 through 1968 and the start of the years of the military dictatorship, many people were issued title to most of the valuable land in the country. Then in 1968 after Omar Torrijos took over the country, he created this concept of "Rights of Possession" - basically, if you're on it, you can own it. The problem was there were rich and privileged land owners who held title to vast swaths of land in the country, and the poor peasants were little more than slave workers or some form of indentured servants. So with the stroke of a pen, land ownership and titles went out the window, and any squatter can make a claim, simply by being on it.

The National Assembly created the new National Land Authority and the hope was that the administration of Ricardo Martinelli was going to try to do something to clean up this mess. Because, it really is a huge friggin' mess that Torrijos created. They made provisions and created rules on what you can do to obtain title for land, but there are restrictions on the size of the lots, in order for the Nation to pass ownership to a private individual tax free. That's why they had to break up this 54 hectare parcel into 14 smaller parcels, in order to get them under this size cap.

The bogus owners were found and paid off. They submitted their paperwork and were given Rights of Possession documents. They then submitted those documents to obtain title, which was quickly granted. So, are you following along? The state first recognized their (bogus) claim on the land. Then the state granted them (bogus) title. And lastly, through the Executive Order issued last week, President Martinelli said "screw that" and ordered all of the land to be returned back to the hands of the Nation, in an attempt to reverse everything that had been done up to that point.

So, Weeden is right. If the original ROP still stands, and if the titles were valid, then they have a chance of making a claim in court. This is one massive kluster. Martinelli was hoping to shoot it in the head to make it all go away, but he might have just made a bloody mess.

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