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Sunday, July 22 2018 @ 08:01 PM EDT

Mulino Corrects Varela - "Murders Have Gone Down"

Crime & PunishmentThe seizure of 210 tons of drugs, a decrease in homicides in the last five years, the construction of 82 police stations in different communities in the country, and the purchase of technological equipment are some of this administration's achievements in security.

This, according to the Public Security Minister, Jose Raul Mulino, who held a press conference to report on the current situation of crime in Panama.

Minister Mulino said 818 homicides were reported in 2009, 759 in 2010, 759 in 2011, 665 in 2012 and 665 in 2013.

"The decrease and the control of the murder rate is the product of the work being done every day by the security sectors," he said.

He referred to their annual report issued on 8 January 2014, "there were 665 homicides in 2013, and of those 602 were for actions related to drug trafficking and gangs."

Mulino also talked about the amounts of drugs seized in the past ten years.

4.95 tons of drugs were seized in 2004, 9.36 in 2005, 8.58 in 2006, 28.42 in 2007, 54.31 in 2009, 54.24 in 2010, 39.63 in 2011, 35.51 in 2012 and 41 tons in 2013.

"The previous government (of Martin Torrijos) seized 121 tons of drugs, while the current administration (of Ricardo Martinelli) has seized 210 tons of drugs," he said.

He added that in 2009 the National Police conducted 27,485 police actions, 124,766 in 2010, 205,790 in 2011, 308,531 in 2012, 317,945 in 2013, and so far this year 42,516, to strengthen the security of the population.

Minister Mulino said from 2010 to 2014, the Ministry of Public Security has built 82 new police stations in the country.

"Through the 'Inside Lands Security Program' we have conducted more than 250 tours to learn of the crime problems in each region" he added.

During the press conference the Minister Mulino was accompanied by the analysts Alberto Amaris, Elsa Carrasco and Omar Blandón, specialists of the National Integrated System of Criminal Statistics (SIEC), who explained the proper techniques for measuring crime statistics. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: In 2009 when Ricardo Martinelli took office, the population of Panama was 3.36 million. In the past five years it has grown to 3.87 million - so there are now about 510,000 more Panamanians than when he took over. So the murder rate per 100,000 population in Panama in 2009 was 23.4. Thanks to the growing population combined with the reduced total number of murders in Panama, in 2013 that murder rate has dropped to 17.1 - or a decrease of 26.9%.

Now put this into the context of a country where an estimated 200 tons of cocaine passes through every year. Those drug traffickers are fighting over turf. They fight over assets, routes, personnel, and hardware. They try to rip one another off. They will alert the authorities when their competition is moving a load, hoping the cops will do the job of taking them out. And murder means nothing to these guys. The cocaine that passes through Panama every year has a street value of many billions of dollars. The vast majority of the murders in Panama are in some way or another connected to drug trafficking, or the gangs that control the local level drug distribution throughout the country. Most of this criminal activity (murders) never splashes over into the community of English speaking expatriates in Panama. For the most part, these guys want to avoid contact or problems with foreigners - because that only brings down additional heat. The Martinelli administration has done a good job of increasing drug busts while reducing the murder rate in the country. Normally, when you put more pressure on the drug traffickers, the murder rates go up.

Mulino called this presser because earlier this week the Panameńista candidate Juan Carlos Varela was in the news trying to criticize the Martinelli administration on their security performance. In fact Varela was simply trying to exploit the headlines about a journalist who was killed, and he was disingenuously extrapolating those unfortunate events into an untrue assessment of a supposedly increasing murder rate. That's also why Mulino surrounded himself with statisticians and analysts in this press conference, so they could explain (to both the press and Varela) the proper way of looking at crime data and statistics. The message was clear - "screw you, Varela..." - because in fact the Martinelli administration can stand pretty firmly on their security record. And Mulino takes this shit seriously.

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