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Sunday, May 28 2017 @ 09:54 PM EDT

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FBI Stalking Wanted Terrorist Assassin Pedro Miguel Gonzalez in Panama

Panama NewsArlene La Porte, the mother of Zak Hernandez, a Puerto Rican US Army Sergeant which the US Government says was murdered by the National Assembly Deputy Pedro Miguel Gonzalez in 1992, has broken her silence after years of absolute pain. (more)

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Former La Prensa Officials Named As Panama's Ambassadors

Panama NewsThe independence of Panama's "free daily" (newspaper) has remained entrenched in the government of Juan Carlos Varela. (more)

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Cuban Immigrants Flooding Into Panama - On Their Way To The US

Panama NewsThe uncontrolled entry of Cubans who are coming into Panama from Colombia has prompted the border authorities in the province of the Darien to request prompt action by the National Government, through the Panamanian Foreign Ministry. (more)

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Panama Threatens Colombia With Retaliation

Panama NewsThe Government of Panama gave the government of Colombia seven days to remove them from a list of "tax havens" and to start a dialog on the issue on an "equal footing." (more)

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US State Department's John Feeley Visting Panama

Panama NewsThe Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs John Feeley begins a two-day visit to Panama today, where he will sign a security agreement and meet with the country's president, Juan Carlos Varela. (more)

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Stephanie Weston-Pineda Screws Up The Panamanian Anthem At A Boxing Match in Texas

Panama NewsBefore the Panamanian former boxing champion Anselmo 'Chemito' Moreno got into the ring, Stephanie Weston Pineda became the star of the night at the Mesquite Arena in Texas, after she made a big mistake and screwed up the beautiful words of the National Anthem of Panama. (more)

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'Call of Duty' creators seek to dismiss suit by ex-Panama leader Manuel Noriega

Panama News(CNN) -- The creators of the "Call of Duty" video game franchise on Monday filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit by former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who says the 2012 video game "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" has damaged his reputation.

Noriega, 80, is serving a prison sentence in Panama after being convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering and killing political opponents.

Creators of the video game called the lawsuit "frivolous" and filed the motion to dismiss it on the ground that Noriega's portrayal in the game is protected by the First Amendment.

"What's astonishing is that Manuel Noriega, a notorious dictator who is in prison for the heinous crimes he committed, is upset about being portrayed as a criminal and enemy of the state in the game Call of Duty. Quite simply, it's absurd," said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, attorney for the video game creator, Activision Blizzard Inc.

"This is a notorious dictator who's attacking the freedom of speech rights of an American company," Giuliani told CNN.

Noriega, 80, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court in July. In it, he argues that his portrayal "as a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state" in the 2012 video game damaged his reputation. The company used his image and name in order to make money, the lawsuit says; therefore, he's entitled to a share of the profits.

"Plaintiff was portrayed as an antagonist as the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes, creating the false impression that defendants are authorized to use plaintiff's image and likeness," the lawsuit says.

The video game includes historical footage and several real-life characters in Cold War scenarios, including former Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North.

But while North did his own voiceover for the game and acted as an adviser, Noriega said in the July lawsuit that he wasn't consulted -- or compensated -- for the use of his likeness.

"Call of Duty" video games take storylines from current headlines, and its characters are based on historical figures, from former Cuban leader Fidel Castro to David Petraeus, the retired general and former CIA director.

Giuliani called Noriega's lawsuit "an assault on a whole art form -- historical fiction."

"If this were allowed, it would be like (former al Qaeda leader Osama) bin Laden's family suing for 'Zero Dark Thirty,' " Giuliani said. "Obviously that shouldn't be allowed."

For almost two decades, Noriega was a major player in a country of critical regional importance to the United States because of its location on the Panama Canal, the key strategic and economic waterway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans on the narrow isthmus linking the Americas.

Amid growing unrest in Panama, then-U.S. President George H.W. Bush ordered the invasion of the Central American nation in December 1989, saying Noriega's rule posed a threat to U.S. lives and property.

Noriega fled his offices and tried to seek sanctuary in the Vatican Embassy in Panama City.

He surrendered in January 1990 and was escorted to the United States for civilian trial.

Noriega was indicted in the United States on charges of racketeering, laundering drug money and drug trafficking. He was accused of having links to Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar's notorious Medellin cartel and, in the process, amassing a multimillion-dollar fortune.

He was convicted of drug trafficking and other crimes and served nearly two decades in prison.

In 2010, a French court sentenced Noriega to seven years in prison for laundering 2.3 million euros ($2.9 million) through banks there. He was ordered to pay the money back.

In Panama, where he was convicted of killing political opponents, he has been hospitalized several times since he returned in 2011 to serve out his prison sentence. (CNN)

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Panama’s Supreme Court Confirms New Trial Against Noriega

Panama NewsPanama’s Supreme Court has confirmed former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega is to be tried for the murder of an opponent in 1969, a case initially dismissed five years ago.

In a statement released Thursday, the court said a lower chamber had filed charges last month against Noriega for the alleged murder of opponent Luis Antonio Quiroz Morales who went missing after being detained by Noriega.

In addressing an appeal by the public prosecutor’s office against the case’s earlier dismissal, the lower court said there was evidence placing Noriega in the location where Quiroz was last seen alive.

This evidence, the court argued, indicates “physical presence and opportunity.”

According to the case file, on Aug. 19, 1969, Noriega, then a commander in the Panama National Guard, accompanied by other officers, arrived “in a jeep at Luis Antonio Quiroz Morales’s residence, put him in the vehicle and since then nothing is known of his whereabouts so he is presumed dead.”

Quiroz Morales, the court said, “was accused of collaborating with suspected guerrillas.”

It is now up to the Superior Court of the Third Judicial District to set the schedule for legal procedures and the eventual murder trial.

Noriega’s defense will be presented by attorney Gisela Vega, the Supreme Court said.

After his ouster as Panama’s leader in a U.S. invasion in 1989, Noriega has served prison terms in the United States and in France for drug trafficking and money laundering.

He is currently in a Panamanian prison serving a 60-year sentence for human rights violations. (See Comments)

There are at least two more trials pending against Noriega for the disappearances and deaths of opponents between 1968 and 1989. (Latin American Herald Tribune)

Editor's Comment: No, not human rights violations. Noriega is in prison, serving sentences for murder...

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Panama Expands Use Of Facial Recognition Software

Panama NewsPanama has expanded the use of FaceFirst's facial recognition software system at its Tocumen International Airport.

FaceFirst said its system is now being used at the airport's North Terminal as a result of increased passenger volume at the airport and the system's success in identifying suspect individuals since its introduction at the airport and the country's border crossings in 2011.

"We are proud to be a part of this $936 million investment in the expansion of Tocumen International Airport," said FaceFirst Chief Executive Officer Joe Rosenkratz.

"The inclusion of our technology in this expansion is a testament to its beneficial influence on heightening border security and safety within nations."

FaceFirst said that the facial recognition system has resulted in the apprehension of multiple Interpol suspects, enabled the ongoing tracking and captures of multiple regional and nationally wanted persons, and enabled the geo-fencing of authorized people throughout the larger airport facility since it was first installed.

"The FaceFirst facial recognition system installed at Tocumen is capable of detecting 30 people per day who have a police record or who are wanted by Interpol, and thus are not allowed to enter the country," said (former) Panamanian Minister of Public Security Jose Mulino. (UPI)

Editor's Comment: This helps to explain how Panama has been detecting and arresting a steady string of wanted criminals as they are passing through the Tocumen International Airport as a stop at Copa's "Hub Of The Americas," on the way to their final destination. The bottom line remains the same - if you are wanted for anything, anywhere - stay away from Panama.

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US Gives Helicopters and Airplane To Panama (Gee, Thanks Varela...)

Panama NewsThe State Department of the Government of the United States has made aircraft available to Panama for air security and social service operations in remote areas of the country, according to an official press release.

Included are two UH-1H Iroquois "Huey" helicopters, two Augusta Westland 139 helicopters, and a DC3 transport aircraft, are part of the aviation program of the Bureau of Narcotics Affairs of the American Embassy in Panama, said a statement from the Ministry of Public Security (Minseg) of Panama.  

Minseg general secretary, Alvaro Varela, said during the presentation of the program that these aircraft will optimize public safety services provided by the National Air Service (Senan), which will improve the quality of life for residents in areas of difficult access.  

"This program will train 20 pilots in transport, search and rescue. They will be trained and certified in the handling and use of these aircraft," said Varela, according to the statement.  

The ambassador of the USA in Panama, Jonathan Farrar, said the idea is to help the Panamanian government to extend public services to remote areas such as Darien and indigenous territories.  

Meanwhile, the head of the Narcotics Affairs Section of the American embassy, Ramon Negron, said they would will provide training, equipment, as well as administrative and logistical support and other aerial activities that will reduce the threats of criminals and drug trafficking organizations.  

"The program consists of three phases and will last six months in terms of security," said Negron.  

This initiative is part of the cooperation between the counternarcotics office of the Embassy of the United States, with the Panamanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the SENAN, and MINSEG, according to official information. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Before you can do anything, you have to be able to get there. So, the US is handing over a few aircraft to do things. That's nice. But look at the bigger picture.

It's interesting the US gave Panama these aircraft thirty seconds after Martinelli departed. Timing means everything for the US State Department. So it's a clear signal of support to the fledgling Varela administration - and that simple fact means a lot...

The US has known for years the extent of Martinelli's shenanigans (criminal activity). And by that I mean all of the pilfering of state funds, money laundering, and all of the other crap that has to do with hoarding money, cash, assets, land, etc.

Varela has been talking to the US government as a source of intelligence since at least August 2011 - when the old CD/Panameñista alliance fell apart. When Martinelli fired Varela, he ran straight to Washington DC and spilled his guts. And that's why the US didn't do anything (at all) when Martinelli tried to paint Varela with the money launderer's brush at the end of the campaign. What Varela did was chump change compared to what Martinelli has been doing for years.

That made Varela a highly placed and exceptionally valuable source of intelligence for the US government. It's "nice" to have the sitting Vice President pumping intelligence information into the system for the past four years. Now that he's in charge - here - have a few choppers. This sort of stuff gives the CIA chubbies...

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