Site Meter
Send Us An Email
Panama Guide

Welcome to Panama Guide
Wednesday, July 30 2014 @ 01:11 PM EDT

View Printable Version

Venezuela Suspends Debt Repayment to Panama

Panama NewsVenezuela’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Elías Jaua today asserted that the repayment of the country’s pending debt with Panama is suspended, following the rupture of diplomatic relations.

“The revision of the debt is suspended, until Panama has a serious government that respects the relations that we must have based on mutual respect,” the Venezuelan minister stated.

Maduro announced his decision to break bilateral relations yesterday, due to Panama’s recent request to discuss Venezuela’s crisis at the Organization of American States (OAS).

This rupture includes the freezing of bilateral commercial relations and leaves suspended the discussion of the US$1.2 billion debt that Venezuelan businesses have with Panama’s Colon Free Zone.

According to Chancellor Jaua, during the handling of the debt, they found “all kinds of fraudulent actions, from both Panamanian businesses and Venezuelan” that created a space for “corruption” in the commercial relation between both countries.

Also, Jaua defended Maduro’s decision and explained that Venezuela’s government has the duty to react against Panama’s attempts to diffuse the idea that Venezuela “has lost its democratic institutions.”

Meanwhile, Costa Rica’s diplomatic mission in Caracas will assist Panama’s consular affairs in the country.

Editor's Comment: What a bunch of crap. It's really all about the money, of course. Plus the fact that the government of Venezuela is completely corrupt, communist, and slowly sinking into the shit-hole where countries like Cuba, North Korea, Bolivia, and Nicaragua reside. Do you think any vessels carrying Venezuela oil will be passing through the Panama Canal any time soon? In 2011, 19% of Venezuelan oil exports went to either China or other Asian countries (the bulk goes to the United States and the Caribbean). The Panama Canal Authority can track ships, and they know who went where, empty or full, etc. Would Panama (Martinelli) be willing to violate the principal of neutrality of the Panama Canal by refusing to allow ships carrying Venezuelan oil to Asia pass through? Maybe. Whatever - Maduro made his decision, so now he will have to live with the consequences, whatever those consequences turn out to be. All of the Venezuelans with money have already moved to Panama, anyway.

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama says rejects Venezuelan President Maduro's "offenses"

Panama News(Reuters) - The government of Panama said on Wednesday that it rejected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's "unacceptable offenses" against it after the South American oil giant broke off diplomatic and commercial ties with the Central American nation. Earlier, Maduro had used the anniversary of former President Hugo Chavez's death to sever ties with Panama, whose conservative government he accused of joining the United States in "open conspiracy" against him.

Editor's Comment: Interesting. Doesn't the government of Venezuela owe several airlines like more than a billion dollars? This is what's happening - the leftist revolution Hugo Chavez started will eventually die with him. It never had anything to do with legitimately improving the lives of the Venezuelan people anyway, and it was all about Chavez and his massive ego. In reality it was nothing more than a run-of-the-mill "cult of personality" which is now slowly dying, because it is no longer feeding off of the Chavez personality and charisma. Maduro doesn't possess those same attributes that Chavez had, and the opposition now smells blood in the water. After weeks of violent protests in Venezuela Panama made calls in the OAS for Venezuela to strengthen its democracy, dialog, and human rights, and that's why Venezuela decided to break diplomatic relations. Eventually all of these oppressive puppet regimes will fall - Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea. It's only a matter of time. Martinelli should have simply tweeted "pound sand..."

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

The Government of Venezuelan Breaking Ties With Panama

Panama NewsThe government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that it was breaking diplomatic and commercial ties with Panama, citing the Central American country's complicity in a "conspiracy."

In strongly worded comments during a commemoration event on the anniversary of the death of the country’s late president, Hugo Chavez.

"We're not going to let anyone get away with interfering with our fatherland, you despicable lackey, president of Panama,” said Maduro.

The Venezuelan leader affirmed that actions to break relations with Panama were in keeping with the day’s homage to Chavez.

“This is the best way to honor commander Chavez, by defending our sovereignty.”

Maduro directly addressed Panama’s petition to the Organization of American States (OAS) to investigate the ongoing situation in Venezuela.

“Let the OAS stay where it is,” he added. “We are a pacifist country, but we are also brave in defending our rights.”

The remarks took place during a ceremony with various foreign dignitaries in attendance, including the presidents of Cuba, Bolivia, and Nicaragua.

Supporters of the Bolivarian revolution are busy marking the first anniversary of their iconic socialist leader, Hugo Chavez. This comes amid continuing nation-wide protests mounted by the opposition against Maduro's administration.

Tens of thousands of people were expected to flood the country’s streets to attend lavish events hosted by the country’s new leader and successor to Chavez and his ideas – Nicolas Maduro. A military parade honoring ‘El Comandante’ is among the festivities.

Maduro, Chavez’s chosen successor, wants to show that despite the feeling created by the current anti-government protests now gripping the country, plenty of people still exist who value Chavez’s socialist legacy of economic reform and equality for all.

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Lavitola Facing Trial For Panama Case

Panama NewsThe international corruption trial of Finmeccanica in Panama on the alleged diversion of up to $18 million in bribes, among whose recipients included President Ricardo Martinelli and other figures of his government who have not been identified, started Tuesday March 4, in courtroom number 10 of the Court of Rome at 11:00 AM in Italy.

The prosecutor Paolo Ielo, the historic Magistrate of the Clean Hands case, has filed criminal charges against Paolo Pozzessere, the former business director of Finmeccanica, who has already served a prison term for this case, against Valter Lavítola, the flawed hinge between Italy and Panama, and against Karen De Gracia, president of Agafea Corp, a company created by the latter two to divert the bribes from the Italian companies to Bulgaria.

This is a preliminary hearing being held behind closed doors and without journalists, in which Judge Maria Bonaventura, who has a reputation for solvency in cases of political corruption, will decide whether the conclusions of the prosecutor Ielo are robust, or if, on the contrary, the investigations should be extended.

The Italian judiciary, which has spent more than 30 months investigating these contracts in which there are indications of corruption, signed between the Government of Panama and the three Finmeccanica companies: Selex, AgustaWestland and Telespazio in 2010, charged responsibilities directly to the Panamanian President.

According to the report of the conclusions of the investigation - to which La Prensa has had access - "Agafea is a company traceable to President Ricardo Martinelli, managed by Valter Lavítola, and created to be a vehicle for the trafficking of bribes."

The prosecution sees a clear "economic utility directed toward Martinelli in the agreements with Finmeccanica." One of the obvious objectives in buying helicopters, radar sets, and digital mapping services from the Italian companies was to get black money into the hands of President Martinelli or close to him through the company Agafea Corp, according to Italian prosecutors.

However, Valter Lavítola exempted Ricardo Martinelli from blame in an interview with the journalist Joan Solés, as stated in court papers. Therefore, the authorship of all of the crimes can be attributed to him, and he can try to reach a deal with the judges. Although his resume is stained with two convictions, he can obtain a reduction of one third of the sentence in that case.

The semi-public defense giant Finmeccanica, is vicariously liable in this process for their involvement in serious events. That is to say, they could be sentenced to repair the damage caused by the defendants, assuming the allowances will be given in the last sentence, and even full payment of the high legal costs of up to one million dollars.


In Italy international corruption offenses is governed by the Convention of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) signed in 1997 in Paris, which only criminalises active corruption called economic operations. Therefore, the party receiving the bribes - or in legal language - the passive corruption, ie which have incurred some Panamanian officials, including Martinelli, can not be judged by the Italian judiciary.

However, it is necessary to show that, in addition to the corrupters, the corrupted part exists, something explained in detail in the court documents.

However, the Heads of State or Government are not punishable under international law. However, when he loses his political immunity, the President may be prosecuted if, as some sources say, he has an Italian passport. In this case he would be judged as and "active corruptor" and Italy may issue an international arrest warrant if it were established that he helped Lavitola design the crime, according to legal inquiries from this newspaper.

In the case of Karen De Gracia, who has been charged in the Court of Rome in the Finmeccanica scandal, it is a case of active corruption as an officer of Agafea Corp, and therefore, she is punishable because she does not occupy a public office.

According to the Italian Penal Code, the prosecution could ask for from three months to six years in prison for the people charged for having "deliberately offered or promised any undue pecuniary or other advantage to a foreign public official in order to get or retain business or other improper advantage in the conduct of international business."


As it is written in the secret summary, Panama is the main stage of the offenses because President Martinelli signed "the intergovernmental agreement, through the mediation of Lavítola, which was the political-normative premise of the contracts signed with the Italian companies" and where "the company Agafea was institutued" which should serve to divert the bribes.

It should be recalled that the investigation into international corruption in Panama is broken off into two separate parts, corresponding to Finmeccanica , whose trial begins today, and the part involving Svemark being investigated in Naples. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Notice that La Prensa failed to mention "their boy" - Panameñista Presidential Candidate and current Vice President Juan Carlos Varela - who Martinelli fired for having orchestrated this entire mess. This is why the alliance between the Panameñistas and the CD broke apart in August 2011.

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Panama's Supreme Court Rejects Appeal Filed By Manuel Antonio Noriega

Panama NewsPanama's Supreme Court of Justice rejected a request filed by lawyers representing the former military dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega, seeking to annul an earlier decision to bring him to trial for the 1970 murder of opposition leader Heliodoro Portugal.

Noriega's lawyer Ezra Angel said today the Supreme Court "did not admit" the request, in a decision made last January, released this week.

Angel said he filed the request in June 2013 after Noriega was notified he was being called to trial for Portugal's murder by the Second Superior Tribunal.

According to Noriega's lawyer, he was extradited from France to Panama in December 2011 for the murders of Hugo Spadafora (1985) and Moses Giroldi (1989), and that he can only be prosecuted for those cases.

"According to international law and to the principal of specialty (under which he was extradited), Noriega can not be tried or prosecuted for any offense other than these" for which he was extradited, he said.

He added when Panama made the first request for Noriega to be extradited from France to Panama for Portugal's murder, which occurred in May 1970, it was rejected by the French authorities, so therefore "specifically the Portugal case should not be prosecuted," he said.

According to media sources, the decision of the reporting judge Jerónimo Mejía "rejected" the request because "other resources available under the law were not exhausted," and also because "the prescription of criminal action must be raised through an incident to be discussed at the trial."

About the two other cases against Noriega in the Superior Court of Chiriqui, on the death of Everett Clayton Kimble and Luis Quiroz Morales, between 1968 and 1969, Angel said the former general has not been brought to trial.

Noriega, 80, is being held in the El Renacer prison, outside Panama City, where he is serving sentences totaling 60 years for crimes ranging from murder to environmental damage.

The former "strongman" who ruled de facto Panama between 1983 and 1989 arrived in Panama after having been extradited from France, where he was serving seven years of a conviction for money laundering.

Before that, he spent nearly two decades in prison in the United States for drug trafficking. Noriega surrendered to US troops in January 1990, days after a US invasion of Panama. (Critica)

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Cuban refugees in hunger strike

Panama NewsThe group of Cubans granted asylum by the government in September 2013 began a hunger strike today in front of the Chancellery, in Casco Antiguo.

The Cubans adopted these measures because they say Panama has not complied with what they were offered with territorial asylum.

They are asking for Panamanian nationality because even though the government gave them temporary residence, they can not get permanent jobs.

Of the nine Cubans accepted by Panama, there are five who even warned that if the situation does not change they will sew their lips closed.

They took a similar action when they were imprisoned in the Bahamas, after they were arrested by the maritime authorities as they were escaping Cuba.

They were granted asylum thanks to the intervention of Guillermo Cochez, the former Ambassador of Panama to the Organization of American States. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: The Cuban refugee situation creates a dilemma for Panama. Last year there was a sort of "wave" of Cubans who were passing through Panama. Most of them would fly to Ecuador (another communist country that has friendly relations with Cuba). Then the refugees would set out over land from South America, trying to get to the United States. If ten Mexicans and one Cuban hop over the fence in Texas, the Mexicans can be returned, but the Cuban can stay thanks to the long standing "feet dry" policy.

So these nine were detained, and then eventually Panama granted them asylum. Panama is now probably worried that if they make things too easy for this little group, then tomorrow there will be thousands of Cubans looking for asylum and Panamanian nationality and jobs. So both the government of Panama and the refugees are in a dilemma - stuck on the fence. These guys are trying to force Panama's hand by threatening to sew their lips shut. I think they are probably over estimating the strength of their position (there seems to be a lot of that going on lately.) Panama can put these dudes on a Copa flight to Havana tomorrow, and that would be the end of that. Remember, Guillermo Cochez was fired from his post at the OAS because he spouted off an anti-Chavez (Venezuela) rant that went against the official positions of the Foreign Ministry and the Presidency. He's also a Panameñista, so, bye. This is just one more of his legacies which Martinelli now has to clean up.

And as far as Cuba is concerned - hasn't anyone noticed that the cold war is over? If there's a revolution in Havana, then Russia would not be likely to nuke Miami. Sooner or later democracy will have to return to the island, and this decades long problem of Cuban refugees would be done. That would keep the US military occupied for about three weeks. Then, we could move on to something more interesting. And of course the chances of the Commie in Chief making that sort of a move are zero - so this is little more than wishful thinking on my part. It's really self serving. It's warm in Cuba, and I would like to be able to go there on vacation and spend money. You know, like Americans did in the 50's before the "revolution" made things so much better there...

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Frank Gehry Is Still the World's Worst Living Architect

Panama NewsBy GEOFF MANAUGH - While it's been widely known for at least a decade that Frank Gehry is the world's worst living architect, it's not entirely clear why some people—mostly very rich clients—haven't picked up on this yet. The utterly god awful and ridiculous Biomuseo in Panama, an eco-discovery center that cost at least $60 million and took a decade to construct, is only the most recent case in point.

Gehry long ago stopped pursuing any interesting material or tectonic experimentation—and he used to be an interesting architect!—to become the multi-billion dollar equivalent of a Salvador Dalì poster tacked to the wall in a stoned lacrosse player's dorm room, an isn't-it-trippy pile of pseudo-psychedelic bullshit that everyone but billionaire urban developers can see through right away. What's particularly frustrating about Gehry's career is that he's somehow meant to be cool, a kind of sci-fi architect for the Millennial generation, a Timothy Leary of CAD; but he's Guy Fieri, his buildings hair-gelled monsters of advanced spatial douchebaggery.

His work is badly constructed, ravey-balls hair metal, a C.C. DeVille guitar solo that cannot—will not—end until the billionaire clients who keep paying for this shit can be stopped. Worse, no matter how much diagrammatic handwaving someone like architectural theorist extraordinaire Peter Eisenman can do—and he can do an awful lot of it—to convince you that Gehry is, or was once long ago, on to something interesting, these buildings are not even compelling from a theoretical standpoint. So, yeah, he used software normally found in airplane design—great. That's awesome. I can imagine amazing things coming out of such an irreverent mixing of design tools.

But the results are just crumpled Reynold's Wrap on an otherwise white-bread interior, a boring, room-by-room grid surrounded by hair spray, like some lunatic version of Phyllis Diller blown up to the size of a city block and frozen mid-stroke.

Gehry has already built the worst new residential building in New York City of the past five years, and now he's on his way to ruin part of downtown Berlin with a faux-golden Accessorize trinket you'd expect to find in a 1980s roller rink in suburban Wisconsin. It's like a JWoww unsuspecting Germans can live in.

But it's no use. We're stuck with this guy for what feels like forever. It's like being forced to watch M. Night Shyamalan films when you were hoping for David Cronenberg, or being stuck in a room with Steve Vai when you thought you were listening to Andrés Segovia.

No doubt, in a city council out there even as I type this, some doe-eyed general manager is shaking up a can of crazy string and preparing to enfecalize an entire neighborhood near you with the pink slime of another Frank Gehry, a man for whom architecture is all McNuggets, all the time.

The tech world might have Moore's Law, but architecture has found its own unbreakable rule: year after year, Frank Gehry will always get worse.

Editor's Comment: Thank God. Someone who hates this new monstrosity as much as I do. I remember back when this thing was first unveiled. I think it was at an ExpoComer at the Atlapa. There was a booth set up, and a bunch of suits were standing around sipping glasses of champagne. A model (mock up) of the Biodiversity museum was there in the middle of them. Frank Gehry was standing there, and he asked me what I though of it. I told him (to his face) that the building they were proposing to build on Amador was the single ugliest building I had ever seen. I told him I thought it was totally and absolutely inappropriate for the space and the setting. And while it might be his idea of a wet dream, I hoped it would never be built. Jaws dropped all around. I bid them a good day, and left. So here we are now, ten years later. And there it is. It still sucks.

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Yankees, Marlins to bring Major League Baseball to Panama in two-game set on March 15-16

Panama NewsA two-game series between the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins will mark the return of Major League Baseball to Panama for the first time since 1947, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced today. The "Legend Series" will be played on March 15th-16th at Panama City's Rod Carew Stadium and will honor the legacy of newly retired Yankees great Mariano Rivera, the game's all-time saves leader.

Rivera will serve as one of the promoters of the event in his native country, along with Magic Dreams Productions and Patricia Lynch. The Legend Series will include charitable events away from the field, including a gala featuring representation of both teams on Friday, March 14th that will benefit the Mariano Rivera Foundation. Proceeds from the dinner will go to Children's Hospital in Panama City, the largest pediatric hospital in the country.

"It is only fitting that one of our game's greatest ambassadors, Mariano Rivera, could help us bring Major League Baseball back to his beloved Panama," said Paul Archey, Senior Vice President, International Business Operations for Major League Baseball. "We look forward to partnering with the Marlins and the Yankees to deliver a groundbreaking sporting event to the fans of Panama, particularly the young fans who looked up to Mariano during his historic career."

"We're delighted to be joining Mariano Rivera and the Commissioner's Office in bringing Major League Baseball to the baseball-loving fans of Panama," said MLBPA Chief of Business Affairs, Tim Slavin. "We anticipate a warm reception, and believe these games will help advance the growth and popularity of baseball in Panama and throughout Central America. In addition to the Yankees and Marlins players and their respective front office personnel, we extend our gratitude to all involved in making these games a reality."

"The Yankees recognize that the sport of Baseball truly belongs to the world," said New York Yankees President, Randy Levine. "It makes our organization proud to support Major League Baseball and the Players Association in spreading the excitement of the game in the international community. Visiting Panama, the homeland of the great Mariano Rivera, will be a privilege for all those involved in this historic endeavor."

"The Marlins are extremely pleased to be playing in Panama and we look forward to introducing our team to our neighbors in Central America," Marlins President David Samson said. "Teaming up with a baseball legend in his home country will be a great experience for our players and fans alike. The Marlins are excited to support MLB's and the MLBPA's continuous efforts to promote our great game internationally."

Rivera said: "As long as I can remember, it has been my dream to bring my team, the Yankees, to play baseball in Panama. I grew up playing in Puerto Caimito, where I developed my passion for baseball and began a journey that brought me to New York. It is my hope that this legacy series will inspire other young players to pursue their dreams. I am very grateful to Major League Baseball, the Players Association, the Yankees and the Marlins in making this dream become a reality."

The Marlins and the Yankees will stay at the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower Panama.

Donald J. Trump said: "Our hotel will deliver a first-class experience for the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins during Major League Baseball's Legend Series. All of Panama stands behind the legendary Mariano Rivera, and we are honored to play a part in a sporting event that the people of Panama will remember forever."

The two-game set is part of the 2014 MLB Spring Training Schedule. Tickets for the Legend Series can be purchased at

The Legend Series will mark a new chapter in Major League Baseball's history in Panama. Members of the Yankees, under Hall of Fame manager Joe McCarthy, trained in Panama in February of 1946 and played against an all-star team from the Panamanian professional league before an estimated crowd of 10,000 fans on February 21st. In the spring of 1947, the Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers played several exhibition games in Panama during a trip that also included stops in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

The Marlins-Yankees match-up is a renewal of the 2003 World Series. Both Clubs have participated in previous international events. Most recently, the Marlins squared off against the New York Mets in regular season games held at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2010. The team also traveled to Puerto Rico in 2003 and 2004 for regular season games against the Montreal Expos, who played a portion of their home schedule on the island. In addition, the Marlins played a pair of Spring Training exhibition games against the Houston Astros in Mexico City in 2004. The Yankees opened the 2004 Championship Season at the Tokyo Dome in Japan against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Overall, Panama will become the seventh country to host a contest between two Major League Clubs. MLB and the MLBPA have staged regular season contests in Mexico (1996, 1999), Japan (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012) and Puerto Rico (2001, 2003-2004, 2010) in addition to Spring Training matchups in the Dominican Republic (1999-2000), Mexico (1999-2004, 2008-2010), Venezuela (2000-2001) and China (2008).

There are currently four Panamanian players on 40-Man Major League rosters, including Atlanta catcher Christian Bethancourt; Arizona pitcher Randall Delgado; Philadelphia All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz; and infielder Ruben Tejada of the New York Mets. Panama has produced 50 Major League players all-time, including Rivera; Hall of Famer Rod Carew, who was an 18-time All-Star and the winner of seven career batting titles; and Carlos Lee, a three-time All-Star who finished his 14-year Major League career with the Marlins in 2012.

Rod Carew Stadium, the most prominent baseball facility in Panama, opened in October 1999 and most recently played host to the Qualifier for the 2013 World Baseball Classic in November 2012. Team Brazil advanced to the 2013 World Baseball Classic after winning the Qualifier, which also featured the national teams of Colombia, Nicaragua and Panama.

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

Berlusconi Senator buying trial gets underway

Panama News(ANSA) - Naples, February 11 - A trial into allegations ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi bribed former Senator Sergio De Gregorio to change political sides started in Naples on Tuesday.

Valter Lavitola, an associate of the ex-premier's, is also on trial for allegedly acting as a go-between.

Prosecutors have claimed Lavitola also tried to bribe other Senators who have not been identified.

Berlusconi is accused of paying De Gregorio a bribe of three million euros to leave the centre left and join the centre right, helping to undermine the 2006-2008 government of Romano Prodi.

De Gregorio has admitted not declaring to the tax authorities two millions euros he received and plea-bargained a 20-month sentence.

De Gregorio has not gone to jail because sentences under two years are automatically suspended.

Prodi's 2006-2008 government fell after losing the support of the Senate, leading to new elections that Berlusconi won.

Senate Speaker Piero Grasso announced last week that the Upper House would request to be made a civil plaintiff in a trial, prompting howls of protest from Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.

The case is only one of a series of legal woes for billionaire tycoon Berlusconi, the charismatic centre-right leader who was ejected from the Senate and last year after a definitive conviciton for tax fraud at his media group, his first binding conviction in 20 years of judicial battles.

The three-time premier is appealing two convictions by courts of first instance: one for paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his office as premier to try to cover it up; and another for involvement in the publication of an illegal wiretap.

The Forza Italia leader says he has been targeted by politically motivated magistrates since he entered politics in 1994. (

Editor's Comment: Berlusconi and Lavitola were at the center of the Finmeccanica scandal in Panama, which would have involved millions of dollars in kickbacks for the current Panamanian government. Lucky for Martinelli, it all fell apart before it could get done, because Berlusconi's sex scandal broke in the Italian press, right at about the same time the suitcases of cash were supposed to have been delivered to Panama. This is the real reason Martinelli fired his former ally Juan Carlos Varela, who is currently the presidential candidate for the Panameñista party. Varela was the Foreign Minister at the time, and he is the one who put the whole Lavitola package together. When it blew up, Martinelli fired him.

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
View Printable Version

North Korean Vessel Chong Chon Gang Will Sail From Panama After Paying Fine

Panama NewsThe North Korean ship Chong Chong Gang, seized in Panama since July last year for carrying undeclared Cuban arms under a cargo of sugar, may depart immediately after those responsible for the vessel paid the fine imposed by the Panama Canal Authority for violating navigation rules of the waterway.

The ACP said in a press release issued today representatives responsible for the vessel Chong Chon Gang paid the $693,333 fine that hung over the ship.

"With the payment received, and in strict compliance with its processes, the ACP authorized the departure of the ship, so therefore its representatives can dispose of it immediately," said the statement.

The ACP specified that in the case of the North Korean vessel Chong Chon Gang, their only responsibility is for the infractions and offenses committed by this vessel against the rules of the Panama Canal, which are unrelated to any other possible faults that might have occurred outside the jurisdiction of the Panama Canal.

The Public Ministry of Panama reported on Wednesday that it will auction off the 10,000 tonnes of sugar used to conceal the undeclared Cuban arsenal.

The Government of Panama had held the North Korean vessel Chong Chon Gang since last July , when it was searched on suspicion of carrying drugs, but what was found was an arsenal of weapons that Cuba later acknowledged to be theirs.

The weapons, including missile platforms, two MIG-21 fighter jets, new motors for these aircraft, and other parts and ammunition were unloaded and taken to a hangar near Panama City.

The ship's 35 North Korean crewmen are still in Panama. Thirty two of them are waiting to be repatriated and the other three are facing charges including endangering the public safety, a crime that carries up to 12 years in prison.

The 32 sailors are still being held in a naval base of the Panamanian police, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Authority for Migration (ANM) makes arrangements for their repatriation.

The destination of the weapons in the hands of the National Security Council of Panama, that has not yet been determined.

In the case of the North Korean ship carrying undeclared Cuba arms, Panama asked for help from the UN, and last August a team of experts from the Security Council came to the country to inspect the arsenal.

The UN team said in a preliminary report that in the case of the North Korean ship, it violated the resolutions that prevent Pyongyang from importing or exporting weapons of any kind, according to a report issued to Panama on 28 August 2013. (Panama America)

  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks