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Sunday, September 21 2014 @ 08:06 AM EDT

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Names in the Game

Sports Section (AP) PANAMA CITY, Panama: Ken Griffey Jr. will give baseball clinics for children during a visit to Panama next month in his new role as American Public Diplomacy Envoy. U.S. Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall says the star outfielder will be in Panama for five or six days. The exact date has not been set. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice introduced Griffey as a public diplomacy envoy last month. The 39-year-old is fifth on the career home run list with 611. He played for Cincinnati and the Chicago White Sox last season, and later filed for free agency. His father, Ken Griffey Sr., befriended Panamanian Omar Moreno when the two played in the majors. The younger Griffey will give one clinic at an academy directed by Moreno.
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Finish the job by approving trade agreement

Money MattersBY ERIC FARNSWORTH (Miami Herald - Opinion - No nation in the Americas highlights better than Panama the historical sweep of U.S. relations with Latin America. From gunboat diplomacy at the birth of the nation to questions of sovereignty, dictatorship, drugs and finally partnership built on commerce, the U.S.-Panama relationship has often been shorthand for U.S. relations with the rest of the region. As the new U.S. administration gets set to take the reins in Washington, relations with Panama may once again prove to be broadly symbolic. It's been 19 years since most Americans gave any thought to Panama. On Dec. 20, 1989, the still of the early Panamanian morning was shattered by Operation Just Cause, a short but intense U.S. military effort ordered by President George H.W. Bush to remove the Noriega dictatorship from power and to restore democracy to the people of Panama. The incursion achieved its immediate goals, one of which was to get the implementation of the Panama Canal treaties back on track. (more)
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Bladex Banks on Panama's Thriving Economy

Money MattersBy Judy Alster for Right Side Advisors.com - Quick, name the hottest economy in Latin America. No. Sorry. Not Brazil. It's Panama — home of the world's second largest free-trade zone (after Hong Kong), with an overall economic growth rate just a touch under China's, and boasting 23 consecutive quarters of economic growth with a GDP that grew by 11% in 2007. U.S. retirees are moving there in statistically significant numbers and the Panamanian construction sector is growing wildly. All good news for Banco Latinoamericano de Exportaciones, or Bladex. We took a fast 8% profit in this stock in June in another 21st Century Investor portfolio. It fell some 50% by late October but now looks like it's basing. (more)
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Panama economic growth slows sharply in Oct

Money MattersPANAMA CITY, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Panama's economy slowed sharply in October, expanding 4.74 percent compared to the same month a year earlier, the government said on Tuesday. The economy had expanded by 8.57 percent in September, the government reported, revising its previous calculation for growth in September, which was originally reported as 8.24 percent. (Editing by Tom Hals)
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Current Prices for Real Estate in Punta Pacifica

Real Estate

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Lucy Haines from Panama Realtor got back to me, following up to a question I had asked earlier this week regarding current prices and values for new construction apartments in the Punta Pacifica area neighborhood of Panama City. She provides the following: Hi Don, I talked to Frank and Andres, and the consensus is that the asking prices for new construction in Punta Pacific for something on the ocean front 2500 per m2, however, a good, and very competative price would about 2000 USD per m2. This figure will vary depending on the level of the apartment and its finishes... but a good price that one should jump on for something new on the water in Punta Pacifica is 2000 per m2. hope this helps... Merry Christmas, Lucy" OK, great, and thanks. So, for a very nice 250 square meter apartment, the builders will probably start off by asking about $625,000 and the buyer should jump on that same apartment for $500,000. Those are the current price ranges, today, 24 December 2008, for new construction in Punta Pacifica. And don't forget to say "Merry Christmas" because it costs the builder about $200,000 to build this apartment. Ho Ho Ho...

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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Gringos Adrift At Sea Off Of The Panamanian Coast

Expat Tales By Rolando Espinoza for TVN Noticias - 43 year-old American Daniel Witt, 65 year-old Canadian Bruce Hill, 19 year-old Panamanian Tria Gomez, 53 year-old Panamanian Isabel Miranda and a 4 year-old child were adrift at sea for more than 30 hours in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean off of the coast of Panama. The five people departed the province of Bocas del Toro last Tuesday when their sailboat suffered mechanical difficulties and they were set adrift off of the Veraguas coast. A boat from the National Maritime Service towed them to Fort Sherman in Colon where paramedics were waiting and they were taken to the Manuel Amador Guerrero hospital. All were released after they were checked out by doctors.
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MOLIRENA Meets Today To Discuss Political Alliances

PoliticsBy Meredith Serracín for the Panama America - The members of Panama MOLIRENA political party will make an important decision today. The National Executive Council of the party will meet to evaluate their alliance with the Panameñista party. Sergio González Ruiz, the President of the party, said meeting is being held in response to a request made by party members. González explained two things can come from this meeting. One could be to ask for a convention to evaluate the party's alliance and support of presidential candidate Juan Carlos Varela, and the other could be to approve an alliance with the Cambio Democratico political party and Ricardo Martinelli. If the last one is approved, the party would then solicit Varela to join forces with Ricardo Martinelli. González added that within the MOLIRENA party there are very serious people who can not be bought out, in reference to statements made by the Panameñista candidate Juan Carlos Varela, who said Martinelli is trying to buy the election. The Executive Council of the MOLIRENA party will meet today at 6:00 pm in the Palacio Dorado restaurant. (Comments Follow)
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And Then There's The Traffic Accidents...

Cars & Transportation

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I know there's nothing really interesting going on in Panama when the evening news consists of little more than street crime and traffic accidents. Last night and this morning were like that - a steady stream of car vs. bus, car vs. power pole, taxi vs. car, what have you. When they have nothing else to talk about, the camera crews and reporters will park in front of the entrance to the Emergency Room at the Santo Tomas hospital and film every poor battered soul that comes rolling in. To me, that's the same as saying "there's nothing else worth talking about going on." Oh yeah, there were a bunch of traffic accidents yesterday. Thought you might like to know, but of course that statement will be true today, tomorrow, and every day for the rest of my life. Don't worry, I'll only break it out when I'm bored.

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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Street Crime Out Of Control in Panama

Crime & Punishment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Every year in the month of December and the weeks leading up to Christmas there's a spike in street crime, but recently there has been a steady stream of local news reports about one shooting after another. Most of the violence appears to be youth gang and drug related as opposed to your standard run-of-the-mill thefts for money. In a recent interview with La Estrella PRD Presidential candidate Balbina Herrera actually blamed the United States for the current wave of street crime - saying if the US military had not destroyed the institution of the Panamanian Defense Forces 19 years ago, then we would not be facing the levels of drug and gang related violence on the streets today. Yeah, I know, that's nuts, but it shows you where she's coming from. What really matters is there's more drugs on the streets of Panama now than ever before, the police are way behind the power curve and they have clearly lost the initiative. In short - street crime is exploding and the government is trying to figure out what to do about it. So far, nothing has worked and the punk kids who are doing this stuff walk as juvenile offenders - they still have not figured out the whole "tried as an adult" thing down here yet. Eventually, they will, it's only a matter of time, but the question remains, when?

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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Pastor and Pregnant Wife Killed in Arraiján Home Invasion Robbery

Crime & PunishmentBy Denise Lara for Telemetro Reporta - The crime occurred in the "7th of September" neighborhood of Arraiján. A double homicide took place in Arraiján at dawn on Tuesday morning, after subjects entered the house of Isaac Atencio y Damaris Ramírez, and both were killed. Apparently the subjects were going to rob the couple and the struggled with Atencio who he had surprised. The assailants opened fire against him and his wife, who was six months pregnant. Atencio died at the scene and his wife died enroute to the hospital. Atencio lived in the 7th of September neighborhood and had been a Pastor for the past five years. There have been no arrests in this crime.
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File on Captured FARC Guerrilla Transferred to Panama City

Panama News By Rocío I. Martins A. for El Siglo - Witnesses identify the presumed guerrillas. Yesterday the file containing sworn statements from seven inhabitants from the community of Manené, located in Darién province, was sent to the offices of Auxiliary Public Prosecutor, Luis Martinez. Among those declarations is the one from the person who acted as a guide for the guerrillas, as well as from the border police and the teachers who had contact with the six presumed Colombian insurgents on Friday, 12 December 2008, when they entered the area illegally. In those sworn statements taken by the Circuit Prosecutor in the Darién, the people who were interviewed identified the five men and one woman who entered the town of Manené heavily armed as members of the Colombian Armed Revolutionary Forces (FARC), according to a judicial source. It will fall to the Auxiliary Prosecutor Luis Martinez to take the sworn statement from the presumed FARC member who was wounded and captured during the exchange of gunfire with Panamanian border patrol police officers and from the teacher who was supposedly forced to cook for them. Later Martinez will have to determine, through his investigations, if they really were FARC guerrillas who entered Panama illegally. Until the doctor who is treating the presumed Colombian insurgent authorizes it, personnel from the Auxiliary Prosecutor's office will not be able to take his sworn declaration.
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Another Arrest in the FECE Corruption Case

CorruptionBy Carlos Rodriguez for La Critica - Augusto Enrique Cordova was arrested last Sunday by DIJ agents who were executing an arrest warrant for "crimes against the patrimony" (corruption). The file corresponds to the embezzlement of $1.5 million dollars from the Fund for the Fairness and Quality of Education (FECE), monies supposedly destined for the improvement of 25 schools. So far there are eleven people in custody in this case. (Editor's Comment: This is another report related to the ongoing investigations into the FECE corruption case in which corrupt government officials, mostly working for the Ministry of Education in San Miguelito, forged checks and stole government funds that were supposed to improve the education system in that area.)
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Daniel Delgado Diamante Files Complaint Against La Prensa

Panama News By RAFAEL PÉREZ G. for La Prensa - Panama's former Minister of Government and Justice Daniel Delgado Diamante filed a complaint for lack of ethics yesterday against the La Prensa newspaper and one of its journalists, Santiago Fascetto, before the National Council of Journalism. On the matter, the director of the newspaper, Siaska Salcedo, said this is another attempt by the former minister to discredit the messenger in order to turn aside the message, which is the crime of the death of Corporal Andrés García. (Photo Credit: LA PRENSA/Maydée Romero)
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A Report on Quality Inexpensive Medical Care in Panama At The Field Level

Healthcare

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received today via email from Mike Hinton: "Don, this happened today in Cerro Cama. Today before my wife got up I gashed my hand wide open with a chisel in the web between my trigger finger and thumb. Because it was a wedge-shaped wood chisel, sharp enough to shave with, the gap was huge. It was about two inches long and over a half inch deep. I lost probably a pint of blood before I could get it to quit bleeding. I had splattered blood from the shop, through the house, into the bath and the sink - it looked like someone had slaughtered a hog. My wife Edilsa came in washed it with antibacterial soap, then held the cut open and poured it full of alcohol. She had to make a pressure bandage and wrap my hand really tight with an ace bandage to get the bleeding stopped. Today there was a female doctor at the clinic here in town thanks to a government program to help pregnant women and small kids so the clinic was full up. Due to blood loss and with at my wife's instance, they took me straight in. After cleaning the cut again (at which time I almost passed out) they gave me local shots in my hand, put two stitches inside the gap and another five outside, and the cleaned me up and dressed the wound with new bandages. On the way out they gave me 16 anti inflammatory pain pills (Diclofenaco) which I looked up on the Internet. It's good, new, and probably expensive in the states. A tetanus shot would have added another $1.10 to the bill but since I did not have my pensianado card with me to get my discount I decided to not get the shot. The total cost, including the stitches, pills, and a prescription for antibiotics was $5.50 (that's five dollars and fifty cents.) Mike" Glad to see you got it patched up, Mike. A trip to the ER in the US for an identical injury would probably start at $200 to $300 bucks, at least. And for the record, your "trigger finger" is also known as your index finger, unless you're doing something weird to hold the gun... (grin)

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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Proposal To Ease Traffic Jams Caused By Minor Accidents

Cars & TransportationPanama America - Panamanian National Assemblyman Leandro Ávila presented a draft of a bill that would allow for the immediate removal of cars involved in minor traffic accidents from public streets and highways as a measure towards improving the traffic situation in Panama City. According to Avila, the initiative would allow the report generated by the insurance company representatives who respond to the scene of accidents to be used by Traffic Judges to determine who was responsible for the accident. He mentioned the slowness of the response by Traffic Police to arrive at the scene of accidents, who until now are the only ones with the authority to produce an official report. He said the high number of accidents is due to the lack of courtesy and tolerance by drivers, as well as the increases in the number of cars on the roads every year, compounded by the fact that the major entry and exit routes to Panama City continue to remain the same.
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x-Clinched Playoff Spot; y-Division Champ; z-Clinched Home Field

Sports Section

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - As many of you know I'm a lifelong Giants fan. Last night the New York Giants (12-3) beat the NFC South Champion Carolina Panthers (11-4) 34-28 in overtime, securing home field advantage for the upcoming NFL playoffs. It was a real "cardiac" game, with the Giants almost giving up several interceptions and a fumble in overtime that would have handed the game to the Panthers. On the last drive of the game the Giants were carried to victory on the back of Derrick Ward, who ripped of a key 51-yard rumble up the middle to put the Giants in position for a win, another 14-yard run to put them within field goal distance, and another 17-yard run to put them on the 1-yard line. Brandon Jacobs bulldozed the pile for the final touchdown to win the game, securing the critical home field advantage. The Giants finish out the season on the road next week playing the Minnesota Vikings. Life, as they say, is good...

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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56 Killed in Vehicluar Accidents in Chiriquí in 2008

Cars & TransportationBy Evelio Valdés for El Siglo - A total of 56 people have lost their lives in traffic accidents in the province of Chiriquí so far in 2008, the same number as in 2007, but authorities fear the tally might rise in the coming days as a result of the Christmas and New Years celebrations. Statistics from the Operations Directorate of the Ground Traffic and Transit Authority reveal that, through last weekend, the district of David registered the greatest number of victims with 13, followed by Barú with 10, Bugaba with nine, Alanje with seven and Boquete with five. Of the 56 deaths so far in 2008, 20 have been in collisions, 19 people were run over, 10 in single vehicle accidents, five in overturned vehicles, and two people who fell from moving vehicles. More accidents take place on Saturdays and Sundays.
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MOLIRENA Breaks Ties with Panameñistas, Join Martinelli

Politics By Carlos Estrada Aguilar for La Critica - The leadership of Panama's MOLIRENA political party decided yesterday to break their alliance with the Panameñistas and to begin conversations with Ricardo Martinelli's Cambio Democratico party. This new reality creates a politically complex situation, in that the CD and the Unión Patriótica (UP) will have to open up sufficient space to allow for MOLIRENA candidates to participate in the process. The situation is even more complex for the Panameñistas, because with this loss of a traditional ally the possibilities of a triumph for their presidential candidate Juan Carlos Varela are more distant. Things don't end there. This zigzagging in the decisions made by MOLIRENA president Sergio González Ruiz has created a new outbreak of struggles internal to the party who would like to take advantage of the situation to remove him from power.
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Tocumen Traffic Up 20% Over 2007

Cars & TransportationBy ROBERTO GONZÁLEZ JIMÉNEZ for La Prensa - Between January - September 2008 3.34 million passengers have used the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama, according to a report from the administration of the airport. This represents an increase of 564,000 more travelers, or an increase of 20% compared to the same time frame in 2007.
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American Killed in Diving Accident (Dive Operator Negligence)

Expat Tales

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received via email: "I would like to caution anyone who wishes to SCUBA dive to be very careful of the company and people that you hire. Last Wednesday five young people went scuba diving in Portobello, I believe most of them were in their mid to late twenties. The ocean was very rough with poor visibility and strong currents. The divers were in the water when their hired boat lost its engine (engine wouldn't start and then fell off!) the boat operator had no radio nor any type of communication to shore and the divers lost sight of one another due to the waves and fierce current and the drifting boat. One of the girls swam for two hours to get help. Help finally arrived and one of the male divers was missing. A search and rescue was initiated by the aero club, the company where the young man worked (Maersk Shipping) hired a helicopter to search, SINAPROC had boats in the water and kayaks. His body was found around noon on Friday near Drakes Island. His funeral will be tomorrow, a very sad note for a young man with a brilliant future. KC" (more)

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FAQ: What's The Best Way To Shop For Real Estate In This Market?

Real Estate

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received today via email: "I am looking at the possibility of buying a condo in Punta Pacifica. Could any of you folks familiar with the real estate market, give me your thoughts on the prices? Will the prices start to slowly come down next year or is the external demand from Panama sufficiently large enough to maintain the price level and new projects that were originally planned to come-on-line in 2009? I was in Panama for a couple of days this week and the real estate agents seem as pushy as ever. It may be because of desperation, or that the demand for real estate is still going strong from the ex-pat community. Any thoughts would be appreciated." My advice - shop around, make several offers, negotiate for your best price and deal. (more)

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Noriega's Fate To Be Decided in January 2009 - France or Panama?

History & Reference By José Edwin Sánchez M. for La Critica - The fate of the former Panamanian military dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega will be decided in January 2009 when the Supreme Court of Tampa decides if he will be extradited to France where he faces pending cases for money laundering, or if he will be returned to Panama. One of his lawyers in Panama, Rolando Rodriguez, said Noriega wants to return to Panama and to face each of the cases pending against him and therefore he stays in contact with his defense team, which also includes the lawyer Julio Berrios, a specialist in International Rights.
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Quálitas eyes expansion to Costa Rica, Panama - Central America

Insurance By Maria Alejandra Moreno / Business News Americas - Mexico's largest automobile insurance company Quálitas, which launched operations in El Salvador earlier this month, is analyzing an expansion to Costa Rica and Panama as part of its internationalization strategy, top executives from Quálitas told BNamericas. "Both markets are on our radar," said company CFO Wilfrido Castillo, who does not rule out entering other Central American countries. The Panamanian and Costa Rican insurance markets are Central America's two largest. Panama's insurance industry reported US$607mn in written premiums in 2007, data from the local regulator show. In Costa Rica, state-run monopoly Instituto Nacional de Seguros recorded 254bn colones in premiums (US$520mn) in 2007. (more)
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On This Day: US Forces Invade Panama

History & Reference By findingDulcinea Staff: On Dec. 20, 1989, the U.S. launched an invasion of Panama to remove Gen. Manuel Noriega from power. A Tense Stand-Off: Gen. Manuel Noriega, head of Panama's Defense Forces and de facto president since 1983, had worked with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency from the 1950s to the 1980s, aiding the U.S. in its bid to curb the spread of communism throughout Central and South America. By the late 1980s, however, relations with Washington had become tense after a congressional panel concluded that he was playing a major role in Central American drug trafficking. On Feb. 5, 1988, he was indicted by U.S. grand jury on money laundering and drug trafficking charges, prompting President Ronald Reagan impose economic sanctions on the country. (more)
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Dont' Forget - Just Cause Anniversary Today

History & Reference

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Just a gentle reminder - on this day in 1989 US military forces invaded the Republic of Panama to remove the military dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega from power and to restore democracy to this tiny Central American country. While the vast majority of Panamanians applauded this action and welcomed the US military with open arms, there are small anti-US factions of who are rabidly anti-American, and they always protest on this date. A march has been planned for Panama City today that will start at the Parque Porras and will run past the site of the former US Embassy on Balboa Avenue, as well as the statue to the martyrs on 4th of July and then down to the statue marking those Panamanians who died in the invasion in Chorrillo. This demonstration and march should be avoided, as well as any confrontation should any random person on the street decide to make a point. Just leave the area as quickly and safely as possible.

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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IS THE EXPANSION OF THE ‘BIG DITCH’ JUST A ‘BIG PITCH’?

Canal Expansion ROBERT R. FRUMP for the Gulf Shipper - Plans proceed, but the economy and “Freight Pain” beg the question: Is the world still flat? Gulf ports say the containers will come. The expansion of the Panama Canal — the “Big Ditch,” as it is affectionately called — is on schedule. To curb any doubters, the canal authority affirmed financing in early December for the $5 billion-plus project. Still, even in an era where government-sponsored “infrastructure” projects seem to be popular, critics question whether the new “Big Ditch” will really re-order the world of U.S. and Gulf shipping as prophesied. Could it be just a “Big Pitch” for port expansion — with little underlying economic reality? Why would Gulf ports not expand? (more)
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Money Laundering Charges Filed Against David Murcia Guzmán in Panama

Law & Lawyers By Rocío I. Martins A. for El Siglo - Panama's First Anti Drug Prosecutor José Abel Almengor has pressed charges for laundering drug money against Colombians David Murcia Guzmán and his ex wife Joanne Ivette León who is still a fugitive from justice. In the first coordination meeting with representatives from the Colombian government held in the Offices of the Solicitor General of the Nation, the prosecutor Almengor officially delivered a formal request for assistance with regards to drug trafficking in an effort to recover additional evidence on the case, since Murcia is being held in Colombia. Colonel Gloria Quintero, the Police Adjunct from the Colombian Embassy in Panama, said the investigations are in their initial phases with regards to formulating charges, since Murcia is being investigated for laundering assets, connections with drug trafficking, and illegally receiving funds. The purpose of the commission is to continue the relation of cooperation for the exchange of information on the parallel investigations being conducted in both Panama and Colombia on the DMG companies. The Anti Drug Prosecutor's Office is waiting for reports on how DMG and the more than 200 companies tied to them used the illegally received funds through more than 350 accounts. El Siglo tried to contact Roniel Ortiz, one of the lawyers of Murcia in Panama, but he could not be located.
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Snow Day in New York - Summer in Panama

Weather

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I just spoke to my sister in New York. As of 4:00 pm they have already received about 9 inches of snow, and are expecting another four to five hours of steady snow. They should have over a foot by the time it's done. Luckily she took the day off and didn't have to commute down to the city today. She asked me what the weather was like here in Panama, and I told her "well, it's 78 degrees but only because I've got the air conditioner running." Dry season is here now right on schedule, so you can expect no rain, light warm winds, and just "nice" from now until April. And as usual, the worse the weather is in the US and Canada, the better it is down here. Anytime you'd like to visit, just come on down. Now's the time. You can go back when it all melts...

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 Seizes Mexico Company ICA Funds

Law & LawyersLatin American Herald Tribune - PANAMA CITY -- Mexican construction and engineering firm ICA, which operates a toll highway in Panama, called for respect for the rule of law after a portion of its capital was seized in a dispute with Panamanian tax officials. According to the company, the cautionary measure taken in response to "alleged tax crimes" being investigated by the Panamanian courts, "presents a bad image (of the country) to investors who have deposited their trust in Panama." In a statement made public Thursday, the company said that the differences are the result of "a misunderstanding" over "the criteria adopted to calculate taxable income" from its operations in the country, where ICA has been present since 1996. (more)
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Avoid Anti-Just Cause Demonstration Tomorrow

Protests & Demonstrations

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - "Date: 19 December 2008 To: U.S. Embassy Warden System, Subject: Security Update – Possible Anti-U.S. Demonstration for Saturday, December 20, 2008. Dear Wardens: Please disseminate this message to U.S. citizens in your area. Thank you. On Saturday Dec 20th Suntracs and Frenadeso have announced that they will be holding a demonstration marking the anniversary of the 1989 United States invasion of Panama. The demonstration is expected to start in front of the Old U.S. Embassy on Balboa Ave and then proceed to Parque Porras and then on to the 20th Monument in El Chorrillo. (more)

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