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Thursday, April 24 2014 @ 01:48 AM EDT

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Is The War Against Vacation Rentals Lost?

Real EstateIn the Central America region Panama is where the phenomenon of Holiday Rentals shows the highest growth, despite a law prohibiting it. According to an article in Prensa.com, the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) "... has imposed eleven fines of $55,000 for renting out apartments to tourists for periods of less than 45 days."

Law 80 of November 8, 2012 in Article 21 reads: "any lease of less than forty-five days in the district of Panama, by people who do not possess public accommodation tourist permits (for buildings or residences) is prohibited. This act will be sanctioned by the Tourism Authority of Panama, with a fine of between five thousand dollars (B/.5, 000.00) to Fifty Thousand Dollars (B/.50, 000.00), depending on the seriousness of the offense and / or repetition of such act, by the lessor. Also subject to these penalties are people who by any means, including electronic ones, advertise these services. "

It is clear that activity damages the formal hotel sector, where entities must bear all the costs of exercising a formal trade and paying taxes, against a totally casual competitor.

In Europe, where in Spain alone holiday rentals generate $4 billion a year-the problem is confronted in various ways, ranging from a draconian ban in the Panamanian style, to its formalization by regulation and taxation. The main argument of those who oppose the ban is that the phenomenon will occur anyhow as holiday rentals are increasingly in demand by tourists, and therefore the best option is to regulate it. (centralamericadata.com)

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"A Person Who Steals Credit For A Project Is Capable Of Stealing Anything, From Anyone" - Martinelli

PoliticsThe President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli expressed his discomfort with statements made by the candidate of the Panameñista political party Juan Carlos Varela, who said that if he wins the election he will continue to build the Metro subway project. (more)

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Martinelli promises not to take refuge in the Central American Parliament

CorruptionThe prestigious Italian prosecutor Paolo Ielo of Rome named Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli in the document containing his request to prosecute Valter Lavitola for international corruption. (more)

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Miss. man indicted in $9 million bankruptcy fraud

Expat TalesBy JEFF AMY JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Jackson man has been indicted on charges that he allegedly stole more than $9 million from his bankrupt business.

William "Butch" Dickson faces charges in U.S. District Court.

Authorities allege that after Community Home Financial Services filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Dickson wired nearly $9.1 million from the mortgage company's accounts, mostly to a bank in Panama.

Court papers say the bankruptcy trustee in charge of protecting funds for the mortgage company's creditors demanded the 58-year-old Dickson return the money but he didn't comply.

It's unclear whether Dickson has a lawyer.

The U.S. attorney's office says he was expelled from Panama on March 12 and arrested on his return to the United States.

Dickson is jailed in Mississippi without bond. A court date hasn't been set.

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Foreign Students Adapt to Rigors of US Naval Academy

Panama NewsBy Ramon Taylor ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND — Throughout its long history, the U.S. Naval Academy has produced prominent leaders, like former President Jimmy Carter and Senator John McCain. The academy prepares young men and women to become officers in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps. But not all of its undergraduate students - known as midshipmen - are American. Dozens are foreign exchange students who return home to serve their countries after graduating.

David Ochy of Panama is one of about 60 foreign exchange students currently studying at the U.S. Naval Academy in historic Annapolis, Maryland.

“Leaving the comfort zone of your country, to come here to a culture and language completely different from your own and adapt, has been a challenge,” said Ochy.

“It opens a cultural horizon so that one understands American culture better, and is more involved in the culture,” said Santiago Gonzalez-Ayer, an exchange student from Spain.

The Naval Academy was founded in 1845 on the grounds of an old fort.

The academy says its mission is to prepare students to serve as officers in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps. It strives to develop competence, character and compassion in its midshipmen.

International program director Tim Disher said the U.S. Navy also benefits by opening up the program to foreign students, especially in a world increasingly connected through technology and social media.

“It used to be, when I graduated in 1981 from the Naval Academy, only the senior officers were the ones that had relationships with their foreign navies or our counterparts," said Disher. "That’s not the case anymore. We’re a smaller navy and our students, even as midshipmen, have the ability to make an impact with our foreign partners. We are creating young ambassadors ...right off the bat, right after they get commissioned."

He said the exchange also strengthens the education of U.S. midshipmen, by enhancing their international exposure and understanding.

“The world is becoming smaller and smaller. One day our students will be operating in the theaters or environments that they’ve explored in the context of their interpersonal relationships here at the Naval Academy with the foreign cadets, and vice versa. It’s important that our allies know exactly how we function or operate as a military,” said Navy Lieutenant Paul Angelo, who graduated from the academy in 2006.

After finishing the exchange program, Gonzalez Ayer plans to return to Spain and become a naval officer.

David Ochy wants to work as an ocean engineer back home.

“I see my future in Panama,” he said.

The hope is they return home richer for the cultural experience they lived and shared with their fellow midshipmen at the academy. (Voice of America)

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Airbox Express' Virtual Branch

Internet Shopping and Mail Forwarding Airbox Express, the Industry leader for Panama Online Shopping and the air freight industry, has recently launched its newly designed website, www.airbox.com.pa.

Offering many of the features of a physical location, the new website acts as a virtual Airbox Express branch, providing customers with easy access to all of their account and shipping information.

Need to track your package? Use the online tracking feature. Want something from Amazon, eBay or any other online store and want to estimate your shipping costs? Airbox Express offers a free online calculator. Want to know the balance on your account? Login to your VIP account via the homepage.

To celebrate the launch of their new Online Branch, Airbox Express is offering clients the opportunity to use their credit card for free until April 15th. If you don’t have a credit card, or if you have one and prefer ease of mind shopping, then Airbox Express can purchase your items for you! Just call Airbox at 507 269-9774, or send an email here.

Save time and hassle by enjoying the benefits of being an Airbox Express customer. If you are not already a customer, sign up for free at www.airbox.com.pa to obtain your account number and free personalized Miami address.

PANAMA CITY BRANCH OFFICES

Albrook: Pan Canal Plaza across from Supermercado Rey, Tel: 304-1425 M-F: 9:00 am - 6:30 pm S: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Brisas del Golf: Inside Brisas del Golf, Rey Supermarket. Tel: 304-1428 M-F 9:00 am - 7:00 pm S: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Calle 50: inside Nikos Café, Tel: 304-1411 M-F: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm S: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Centennial: Inside Centennial Mall, Rey Supermarket, Tel: 304-1458 M-F: 8:00 am - 7:00 pm S: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

El Cangrejo: next to Hotel Granada Calle Eusebio A. Morales, Edificio Marinela, 1st floor. Tel: 269-9774 Fax: 269-9396 M-F: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm S: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

La Chorrera: Ave Las Americas, across from Plaza Italia, next to local Uno Express. Tel: (507) 345-0253 M-F: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm S: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

BRANCHES OUTSIDE OF PANAMA CITY

Boquete: enter by Restaurante Bistro Calle 1 primera Sur Tel/Fax: 720-1027 M-F: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm S: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Colon: inside Copymatic near Banco General Avenida del Frente, Calle 10 local,Tel: 441-8329 Fax: 441-8329 M-F: 8:00 am a 5:00 pm S: 8:00 am a 5:00 pm

David: Obaldia Avenue, in front Parque de las Madres, Local #3, Tel/Fax : 775-4512 M-F: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm S: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

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Medcom (Channel 13 - Telemetro) Refuses To Air Controversial Political Advertisements

PoliticsFollowing the guidelines established in the Electoral Ethics Pact, Medcom informed all advertising agencies and political parties of its decision to refrain from transmitting - via channel 13 Telemetro and RPC TV - any political advertisements with content that is "clearly libelous" or which violates the spirit of the Pact. (more)

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Challenge Filed Asking For Pinilla's Credit's From The University of Panama

Law & LawyersJavier Alexis Bosso Campbell filed a request for information with the General Secretary of the University of Panama in order to see if the President of the Electoral Tribunal, Erasmo Pinilla, graduated as a lawyer from the university. (more)

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Two Fires This Afternoon: Multiplaza and DoIt Center in El Dorado

Safety & SecurityBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - There was a fire this afternoon in the Multiplaza shopping center in Panama City. (more)

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Quijano Steps Down From Ministry of Trade and Industry Position To Work On Arias' Campaign

PoliticsPanama's Minister of Trade and Industry Ricardo Quijano left office to take a month off, according to government spokesman Eduardo Camacho. (more)

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Teachers Union Will Strike On Friday Over Wage Issues

Protests & DemonstrationsAfter a week of picketing, the teachers' unions announced they will walk off the job in a "militant" strike this Friday, April 11, demanding a general salary increase. (more)

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Italian Justice Planning To Investigate Martinelli - Who Says He's "Pissing Myself Laughing"

CorruptionPresident Ricardo Martinelli will face Italian justice, according to judicial sources. (more)

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Panama to build second subway line with tender due in April

Infrastructure UpgradesBY ELIDA MORENO (Reuters) Panama will build a second subway line, with a tender expected before the end of April for construction of the project costing up to $2 billion, the head of the subway said on Wednesday.

Panama's metro, a 13.7 kilometer line that also cost $2 billion, began service last week, becoming Central America's first subway. The second line would stretch 23 kilometers (14 miles) with 17 stations, said Roberto Roy, the executive secretary of the subway.

Roy said he hoped to present potential bidders with details of the project before the end of April, although he added there is no set date.

"Then there will be three months for them to present their bid, and then a month-and-a-half for us to decide," he said.

Panama is in the midst of an infrastructure boom, thanks to the multi-billion dollar expansion of the Panama canal, which has given the small Central American nation the fastest-growing economy in the Americas.

Panama, with a population of around 3.7 million, escaped the worst of the global recession, expanding at an average rate of 8 percent over the past six years.

Editor's Comment: They will be extending the Metro service to Panama's most populated residential districts. Line 1 covers the massive population of San Miguelito. Next will be Tocumen, and I think Line 3 will make it out to Arraijan and La Chorrera, with a dedicated new bridge over the Panama Canal. So they will be spending at least $1 billion per year over the next five years to improve and expand on what they have already built. So just point those TBM's in a different direction and tally ho, bitches ... it's all good.

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Martinelli Inaugurated Cinta Costera 3 - Then Sits Down To Eat Fish

Infrastructure UpgradesThe president, Ricardo Martinelli, inaugurated the new Cinta Costera 3 - the third phase of the larger "Coastal Strip" project - this evening, with a big party that was attended by his Ministers, the heads of institutions, and the residents from the neighborhoods of El Chorrillo, Barraza, San Felipe and Santa Ana. (more)

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ANAM Seizes 13 Containers Full Of Illegal Cocobolo Wood

Environmental IssuesA total of 13 containers loaded with the highly prized "cocobolo" wood that were to being smuggled into Hong Kong and worth about $4 million in the Chinese market, were seized by the Customs authorities of Panama, an official said Tuesday. (more)

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Still No Trace Of Missing Two In Panama

Expat TalesPANAMA CITY – Emergency services have searched the Panamanian Boquete area several times without any trace of the missing Dutch woman. According to a spokesman of the services, the quest is now at its end and now it becomes primarily a police matter.

Normally they will search for missing people for three days, the spokesman said. “We have been searching for Lisanne Froon (21) and Kris Kremers (22), who were last seen a week ago, six days already. If the two will be found in the mountains around Boquete is now almost impossible.

Apparently a man spoke with them last week Tuesday at a footpath near the Pianista Trail, which they initially wanted to take. In the last few days, according to aid organization Sinaproc, there were no new relevant reports of possible witnesses.

“We always keep hope,” the spokesman said. The police has been already in action in order to detect the two.

Editor's Comment: I understand the SINAPROC was still searching today, so the effort has not been completely called off, yet. But at some point a "search and rescue" effort to find a missing person has to naturally change to something else, a police investigation into what happened. It seems that if they were lost on the mountain somewhere they would have been turned up by now.

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Panama's Government Announces Mandatory Power Conservation Measures

WeatherBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - This afternoon the government of Panama issued an order announcing mandatory energy saving measures. (more)

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Panamanian Economy Creates More Than 6,000 New Jobs Per Week

Employment & JobsAccording to Panama's Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development, the economy generated 6,472 new jobs in the first week of April 2014. (more)

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Panama's Economic Growth Will Lead Latin America Again in 2014 - IMF

Money MattersPanama is the only country in the Americas whose economy will grow by more than 6%, according to the 'World Economic Outlook' report presented yesterday by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). (more)

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180,000 People Rode Panama's New Metro Subway System on Monday

Infrastructure UpgradesMany Panamanians have begun to use the new Metro train system, some to commute to work, others out of simple curiosity or just to take a ride, so much so that the number of people using the system is increasing every day. (more)

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Panama Is At The Brink Of An Energy Shortage

Infrastructure UpgradesElectrical power generation in Panama could fall below demand, due to the reduced levels of electricity being generated by the country's hydro electric plants, caused by the delay in the arrival of the rainy season, and a lack of water in the reservoirs behind the dams. (more)

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Fake death conman John Darwin 'has repaid just £121'

Expat TalesConvicted canoe death fraudster John Darwin has repaid just £121 of a £679,000 proceeds of crime order, a court has heard.

Darwin, 63, of Seaton Carew, Teesside, faked his own death in 2002 so his then-wife Anne could claim £500,000.

He served three years of a six-year jail term for insurance fraud.

Teesside Crown Court heard he may now have to use a recently matured pension to repay the cash he cheated out of insurance companies.

The father of two appeared in court after police began fresh proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

A judge had previously ordered he should repay £679,073, but the court was told divorced Darwin, who is claiming benefits, has only been able to hand back £121.

The Crown has now applied for him to repay more, as a pension has matured. A hearing to decide the matter will be held in May.

Darwin did not speak during the brief hearing before Judge Howard Crowson.

Anne Darwin, now split from her husband, has repaid more than £500,000 under a separate Proceeds of Crime order.

John Darwin was reported missing in a canoe in the North Sea in March 2002.

His wife collected more than £500,000 in life insurance payouts, while he hid in their home, leaving their two sons believing he was dead.

In December 2007, he walked into a London police station, claiming he had amnesia, and was reunited with his sons who were stunned to hear he was alive.

His wife, who had fled with him to Panama, pretended to be shocked until a photograph emerged of them posing together after his supposed death.

She was later jailed for six-and-a-half-years for fraud and money-laundering.

Earlier this year police said John Darwin was being investigated again under the Proceeds of Crime Act regarding possible "undeclared assets".

After the pair were jailed, assets including a fourth-floor apartment in Panama City and an overgrown plot of land near the artificial Lake Gatun were seized and sold.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was granted a confiscation order to retrieve the money Mrs Darwin received from her insurance companies and pension funds.

All the money held in accounts in the UK and Panama, which totalled about £9,000, was also seized. (BBC News)

Editor's Comment: Ah, yes. The Darwins. Also known as "the gift that keeps on giving" for the UK press. They are obsessed with these people over there. John Darwin farts and it's a "stop the presses" moment.

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There Will Be No Special Supreme Court Meeting To Hear Ballesteros' Allegaions

Law & LawyersThe Supreme Court will hold a regular meeting of the full body of nine judges on 10 April to debate whatever the members propose, instead of a special meeting today to discuss the complaints filed by the former judge Alexis Ballesteros. (more)

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Former (PRD) Minister of Agricultural Development Convicted And Sentenced To Prison

CorruptionThe Fifth Circuit Criminal Court convicted the former Minister of Agricultural Development Alejandro Posse Martinz of the crime of "theft with breach of trust" and issued a sentence of 20 months imprisonment against him. (more)

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Coastal Strip III To Be Inaugurated Tomorrow

Infrastructure UpgradesPanama's Secretary of Goals announced that the Third Phase of the Cinta Costera ("Coastal Strip") infrastructure project, part of the government's larger New Road Network Plan, will be inaugurated in a ceremony to be held tomorrow, Wednesday, 9 April. (more)

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Candidates Participated in Presidential Debate Last Night

PoliticsFor the first time the presidential candidates had the opportunity to discuss among themselves their proposals and ideas in a debate organized by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama, dubbed "Country Agenda." (more)

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Arias Continues To Lead In New Polling Data

PoliticsThe presidential candidate for the ruling Democratic Change (CD) political party, José Domingo Arias, maintains his lead over the PRD and Panameñista candidates, according to the most recent polling data from Dichter & Neira, with 38%. (more)

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SENAFRONT Arrests Two FARC Guerrillas In The Darien

Drug TraffickingTwo alleged members of the 57th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a man and a woman, were captured by units of the State Border Service (SENAFRONT) of Panama near the border with Colombia in an indigenous village, reported an official source. (more)

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Panamanians Swarm Metro On First Day Of Operations

Infrastructure UpgradesJust as in a large city, urban traffic in the capital area was fragmented yesterday between those who will stick with the traditional public transportation systems and those who have become infected with "metromania" and will be riding one of the 19 trains of the new mass transit system. (more)

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Martinelli Says Panama Is Doing Everything It Can To Find Missing Dutch Women

Expat TalesTwo Dutch women went missing in Panama last week. President Ricardo Martinelli has emphasized that the country is doing everything to find them.

During a press conference on Sunday, Martinelli thanked the Dutch embassy “for the confidence” during the search party, De Telegraaf reports.

The missing women are 22-year old Lisanne Froon from Amersfoort and 21-year old Kris Kremers from Utrecht. They have been missing since Tuesday.

According to sources, the travelers had difficulty choosing between two walking routes, one of which is El Pianista Trail.

Ingrid Lommers, director of a language school the women visited, says that they turned back to Boquete after 30 minutes, exhausted.

Thick clouds are hampering the search party now, a rescue service member tells. Rescuers are also battling with the Panama landscape, needing ropes to travel downwards, sometimes 500 meters.

According to the Dutch ambassador, Wiebe de Boer, cooperation between Panama’s authorities and the Netherlands is “very good.”

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