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Tuesday, October 21 2014 @ 02:23 PM EDT

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Panama: Coosemupar divided on banana sales

Money Matters Tholen - The search for a solution to the crisis around banana sales contracts has lead to discord between two parties within the banana cooperative who both pretend to have the authority to speak on behalf on cooperative. The union of banana plantation workers Sitrachilco thinks it should not continue to sell to Chiquita at $ 4,55 per box. Also an agreement with the Italian company Ale Fruit – which in principle would be willing to offer a better price than Chiquita – would leave the cooperative better off. The Italian bank San Paoli IMI would grant Coosemupar a credit line of $ 15 mln. while Ale Fruit would be prepared to divide profits from European banana sales on a 40/60 basis, granting Coosemupar 40% of the profit. The Board of Coosemupar, with Sixto Gutiérrez presiding, argues that Sitrachilco can not act on behalf of the cooperative at all. The Board tends towards an agreement with Chiquita, which has demonstrated to be willing to continue to collaborate. Publication date: 22 May 2006 Author: André van der Wiel

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Local Rice Production Falling Short

Money Matters Panama will be importing 800 metric tons of rice to cover the a shortage in national consumption, and the purchase will be made through an open bidding process on 15 June in the Agricultural and Industrial Stock-market. The official call establishes the use of statistics to determine the degree of buying agent participation and acquisitions of locally produced rice. The Commission of Licenses will accept certifications of purchase that are valid between 7 June 2005 and 7 June 2006. The import licenses will be valid until 15 August and importations of rice will be subject to a 3% tariff. National rice yields continue to be very low and soon will reach an average of only 90 quintals per hectare. In spite of this situation producers insist it is necessary to raise the price by $.05 cents per pound to offset higher production costs.
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Bay Cleanup Timetable - Ten to Twelve Years

Panama News It will take at least ten to twelve years for the Bay of Panama to be clean enough for swimming, as it was back in the 1940's and 1950's. A Ministry of Health study indicates that the project to clean up Panama City and 350 square kilometers of the bay ill take at least ten years. These details were revealed in a seminar held with representatives from the Inter American Development Bank on the on the handling and administration of a $45 million dollar loan made as part of the project to clean up the bay.
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Demand for Technicians Increasing, Interest Low

Schools & Education Juan Planells, director of the National Institute for the Human Development (Inadeh), hopes that with the agreement signed with the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) bright young people will get excited about entering technical fields of study and will stop thinking only about going to college to get a degree. In fact, in Panama and San Miguelito for every 20 students studying science or law there are only two in technical careers. Planells, who will soon be returning to work after having suffered a recent heart attack, admitted that the low motivation of the Panamanians for technical professions is a cultural problem, although those who study technical areas have a better chance of getting a job.

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Will Panama Change Retiree Benefits?

Law & LawyersThis morning on one of the deabte shows the panel discussed the fact that the Panamanian National Assembly has before it "Project 17" which would modify the benefits given to retirees and "pensionados" in this country. These benefits are one of the primary reasons why foreign retirees see Panama as an attractive place to retire and live. In reality, the original intent of these benefits were to give a break to Panamanian retirees and the fact that foreigners might enjoy the same benefits came as an afterthought. Now that there is a wave of foriegn retirees coming here, the perception is that these people have money and should be taxed. The interesting part about the debate this morning is that the panel members recognized that there are now 80,000 foreign retirees living in Panama, that to a large extent this influx is responsible for the construciton boom, that 15,000 retirees ran from Costa Rica to Panama after they changed their tax structure to get more money from the retirees. (more)
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Cerro Ancon - The View From The Top

Travel & Tourism I got up to the top of Cerro Ancon early this morning. You really can't beat it for a view of the city. You can see the ships going through the Panama Canal, Casco Viejo, Balboa and the old Canal Zone, and down Balboa Avenue to Paitilla. There were two security guards keeping an eye on the place. One was a National Police officer, and the other was a security guard from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the government organization that has inherited the responsibilities of the old Inter-oceanic Region Authority (ARI.) According to the guards, they only see about thirty to forty visitors on a "good day," and mostly the people that go up there are either school kids on a field trip or tourists. They say that the average Panamanian almost never makes the trip, and that's a shame. Anyone can drive up there, seven days a week, from 6:00 am to 5:45 pm. They are open every day, and there's no charge. If you haven't taken the time to go up there you really should go check out the "view from the top." (photos below)


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Indigenous Violence, Attacks Grow in Colombia

Panama News (AXcess News) New York - Voicing renewed concern at the impact of Colombia's four decades of civil conflict on its indigenous communities, with smaller groups threatened with extinction, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) reported today that nearly 50 Wounaan people, seven of them leaders, had fled to neighboring Panama in fear for their lives. "Their journey started more than six weeks ago when they first fled their small river settlements in the western Colombian department of Choco, escaping threats from an irregular armed group," UNHCR reported from Panama's remote Darien region. Their decision to cross the border was not an easy one. Leaving their traditional territories had already caused the group intense anguish. But, after weeks of fear and worry, they felt they were not safe in Colombia and had no choice but to flee again. On Tuesday, 47 people boarded three small boats to make the dangerous crossing over the rough sea to Panama's Darien region on the Pacific coast, the Agency said.
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Banana drama - Fungus Could Threaten Worldwide

Food & Drink Only lottery tickets and petrol outsell Britain's favourite fruit - and now a deadly fungus is threatening its existence. Science editor Robin McKie reports on a natural disaster that could change our eating habits, wipe out eco-systems and end a worldwide industry. It is living proof of God's benevolence, say Christians. Convenient for handling and biting, it has a tab for wrapper-removal, a pleasing taste and an obvious sell-by-date mechanism - its skin turns black. Celestial confection-making at its best. And to judge by supermarket figures, this love of the banana is shared by millions. Sales of the fruit have recently reached all-time highs. More than 95 per cent of UK households buy bananas every week. Only lottery tickets and petrol sales outstrip them. Bananas are us, it seems. The trouble is that this popularity is under threat. According to reports by biologists, the banana could be heading down the road to extinction. Or, to be more precise, the Cavendish - the variety sold in shops throughout Britain - may be en route to oblivion.
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Survivor: Panama – Exile Island Charity Auction

Groups & Organizations Norfolk, VA (PRWEB) May 19, 2006 –- Exciting new collectables have been added to the Survivor: Panama – Exile Island charity auction on eBay to benefit Operation Smile Panama and 24 other countries. The authentic items are signed by the castaways themselves, including name tags and the flags used during episode 12’s Perch Immunity Challenge. The charity auction is running from May 14 - June 11, 2006. Also new to the auction is the final Tribal Council voting urn with the seven deciding jury votes for Sole Survivor, all signed by host Jeff Probst. The item fetching the highest bidding thus far is the Immunity Necklace, which has surpassed $15,000.00. By logging onto http://www.survivorcharity.com or onto eBay fans and collectors can bid on authentic challenge-related items and other memorabilia signed by the castaways and host Jeff Probst. Items include tribal and individual immunity items as well as challenge props including hand-carved snakes, puzzle pieces, faux coffins and flags.
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Exposing Panama City's golden gift

Travel & Tourism By Regis St. Louis LONELY PLANET - Long overshadowed by its forested neighbor to the north, Panama has finally earned its place among the world's hot new destinations. The wonder is that it has taken so long to be discovered. Like Costa Rica, Panama is packed with wildlife, teeming jungles and breathtaking highlands; it's one of Latin America's safest destinations; the currency is the U.S. dollar; and it's close -- it takes less time to fly between New York and Panama than it does to fly across the United States. But most importantly, Panama has Panama City, a steamy salsa-infused capital with a beautiful historic district reminiscent of Old Havana, dozens of restaurants, nightspots and jazz clubs, and a rich mesh of cultures all adding to the lively street scene beneath the tropical sun. Casco Viejo is the city's colonial gem, complete with picturesque plazas, cobblestone streets and old mansions near the edge of the bay. Dilapidated for years, this neighborhood was first rediscovered by the city's artists, who came seeking cheap rents amid old-world ambience. Since then, others have followed suit, giving the crumbling homes a much-needed face-lift. One of Casco Viejo's most famous arrivistes is the singer-actor-activist Ruben Blades. He is only slightly overshadowed by President Martin Torrijos, who holds court in the elegant Palacio de las Garzas, named after the slender white herons (garzas) gliding about nearby.
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Mixed views on Brazil drug arrest

Crime & Punishment By Daniel Schweimler: BBC News, Buenos Aires - Rayo Montano had been a fugitive for 10 years Officials in the US, Europe and Latin America are trying to assess the significance of the arrest of one of the world's most wanted drug smugglers. Colombian-born Pablo Rayo Montano was captured in Brazil last week, after being on the run for 10 years. More than 30 other people were also arrested and assets worth millions of dollars were seized. The success of this operation will be a huge boost to the international fight against the illegal drugs trade. But the profits are so enormous and the levels of corruption across Latin America so deep, that aspiring young traffickers will already be filling the void left by another fallen drugs dealer. Officials working in several countries, including the US, Argentina, Colombia, Panama, Mexico and Brazil, tracked Mr Rayo Montano down in Sao Paulo, where he had lived for the past three years. Police said he had set up a number of companies, including an art gallery, to launder the proceeds from an estimated sale of 22 tons of cocaine a month to the US and Europe.
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Fire Insurance Coverage for Apartment Contents

Professional Services by Kevin Bradley: Panama has very reasonable Homeowners protection to cover the contents of your residence for Fire, Theft, Liability and more. In Panama, we insure the building and the contents under separate policies. We recommend that you insure a portion of the contents under a homeowner´s multirisk policy. This policy will include coverage for fire, theft, explosion, earthquake, hurricane or windstorm, flood, smoke and water damages. It will also cover your electronic equipment (% of the basic sum insured); theft (% of the basic sum insured); assault (up to $250.00 cash); breakage of windows; general liability up to $100,000.00 and ambulance service. Fire legal liability is also a provided for damage sustained by your neighbors from a fire originating in your residence. Claims are paid based on a "depreciated value" of the item insured. I encourage you to save your receipts or proof of purchase certificates, in case of a claim. I have had experience where a friendly adjustor will just tell my client to go out and buy the same TV, Radio etc. that was stolen or damaged.
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Judge orders ex-president extradited TO PANAMA for trial

Law & Lawyers A Panamanian judge has ordered former Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Alemán to be arrested on money-laundering charges and extradited to Panama to stand trial, court officials said Thursday. The two Central American countries do not have an extradition treaty, and it remained unclear whether Nicaraguan officials would follow the order. Alemán, who was president from 1997 to 2002, is accused of opening 60 bank accounts in Panama to launder $57 million stolen from Nicaragua's government coffers. Judge Adolfo Mejía also ordered the arrest of Alemán's wife, María Fernanda; his father-in-law, José Antonio Flores; and his former tax chief, Byron Jerez. They are accused of signing off on some of the accounts. In 2003, a Nicaraguan court sentenced Alemán to 20 years' imprisonment for fraud and money laundering. His sentence was reduced to house arrest, and appeals courts dominated by his Constitutionalist Liberal Party eventually freed him conditionally. Alemán also faces a civil trial in Miami over allegations he purchased U.S. bank certificates with money stolen from Nicaragua's government. http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/world/americas/14615384.htm?source=rss&channel=miamiherald_americas
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WBA Light Flyweight champ Roberto "Araña" Vasquez's 3rd Title Defense Tonight

Sports Section by Christian Giudice: On Saturday, May 20, Panama will hold the first Pay-Per-View event in its storied boxing history. The 8-bout card will be held at the ATLAPA Convention Center in Panama City, and transmitted by Cable Onda throughout the commercial entities of Panama, Venezuela and various countries within the region. The event will highlight the third title defense of WBA Light Flyweight champ Roberto "Araña" Vasquez's current reign. In a bout that could be his last at 108 pounds, Vasquez (21-1, 17 KO’s) faces Venezuela's Noel "El Verdugo" Arambulet in a 12-rounder. Arambulet (22-5-1, 11 KO’s), who hails from Falcon, Venezuela, held the WBA Minimumweight title in 1999 and regained it in 2002, but might be recognized more for his losses to little big men – Koki Kameda, Brahim Asloum, and Yutaka Niida – during a career that has spanned nearly 10 years. While Vasquez tries to punch his way out of 108, where he has etched a unique legacy, Arambulet, 31, attempts to revive a career on the downside. Yet, he has stated to various Panamanian boxing writers that his ring experience will be a deciding factor. Thus, it is essential that the elder Arambulet – who has lost three of his last five contests – must control the momentum early to resist the powerful southpaw. Several Panamanian prospects such as Roynet Caballero, Javier Tello and former WBO Bantamweight champ Mauricio "Cry Baby" Martinez will also be featured on the PPV card. General admission to the show costs $8, while ringsiders pay $25-$60.

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Colombian drug kingpin nabbed in Brazil

Crime & Punishment Federal authorities in Miami today announced the arrest of a reputed Colombian drug kingpin who headed a now-dismantled smuggling syndicate charged with supplying more than 15 tons of Colombian cocaine a month into the United States and Europe. Operation Twin Oceans, a three-year multi-agency probe, snared Pablo Rayo-Montano, one of the U.S. government's most-wanted drug traffickers, along with 100 associates, according to R. Alexander Acosta, interim U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. ''This was a worldwide drug ring,'' Acosta said at an afternoon press conference. Federal agents confiscated 52 tons of cocaine and $70 million in ''ill-gotten assets'' from his organization, they said. Rayo-Montano, also known as ''El Loco,'' is the lead defendant among 32 Colombians and others named in a drug-trafficking indictment unsealed today in Miami federal court. Of those, 21 suspects including Rayo-Montano were arrested on Tuesday in the United States, Colombia, Brazil and Panama, authorities said. The defendants will be tried in Miami on charges of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.
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Smithsonian to coordinate planning for Panama's Coiba National Park

Panama News On May 17th the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) signed a contract authorizing funding for the Smithsonian Institution to implement the project: "Promoting Marine Conservation in a World Heritage Site in the Tropical Eastern Pacific," --the revision and updating of the management plan for Panama's Coiba National Park and Special Marine Protection Zone. The project is coordinated by Conservation International (CI), the United Nations Foundation (UNF) and UNESCO's World Heritage Center. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) will direct the process of revision and updating of the current plan, which was originally prepared by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECI) in 1996. Over the next 18 months a process will be implemented to develop a realistic, modular management plan while promoting improved quality of life for residents of areas within the zone of influence of the park.
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Little Giants in Panama

Groups & Organizations Dr. Rick Warner (written Friday night 5/19) - Something extraordinary has been happening to 39 of our students this week. They have become immersed in a society considerably different from their own, rubbing shoulders with ordinary people in a developing country. The students have been learning about community organizing and sustainable agriculture. They have visited an indigenous community, traveling by dugout canoe, learning first hand about the culture and history of the Embera people. Most importantly, they have reflected on the value of working toward an understanding of a different culture. They are developing international and cultural empathy and making multiple connections with their liberal arts experience at large. No, this is not a course-related immersion trip. This is the football trip to Panama. Student blogs provide a fascinating window on their reflections – so far – on this remarkable venture. There is something about traveling abroad that opens up pathways of reflection about life at home, and their (our) realizations are inevitably couched in comparative terms. For my own part, I am reflecting on my previous trips to Latin America with students. Many of the same powerful synergies have emerged.
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Americans Working Overseas May See Big Jump in Tax Bill

Money MattersBy Tom Herman, Wall Street Journal May 20, 2006; Page B4: Many Americans working abroad may be hit with significantly higher tax bills under the new tax law signed Wednesday by President Bush. In some cases, high-paid expatriates could owe tens of thousands of dollars in additional taxes. Among those most likely to get hit are Americans in countries with high housing costs -- such as Hong Kong and Singapore -- and whose companies don't help cover the additional tax burdens of living abroad, accountants say. For companies with special expatriate tax packages, the additional costs could prompt them to send fewer workers abroad -- and possibly bring some back home. Under the old law, Americans working abroad could exclude as much as $80,000 of their foreign-earned compensation for 2006. Under the new law, that figure rises to $82,400 for this year -- but income above that level is now typically subject to higher effective tax rates than before. The new law also greatly reduces the maximum amount of housing costs that overseas workers may exclude or deduct.

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An Update from Bruce Quinn

Theater & Fine Arts I continue to be wrapped up in theatrical projects here in PTY with LA EXTRAÑA PAREJA / THE ODD COUPLE by Neil Simon doing very well at the Teatro La Quadra right across the street from the CORTIJO & SIETE MARES restaurants in El Cangrejo. The show is in Spanish and we're running through June 4. The GREAT news is that we have been invited to Venezuela to perform in the Teatro Maria Teresa Corriño which is Venezuela's National Theater. This is really a compliment to theater in general here in PTY for any group to be invited outside of the country to show our stuff. we'll be performing in Caracas for two evenings June 30 & July 1, 2006. Another developing story is that three young Panamanian chanteuses are at this time in Buenos Aires competing in the Latin American version of The AMERICAN IDOL. The organization has held auditions in four LA capitals including Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and now Argentina. 6,000 aspirants auditioned in each of the capitals and now they have been whittled down to 25 finalists in each capital...except BA where the auditions are being held. Our ladies, Janelle Davidson, Priscilla Moreno, and Ingrid Icaza Garcia de Paredes all have passed the first audition and their second hurdle is this Monday. It would be nice if your readers could... say a little prayer ...for them as Dionne Warwick used to sing. Thanks for letting me bend your ear. Keep up the good work. Bruce Quinn Theatrical Director

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More Than $70 Million Seized in Pablo Rayo Montaño Network

Crime & PunishmentOne of the first properties acquired by Pablo Rayo Montaño was a lot in Gorgona, bought from a local lawyer for $85,000, sum that was not declared in its totality when the property was registered. According to the indictments the transaction was made through third parties, one of whom is related to a shipyard. Pablo Rayo Montaño also purchased luxury yachts and sponsored fishing tournaments for more than $300,000 in the Pacific. The organization also had among its operations a group dedicated to maritime transport and marine logistics. that supported drug trafficking vessels taking cocaine from Colombia and that stopped at the Tres Marias islands to refuel and resupply. The Colombian Ezequias Sánchez was the chief of the maritime transportation service, a.k.a. "Don Efra". In the Atlantic sector he maintained another group led by Eduardo Rocero who was in charge of the movement of "go-fast" speedboats. These boats moved the drugs from motherships and were used to transfer fuel. The network also participated in public auctions to buy land and houses. Also under investigation is an apartahotel located on Via Manuel Espinosa Batista that was supposedly owned by famous Colombian soccer player Freddy Rincón. Yesterday the second public prosecutor for drugs, Patricio Candanedo, said the Colombians will be extradited either to the United States or Colombia, and that the Panamanians will be processed here. Candanedo explained that more than $70 million dollars in property has been seized in several countries where the network operated.


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Insurance Fraud Ring Under Investigation

Cars & Transportation The First Penal Court will hold hearings on Monday morning on a group of eleven people who are involved in a network of people who are conducting insurance fraud based on fake car accidents. In the investigation conducted by the 13th District Attorney's office, they were able to establish that members of the group would simulate traffic accidents, and then later take the cars to repair shops owned by family members in order to charge the insurance companies. They DA also requested that the traffic police officers who filled out the accident forms be investigated as well, but the court rejected that request, deciding that the police officers were not involved in the network. The hearings were scheduled after the Public Ministry was able to determine that the people involved in the fraud network had a certain degree of connection to the owners of the car repair shops.
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Local Judges Will be Questioned

Crime & PunishmentMembers of the Commission on Women of the National Assembly will question local judges (corregidurías) on the superficial way they handle cases of interfamiliar violence. The President of the commission, Maricruz Padilla, said there is a "disorientation" that exists among the people who work for the judges. In order to work against this, they are preparing a seminar called "Attention to Victims of Domestic Violence." (Editor's Comment: The corregidurías are low level, local judges who are very often the first people to hear cases of domestic violence, fights, arguments between neighbors, petty theft, and other common crimes. They have limited powers, but are expected to keep the peace as best they can. In severe cases, they can forward the case file to a prosecutor for further legal, penal action when required. This hearing goes back to the controvertial appointment of the "ombudsman" who had an old domestic violence case in his closet.)
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More Dirty Cops Busted

Crime & Punishment Based on the testimony of two police officers recently arrested for drugs, the second prosecutor for drugs has been able to establish that several more police officers and several civilians are connected to a band dedicated to ripping off drug dealers in Panama City. The two officers that are already under arrest have been cooperating with the authorities and the investigation, according to prosecutor José Abel Almengor. Six additional police officers have been charged. Last Thursday another network of police officers was charged with stealing 200 kilos of drugs from drug dealers in 2003.
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MP Will Investigate MODESCO

Protests & Demonstrations The Public Ministry said they will be starting an investigation against members of the Colon Unemployed Movement (MODESCO) organization after a demonstration last Thursday in which some protest marchers had machetes in their hands. The Office of the Judge Advocate General will initiate the investigation, since according to Secretary General Rigoberto González they could have violated norm contemplated within the Penal Code. Any protest must be conducted within the norms as dictated by law, he said. Fabio Alvey, MODESCO spokesman, said they will probably hold more protests. And he said that while he does not condone violence, the group would be taking their protests to the houses of the people who have the power in their hands to fix the problems of the province. MODESCO has existed since 1992 and they have raised protests against every sitting government since that time, promoting Colon and trying to get additional government assistance. MODESCO has been granted scholarships by previous administrations, and they are now promoting the opening of the Multimodal Service and Industrial Center (CEMIS) to lower unemployment.
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26 Companies Bidding to Build Megaport

Canal Expansion A total of 26 companies have acquired the documents necessary to participate in the bidding to build and operate the "megaport" project on the Pacific end of the Panama Canal. The Panamanian Maritime Administration (AMP) has called a meeting for next Tuesday, 23 May, with representatives of the companies that will be participating in the bidding process. The harbor project will be developed within a land area measuring 1,114 hectares and will be built in three phases. First stage will consist of the construction of a total of 1,600 meters of linear wharf area, with a depth of 16.75 meters and capacity to handle Post Panamax ships.
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SUNTRACS and CAPAC - Headed for a Showdown

Protests & Demonstrations The SUNTRACS labor union failed to reach an agreement with the Panamanian Construction Board (CAPAC) again yesterday, and the rhetoric is heating up on both sides. The Ministry of Labor is mediating the negotiations which are not going well. Saúl Méndez, the secretary of the SUNTRACS labor union, walked out of the negotiations because the CAPAC representatives would not depart from their original proposal which is completely unacceptable to the workers. La Prensa tried to contact the Director of CAPAP and principle negotiator for this round Eduardo Rodríguez but he did not respond to telephone calls. SUNTRACS wants $0.15 cent raises per hour every year for four years, or a total of $.60 per hour more by 2010. CAPAC is offering only about $.01 cent per hour per year, or a total of $.04 cents per hour raise by 2010.
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Keys homeowners pulling up stakes

Real Estate By Robert Silk: ISLAMORADA, Fla. -- For most of the past 20 years, Benny Spaulding Jr., a third-generation fishing guide, has plied his trade in the waters off this Florida Keys town, which bills itself as the "Sportfishing Capital of the World." But this summer Spaulding, 37, plans on moving his family south, to a town just outside Managua, Nicaragua, where he says he can live the type of relaxed lifestyle that is becoming increasingly rare in the Florida Keys. "It is a beautiful place. The fishing is off the chart, the hunting. Everything that we used to have over here is over there and even better," Spaulding said of Nicaragua. "It is much more laid back and a much better atmosphere in my opinion." Until recently, Spaulding's decision to move to Central America might have seemed unusual. After all, the Florida Keys, a narrow, 120-mile strip of islands, have long attracted Americans looking for a slice of laid-back Caribbean paradise, no passport necessary. Even now, jeans and a decent shirt count as acceptable business attire around here. And a night out usually means sipping drinks at a waterfront tiki bar.
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Colombian indigenous leaders flee to Panama after death threats

Panama News DARIEN REGION, Panama, May 19 (UNHCR) – Fearing for their lives, seven leaders of Colombia's Wounaan indigenous group and their families, arrived by boat in Panama this week after fleeing further death threats. Their journey started more than six weeks ago when they first fled their small river settlements in the western Colombian department of Choco, escaping threats from an irregular armed group. Their decision to cross the border was not an easy one. Leaving their traditional territories had already caused the indigenous group intense anguish. But, after weeks of fear and worry, the group felt they were not safe in Colombia and had no choice but to flee again. On Tuesday, 47 people boarded three small boats to make the dangerous crossing over the rough sea to Panama's Darien region on the Pacific coast. Director of UNHCR's Bureau for the Americas, Philippe Lavanchy, on official mission to Panama, was informed by the national body for refugee affairs (ONPAR) of the group's arrival. He immediately went to the Darien where he found the 47 waiting in a small shelter, for news of their fate. Lavanchy held talks with the authorities to ensure that the newcomers would be allowed to stay and seek asylum in Panama. The Ministry of Government and Justice confirmed later that day that, in accordance with international law, the group would be allowed to remain.
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James Bond Movie-Like Villain Nailed by Narc Officers

Crime & Punishment by Jim Kouri: U.S. federal agents smashed an enormous criminal organization that operated from their privately owned islands, and possessed its own private navy. The Drug Enforcement Administration announced the results of Operation Twin Oceans, a multi-jurisdictional investigation that targeted the Pablo RAYO-Montano drug trafficking organization (DTO), a cocaine ring responsible for smuggling more than 15 tons of cocaine per month from Colombia to the streets of the United States and Europe. An international coalition spearheaded by the Brazilian Federal Police, Panamanian Judicial Police, Colombian National Police, and DEA was responsible for dismantling this international drug cartel. The 3-year long investigation has resulted in over 100 arrests and the seizure of 47,555 kilograms of cocaine, or the equivalent of 52 tons of cocaine, and nearly $70 million in assets.
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Clipper Fleet ready for Leg 6 to Panama Canal

Sports Section As the crew and Skippers prepare for the next race (Leg 6) of the Clipper 05-06 Round the World Yacht Race, thoughts are turning to the conditions and strategies for the race ahead. The downwind sail from Victoria to the Panama Canal is expected to take around three weeks and the teams have been busily mending sails from the battering they took in the North Pacific. Today’s restart will see the fleet departing from Victoria’s Inner Harbour at 1605 LT (2305 GMT), rather than at 1030 as previously published due to a delay in sourcing engine parts. The two injector pumps were booked onto a flight from the UK yesterday and were being transferred onto a seaplane when they reached Vancouver this morning for the final hop to Victoria. After departing from the pontoons in the Inner Harbour at two-minute intervals to their boat songs, the fleet will circle the Harbour in formation before heading out for the start of Race 8 to Panama City. Over in Seattle…: Meanwhile across the border in Seattle, Clipper Ventures has been recruiting local crew for the Clipper 07-08 Race with 11 having already signed up to take on the challenge next time around. The Clipper team made a dash across the border on Monday night to host an event for people interested in taking part in the next Clipper Round the World Yacht Race starting next September. http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?Nid=23989


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