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Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 09:18 AM EDT

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Varela Ignored Article 5 of the "Ethics Pact" He Signed

PoliticsBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - At the start of the electoral cycle, now more than a year ago, I attended an event at the Hotel El Panama where Juan Carlos Varela and other Panamanian politicians signed an "Ethics Pact" in front of the press, to great (artificially orchestrated) fanfare. (more)

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Panameņista Party Splits - Some Now Attacking Varela

PoliticsAlejandro Perez, a member of the Panameņista political party, provided additional details during an interview this morning on Telemetro about the people who have been convicted for money laundering in the United States, information reported by the Miami based Diario Las Americas newspaper last Sunday. (more)

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Presidential Debate: Varela Dodged Questions And Blamed Arias For "Varela Gate"

PoliticsGerardo Barroso, the Independent presidential candidate broke the rules of the debate and demanded an explanation from Juan Carlos Varela over the recent revelations linking him to a money laundering network. (more)

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Pinilla - "Someone Is Planning A Fraud"

PoliticsStrong words from the President of the Electoral Tribunal, Erasmo Pinilla, who has been the target of questions over an alleged lack of a college degree, and his inability to practice law. (more)

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Varela Says "They Invent Websites To Attack Me"

PoliticsA video broadcast by TVN, the National Television of Panama, reveals statements made by the presidential candidate for the opposition Panameņista political party Juan Carlos Varela, rejecting the allegations being made against him by a supposed website "created in the United States." (more)

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Varela Is "Killing the Messenger"

PoliticsThe journalist of the US based Diario de las Americas, Sergio Otálora, the author of the investigative article linking the Panameņista candidate Juan Carlos Varela to money laundering, said he would be presenting copies of the checks and documents related to the deposits today, and he said they show about 30 million dollars. (more)

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Varela Blames Arias For Allegations Of Money Laundering

PoliticsNational Assembly Deputy Jose Luis Varela, the brother and spokesman for the presidential campaign of Juan Carlos Varela, the presidential candidate for the Panameņista political party, denied yesterday that the Panameņista Party received illegal funds, as published yesterday by the Miami based newspaper Diario Las Americas. (more)

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Martinelli Blames Jimmy Papdimitriu For The Article Against Him In The Wall Street Journal

PoliticsMary O'Grady, a reporter and columnist for The Wall Street Journal, published a column this Sunday saying Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli clearly intends to "stay in power" using his influence in the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), by making his wife Marta Linares de Martinelli the running mate of Jose Domingo Arias. (more)

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Varela-Gate: "Two Main Sources: The US Justice Department and Panama's Financial Analysis Unit"

PoliticsThe journalist Sergio Otálora, of the Diario Las Americas, denied statements being made by Juan Carlos Varela, and he said the information from the investigation linking the candidate for the Panameņista political party to monies that are the proceeds from money laundering comes from the Justice Department of the United States, and from the Financial Analysis Unit of the government of Panama. (more)

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Blowing Up Now - Was Juan Carlos Varela's Campaign Financed By Proceeds From Illegal Online Gambling?

PoliticsBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Here's the story in a nutshell. On 10 April several people were arrested in Florida, New York and other locations, charged with being part of an Internet sports gambling operation. (more)

Editor's Comment: (I'm going to be covering this scandal at length. If you want to know what's going on, you really should subscribe now, if you haven't already...)

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"They Were Going To Give Me A Fatal Blow" - Pinilla

PoliticsThe President of the Electoral Tribunal judge Erasmo Pinilla reported a new attack against him. (more)

Editor's Comment: (You can follow my running commentary on the political action in Panama by subscribing to this website. Or, you have the right to remain clueless...)

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"A Person Who Steals Credit For A Project Is Capable Of Stealing Anything, From Anyone" - Martinelli

PoliticsThe President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli expressed his discomfort with statements made by the candidate of the Panameņista political party Juan Carlos Varela, who said that if he wins the election he will continue to build the Metro subway project. (more)

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Medcom (Channel 13 - Telemetro) Refuses To Air Controversial Political Advertisements

PoliticsFollowing the guidelines established in the Electoral Ethics Pact, Medcom informed all advertising agencies and political parties of its decision to refrain from transmitting - via channel 13 Telemetro and RPC TV - any political advertisements with content that is "clearly libelous" or which violates the spirit of the Pact. (more)

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Quijano Steps Down From Ministry of Trade and Industry Position To Work On Arias' Campaign

PoliticsPanama's Minister of Trade and Industry Ricardo Quijano left office to take a month off, according to government spokesman Eduardo Camacho. (more)

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Candidates Participated in Presidential Debate Last Night

PoliticsFor the first time the presidential candidates had the opportunity to discuss among themselves their proposals and ideas in a debate organized by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama, dubbed "Country Agenda." (more)

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Arias Continues To Lead In New Polling Data

PoliticsThe presidential candidate for the ruling Democratic Change (CD) political party, José Domingo Arias, maintains his lead over the PRD and Panameņista candidates, according to the most recent polling data from Dichter & Neira, with 38%. (more)

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Electoral Prosecutor Files A Complaint Saying His Privacy Has Been Violated

PoliticsAt 11:00 am the Electoral Prosecutor Eduardo Peņaloza, who remained anonymous, appeared before the Attorney General to request an investigation into the alleged violation of his privacy and that of his two adult children, through articles published in the La Prensa and Mi Diario newspapers. (more)

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Two Constitutional Challenges Filed In The Supreme Court Against First Lady's VP Nomination

PoliticsTwo constitutional challenges were filed yesterday against the nomination of the first lady, Marta Martinelli, the wife of the current president, as the Vice Presidential candidate of the ruling alliance between the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (MOLIRENA) political party and Democratic Change (CD). (more)

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Varela Says The Government Is On "Auto Pilot"

PoliticsIt seems that for the moment in the country, the government is adrift and lacking in authority. Both the President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli, and most of his ministers, out campaigning, denounced yesterday the opposition candidate Juan Carlos Varela. (more)

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"Varela Didn't Resign Because He Saw Irregularities, He Was Fired" - Henríquez

PoliticsWhile speaking about the Valter Lavitola case, the Minister of the Presidency Roberto Henriquez said they (the news media) is judging a person and some Panamanian government officials who have not been accused in Italy, and although the possibility exists they might be called to testify, it is hoped when it is proven otherwise, the news media outlets that have claimed this linkage will be man enough to say "we were wrong." (more)

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Electoral Tribunal Responds To Communication Secretary

PoliticsIn response to the government's Communication Secretary Luis Eduardo Camacho, the Electoral Tribunal listed the laws that support the creation of the Identity Verification Service, which has been plagiarized on a website supporting the presidential campaign of José Domingo Arias, of the Democratic Change political party. (more)

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CD's Arias Leads All Polls in Panama's Presidential Campaign

PoliticsPromising to continue on the path started by the administration of president Ricardo Martinelli (who enjoys a 60% approval rating) has allowed the candidate of the ruing Democratic Change political party José Domingo Arias to lead all polls of likely voters, now with five weeks to go before the upcoming general national elections on 4 May 2014. (more)

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No Change In Polling Data - Arias Still Firmly In The Lead

PoliticsAlthough recent history has shown that the winner of the presidential election would come from the ranks of the opposition political parties, this time it appears this trend will be broken in favor of the government's candidate, as reflected in the results of the weekly Dichter & Neira survey conducted for TVN. (more)

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Martinelli Yanks Security Detail From Former President Torrijos

PoliticsFormer President Martin Torrijos claimed the bodyguards from the Institutional Protection Service assigned to guard his house have been ordered to leave and not return. (more)

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CD and Electoral Tribunal Clash Over Electoral Role Database Scandal

PoliticsSpokesmen for the ruling Democratic Change political party insist that the database being used by their presidential candidate José Domingo Arias to attract voters was created using data provided to them by the Electoral Tribunal. (more)

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"Gerardo Solis Is A Promoter of Dirty Campaigns" - Martinelli

PoliticsPresident Ricardo Martinelli blamed the former Electoral Tribunal judge Gerardo Solis, who is currently running for Vice President on the PRD ticket, for being a promoter of dirty political campaigns.

In fact , the president released a photo of Solis with other people, and he said the person wearing glasses is Luciano Yanes "who is responsible for the political ad about the money."

The president reacted after the Electoral Tribunal ordered the cancellation of political ad being used by the PRD to attack the Vice Presidential candidate of the of the Democratic Change political party, showing a $1 dollar coin known in the country as a "Martinelli" - while making reference to a supposed under cover reelection bid.

In the propaganda, the coin had the faces of the current president, Ricardo Martinelli, of his wife Marta Martinelli who is the Vice Presidential candidate for the CD, and the CD's presidential candidate Jose Domingo Arias - and the ad said "no matter what side the coin falls on" the result is a "Martinelli" - implying that if Arias wins the election, it would still be Ricardo Martinelli who will be giving the orders in the Presidency.

Through Chamber Agreement 23-1, it was determined the political ad does not have an interest justified in the common good of the electoral process ending on 4 May, as established by Decree 14 of August 16, 2012.

The Electoral Tribunal also ordered the cancellation of the registration and the authorization by the Association for the Development of Ecotourism of Ubigandupu to buy political propaganda, and it instructs the media to adopt the corresponding measures.

The agreement said the authorization given to the Association for the Development of Ecotourism of Ubigandupu was intended to promote increased participation in the electoral process among the indigenous community in Panama.  

President Martinelli reacted immediately to the news of the suspension of the political attack ad through his Twitter account, saying "It should be noted that no one in the Cambio Democratico party asked them to remove the ad about the money. As we have said, the attacks from the opposition make us stronger."

Even further, president Martinelli said "taking down" a political ad - even though it was going against him - is an attack on freedom of expression anywhere in the world. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: I don't like this power the Electoral Tribunal has in Panama, to be able to shut down political attack ads because it's supposedly not "for the common good." What the hell does that mean? The underlying fundamental issues in the ad are true. Martinelli is the president today. His wife is running to be the Vice President. And Jose Domingo Arias is obviously a "keep the CD train going" candidate, who is actively campaigning on a "more of the same" campaign. Clearly, if the Panamanian people decide to elect Jose Domingo Arias, it's because they are happy with the job Martinelli has done. So what? The ad is right. And, Martinelli is smart enough to recognize that the ad does, in fact, help them. The CD is campaigning on exactly that strategy. The CD is saying "we've done more in the past five years than all previous administrations have done in the past 40 years." They are bragging about their accomplishments, and they are proud of them. I personally think the Electoral Tribunal screwed up big-time by stepping in to shut down this particular ad. There was nothing in it that wasn't true, so what's the problem? Yeah, it bugs me...

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Varela Denies Rumors Saying He's Going To Quit The Race

PoliticsRumors have been spreading this morning, Thursday, March 13 about the possible resignation of the Panameņista candidate for president of the Republic Juan Carlos Varela.

The news spread like wildfire in the social networks.

However political analyst Miguel Antonio Bernal dismissed the rumors and said they are being driven by the government to hurt the opposition political parties.

According to Bernal, it's an old practice that becomes fashionable during all of the electoral contests, and he thinks that the only candidate who's "going down" is José Domingo Arias.

On the topic, the candidate Juan Carlos Varela wrote a message on his Twitter account in which he downplayed the rumors, and he said he does not care about the falsehoods that arise against them.

"We do not care about the rumors, the lies, the falsehoods against us; our concern are the problems of the people of #Panama," he wrote.

In a second message he wrote "attacks on my wife, Isabel. False rumors. It's the same circle 0 of Arias and Navarro who are desperate for my proposal of Price Controls." (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: The only person in Panama who apparently has not figured out that he's not going to win in May is Juan Carlos Varela. And no, Arias and Navarro are not "desperate" for anything Varela can come up with. We are witnessing the end of a political career, whether or not Varela quits the race (he won't quit, and the rumors are false.) Varela will stick it out, he will lose, and then he will slowly but surely fall off of the political landscape. Remember Jose Miguel Aleman? No? That's where Varela will be in about ten years - forgotten.

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PRD activists detained by PN while conducting leafleting

PoliticsA group of activists of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), were arrested Wednesday afternoon by units of the National Police.

According to a statement released by the Public Relations office of the PRD, the activists were only doing a leafleting in the area of ​​Boca La Caja.

They were directed to the sub station of the National Police in San Francisco.

The activists arrested were Iván Mcklao and David Ramírez.

Javier “Patacón” Ortega - who is a PRD candidate for National Assembly Deputy and Representative - went to the scene. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: The channel 13 Telemetro news broadcast is solidly in the PRD camp, so who knows what really happened or why the police officers felt the need to arrest these two guys...

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Moscoso Doesn't Fear Panameņista Reprisals

PoliticsThe former president Mireya Moscoso said she does not fear possible disciplinary proceedings that will be opened internal to the Panameņista political party, after she openly announced her support for the Cambio Democratico candidate José Domingo Arias.

Moscoso met this afternoon with some of her former collaborators. She was apparently seeking additional support for Arias.

Among those at the meeting were the former Minister of Education Doris Rosas de Mata, the former Health Minister Fernando Gracia, and the former Minister of Economy and Finance Norberto Delgado, among others. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Moscoso can still gather together a handful of votes and political supporters. I'm sure all of the people who attended this meeting held in public were already planning to support Arias anyway - but by showing up with Moscoso they place themselves on her "team" as it were. And it doesn't matter what the leadership of the Panameņista party thinks about Moscoso. The party's candidate Juan Carlos Varela is the party President, and obviously he's going to be pissed off by Moscoso's move. In reality she's just hitting him with some payback for his earlier maneuvers to take control of the party. Varela is not going to win, and the Panameņista party is pretty much "deader'n Arnulfo" anyway - so who cares? All of the really smart Panameņistas left a long time ago, anyway. They are now waving either CD or MOLIRENA flags...

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The Mystical, Magical 50 Days Prior To A Panamanian National Election

PoliticsBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - We're coming down to the wire, folks. You can expect basically anything to happen between now and the next Panamanian general election, to be held on 4 May.

With just a little more than 50 days to go, this is the moment in time where it no longer makes any sense to hold fire, on anything.

Panamanian politicians tend to find out very interesting things about their opponents and then hold on to that information, to be used as ammunition against them, when the moment is right.

This makes for some great fireworks when it matters the most.

Remember the scandal over allegations of payments made to Balbina Herrera by David Murcia? That came up right at the tail end of the 2009 campaign, and it almost certainly took votes away from Herrera and gave them to Martinelli.

You can almost hear the rumble of the engines starting up, as everyone sees the calendar clicking off the days towards May 4th. Or maybe it's more like the sound of fuses being lit for a gigantic fireworks display...

There are a couple of things I've been waiting to see in the press - which I've known about for a very long time - and quite frankly I'm sort of surprised they have not surfaced yet.

Most of these are particularly juicy tidbits to be used against members of the Panameņista party who are running as opposition candidates. And I mean, stuff that could result in arrest warrants and screaming front-page headlines that can't be ignored. The CD and Ricardo Martinelli have been gathering their ammunition for a long time.

So I guess I would say you should expect the unexpected. There's a saying in Panamanian Spanish which goes "there are no surprises in politics, only the surprised."

I'll be surprised if the Arias doesn't win. I also expect Roxana Mendez will win the office of the Mayor of Panama City, and that the CD will win more than enough seats to retain complete control over the National Assembly. I think they will pick up important ground by winning some more Mayor positions around the country, as well as local Representatives to municipal councils.

But between now and May 4th anything can happen. None of it will be dangerous or anything like that, just mostly interesting to political junkies like me. Stay tuned...

Copyright 2014 Panama-Guide.com.

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