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Thursday, August 28 2014 @ 07:16 PM EDT

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Panama calls for UN General Assembly session on financial crisis

Money MattersXinhua Panamanian President Martin Torrijos on Wednesday called for the holding of an UN General Assembly session to discuss the global economic crisis. During the final session of the Latin American Summit on integration and development here, Torrijos said the global crisis demands the region have better coordination mechanisms to face its negative effects. The president also requested more transparency in the international markets and called for more infrastructure projects on the continent. He also urged that joint efforts to aid each economy in the region be continued, while saluting Cuba's inclusion in the Rio Group. Within the framework of the Latin American Summit, Panama, Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia agreed to hold a Presidential Summit on security to fight drug trafficking and organized crime in Panama City in January. The security of these countries has been seriously affected by growing drug trafficking, Torrijos said.
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President Torrijos Bounces Back in Panama

Politics(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - The year will end with better numbers for Panamanian president Martín Torrijos, according to a poll by Unimer published in La Prensa. 46 per cent of respondents say Torrijos has done a good or very good job as head of state, up 12 points since June. Torrijos—the son of Omar Torrijos, an army general who ruled Panama from 1968 to 1981—won the May 2004 presidential election as a candidate for the Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD) with 47.44 per cent of the vote. In 1999, Panama regained full control of the Panama Canal, the source of 10 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In October 2006, Panamanian voters supported the canal’s $5.25 billion U.S. expansion plan—which would add a parallel set of locks to allow giant cargo ships to pass through the waterway—in a nationwide referendum. On Dec. 11, Alberto Alemán, head of the Panama Canal Authority, assured that the expansion plan will not be affected by the current turmoil in global financial markets, declaring, "The Panama Canal and the world have suffered recessions before; that is nothing new. [The project has] all the support and certification from financial institutions."
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Panama Canal awards third dry excavation contract

Canal ExpansionThe JOURNAL of COMMERCE ONLINE - The Panama Canal Authority has awarded the third of four dry excavation contracts to Constructora MECO, to help create an access channel linking the new Pacific locks with the waterway's existing Gaillard Cut, which is the narrowest stretch of the Panama Canal. The authority selected Constructora MECO from among six bids, and said that the Costa Rican firm was the lowest bidder. The scope of work included in the contract encompasses the excavation, removal and disposal of 8 million cubic meters of material, which will further reduce Paraiso (Paradise) Hill from 46 meters to 27.5 meters above sea level. It also calls for the construction of approximately 2.5 kilometers of access roads and the clearing of 190 hectares of land bearing munitions and explosives, remnants from former U.S. military training in Panama.
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The Panamanian Real Estate Market in the Current Global Economy

Real Estate

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I've said it before a dozen times, the only people who are really taking a risk in the Panamanian real estate market are the speculators. Everyone is playing the "what's going to happen" game in this economy, and thankfully Panama is in an excellent position to weather the storm quite nicely. Bank reserves have tripled in the past three years, the economy grew 11.5% in 2007, should come in at around 9.2% for 2008, and is expected to continue the run of growth in 2009 at about 7.5% or better. Demand for real estate in Panama has fallen sharply with the onset of the global crisis as retirees worriedly pour over the reports on what's left of their 401K's and retirement investments. They can't sell their empty nests and it's harder for potential buyers to obtain mortgages in a tightening credit environment. Unemployment is on the rise, car makers are being laid off, and in general we're looking at a period of tough times in the US, Europe, and Asia, a malaise that will most certainly cause significant economic harm in Panama and the rest of Latin America. But here's the good news... (more)

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Refiner Tesoro in pact to use Panama oil pipeline

Infrastructure UpgradesNEW YORK (Reuters) - Crude oil refiner Tesoro Corp said on Tuesday it has signed an agreement with Petroterminal de Panama (PTP), allowing it to transport crude oil from Europe, Africa and the Atlantic region through Panama to its Pacific refineries. Tesoro will ship 107,000 barrels-per-day of crude through the pipeline under a seven-year agreement, the San Antonio, Texas-based company said. PTP has announced it is reversing the flow of its 81-mile trans-Panamanian pipeline, which is expected to be ready for start-up during the third quarter of 2009. Once that is completed, the throughput agreement will allow Tesoro to deliver crude oils produced in Africa, the Atlantic region of South America and the North Sea to the company's five Pacific Rim waterborne refineries. Tesoro leases existing tankage from PTP but PTP has also agreed to build new dedicated tanks for Tesoro on both sides of the Isthmus of Panama which are estimated to be in service by the end of the first quarter 2010. Tesoro plans to use the pipeline and tanks to blend and distribute different grades of crude oils for its own use. Tesoro's stock was 3.8 percent higher, at $9.55, in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
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Canadian Expat Michel Lafontaine Dies in San Blas Accident

Expat Tales

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Canadian expatriate Michel Lafontaine died yesterday while working on a project in the San Blas Islands in the Republic of Panama. Michel was the owner of Palmex Panama, the distributors and resellers of synthetic thatch-roofing products in the republic of Panama. He was installing some of their roofing products at the Coral Lodge resort in the San Blas islands when he slipped and fell from a roof on Tuesday afternoon. He hit his head on some coral, said he was "not feeling well" and laid down to rest. He later died in his sleep that night, probably from internal head injuries sustained in the fall. Currently arrangements are being made to have his body flown back to Panama City. Our condolences to his friends and family.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Rights of Possession Holders Being Scammed

Real Estate By Yaritza Mojica for the Panama America - They deceive us because we are poor! That is the feeling of humble islanders and villagers who live and work along Panama's Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Their primary weaknesses are a combination of ignorance and economic necessity, who in recent years have been the victims of scams and swindles. This is the reality faced by many people living near the coast and on islands who are unaware of the discussions being carried out in First Debate by the National Assembly regarding Bill (Law) 459 that looks to recognize Rights of Possession and legitimize land ownership. This proposal, which in its original form sought to title land outside of the control of Agrarian Reform with a value of $6.00 per hectare, has undergone several changes in the past weeks that do not satisfy the majority of the villagers. Panama America made a tour of both coasts and heard the first-hand accounts of many humble farmers who fear losing everything because they do not hold a title on the land, and they will have to face people who want to snatch their lands away from them. (more)
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Chilean Delegation Arrives to Discuss Payments for Family Members of SAN100 Crash Victims

Panama News By Raúl Carrillo for El Siglo - They are evaluating the possibility of compensation for the SAN 100 helicopter crash. A delegation from Chile arrived in Panama to present proposals on the eventual compensation that will be paid to the family members of the victims of the SAN-100 helicopter crash; which will be discussed in the next meeting that will take place in Santiago de Chile in January. During the meeting a Bi national work group was installed in order to address themes connected to the crash of SAN 100 that happened on 29 May 2008, in which eleven people were killed, six Chileans and five Panamanians. Also, they "agreed definitely on the methodology of work and the necessary accredited legal and technical concepts," according to the Panamanian Chancellery. The delegation from Chile formed by Luis Bates, a former Minister of Justice who heads the delegation, Álvaro Arévalo, the Assistant Director of Legal Subjects of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, and lawyers Álvaro Baeza and Ciro Colombara. Panama is represented by Vladimir Franco, of the Ministry of Foreign Relations who presides over the delegation, lawyer Feliciano Olmedo Sanjur, adviser Marianela Morales, adviser Dino Mon, lawyer Jorge Federico Lee, Mercedes García de Paredes, an adviser to the Civil Aeronautics Authority, and Laura Castro, a lawyer for the Ministry of Foreign Relations. Yesterday's meeting only touched on subjects related to compensation, but Ana Matilde Gomez, the General Solicitor of the Nation, indicated that law week Chancellor Samuel Lewis Navarro communicated with her to to ask her to meet with the Chilean delegation in order to update them on the progress being made on the investigations being conducted by the offices of the Third Superior Prosecutor.
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Panama Sets All-Star Roster for World Baseball Classic

Sports Section La Critica - All-Stars Mariano Rivera and Carlos Lee head the list of 53 baseball players who were summoned to train for the team that will represent Panama in the World Baseball Classic. Lino Diaz, Operations Manager of the Panamanian team, officially presented the list which includes other big-league players such as Carlos Ruiz, Manuel Corpas, and Manny Acosta. The roster contains talented players who are now playing at the professional level, among them left-handed thrower Eliécer Navarro of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indian's fielder Cirilo Cumberbatch, and the prospect for the New York Mets, Rubén "El Rookie" Tejada.
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Administrative Screw-Up Will Cost Panama $30 Million Per Year

Panama NewsBy RAFAEL E. BERROCAL R. and KEMY LOO PINZÓN for La Prensa - The Executive defined last night a rough draft of a bill that would create a package of economic, fiscal, and financial aid that would look to compensate those affected by the loss of preferential tariffs with the European Union caused by the negligence of local authorities. The commercial error cost the country at least $30 million dollars per year which will come from state coffers. The Vice Minister of Foreign Trade, Severo Sousa, said the so called Euro Bond represents between $6 to $7 million dollars per year, which would cover the costs of the increased tariffs that will go into effect as of the 1st of January 2009. The extension of the certificate of tributary installment (CAT) represents $22 million in exoneration of taxes. Carlos González Ramirez, the ex- ambassador to the European Community, said any direct export subsidy would be an illegal practice in the World Trade Organization. Yesterday Panama's National Assembly cited the Chancellor Samuel Lewis Navarro and the Minister of Commerce Gisela Porras, so they can "explain the error." The Chancellery announced that, together with the Ministry of Commerce, they would launch an investigation in order to identify those who are responsible, and that the government is waiting for a meeting with the President of the European Union.
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Panama Canal Maintenance Work Restricts Traffic

Canal Daily Operation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - According to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), beginning Sunday, December 14, 2008, at 2000 hours through Friday, December 19, 2008, at 0400 hours, the east sidewall culvert of Gatun Locks will be out of service for the rehabilitation of three (3) rising stem valves. Although both lanes will remain in service, they will be served by single culverts during filling and spilling operations. Therefore, all lockages at Gatun Locks will consume more time than normal. As a result, "Condition 1.a" will be in effect from December 15, 2008 through December 18, 2008. In layman's terms, there are some slight restrictions in effect for the next few days. The Panama Canal regularly runs at or near peak capacity, and any "clogging of the arteries" so to speak generally translates into more ships waiting in the anchorages, and more total "canal waters" time for ships passing through. More demand than supply - that's generally a good thing. The Panama Canal generates a huge amount of money for the country of Panama every year. Because of this asset and with the expanded canal due to come on line in 2014, eventually Panama will become the richest country in Latin America. Just wait and see...

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Panama economy grows 9.2 pct in third quarter - gov

Money Matters PANAMA CITY, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Panama's economy grew by 9.2 percent in the third quarter over the year-ago period, helped by expansion of agriculture, manufacturing and services, the government said on Monday. Between July and September GDP grew to $4.73 billion, up $400 million from the same period in 2007, the Comptroller General's office said. Despite the continued gains, the rate of growth slowed slightly compared with the second quarter, when the economy expanded 10.1 versus the year-ago period. Panama's economy is expected to grow 9.5 percent in 2008 and 7.5 percent in 2009 as the impact of the consumer slowdown in the United States begins to hit global trade, down from the 11.2 percent posted in 2007. Transport, including shipping through the country's famous canal, accounts for around a fifth of Panama's gross domestic product. According to the government, other growth sectors continue to flourish including the construction sector, which has transformed Panama City's skyline into a mass of skyscrapers. In the third quarter, the construction sector grew 28.8 percent versus a year ago, accounting for just over 5 percent of GDP. (Reporting by Andrew Beatty; Editing by Gary Hill)
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Tesoro to Ship Oil to Pacific Through Panama Pipeline

Foreign Direct InvestmentBy Steven Bodzin and Jordan Burke (Bloomberg) -- Tesoro Corp., the largest refiner in the U.S. West, entered a seven-year agreement allowing it to ship crude oil from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean through a pipeline owned by Petroterminal de Panama. The deal for 107,000 barrels a day of pipeline capacity and storage-tank space will let the company move Atlantic oil to its five Pacific Rim refineries accessible by tanker, San Antonio- based Tesoro said today in a statement. The conduit will be ready in the third quarter of 2009, the company said. Petroterminal will build terminals on both sides of the Isthmus of Panama and Tesoro will use their pipeline and storage to blend and ship different crude-oil grades. The terminals will open in the first quarter of 2010, Tesoro said. Companies are seeking ways to ship oil produced in the Atlantic Basin, which includes West Africa and Brazil, to the Pacific markets, where Chinese and Indian demand drive up prices. BP Plc secured 65,000 barrels a day of pipeline capacity from Petroterminal de Panama on May 27. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed and Sarah Simpson, a Tesoro spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. Tesoro rose 39 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $9.59 as of 9:31 a.m. in composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Before today, the stock had dropped 81 percent this year.
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Meet Me On Skype

Internet & Technology

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - A lot of people who live and work in Panama rely on Skype to communicate with loved ones back home. It's a relatively cheap and reliable alternative to standard "wire" telephone services. My Skype address is don.winner so feel free to add me to your address book if you want. I know there are other inexpensive alternatives for VOIP and Internet calling plans. What are you guys using? Please let us all know via the comments. Thanks.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Panama consumer prices fall 0.6 pct in Nov

Money MattersPANAMA CITY, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Panamanian consumer prices fell 0.6 percent in November from a month earlier on lower international oil prices, the government said on Monday. After months of escalating prices prompted by high global energy and food prices, the Comptroller General's office said overall cost of living had dipped between October and November on lower transport, housing and utility bills. The price of transport dipped 6.6 percent from October to November, while water, electricity, gas and housing costs fell 2.5 percent on falling global oil prices. The figure brings 12-month inflation to 7.7 percent, the lowest rate since January. Facing public anger at the rising cost of living ahead of presidential elections scheduled for May 2009, the government has introduced a series of measures designed to keep prices down. Earlier this month, President Martin Torrijos promised to pay for fuel surcharges on electricity bills until December 2009, reducing monthly costs by up to 25 percent for an ordinary household. (Reporting by Andrew Beatty; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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And If The Guns Don't Get You, The Traffic Accidents Will

Cars & Transportation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The other side of the news today was about fatal traffic accidents. The driver of a garbage truck was killed in an accident near the bridge over the Río Camarón on the road leading to the Centennial Bridge after he lost control of the vehicle and crashed. Three others were injured. Another driver, this time of an 18 wheeler, was burned to death when his rig hit another truck on the Inter American Highway near El Gavilán de la Mesa, in the province of Veraguas. I've said it dozens of times - that the most dangerous thing you're likely to do while here in Panama is drive. Please, take it easy, drive defensively, slow down, buckle up, all that...

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Bullets Flying Everywhere in Panama City

Crime & Punishment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I started putting together the daily news today, and there were so many different stories and articles about people getting shot and wounded or killed in several neighborhoods of Panama City that I basically decided to not cover it. There was a steady string of gunshot wound victims being taken to the different hospitals last night. Yesterday another kid was gunned down in his apartment building on 25th Street in El Chorrillo - the same building where a 9 year-old little girl was killed the day before. Some guy tried to cut his wife's hand off with a knife and she almost bled to death. There's no doubt about it, street crime in Panama City is getting out of control and apparently whatever the government is trying to do to control it is not working. And it's just one after another after another after another after another after another after another after another...

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Small Drug Trafficking Aircraft from Panama Captured in Colombia

Drug Trafficking By JOSÉ OTERO for La Prensa - Colombian Police confirmed the capture last Saturday night, 13 December 2008, of a small airplane with tail number N811PW in Colombia carrying a shipment of 850 kilos of drugs, according to local police sources. The small plane with three people on board departed the Albrook airport with a destination of Bocas del Toro, but they changed their flight route and descended to the airport of El Porvenir in the San Blas islands. Later, they turned off their radio. (Note: N811PW is a 1979 CESSNA 402C, fixed wing multi engine (10 seats / 2 engines) aircraft registered to Roberto Gomez of Hollywood, FL as an individual owner.)
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Injured FARC Guerrilla Now In Santo Tomas Hospital

Crime & Punishment By Rocío I. Martins A. for El Siglo - The FARC insurgent was not killed in the shootout with police in Manené. Heavily guarded by a contingent of border guard officers and members of the Direction of Police Investigation, the wounded man who is assumed to be a FARC guerrilla entered the emergency room of the Santo Tomas hospital, who was injured in the confrontation Thursday afternoon Manené in the Darién province. He arrived at the emergency room at noon yesterday. Surgeon Néstor Vega Yuil said the man who is about 45 years old and whose identity has not been revealed, has bullet wounds to the head, back, abdomen, and left foot, as well as a fractured forehead. Panama's Minister of Government and Justicia, Dilio Arcia, confirmed that approximately six subjects dressed in camouflage uniforms, wearing rubber boots, and armed with military assault rifles engaged the border police units as they were returning from Pabarandó and moving towards Manené. In the exchange of gunfire, one of the guerrillas was injured at approximately 1:30 pm but it was not until 7:00 pm that the border police officers found the wounded man alive, carrying an M-16, eight magazines each full with 30 rounds of ammunition, a radio, and two machetes. The Colombian Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos, confirmed the men who engaged in this firefight were from the FARC 58th Front.
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9-Year Old Girl Shot and Killed In Her Apartment by Gang

Crime & Punishment By Luis Carlos Rodríguez for La Critica - Young 9 year-old Joseadis Olivarren was happy, anticipating the arrival of Christmas, but four gang members who broke into her apartment the night before last where she lived on 25th Street in Chorrillo snatched her life with a shot to the head. The delinquents intended to kill her father José Manuel Olivarren but in their haste they opened fire against everyone present but the bullets only struck "Paquita." The family blamed members of the gang called of "Coco Bagdad" as those responsible for the murder. The young girl was a student in the Republic of Chile school.
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Truck Loses Brakes on Norther Corridor - Hits 12 Cars

Cars & Transportation By William Sala for La Prensa - An 18 wheeler lost its brakes yesterday afternoon on the Northern Corridor, hitting 12 cars, among them the car of the Rector of the University of Panama Gustavo Garcia de Paredes. Police sources say no one was killed in this terrible accident.
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2009 BESO Calendar Announcement

Groups & Organizations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received today via email: "Hi Don, I am a member of BESO, the organization in Bocas del Toro that raises money for the local schools here. We would very much appreciate it if you could announce the availability of our 2009 calendar, which includes beautiful photos of the Bocas del Toro area--as we have heard from ex-pats that they are looking for a nice Panama calendar. ALL BESO proceeds go to benefit the local schools and students. Following is the announcement. I've attached our logo, along with a jpeg of the calendar cover, and a Word doc flyer that people can download if they'd like to see all the photos included in the calendar. Thanks so much from BESO and the schoolchildren of Bocas! Please confirm receipt of this message. Pura Vida, Adrienne Ochenkoski" (more)

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Test Your Connection on Speedtest.net

Internet & Technology

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Can you tell I'm having fun? Try this - go to speedtest.net, select the server in Atlanta Georgia, and test the speed of your Internet connection. With Cable Onda (spat!) I was getting about 1,500 download and 500 upload, max. With my new (can't tell you yet) connection, I just tested at 7,792 download and 5,871 upload. Yes, Virginia, that is a tent in my pants and I am actually very happy to see you... (grin.) (Grin again.) And by the way, I "can't tell you yet" because they already have a back load waiting for installation, and they are afraid that if I start promoting them then they might generate some unreasonable expectations. Whatever. Like we used to say on the playground behind the Liberty Street Elementary school - "I got mine!"

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Now Using Google Chrome Full Time - And Digging It!

Internet & Technology

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The more I use Google's new Chrome web browser, the more I like it. There's no doubt it's a whole lot faster loading pages than Internet Explorer or Firefox, and the pages are literally snapping to the monitor with my new (grin) 6 mb synchronous broadband Internet connection from (sorry, can't say yet.) There are a few things in life that make me genuinely happy - like my daughter's smile, warm chocolate chip cookies, and cold beer -- having a relatively fast and stable Internet connection is right up there. My first modem was a 2400 baud dial-up and I clearly remember having to wait hours for one photo to download, but that was before www and browsers when the "web" was all text. Anyway, another technological leapfrog completed, and I thought you might like to know the new Chrome browser actually does kick butt - check out these speed tests... Now, you'll have to excuse me while I go mainline some streaming video.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Petaquilla Allegedly Making False "Forward Looking Statements" Regarding Likelihood of Panama Gold Production

Gold & MiningBy LINA VEGA ABAD for La Prensa - The Finance Director of Petaquilla Minerals, Bassan Moubarack, declared from Canada the company would begin gold production before the end of the year. Could it be that Richard Fifer and his local combo failed to send the text of the ANAM resolution approving the environmental impact study? Could it be they think the 40 new requirements are only "suggestions"? Might the Vancouver Stock Market and Canadian investors know that if the company does not comply with all of the new requirements (including bonds and guarantees for $14 million dollars) that ANAM could cancel the project? Or might it be possible the company thinks that they can obtain in two weeks, for example, the three new Environmental Impact Studies, the certification from the International Institute for the Handling of Cyanide, with offices in Washington, or a program for the handling of acid drainage? Hardly; because above all they have now presented a new recourse. In other words, it seems like they did not like the ANAM decision and they intend to change it with the same (legal maneuvers) as always. How it cheers me. Equally it cheers me that the Anam has confirmed the fine they earned for destroying the forests and rivers, which they also tried to avoid paying. Now they have no other recourse than to pay the fine, while they stage meaningless demonstrations in front of La Prensa, using the rotten tactics of trying to "kill the messenger" without facing the forcefulness of the message. For these reasons it does not seem very intelligent for Bassan Moubarack to be making these kinds of declarations. Someone should explain to him that "the bread can be burned in the door to the furnace."
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Pirates release seized chemical tanker

Panama NewsWritten By:Claire Wanja/AFP - Somali pirates have released a Greek chemical tanker seized in October but three crew members are feared dead. "The MT Action was released by pirates," Andrew Mwangura, who heads the Kenyan chapter of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, said in a statement. "She is currently limping to safe waters. It is feared that three crew members lost their lives under questionable circumstances," he added. Mwangura did not specify if ransom had been paid or how the three crew members died. In Athens, the maritime ministry said the crew consisted of 17 Georgians and three Pakistanis but did not elaborate on the seamen's fate. The Panama-flagged vessel with 20 crew members was seized on October 10 in the Gulf of Aden. (more)
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Panama to Maintain Growth Amid Crisis, Torrijos Says

Panama NewsBy Jose Alzorriz and Jens Erik Gould (Bloomberg) -- Panamanian President Martin Torrijos said his country will maintain high levels of growth and a low jobless rate next year even as the credit crisis triggers a worldwide economic slowdown. The Central American country’s economy will probably expand between 6.5 percent and 8 percent in 2009 and 9 percent this year, Torrijos said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today in Panama City. The U.S. recession won’t impede financing for his government’s $5.2 billion project to expand the Panama Canal, he said. “There are very good projections for Panama,” Torrijos, 45, said. “If there’s any country that has an advantage that will make the crisis the least traumatic possible, it’s Panama.” (more)
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Panama Catches Armed Rebel/Paramilitary on Colombian Border

Panama NewsLatin American Herald Tribune PANAMA CITY -- Panama announced Friday the arrest of a well-armed irregular who was wounded during a shootout with police in the eastern province of Darien on the Colombian border. The action on Thursday, according to Interior Minister Dilio Arcia, took place in the town of Manene, when a group of unidentified armed men disobeyed an order to halt from the Panamanian authorities and opened fire. With regard to those involved in the incident, Arcia said at a press conference Friday that "we can't specifically say they belong to a subversive group, but we describe them as criminals because they were carrying arms and did not respond to the order to halt." Nonetheless, the description of the wounded man indicates that he is affiliated with an organized group. "He was wearing blue camouflage pants, a black T-shirt and rubber boots, and was carrying an M-16 rifle with eight cartridges of 30 rounds each, combat gear, two backpacks and inside of them two machetes and a shortwave radio," Arcia said of the captive. (more)
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Panama excluded from EU duty benefits

Panama News Xinhua - Panama has been officially notified that it will be excluded from the duty benefits of the European Union (EU), Vice Commerce Minister Severo Souza said Friday. Panama lost the benefits of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) because it did not present the renewal request before the Oct. 31 deadline set by the EU. Souza made the announcement shortly after a meeting with representatives from the Panamanian Association of Exporters (Apex). The meeting was held to analyze the consequences of the duty benefits exclusion, which will affect about 7,200 sorts of farm and fishing products. Beginning Jan. 1, Souza said, Panamanian exporters will not have the benefits and will have to pay duties to sell their products in the European market. According to Panamanian exporters, exclusion of the duty benefits will directly impact the productive sector, which employs about 100,000 people.
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Bus Full Of Tourists Robbed - They Thought It Was A Show

Crime & Punishment By Hellen Concepción for TVN Noticias - A group of Puerto Rican tourists were attacked by delinquents as they visited Panama and toured several areas in a small bus that took them to Lake Alajuela en Chilibre. Armed thieves intercepted the bus and took all of the possessions from the tourists. Right when the robbery started some of the tourists started taking pictures of the robbers, thinking it was some kind of a show to entertain them. This same group of delinquents had just attacked another American just moments earlier, hitting him in the head and injuring him severely. This group of Puerto Ricans had just arrived last Sunday on a cruise ship that anchored in the port of Colon, never thinking they would become victims of the delinquents. The authorities are investigating the existence of a group of thieves who live close to Lake Alajuela. The tourists were taken to the police station in Caimitillo for the corresponding investigations.
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