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Wednesday, July 23 2014 @ 10:12 AM EDT

Welcome to Panama-Guide.com

Panama Guide is the #1 English Language web site about the Republic of Panama. There are currently 23,798 articles in our ever-expanding database and we update daily so check back often. More than 7,000 people visit Panama-Guide.com every day to follow current events and to use the other resources available. We provide fresh English language Panama news daily, as well as information about all of the other things you need to know if you plan to visit or live here. We focus on those topics and issues which are of greatest importance to the English speaking expatriate community. And if you can't find what you need to know, we take requests. Welcome aboard, and tell your friends.

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Copa Airlines to offer extra Panama flights during holidays

Cars & TransportationCopa Airlines will offer more flights from Tampa to Panama City, Panama during the upcoming holiday season.

The additional flights will run from Nov. 17 to Jan. 3, the airline said Monday.

"We're looking to go daily which is important for the business community to have that nice daily coverage," said Joseph Mohan, a Copa senior vice president. "We'll see how it goes in the high season, and if it does well, then we'll continue with that as a daily flight going forward."

Copa already offers four flights a week between Tampa and Panama. (Press Release)

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Price Controls Cause 20% Increase In Other Products

Money MattersThe savings of $58.00 per month promised by the President Juan Carlos Varela after price controls were implement is turning out to be another lie told during a political campaign, according to experts in the field of consumer protection. (more)

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Panama Will Increase Transparency At Consulates To Reduce Corruption

CorruptionPanama's Vice President and Chancellor, Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, presented a draft of a new law before the Cabinet Council meeting yesterday involving greater transparency of the Consular system, seeking to reform the functions Panama's consulates and the registration of ocean going ships under the Panamanian flag, which could result in a 25% increase revenue in this sector. (more)

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58% Of Panamanian Businesses Reporting Shortage Of Skilled Labor

Employment & JobsThere are many people who complain about the lack of work at the national level; however, for some employers, the shortage of talent in the labor field is greater this year than last year. (more)

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PARLACEN Deputies Might Challenge Martinelli's Swearing-In

Panama NewsThe Central American Parliament Deputy Dorindo Cortez said Tuesday on RPC Radio they might nullify the inauguration of former President Ricardo Martinelli. (more)

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Henriquez: "We will respect the rights of prisoners"

Crime & PunishmentPanama's Government Minister Milton Henriquez acknowledged there are irregularities occurring inside of the country's prisons. (more)

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Florist: "I was pressured by friends of the president to give up the land"

CorruptionCésar Segura, the florist who was granted an area of 5,700 square meters of land in Punta Paitilla revealed on Tuesday during an interview on Telemetro, that he have up his land in 2011 after reaching an agreement with the Btesh and Virzi group, in which he was promised the payment for the property would be with other property. (more)

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Only Four Of Varela's Cabinet Members Have Complied With Constitutional Requirements

CorruptionPublic servants who failed to file a statement of assets within the time frame as established by the Constitution could face a judicial process that is punishable with imprisonment, explained experts in administrative law matters. (more)

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38% Of Workers in Panama Are "Informal" And Don't Pay Taxes

Employment & JobsNearly 529,700 hold "informal" jobs in Panama, according to the latest official figures from the Comptroller General of the Republic, dating back to August of last year. (more)

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Water Tank Hits Bridge, Falls Off Of Trailer, Smashes Car

Traffic AccidentsA water storage tank that was being transported on Via Domingo Diaz in the area of San Antonio fell to the pavement and hit a car carrying several people. (more)

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More Than A Ton Of Cocaine Busted In The Pacific Ocean, Near The Azuero Peninsula

Drug TraffickingColombia's anti-narcotics police in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration seized more than a ton of cocaine and arrest four people in international waters of the Pacific ocean near Panama, according to a press release. (more)

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Investigations Into Fatal Gas Tanker Accident and Fire in Aguadulce Continue

Safety & SecurityThe Fire Department of the Republic of Panama in Aguadulce are preparing a report on the crash between a gasoline tanker truck and another truck on the InterAmerican Highway that happened on Saturday afternoon, in which Edwin Jaramillo, 45, burned to death. (more)

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Panamanian Economy Will Grow By About 7% in 2014

Money MattersPanama's real gross domestic product (GDP) will grow between 6.5% and 7% this year, according to projections estimated by the Panamanian Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), an official said today. (more)

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6,000 Prison Inmates On Hunger Strike in Panama (Gee, Thanks "Wild Bill")

Expat TalesMore than 6,000 inmates in the La Joyita prison have started a hunger strike today, Monday. (more)

Editor's Comment: (Find out why every prison inmate in Panama should be exceptionally pissed at "Wild Bill" Holbert).

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Labor Ministry Responds To (Yet Another) Panama Canal Expansion Strike

Canal ExpansionThe construction workers who are working on project to expand the Panama Canal in the area of the Pacific access channel, who are members of the National Union of Construction Industry Workers (UNTRAICS), went on strike at 6:00 am on Monday morning, demanding wage increases. (more)

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CCIAP: Price Controls Are Not Effective

Money MattersNow two weeks after the implementation of an Executive Order establishing price controls on 22 basic food products, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), José Luis Ford maintains his position that "price controls are not effective." (more)

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Abigail Benzadón Filed A Complaint Against The Former Head of the Transit Authority

CorruptionThe Attorney General's Office is handling a complaint filed against the former director of the Land Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT) Roberto Moreno, for offenses against public administration and public faith, and for irregularities in the purchase of items for the institution. (more)

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Arbitration on Panama Canal dispute to begin in Miami

Canal ExpansionBy Mimi Whitefield - Arbitration of the first claim in a $1.6 billion dispute over cost overruns in the expansion of the Panama Canal gets under way Monday.

It will start with a teleconference to determine procedures, both sides’ positions and a timeline. Then the impasse will be arbitrated by an international tribunal seated in Miami, said Carolyn Lamm, an attorney who is representing the Spanish-led consortium that temporarily halted work on the canal earlier this year.

Ports throughout the Americas, including those in South Florida, are avidly following Panama’s efforts to expand its canal to handle post-Panamax ships that are too long, too wide and too heavy for the current canal. And they’ve made big plans of their own based on the canal expansion.

The money dispute pits the Panama Canal Authority, which oversees operations of the 50-mile-long canal, against Grupos Unidos por el Canal, a consortium of international construction companies that is the main contractor on the $5.25 billion expansion.

The tribunal will work through the dispute claim by claim, said Lamm, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of White & Case. “Both sides are interested in completing work on the canal as quickly as possible and moving forward on this dispute,” she said. “Both parties do want a quick process.”

GUPC — which includes Sacyr Vallehermoso (Spain), Salini Impregilo (Italy), Jan del Nul Group (Belgium) and Constructora Urbana (Panama) — walked off the job for two weeks in February after several weeks of negotiations failed.

On Dec. 30, Sacyr, the leader of the consortium, gave the canal authority 21 days to cover its additional costs or face a work suspension. The canal authority has always contended that the contract gives the contractor no grounds to suspend work.

Work on the expansion resumed Feb. 20 after the canal authority agreed to pay $37 million to cover December invoices. GUPC also agreed to deliver all rolling gates for the massive new locks by February 2015, and both sides signed off on a financing structure that allows construction to go forward during the period of the dispute.

“In parallel to this, the dispute resolution is going on,” Lamm said.

In their contract, both sides agreed to arbitration to resolve their differences using International Chamber of Commerce rules and Miami as the arbitration venue. Private arbitration in a neutral location is growing in popularity as a way to resolve cross-border disputes among multinationals.

The high-profile arbitration comes at a time when Miami is coming into its own as an international arbitration center. Arbitration activity in Miami increased by 161 percent between 2010 and 2013 when there were 128 proceedings, according to the International Centre for Dispute Resolution.

Ultimately, the canal dispute will be settled by a tribunal composed of Bernard Hanotiau of Hanotiau & Van den Berg in Brussels, Bernardo Cremades from Madrid (appointed by GUPC) and Robert Gaitskell of London (appointed by the canal authority). Hanotiau is serving as president of the tribunal.

“There is no appeal,” Lamm said. But in the case of “something fairly egregious,” Lamm said, there is a legal mechanism in which an award can be set aside.

Arbitration tribunals often meet in a hotel, but it will be up to the Panama Canal tribunal to designate a place for its closed-door sessions.

GUPC won a $3.1 billion contract in 2009 to build a third set of bigger locks for the canal. Its bid was $1 billion lower than its closest competitor and there have been criticism that it was a low-ball bid. GUPC says it needs more money to finish the project because, among other things, it ran into unanticipated geological conditions at the work site.

The canal’s current locks will be used in conjunction with the new locks when the project is finished. Originally, the canal authority had hoped the expansion would be completed this year — in time for the 100th anniversary of the canal in August.

But the completion date has been pushed back several times and it may be early 2016 before big ships begin transiting the canal. The canal authority says the expansion project is now more than 76 percent completed.

PortMiami plans to have a dredging project finished by the summer of 2015, making it the only East Coast port south of Norfolk, Virginia, expected to be big-ship ready by the time the canal expansion is completed. (Miami Herald)

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Save $180,000 this week on a Naos Harbor Island Loft !

Real EstateInvestment opportunity for anyone with $269,000 cash this week.

Now you can buy in Naos Harbor Island a 138 meter 3 level loft for $269,000 and it is ready to deliver this week.

After 10 years of struggle, the developer Marcos Shrem has finally completed this building and some of the original investors still want to run. While walking away from this project made sense for many years, this is not longer true. These are the original contracts which offered better terms than currently available from the developer, and at a far better price, as the developer's price for this unit would be over $450,000 and would have contractual requirements that are not in the original contracts.

Save $180,000 and get a better contract if you have $269,000 cash to offer this week to buy units from people who have been holding the contract for almost 10 years and just want to run.

This is the property:

PANAMA AMADOR CAUSEWAY HARBOR ISLAND LOFT

Sale Price $ 269,000.00 USD

1 Bedroom, 1.5 Bathrooms, Construction Area 138.68 m²

Location: Panama, Panama City, Amador Causeway

Contact us now at if you are seriously interested:

Premier Casa Panama

panamasales@premiercasa.com

Tel: PTY +507.6082.4652 / USA 929.227.4083

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2 Colombian guerrillas die in shootout with Panamanian police

Panama NewsTwo suspected Colombian guerrillas were killed and two others were wounded in a shootout with Panama's Senafront border security force, authorities reported Thursday.

Several gunbattles occurred last weekend between police and a group of armed irregulars in three different locations in a town located 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from the mouth of the Pito River, in the Guna Yala district, very close to the Colombian border, said Senafront in a communique.

During the police action, which concluded on Wednesday, authorities arrested six Colombians, including the two wounded men, seizing from them two assault rifles, a shotgun, two .38 revolvers and ammunition of various calibers.

Senafront provided no further details about either the dead rebels or the captured ones.

It also reported that authorities had seized 400 kilos of cocaine, arrested 14 Panamanian citizens and seized four pistols during another operation conducted in the community of Clarita, in Chepo district east of the capital.

The arrested people and the drugs were turned over to prosecutors. (EFE)

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William Dathan Holbert Now Committing Crimes From Prison - Via The Internet

Expat Tales By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Is anyone surprised? Now there are reports the confessed serial killer William Dathan Holbert, a.k.a. "Wild Bill," is using a cell phone and Internet connection to commit crimes in cyberspace, and the Panamanian authorities still have not shut down his access.

This morning I received a tip from a source who wishes to remain anonymous indicating Holbert is using the Internet to impersonate women and commit fraud;

  • "Get on Craigslist Panama and click on Women Seeking Men in the personal section and you will see posted near the top a warning that Wild Bill and one other in jail with him are using the site to impersonate women and exploit those that answer their ads. Just thought you would like to know, as you write about the bum sometimes."

Correct on both counts. I do want to know (thanks), because I think the Panamanian authorities should enforce their own laws, rules, and regulations regarding prisoner access to cell phones and the Internet - specifically to prevent them from committing these sorts of crimes.

Checking out the tip, I found the following posted on the Craigslist Panama website, at the top;

  • "WARNING. READ THIS BEFORE CONTACTING ANYBODY FROM THIS PAGE. There are two man in jale. Wild Bill (murder) and Fred Osburn (fraud) Using My information and talking with americans saying thats me and I am looking for sexual encounters, and also asking them for money. You think you're talking with me but that's not true. They're two depravates getting all your information and then hacking your accounts. Be careful with any sexual anunce using Jessica or gringa in Boquete because you're just talking with those two guys in jale."

(Note: The photo used in this article is just some random advertisement from Craigslist Panama posted by two chicks who will visit your hotel in Panama City during daylight hours - and is not apparently associated with the illegal efforts by Holbert and Osburn to deceive and defraud the public in any way. But you know me - any excuse to post a pair of hooters is basically good enough...)

Well, that's to be expected. The criminals are concentrated in the prisons, so of course it's natural and normal to expect them to try to continue to commit crimes while in prison if given half a chance. There are actually two versions of this same warning posted on Craigslist in two different sections on different days. So, apparently he's been doing this for some time.

Editor's Comment: I continue to express my concerns to the Panamanian legal and judicial authorities regarding prisoner access to smart phones and the Internet. Javier Martin was trying to use a cell phone from prison to book trips on sailboats for tourists. Now Holbert is impersonating women on Craigslist to commit fraud and identity theft.

Why is it so hard to put Holbert in a tiny little box, with practically no creature comforts whatsoever? He should be provided with whatever is required by law - according to international standards for Human Rights - and nothing else. By that I mean (start) food, bedding, drinking water, and a toilet (/end), enclosed by four solid walls. There's no way in hell this murderous monster should have a cell phone. So he can't talk to his mother in North Carolina. So what? Who gives a shit?

If I were the Warden of the David prison I would make a long list of "things that make William Dathan Holbert unhappy" and then I would implement those things, one by one. In my opinion Holbert should be a very unhappy and frustrated prison inmate. He should suffer each and every possible aspect of the deprivation of liberty and personal freedoms, as consequences associated with the crimes he's committed. He should have no say, whatsoever, with regards to the conditions of his confinement.

What's more, his continued and blatant disregard for prison rules and regulations proves his recently acquired religious rhetoric is false, and purely self serving. Holbert is a hypocrite who cites the Bible, while he simultaneously uses the Internet to impersonate women in an attempt to defraud desperate gringo men in Panama who are seeking affection. This is the same guy who was a Nazi loving white supremacist, who chose the name "Adolf" when buying a fake passport. Yeah, he's all about God and Jesus...

But whatever. This piece of shit will rot in prison until he eventually dies, dreaming about the freedoms he will never again experience, at the very least. He's already severely limited, and I would just like to see that last little bit of wiggle-room reduced to absolute zero.

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Copyright 2014 Panama-Guide.com.

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ACODECO Handing Out Fines - Forcing Retailers To Comply With Food Price Freezes

Food & DrinkThe Consumer Protection Authority has imposed 34,700 fines failing to comply with the maximum prices allowed for the retail sale of 22 basic food products. (more)

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Panama's Prison Guards End Their (Prophylactic) Strike

Protests & DemonstrationsThe strike started by prison guards as a tactic to apply pressure to the new government authorities, to demand improvements to working conditions and pay increases, was suspended after Panama's Human Rights Ombudsman Lilia Herrera achieved mediation between the representatives of the guards and the Deputy Government Minister María Luisa Romero. (more)

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Ex-Panama dictator suing Activision over likeness in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Panama NewsBy Wesley Yin-Poole - Earlier this month we had Mean Girls and Freaky Friday star Lindsay Lohan suing Rockstar over allegedly using her likeness in Grand Theft Auto 5. Now, we have an ex-dictator suing Activision over allegedly using his likeness in Call of Duty.

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega is suing Activision over the use of his likeness in Treyarch's first-person shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

In the game Alex Mason and Frank Woods track Noriega, codenamed False Profit by the CIA, to the outskirts of Panama City. You can see the scene in which they find him in the video, below, taken from the level Suffer With Me.

Now, 80-year-old Noriega, who lives in Panama, is suing Activision for the "blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation and misappropriation for economic gain" of his image in Black Ops 2, which came out in 2012.

In the lawsuit, filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court and reported on by the Courthouse News Service, Noriega's lawyers claim: "In an effort to increase the popularity and revenue generated by Black Ops 2, defendants used, without authorisation or consent, the image and likeness of plaintiff in Black Ops 2.

The real life Manuel Noriega, taken in 1990.

"Defendants' use of plaintiff's image and likeness caused damage to plaintiff. Plaintiff was portrayed as an antagonist and portrayed as the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes, creating the false impression that defendants are authorised to use plaintiff's image and likeness. This caused plaintiffs to receive profits they would not have otherwise received."

Noriega said Black Ops 2 portrays him "as a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state", before referencing the scene depicted in the video, below.

This is all an attempt to "heighten realism in its video game", Noriega said. "This translates directly into heightened sales for defendants.

"Defendants deliberately and systematically misappropriated plaintiff's likeness to increase revenues and royalties, at the expense of plaintiff and without the consent of plaintiff."

Noriega wants damages for unjust enrichment, unfair business practices and violation of common-law publicity rights, as well as lost profits.

Noriega was military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989, but was removed from power after the 1989 invasion by the US. He was tried and sent to prison in April 1992. After his sentence ended in 2007, France was granted its extradition request. Noriega again went to trial and again sent to jail. A conditional release was granted in 2011 for Noriega to be extradited to serve 20 years in Panama.

Black Ops 2's single-player campaign includes two connected storylines, the first of which is set from 1986 to 1989 during the final years of the first Cold War. It chronicles the rise of antagonist Raul Menendez, who fakes his demise with the help of Noriega.

Activision is yet to file its response.

Editor's Comment: Wow. Talk about looking to get paid from prison... Now maybe the family members of the (dead, shot in the face) Osama bin Laden will sue dozens of video game producers, for using his likeness without his permission. Third world tyrants around the globe are - right now - looking for the name and email address of these LA lawyers.

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Martinelli Increased Panama's Public Debt By $6.837 Billion In Five Years

Money MattersPublic debt contracted the government of Ricardo Martinelli exceeded all expectations of local and international analysts. (more)

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(Dumb) Idea To Allow Sitting Deputies To Practice Law Creates Controversy

Law & LawyersThe ceremonial resolution (passed in the National Assembly) granting license, to allow sitting Deputies who are lawyers to also (simultaneously) practice law, violates the Constitution and the rules of ethics and morality, according to experts. (more)

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Panameñista Politicians File Public Statements of Personal Assets (As Required By Law)

CorruptionThe President of the National Assembly, Adolfo Valderrama; Panama City Mayor Jose Blandon and the president of the republic, Juan Carlos Varela, presented statements of their assets yesterday. (more)

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Varela "Isn't Comfortable" With The Comptroller of the Republic

PoliticsPresident Juan Carlos Varela said Tuesday he does not feel comfortable with the work of the Comptroller, Gioconda de Bianchini, who will be in charge of the General Cotraloría of the Republic until 31 December. (more)

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Big Fire Consumes del Rey Supermarket Warehouses

Safety & SecurityYesterday a large fire completely consumed two warehouses of the del Rey Group, containing dry food and an area of ​​cold rooms in La Locería. (more)

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Varela Wants To Cancel Pardons Granted By Martinelli

Law & LawyersAlthough lawyers argue there are rules that empower President Juan Carlos Varela to repeal the pardons granted by Ricardo Martinelli at the end of his term in office, the president said yesterday the legal team of the Presidency still evaluating it. (more)

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