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Thursday, April 17 2014 @ 02:34 PM EDT

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Roxana Mendez Will Assume Position of Panama City Mayor

PoliticsThe Minister of Government Roxana Méndez reported Thursday afternoon Jan. 12 that she informed President Ricardo Martinelli she will take over as the Mayor of Panama City after the resignation of Bosco Vallarino, but not before showing her concern for his health condition that has him confined in a hospital in the capital. Mendez said she had a meeting with the President of the Republic, and she told him that because she must take charge of the Mayor's office, she would present her formal resignation as the Minister of Government. "I will take office once all of the formalities are complied with, and once summoned by the Governor's office that I have been formally credited to the new position," said Mendez.

She also showed interest in evaluating the pending plans and projects to keep them on track, those that represent the best interests of the country and its citizens. Roxana Méndez was elected as the Deputy Mayor by popular vote and it corresponds to her - as established in the electoral code - to take over as the principal in the mayor's office after the resignation of Vallarino. "This resignation took us by surprise and we will assume with responsibly the new challenge of directing the Mayor's office," said the official.

Mendez also said so far there is no replacement for her position and it is up to the President to make the appointment. I extend my best wishes to Mr. Vallarino and that these health problems can be overcome in the shortest time possible, she said. (Press Release - Presidency of Panama)

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Martinelli Says Vallarino Asked For An Appointment, Told Him He Wanted To Resign

PoliticsPresident of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli said it was Bosco Vallarino himself who decided to resign as mayor of the capital. Martinelli said Vallarino requested that Roxana Mendez should replace him in office. Martinelli said this was discussed in a meeting that took place late at night on Tuesday, and Martinelli said Vallarino had called him to request and appointment. In brief remarks, President Martinelli said he has no problem with Vallarino. "The members of the Panameñista party can say Mass, but I have no problem with him," said Martinelli. Martinelli made these statements as he arrived for the inauguration of the President of the Panamanian Chamber of Construction (CAPAC). (TVN)
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Bosco Vallarino's Resignation Takes Affect Immediately - Roxana Mendez Now Mayor of Panama City

PoliticsManuel Hernandez, acting governor of the province of Panama, said although the letter of resignation submitted by Bosco Vallarino is not dated, his resignation is valid from the day he was presented the document, ie today. Hernandez explained that he corrected the note referring to Vallarino's letter of resignation addressed to Carlos Perez Herrera, when the President of the Municipal Council is the representative Javier Sucre. As established by law, the Minister of Government, Roxana Mendez, will be assuming the office of the Mayor of Panama City as of today. The Governor in charge pointed out, that Mendez was elected by popular vote in 2009, therefore, it is a procedure in which the Governor's office should be the decision-maker. Bosco Vallarino had two years left in his term. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: All throughout Panama, the political "chain of command" so to speak for Mayors runs through the office of the Governor of the province where they happen to be. In the case of the office of the Mayor of Panama City, his immediate supervisor is the Governor of the province of Panama. Anyway it looks like Roxana Mendez is now the new Mayor of Panama City, as of right now. I'm sure there will be a ceremony or a photo op or something like that...

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Roxana Mendez Resigns As Minister of Government To Take Over as New Mayor of Panama City

PoliticsToday the (former) Minister of Government Roxana Méndez presented her resignation to President Ricardo Martinelli, in order to take over as the new Mayor of Panama City. Mendez's announcement came in a press conference in the Presidency of the Republic, hours after learning of the resignation of the now former mayor Bosco Vallarino, for alleged health problems. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: In the elections of May 2009 Roxana Mendez ran on the same ticket with Ricardo "Bosco" Vallarino, and she was elected as the Vice Mayor. When the new government took over the shenanigans within the Mayor's office were driving her nuts. President Martinelli basically split the old Ministry of Government and Justice into two pieces, and he created the new Minister of Security now headed by Jose Raul Mullino, and the new Ministry of Government to be headed by Roxana Mendez. While she filled this role as a Minister of Martinelli's cabinet, she also retained her elected position as the Vice Mayor of Panama City. Now with the resignation of Bosco Vallarino, she steps up to take over as the new Mayor. And of course they only forced Bosco out because they knew Roxana Mendez was waiting in the wings.

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Bosco Vallarino Confirms His Resignation From A Hospital Bed

PoliticsThe (former) mayor of Panama City, Bosco Ricardo Vallarino confirmed his resignation from the mayor's office, from a hospital bed while his family reiterated their support for his decision. The wife, Anabelle de Vallarino, and Bosco's four children, concluded his resignation was the best decision. One daughter, who is the one that has given Bosco Vallarino a granddaughter who is pregnant with twins, said the threats against her father never stopped and that from day one they wanted him out of office, damaged his name, when he is an honest man. Vallarino said he had mixed feelings, but said he is not happy with the way it all went down, he was glad his health will improve, and he will be at home to enjoy his granddaughter. Vallarino's youngest son, 18 years old, said the situation had become very uncomfortable for the family, because they saw him come home tired and he had to get up a 6 in the morning. "It was very difficult to share with him, he had to rest to attend more meetings, Monday to Monday." Another daughter, Alina, rueful, said her father's health fell due to political pressure, but also the media hype. Between sobs, she said "I want my dad alive, I don't want my dad to die, it's not worth it." (TVN)

Editor's Comment: And ... cut.

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Panameñista Political Party Will Make A Statement In Response To Bosco Vallarino's Resignation

Politics The Panameñista political party will meet to make an official statement on the resignation of the Mayor of Panama City Bosco Vallarino. Alcibiades Vasquez, a Deputy in the National Assembly from the Panameñista political party, expressed great concern about the political stability of the country. "The country is entering a very sensitive area, given that there has been pressure, I think this does nothing to help the strengthening of democracy in Panama." (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Bosco Vallarino's resignation is another major political setback for the already crippled Panameñista political party. It's going to be a very long time before they ever see more than 20% of the votes in a national election. They will be able to hold on to some centers of power, get some Deputies elected in the National Assembly, that sort of thing. They have a strong base in the interior of the country, but remember Ricardo Martinelli's Cambio Democratico political party has now sprung up in the middle - positioned between the PRD on the left and the Panameñistas on the right - and they are working hard to entice career politicians to jump ship and join their ranks. Many will now see the Panameñista party even more as a sinking ship. The Panameñistas get weaker, while the CD gets stronger. Remember, the Panameñistas are still reeling from the results of the horrendously corrupt administration of Mireya Moscoso. They were already on shaky ground, and now their days might be numbered. This was the party of Arnulfo Arias Madrid who died in 1988. And now it appears his political party is on life support. You know, it's the stress...

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Wife of (Former) Mayor of Panama City Confirms His Resignation

PoliticsAnabel Pino de Vallarino, the wife of Ricardo Bosco Vallarino, confirmed the resignation of the mayor today. Pino said she felt at peace with this decision because Vallarino's health condition began to deteriorate in recent weeks, as he was subjected to severe stress levels. The wife said that what took Bosco to resign were the words of his young son, "I prefer a living father to a dead mayor," and he immediately wrote his resignation letter. Pino did not want to talk about threats, but rather she sent a message to President Ricardo Martinelli, asking him to govern with capable people and for the benefit of all. Vallarino is sedated and was diagnosed with a condition of hyperthyroidism. The eldest son of the former Mayor, Ricardo "Bosquito" Vallarino, also resigned from his post as the Consul in Miami. (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: Of course they're not going to talk about threats. How can they. Imagine the line - "President Martinelli threatened to expose Vallarino for (fill in the blank) if he didn't resign." It's impossible for them to talk about any threats without talking about the content of the threat - and the content of the threat is why Vallarino resigned. Follow? Oh yeah, stress and health. Got it. He was stressing because of the (fill in the blank) part, whatever that was.

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Vallarino's Wife Says Bosco Wrote His Own Resignation Letter

PoliticsFrom the Punta Pacifica hospital, the wife of (former) Mayor Bosco Vallarino, Annabel de Vallarino, said his family would not allow him to "die with his boots on", referring to his critical health condition. Annabel Vallarino said her husband will remain apart from political life for a time, at least until he recovers. Likewise, she said Vallarino was the one who wrote his letter of resignation himself. In her remarks she preferred not to refer to the meeting with President Ricardo Martinelli, but she did send a message on behalf of the Vallarino family, saying they hope there will be a good government, accompanied by capable people. (Telemetro)
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(Former) Mayor Vallarino's Doctor Says He Resigned Due To Health Problems

PoliticsThe health condition of (former) Panama City Mayor Bosco Vallarino was the main cause of his resignation, confirmed Dr. Grimaldo Cordoba, who is part of his medical team. Cordova said the Mayor had a number of health conditions, including one in the thyroid. For this reason, Vallarino was receiving medical treatment, but the pressure he received in recent days caused a relapse. The hormone production in his thyroid gland had doubled, which affected Vallarino's heart and his health condition deteriorated in the last 48 hours. The doctor reported they will be conducting medical tests to know conclusively in what way Vallarino's heart or other systems might have been impacted. According to Cordova, President Ricardo Martinelli has played with the life of a citizen of this country. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Err, what was the cause of the stress? If Vallarino suffered heart problems due to stress or external pressures, why was he so stressed out? If Vallarino had nothing to fear then he could have simply ignored any stress or pressure put on him by Martinelli or anyone else. However stress is caused when a person finds themselves trapped upon the twin horns of a dilemma. I expect Martinelli had some kind of leverage he used against Vallarino that forced him to resign. That was the source of the stress - whatever the leverage was, and we don't know what the leverage was. Whatever, game over. Vallarino's out, Mendez will replace him. And when a politician resigns it's always for "personal reasons" or "health reasons" but in reality it's mostly just a result of hardball politics. And once again I remind you - the person to thank for this is Vice President Juan Carlos Varela and National Assembly Deputy Jose Blandon. They made the political decision back in August 2011 to torch the alliance between the Panameñistas and the CD - and Vallarino's resignation is just more fallout of that decision.

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Mayor Bosco Vallarino Was Forced To Resign So Roxana Mendez Could Step Up

PoliticsThe former president of the Municipal Council of Panama, of the opposition PRD political party, Carlos Perez Herrera, said what the Executive (Martinelli) seeks with the move to remove Panama City Mayor Ricardo "Bosco" Vallarino from office, is not to knock out the Panameñista political party and to remove the Mayor who was elected by a popular vote, but to interfere in matters that are exclusively the responsibility of the Electoral Tribunal, which itself is a serious and dangerous. The danger lies, according to Perez Herrera, in that in two years when the next general elections are held, there's the possibility that an election result could be decided by the Supreme Court, which is being dominated by the President and the ruling Democratic Change political party. Herrera Perez said the institutions of the municipalities and the Electoral Tribunal must be protected. Herrera Perez said the president is making this move against Bosco Vallarino because if the Supreme Court hands down a decision that is averse to Vallarino, it would also fall on Roxana Mendez, who was his running mate. The former president of the Municipal Council of Panama City made these statements right before the Governor's office announced Mayor Vallarino's resignation. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: In summary, Martinelli needed Vallarino to resign, because if the Supreme Court decided the resolution issued by the National Assembly restoring Vallarino's civil rights as a Panamanian was unconstitutional, then it would be impossible for them to surgically remove Vallarino and not Roxana Mendez as well. They would have to hold another election because - in effect - the people had elected someone who was not legally capable of holding the position. And Vallarino and Mendez ran on the same ticket. The only legal conclusion would be to require another election to select a new Mayor to replace Vallarino. Apparently Martinelli had enough of this crap, and he simply explained to Vallarino that they have all kinds of incriminating information against him, and if he didn't resign then they would file their complaints - well, at least that's what I suspect. Now that Vallarino has voluntarily resigned, that opens the way for Roxana Mendez to step-up as the new Mayor of Panama City.

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President Of Electoral Tribunal Issues "Warnings" To Supreme Court and National Assembly

PoliticsThe presiding judge of the Electoral Tribunal, Gerardo Solís warned the Supreme Court of Justice today that he would be waiting to see the ruling that will be issued in the case of Panama City Mayor Bosco Vallarino, and that if the National Assembly approves the proposed electoral reforms as they are now, it will not receive the blessing of the Electoral Tribunal. Solis said that although it is not the responsibility of the Electoral Tribunal to challenge the Supreme Court, he would wait to see what ruling the court issues in the case of a claim of unconstitutionality against the resolution of the National Assembly that restored the civil rights of Panama City Mayor Bosco Vallarino. The President of the Electoral Tribunal hinted at his fear that the Supreme Court will overstep their powers in this case when he was asked if the Court would be extending the scope of the interpretation itself of its powers if they begin to interpret and apply the law in the resolution of electoral disputes. "If they do so it's a prelude ... out of respect, we are going to wait," said Solis.

The Mayor's advisers have asked the Court make their decision based on law, noting that the highest court is responsible only to determine whether or not the resolution passed by the National Assembly is unconstitutional or not, and not to remove the credentials of Bosco Vallarino.

With regard to the National Assembly, Judge Solis also expressed concern over the delay in approving the electoral reforms. The judges of the Electoral Tribunal asked the National Assembly to return the bill which makes the reforms to committee (the "First Debate") in order to achieve a consensus on the project, considering that the bill currently being considered in the second debates is not the same as what came out of the consensus. Solis said he is concerned about time, because the project should be approved by March at the latest, in order to prepare for the 2014 electoral process. Solis lamented that although they requested a meeting with the President of the National Assembly to reach a consensus to get a document that is a step towards democracy, their requests have not yet been answered, and he is worried about the time. He warned that if a document that is not a step forward for democracy is passed, then it will not receive the blessing of the Electoral Tribunal. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: So now Solis is issuing "warnings" to the Supreme Court and threatening not to "bless" a law that might be passed by the National Assembly? Nice trick for a guy who was appointed to his position (not elected) by a PRD controlled Supreme Court in 2006. Solis is a PRD lackey, so you can expect most of what comes out of him to be in favor of the PRD and against the Cambio Democratico. "Warnings" and "blessings"? Give me a break...

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President of Electoral Tribunal "Will Wait For Supreme Court Decision" In Bosco Vallarino Case

PoliticsThe presiding judge of the Electoral Tribunal, Gerardo Solis, talked about the case of Panama City Mayor Bosco Vallarino, and explained that during the electoral process all of the proper procedures were followed, and eventually it was concluded that Vallarino's civil rights were not suspended. However, Judge Solis prefers to await the decision of the Supreme Court in relation to the National Assembly resolution which restored Vallarino's civil rights retroactively. He added it is not the responsibility of the Electoral Tribunal to challenge the decisions of the Supreme Court. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: And there you have it. The Electoral Tribunal exists in Panama to oversee elections. It's their job to make sure elections are held in a fair manner, that there is no voter fraud, that no one is stuffing ballot boxes, buying votes, that kind of stuff. In this case some people who oppose the government of Ricardo Martinelli were hoping that the Electoral Tribunal would step in and take action to keep Panama City Mayor Bosco Vallarino in his position. With this statement, the President of the Electoral Tribunal is basically saying "we did our job correctly" during the elections of 2009, but it's not their responsibility to get involved in this kind of a case. If you will remember, back on 5 October 2011 I published this article - President of Electoral Tribunal Causes Traffic Accident at 3:00 am - Drunk Driving? - and I suspect this is part of the payoff for not busting him for drunk driving at the time. A simple execution of political leverage, Panamanian style. There's a lot of that going around lately. Anyway, for whatever reason the Electoral Tribunal just tossed Bosco under the bus, and they won't be his lifeguard in this case.

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Supreme Court Will Rule On Mayor Bosco Vallarino's Future Within Ten Days

PoliticsThe Supreme Court will issue their decision within ten days on the claim filed against the resolution passed by the National Assembly which restored the civil rights (as a Panamanian citizen) to the Mayor of Panama City, Ricardo "Bosco" Vallarino. The Secretary General of the Judicial Branch, Carlos Cuesta, sent the draft decision which will be issued to resolve the complaint if unconstitutionality to all of the magistrates of the Supreme Court, a process that will take ten working days, starting from 10 January 2012. The constitutional claim was filed against Resolution No.2 of July 3, 2009, issued by the National Assembly of Deputies which declared that Bosco Ricardo Vallarino resumed his citizenship since 2000, and rehabilitated his rights inherent in citizenship since 2000. It was reported the project was developed by the former supreme court judge Alberto Cigarruista, and then passed to Hernán De León as judge rapporteur. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Yeah, I would bet there's no doubt this decision will go against Bosco Vallarino. I suspect the Supreme Court will decide that the resolution passed by the National Assembly was improper or unconstitutional, so therefore Bosco Vallarino is not actually a Panamanian citizen, so therefore he can't be the Mayor of Panama City. They will order him to vacate the post immediately, and then Roxana Mendez - who was elected as the Vice Mayor in 2009 - will take over as the new Mayor. Then there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Notice this took less than two weeks to happen, once the two Supreme Court judges appointed by the Panameñista Mireya Moscoso left the bench, replaced by two new judges appointed by Ricardo Martinelli. It took them less than six months after the breakup of the alliance between the Panameñistas and the Cambio Democratico to consolidate their power and to assume control of the Mayor's office of Panama City. Oh, of course there's a chance that I could be wrong, and that they will decide in favor of Bosco. Yeah, right. I couldn't keep a straight face either... Hardball politics, Panama style. And who should Bosco blame for losing his position? Juan Carlos Varela and Jose Blandon - those are the two guys who decided their chances would be better on their own in 2014, so they torched the alliance. And, it hasn't worked out very well for them thus far. Now, the Panameñistas have a 0% chance of getting elected in 2014. They also won't be able to play the role of "second fiddle" to the CD. If they had been smart, they could have been the Gilligan-like sidekick for 50 years. But no, they had to swing for the fences. Dumb. The Panameñistas will get less than 20% of the vote. That leaves 80% to be split between the PRD and the Cambio Democratico. The PRD can always get about 35% or so, and I expect the CD will win with about 45% or so of the vote. Martinelli's poll numbers were at 65%, and he dropped to about 50% once the alliance split up - exactly as expected. I predict the CD will repeat in 2014 (whoever their candidate is) and they might be able to hold on to power for a very long time as both the PRD and Panameñistas lose followers. Repeat, forever. This means the Panameñistas are relegated to the role of "third place spoiler" forever more. Golly, thanks, Mireya...

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Former Supreme Court Judge Cigarruista Will Run For Seat in National Assembly

PoliticsThe former magistrate of the Supreme Court Alberto Cigarruista announced he would return to the ranks of the Panameñista political party, and on 12 April 2012 he would hold a massive party registration drive in the province of Los Santos. Cigarruista, who only left the Supreme Court nine days ago, was present on Saturday in Penonomé at the funeral of Arnulfo Arias Madrid. Yesterday he was in Macaracas. Alberto Cigarruista wants to be a candidate to run for the position of Deputy in the National Assembly for circuit 7-2, which covers the areas of La Villa, Macaracas, and Tonosí. Cigarruista, who was formerly a lawmaker before being appointed to the Supreme Court, also announced he would be involved in the subject of agriculture. Cigarruista was initially a member of the "Authentic Liberal" political party before changing to the Panameñista party. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: That didn't take long. A career politician like Cigarruista has been sucking off of the government's tit for so long that he probably doesn't know any other way to make a living. He was appointed to the Supreme Court by the former president Mireya Moscoso. He might win. That part of the country is solid Panameñista territory - or at least it was, anyway...

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For The Record - I'm Ignoring Mireya Moscoso And Her Dead Husband's Body

PoliticsBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The former president Mireya Moscoso is trying to come back to life as a potential player in the Panameñista party. She served as the president of Panama from 1999 - 2004, and as such she will have sat out the required 10 years, so technically she could run as a presidential candidate in the elections of 2014. However, her administration was easily one of the most corrupt in the history of the Republic, and after her gang was thrown out of office in 2004, the party was forced to change their name from the "Arnulfistas" to the "Panameñistas" in an attempt to purge her from the memory of most Panamanian voters. But now she's doing a political stunt - moving the body of her dead husband Arnulfo Arias (who died in Miami in 1988) and she's making a huge, political show out of it. I just wanted to let you know that this article right here is the only thing I'm going to publish about this stunt. She has been planning this thing for months, and she's timing it for maximum political impact. She obviously can't see the virtual political stake that was pounded into her heart as she left office, and she thinks she can come back from the political dead. The only thing she will accomplish is to further divide and damage the Panameñista political party, which will cause even more disenfranchised people to run to the waiting arms of the Cambio Democratico. Let's just say that I don't think Moscoso should be using her dead husband's corpse for her own political gain, again. And don't bitch at me about any kind of "lack of respect" when she's taking the lead and setting a terrible example. That woman really needs to just fade away. Quietly. To me, she's like nails on a chalk board - and I'm not alone.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Martinelli: "There Is No Going Back"

Politics In his first public appearance of the year, president Ricardo Martinelli railed against "powerful businessmen" and the newspaper La Prensa, whom he accused of leading a smear campaign against his government "because they are reaching their hands into their pockets to pay their taxes." Martinelli dedicated much of his 40 minute speech given before the National Assembly - Panama's version of a "State of the Union" address - talking about what he called a "systematic plan of attack" against his government, and told his political opponents they should be more "responsible" if they expect to win the next elections, and he advised them to not "bite on the bait of fake scandals." During his speech Martinelli held up the cover of the La Prensa newspaper twice, complaining because the headline did not highlight the fact that Panama's economy is the fastest growing in Latin America, but rather the article focused on the economic growth in Latin America as a region. Martinelli called that "despicable."

Martinelli made no mention, however, of the La Prensa headline on 1 January 2012 of "Economy Exceeded All Forecasts" in reporting the economic growth in Panama of 10.5% for the year, according to preliminary results. Martinelli said "I did not negotiate for the presidential chair" and he said his commitment was to make a change. "The next (person) who sits in the presidential chair, from whatever political party, now knows what path has to be followed: There is no turning back," he declared.

Vice President of 'La Prensa' Resigns: Jorge Molina presented his resignation last night to the board of directors of La Prensa, S.A., where he served as the Director and Vice President. After receiving attacks about his professional performance as a lawyer, as well as the firm where he is a partner Icaza González-Ruiz y Alemán (Igra) in the Panama America newspaper, Molina was ordered by his partners to break away from La Prensa. Similarly, Molina will separate from the Foundation for Citizen Freedom Development (Transparency International Panama), where he is the president. Jorge Molina was elected to the board of La Prensa in 2005. In 2009 he was appointed director of La Prensa, after the then director, Fernando Berguido, broke away from office because of his treatment for leukemia in the United States. As of December 22 last year, Molina was the subject of stories on the front page of the newspaper Panama America related to legal cases in which he and e Igra represented the state, but the emphasis of the article was his status as a manager of La Prensa. For Luis Navarro, the President of Corprensa, the smear campaign led to his resignation. "Freedom of expression has suffered a causality," said Navarro, while recalling that both journalists and several other members of the board of Corprensa "have been threatened directly or indirectly, and we anticipate increasing attacks." (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Wow. That's it? Martinelli really slammed La Prensa and businessmen in his speech who he called "cowards" for hiding behind the newspaper and "crooks" for not paying their taxes, and this is their response? Weak. Probably because Martinelli was shooting darts...

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Former Agriculture Minister Denies Conflicts With The Cabinet

PoliticsEmilio José Emilio, who yesterday presented his "irrevocable" resignation from the post as Minister of Agriculture, denied there were differences between him and the Cabinet of president Ricardo Martinelli. Kieswetter told TVN News with the Cabinet he always had 100% backup. He mentioned he had good relations with ministers Frank De Lima, Romulo Roux, José Raúl Mulino, Roberto Henríquez, Ricardo Quijano, and Guillermo Ferrufino. He added all of them "saw me fighting, boxing, and little by little" he was developing support for the agricultural sector. Kieswetter said he told the President he would be available to provide advice or help in the area of agriculture. In his resignation letter, filed yesterday, Thursday December 29 - Kieswetter said his decision was motivated by personal and family matters. Kieswetter headed the Ministry of Agricultural Development for a year and a half. (Prensa)
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Eisenmann Does Not Recognize Tax Debt, But Does Not Rule Out Accounting Error

PoliticsThe businessman Roberto Eisenmann yesterday refused to acknowledge any debt to the national treasury, repeating his assertions that political persecution is behind the government audits of his business, Desarrollo Golf Coronado. "My businesses do not owe one penny," Eisenmann said, saying he has confidence in this because he has always hired the best tax advisors and auditors. However he admitted "there will always be little things" discovered during any audit. "You have to accept that the team can make a mistake in A or B thing, that always happens," said Eisenmann, but he said in this case there has been unacceptable accounting behavior.

This contrasts with the version of events provided by the General Director of Revenue, Luis Cucalón, who said the audit of Desarrollo Golf Coronado is part of a plan of control they are executing against all of the large companies in Panama, to certify that they are paying their taxes. "No one can say that collecting taxes is going against freedom of expression," he said, while at the same time he added that in the audits (conducted against Eisenmann's company Desarrollo Golf Coronado) they are not making up numbers or trying to collect more (taxes) than what's owed.

To date Eisenmann has not been officially notified of the results of the audit, but the businessman said he has information indicating he will be charged $1.5 million dollars for back taxes, and the government has the intention of sequestering his business.

Amid the controversy, the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) involved themselves in the issue of Eisenmann's defense yesterday. The Secretary General of the PRD, Mitchell Doens, displayed an email - dated last March - in which supposedly president Ricardo Martinelli said the DGI was already auditing Eisenmann's companies, to which he referred - in the email - with a strong insult, and which he called him a "fraudster." According to the documents presented by Doens, the president exchanged emails with the Minister of the Presidency, Jimmy Papadimitriu, and Astrid Salazar, Director of Publicity of the State, in which made accusations against the businessman (Eisenmann).

The Minister of the Presidency would only say he could not give statements because an investigation is being conducted by the Attorney General for the "hacking" of the computers of the Presidency.

Who did not hesitate to issue accusations against the director of the PRD was the National Assembly Deputy Marcos Gonzalez of the Cambio Democratico political party, who said the PRD has no morals to speak of "wiretapping". He said in the country there are Panamanians and foreigners who are dedicated to "hacking" computers, record telephone calls, and to break into computers in order to do harm. (Panama America)

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Government Threatens To Sue Eisenmann

PoliticsThe government responded yesterday with new threats against businessman I. Roberto Eisenmann, a harsh critic of the management of the president, Ricardo Martinelli. Through his spokesman, Luis Eduardo Camacho, the government insisted that Eisenmann should go to the Public Ministry to present a criminal complaint based on the allegations he has made ​​publicly in relation to local entrepreneurs who have been threatened in order for them to allow members of the government to get involved in their companies, and if they refuse they are warned that they should be "attentive to the consequences." Camacho also described Eisenmann's statements as "baseless allegations", who said "we go from scandal to scandal, in what seems like an orgy of theft from state funds." The government's press release even says they are evaluating "going to the civil sphere" to sue Eisenmann for his statements.

Meanwhile, the head of the Department of Revenue, Luis Cucalón, denied that the audits they have conducted against the company owned by the Eisenmann family are political persecution.

Eisenmann reiterated yesterday that the audit of the company Desarrollo Golf Coronado, S.A., of which he is the president and legal representative, is nothing more than a "political audit" and "accounting nonsense." "I have no fear of saying things as they are," said the businessman. He even challenged the government to sue him in the judicial sphere. "Most entrepreneurs are afraid because they feel they have no defense against there (thugs) maleantería," he added. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: So the government and Eisenmann continue to exchange barbs in public. It's really going to come down to the nuts and bolts of the findings of the DGI audit. I mean, from a basic common sense point of view, it's pretty obvious that Eisenmann and La Prensa are taking every shot they can at Martinelli in their newspaper, because he supports Juan Carlos Varela and the Panameñista political party, so their attacks are politically motivated. And the DGI conducted an audit of his company most likely in response to those attacks, also politically motivated. However I'm not sure I buy or believe Eisenmann's claims about the results of the DGI audit which showed he owes $1.5 million dollars in taxes that have gone unpaid over the past three years. He calls it "accounting nonsense" and I'm sure there simply has to be a way to appeal or challenge something like this when it comes up. And in this case I suspect the math and the numbers won't lie. So at this point it still remains "he said, she said." However what I would really like to know - was the audit clean? Does Eisenmann really owe the $1.5 million dollars in back taxes? If so, then he should just pay his tax bill and then he can continue blasting away at the president and the Cambio Democratico party all day long, however his credibility will have been substantially damaged. And, I'm sure that's exactly what Martinelli is trying to achieve.

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Director General of Revenue Denies Political Audits

PoliticsLuis Cucalón, the Director General of Revenue (of the DGI), rejected the idea that the audits conducted by the institution respond to political interests, reacting to accusations made by businessman Roberto Eisenmann. One of the companies in which Eisenmann is a shareholder was audited by the DGI, who found irregularities demanding payment of $1.5 million dollars in back taxes. This was identified by the businessman (Eisenmann) as a strategy of persecution in response to his harsh criticism (of the Martinelli administration). In contrast, Cucalón thinks when Eisenmann began to feel pressured as a result of the audits he initiated a plan based on criticism in order to play the role of victim. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: In the end, so what? It might be political on all sides. The attacks in the Prensa are just as politically motivated as the audits by the DGI. And if Eisenmann can legally get away with attacking Martinelli in the La Prensa newspaper, it's equally true that Martinelli can legally get away with auditing every journalist who works there. Like it, or not. And guess what? Now that the DGI has apparently uncovered $1.5 million dollars in unpaid taxes then they are even more justified in conducting more audits, right? Just as Eisenmann is justified in writing more articles. And so it goes. Now, if the DGI was just conducting unjustified audits in order to harass and intimidate then that's another story altogether, but once smoke leads to fire then all bets are off. And yes Lucy, I do like mixed metaphors every once in awhile - but you still got some "'splainin' to do" about that whole tax thing.

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National Government of Panama Challenges Eisenmann To File A Criminal Complaint

PoliticsBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - This afternoon the National Government of Panama issued a formal press release in which they challenged Roberto Eisenmann, the founder and president of the La Prensa newspaper, to submit a criminal complaint before the Public Ministry regarding any criminal activity about which he claims to have knowledge. In the press release the Secretary of State Communications made reference to the article in the judicial code which requires citizens to make a formal complaint about any criminal activity they are aware of, citing allegations made by Eisenmann about supposed illegal activity and conduct of the government officials and members of the administration of Ricardo Martinelli.

It's Political: There is practically zero chance that Eisenmann will file any kind of a criminal complaint regarding his allegations of the government using the DGI (local version of the IRS) to conduct politically motivated audits against his businesses. Because, if he does so, then that would open the way for the prosecutors of the Public Ministry to crawl through his books. Because if he actually does owe $1.5 million dollars in back taxes, then he's evading taxes and the actions of the DGI are perfectly justified. And, the first requirement of any investigation would be to determine if the taxes are actually owed, or not. Of course there's little doubt that the attacks by La Prensa and Eisenmann directed against Ricardo Martinelli are politically motivated, there's equally little doubt that the investigations and audits conducted by the DGI are also politically motivated. Eisenmann supports the Panameñista political party, the party's members, and their political agenda. So, it comes down to "I'll see your newspaper, and I'll trump you with a tax audit." And in case there was any doubt regarding the politics involved, when all of this hit the wires this afternoon Vice President Juan Carlos Varela - Panameñista extraordinaire - posted via Twitter "Freedom of expression is a fundamental pillar of democracy. Is everyone's responsibility to defend it in all our actions." So round two is "I'll trump your tax audit with my claims of freedom of expression."

Editor's Comment: Two words - journalistic ethics. If La Prensa had simply played the middle of the road (like they're supposed to), reported both sides from the center, and not taken one side or the other, then chances are Eisenmann would not have gotten audited or caught. However reality on the ground in Panama is that all of the news outlets - every one - are now batting for one of the three teams on the playing field - the PRD, Panameñistas, or the Cambio Democratico (except me). Lucky for me all you gringos can't vote - so you're worthless in this game. That means my opinion might be fun to read sometimes, but totally irrelevant, which is probably why I'm not dead yet.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Martinelli Fires Back - And Foreshadows New Scandals To Come

PoliticsPresident Ricardo Martinelli said today "soon you will hear about the beauties of a very expensive museum where some supposedly notable people misused state resources." He also said "the best recipe for not paying taxes is to criticize the government, and if you get caught, then you can say it's against the freedom of politics or expression." The comments were issued in the Twitter account of President Ricardo Martinelli on Tuesday December 27, after the newspaper La Prensa denounced a million dollar coup against Eisenmann, the founder of the newspaper.

According to the complaint published in the newspaper, "after seven months of harassment through 'continuous auditing', the General Direction of Revenue (DGI) found alleged deficiencies in the Eisenmann family business that will cost $1.5 million dollars, and the founder of the newspaper was notified of the tax at a time when there have been steadily increasing pressures against the independent press."

According to the newspaper similar actions have been taken against Guillermo Antonio Adames, owner of the Omega Stereo radio station and the former president of the National Council of Journalists, and against the entrepreneur and journalist Juan Carlos Tapia.

On Tuesday in an interview on the channel 2 TVN morning news, Alexander Gancci, a spokesman for the Public Awareness Association, criticized that the government is using the tax issue is to coerce the media. Gancci said it is good to conduct audits, but these should not be selective. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Whoops. "Very expensive museum?" Here comes another bomb. Martinelli has decided it's time to return fire against his political opponents in the Panameñista and PRD political parties who have been having a field day, kicking him in the shins on a regular basis. He's probably talking about the Biodiversity Museum on the Amador Causeway which has been sucking down money for a long time. I'm sure the juicy details will be up for grabs on Twitter soon. Panamanian politics have turned into a three-way "screw you" fest with a muddy playing field upon which no participant is completely clean. Ain't democracy wonderful? Thank you, United States. God Bless You, "Operation Just Cause." Now that democracy has been restored the Panamanian politicians can screw themselves with bribes (CEMIS), scandals, accusations and counter accusations. At least it gives me something to watch. Pass the popcorn...

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La Prensa Founder and President Roberto Eisenmann Decries "Political Audit"

PoliticsOn Thursday, 22 December 2011, inspectors from the Department of Revenue (DGI) of the Ministry of Finance informed the businessman Roberto Eisenmann that an audit conducted against the company Desarrollo Golf Coronado, S.A. found "gaps and differences" in income and ITBMS taxes paid in the last three years. "They communicated to me about taxes ranging to as much as $1.5 million dollars based on a bunch of nonsense, which makes it clear this was a political audit," said Eisenman, the President and legal representative of the company Desarrollo Golf Coronado, S.A.. Eisenmann, who is the founder and President of this newspaper (La Prensa), has been a harsh critic of the administration of President Ricardo Martinelli during the past two years. His brother-in-law Cesar Tribaldos, another shareholder of the company, is also the treasurer on La Prensa's Board of Directors. Eisenmann was verbally informed if he fails to pay the tax then the DGI will sequester the administration of the company.

At its last general meeting in November 2011 in Lima, Peru, the Inter American Press Association discussed the issue of freedom of expression said the mainstream media and journalists in Panama are subjected to some types of threats, specifically citing cases of tax audits and attacks via social networks. Previously, the DGI has carried out audits of the companies of Guillermo Antonio Adames - the owner of OmegaStereo and the former President of the National Journalism Council - and those of the social communicator Juan Carlos Tapia. The audits were conducted, as was in the case with Eisenmann and Tribaldos, the tax inspectors arrived just after critical statements were made against the government of Ricardo Martinelli. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: OK, where do I file this story? I guess it depends on what element you choose to focus upon. On the political side of the equation La Prensa was basically supportive - or at least much more tolerant - of the administration of Ricardo Martinelli before the alliance between the Panameñistas and the Cambio Democratico broke up on 30 August 2011. La Prensa is now 100% in the Panameñista camp and they (as a newspaper) have been playing the role of political activism through the press since the breakup. They relentlessly attack the administration of Ricardo Martinelli, spin all stories so they are "negative" against the government, while going out of their way to support and defend anything that has to do with Panameñista politicians such as Juan Carlos Varela. La Prensa is exceptionally biased in that manner. So, under those considerations, this is a "political" story. What if the DGI audit conducted against Eisenmann and Tribaldos by the DGI was politically motivated, and in fact an audit conducted by an outside, neutral, independent, certified, professional, competent accountant would find in fact their company Desarrollo Golf Coronado, S.A. does not really owe $1.5 million dollars in back taxes? In that case the story should be filed under "corruption" because that would prove the government and the DGI is being used as a tool of political retribution by Martinelli against a political adversary. But what if that same kind of an outside and independent audit ends up determining the DGI investigation is correct, and in fact Desarrollo Golf Coronado, S.A. really does owe the $1.5 million dollars in back taxes? In that case this article would be filed under "crime and punishment" for tax evasion. No matter what, the message being sent by Martinelli and his DGI watchdogs is clear - if you intend to throw stones through their window using the tools at your disposal (La Prensa, OmegaStero, Lo Mejor Del Boxeo, etc.) then you better be prepared to face extensive and exhaustive audits and investigations of your business, taxes, and accounting. That threat alone will silence some critics or at least make them tone down their rhetoric somewhat.

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"Martinelli Feels Overwhelmed By The Corruption Scandals" - Doens

PoliticsHaving vented through the media the subject of the possibility of changes to the Cabinet, President Ricardo Martinelli is perhaps feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the corruption scandals that are happening in his administration, and therefore he said pressure is being put on him through the media that do not allow changes to be made. This is what was said in remarks made to La Estrella by the General Secretary of the opposition Revolutionary Party (PRD), Mitchell Does, who, like Miguel Antonio Bernal, said the media outlets are a channel through which the people can issue their feelings. Doens said it was the Minister of the Presidency, Jimmy Papadimitriu, who suggested that changes should be made to the Cabinet of President Martinelli, because he recognized a "wearing."

Bernal said in turn the president wanted to shield themselves through the media with statements yesterday in which he said "to be pressing for a change of Cabinet, the media, all it does is to ensure sure there will be no change to the Cabinet" - during the inauguration of a new power line to the community of Los Molejones, in Cocle. Martinelli also said it is important that civil society knows and cares about the changes in government. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: It's pretty clear that the Minister of the Presidency Jimmy Papadimitriu thinks some of the Ministers serving Ricardo Martinelli on the Cabinet are "burned out" - and he suggested it's time to make some changes. Then once the news media and journalists started asking Martinelli about this he responded by basically saying he could make any change to any Minister at any time - but he would not be doing so in response to news reports in the media (which makes perfect sense). And then of course Mitchell Doens and Miguel Bernal weigh in with their somewhat irrelevant opinions. However getting the opinion of the opposition players is how journalism is done here in Panama City. I mean, why call Bernal and ask him what he thinks about the potential for changes to the cabinet? (Rhetorical question) Answer = The journalists in Panama can always count on getting Miguel Antonio Bernal to spout an opinion about anything, and no matter the issue you can count on him to take the other side. Bernal is an aspiring politician and he wants to get his name in the paper and face on the television as much as possible and as frequently as possible, to build name recognition. It's a time honored and perfectly valid political tactic. Mitchell Doens will say whatever would be good for the PRD, which makes them equals. Whatever. In this case their opinions are irrelevant. If Martinelli wants to make changes to his cabinet for any reason, then he will simply do so - regardless of what Doens or Bernal think.

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"La Prensa" Complains About Official Attacks

PoliticsIn recent months there has been an escalation of attacks on the newspaper La Prensa, its officers and journalists, by president Ricardo Martinelli and figures of his government. The latest attack took place yesterday from the government newspaper the Panama America, which devoted its cover to the lawyer Jorge Molina, the Vice President and former director of La Prensa. The article was about the Molina's performance as the legal representative of the Public Service Authority in a lawsuit against a hydroelectric plant. Molina said the information is false and tendentious. The staff of La Prensa and other unofficial media have received, in a sustained manner, messages, attacks, pressures, and visits by official government audits, after publishing some government scandal. Various organizations have declared a "state of alert" and the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) in its meeting last month, said journalists in Panama are subject to some kind of threat. Roberto Eisenmann, founding president of the newspaper (La Prensa), said president Martinelli has shown no mercy to La Prensa, "because it is the newspaper he could not buy, which he could not penetrate." (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: In fact La Prensa is highly biased in favor of the Panameñista political party, and against both the PRD and Martinelli's CD. When the alliance was still in place between the CD and the Panameñistas then La Prensa was less aggressive and more supportive of their politicians who were in office. Starting on 30 August 2011 when the alliance broke up and Martinelli summarily fired his Vice President Juan Carlos Varela as the Foreign Minister, then instantly La Prensa became an "opposition" newspaper - and since then they have been spearheading the efforts against Martinelli. And of course La Prensa is right in that the Panama America is much more favorable to the CD and against the PRD and the Panameñistas. So, the different media outlets in Panama have all taken sides. However in truth and fact La Prensa is no better and no different than the Panama America - they're just batting for another team. And when the journalists are complaining about other journalists then that just means the politics have invaded the news media and all of them are exposing their bias in favor of one side and against another. Well, that's sort of what I do, explain who's on what team so you can better understand the day to day fighting in the headlines.

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Doens Responds To Allegations Of Email Exchanges Between Him and David Murica

PoliticsThe Secretary General of the opposition PRD political party Mitchell Doens said the Minister of Labor Alma Cortes is involving him in an alleged exchange of e-mails with the Colombian David Murcia - who is in prison in the United States - in order to get ahead of what is coming against the government of Ricardo Martinelli. Doens made his comments after Cortés reported on Wednesday afternoon that an envelope arrived at her office, and when she opened it she discovered documents showing the alleged conversations between Doens and Murcia. In the supposed emails, Murcia asked Doens for help to defend his image against attacks being made by President Ricardo Martinelli. "The lawyer Roniel Ortiz pointed to three Ministers who were involved in the case of David Murcia and one of them was a female. So what is happening here is that the Attorney General, based on what Minister Cortes has said and what the lawyer Ortiz has said, should call them to the prosecutor's office to resolve this through the courts," said Doens.

Doens said he would see the interview of Minister Cortez and in due course "I will give the media a response to this lady and I'm sure she won't be left standing straight." He said the lawyer Ortiz gave a statement several days ago in which he said there were some pages that had been stolen from the case file, and he showed the copies in which it appears an amount of money that David Murcia gave to Martinelli, involving him and the Super 99, and he also mentioned three Ministers from the Democratic Change (CD) political party, one of these was a woman who is also involved. "Mr. Martinelli has to be very careful, because he is involved with that record with that page, in which there was a money link with the Super 99 and his closest collaborators Cortés, Padimitriu, and Solomon Shamah," said Doens, referring to the Ministers Alma Cortés, Demetrio Papadimitriu and Solomon Shamah. (TVN)

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Anibal Galindo Announces Political Aspirations for 2014

PoliticsThe Vice President of the ruling Democratic Change political party Aníbal Galindo admitted today on the channel 2 TVN morning news broadcast that he aspires to the presidency of the republic, while at the same time recognizing the popularity of the Minister of Social Development Guillermo Ferrufino in recent polls. Galindo, who has extensive experience in national politics, said the Democratic Change political party is very big, and it has structures, and together they will make the best decision on who will be the presidential candidate as well as for other elected positions. Galindo also predicted that during 2012 the political arena will be heating up, in anticipation of the elections in 2014. During the interview Galindo said he does not regret having entered politics, because the first instinct he has is to work for the country and its people, and if someone else can do it better than him, then one grows when he gives. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Make a note - Anibal Galindo has thrown his hat into the ring and will be participating in the primary elections of the Cambio Democratico political party when they finally come around. I suspect there will be more than a handful of hopefuls who will step forward in the coming months.

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Ministers Raising A Stink Over Vice President Varela's Raising A Stink

Politics Trade Minister Ricardo Quijano said today it is within the President's power to make any changes required in the Cabinet, but he focused his criticism against Vice President Juan Carlos Varela. Quijano said Vice President Varela distorts the work being done by the Cabinet. Quijano said Vice President Varela attends the Cabinet meetings with his own agenda, deliberately to score points in his presidential aspirations. The Vice Minister of Social Development Niurka Palacios used the same terms but without mentioning any specific names, saying that while they are trying to work, others go to the media to try to cause them to lose their path. While it falls within the power of the Executive to hire and fire the Ministers, that is not the same for the position of the Vice President, who is elected by popular vote. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Yeah, it's got to be really irritating for the Cambio Democratico guys to still have the Panameñista Juan Carlos Varela sitting there in the position of Vice President. As such he attends Cabinet meetings so therefore he can listen in to their discussions and deliberations, and then as soon as the meeting is over he runs for the door and gives interviews to the media, critical of the way the Cambio Democratico is running the country. Sooner or later Varela will have to resign from his post in order to run for president in the 2014 elections. It's practically impossible to stay in office and run at the same time, due to laws which place restrictions on what political activities he can do while on the government clock. And, you can't campaign full time while collecting a government paycheck. Normally anyone who is a member of the current administration who wants to run for office resigns about one year before the election or so - in this case that would be May 2013. Until then, Varela has every right in the world to sit there and fart during Martinelli's meetings. Might I recommend starting off with about three or four Beef, Bean, and Cheddar Burritos, a mixed cabbage salad, washed down with a banana and prune juice smoothie, and (in case of lactose intolerance) topped off with a dessert of chocolate ice cream sundae with some baker's yeast sprinkled on top for good measure. Chow all of that crap down about thirty minutes before the meeting starts, then chug a big glass of carbonated water and wait for the fireworks. One word of caution - no open flames, please. Hey, at least I learned something of value during my military career flying on Air Force aircraft. Ask Rick Lossner. A body builder who would routinely chow down a dozen raw eggs before (or during) a flight, he made passing gas an art form. He put the whole crew on oxygen more than once. So a simple Cabinet meeting in an enclosed space? Piece of cake ... just blame it on Lucy.

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Martinelli Blames Varela For Hurtado Asylum, Calls Him A Liar

PoliticsAny chance for a reconciliation between President Ricardo Martinelli and Vice President Juan Carlos Varela becomes more distant. The asylum granted to Maria del Pilar Hurtado, former director of the DAS in Colombia, has become another issue creating distance and fissures in the midst of divorce, after a honeymoon shared from January 2009 through August 30, 2011 - when Martinelli fired Varela as the Foreign Minister via the Official Gazette. When the fighting took a short recess, the Foreign Ministry, now at the hands of Minister Roberto Henriquez, confirmed receipt of a formal request to extradite Hurtado back to Colombia received on 13 December 2011, so she could be prosecuted for espionage and other crimes in her home country. Vice President Varela said it would be "difficult" for Panama to grant the application for extradition submitted by the Government of Colombia, and he added it was Martinelli who made the decision at the time, and he is the one who has the power to revoke asylum.

The president pulled out this sledgehammer, and using his Twitter account he accused his former political ally of attending to Hurtado, and he accused him of lying. "The case of Mr. Hurtado of Colombia, Varela was the one who asked for it, who received her, and who attended to her. He was the Foreign Minister and now he is lying about it, as usual," wrote Martinelli via the social network on Friday night. Varela was the Chancellor when Panama granted asylum to Hurtado via Executive Decree No. 301 of November 19, 2010.

However, the Panameñista (Varela) insists Martinelli has the power to pull back and to make the decision whether or not to extradite, and then the Chancellor executes that decision. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: I wondered why Panama granted asylum to Hurtado. She was the Chief of Intelligence of Colombia at the time leading up to the elections in Panama in May 2009. If you remember those six months, starting in December 2008 when Martinelli and Varela struck their agreement to run together and to form an alliance, the rest of their joint campaign was conducted under the shadow of the accusations being made by the Colombian pyramid schemer David Murcia. Remember how president Martin Torrijos very quickly sent Murcia back to Colombia? And then how Murcia launched accusations of bribery against the leading PRD presidential candidate Balbina Herrera and the leading PRD mayoral candidate Bobby Velasquez? I suspect during that time Hurtado was providing "actionable intelligence" to the Martinelli and Varela camp. I suspect her information played a crucial part in their election, and that they used the information she provided in order to improve their chances of winning the election. There's remaining questions that will probably never be known - specifically - who benefited most from that intelligence information. My guess it was the Panameñistas and in particular with the case of Panama City Mayor Bosco Vallarino and the information provided against Bobby Velasquez. So, later, once Hurtado got her rocks in a vice in Colombia, she hopped over the border. Varela who was the Foreign Minister at the time convinced Martinelli to grant asylum. But now that the political alliance has broken up and the Panameñistas are no longer in favor, I could see Martinelli reversing his decision and tossing her back across the border to be eaten alive in Colombia. Politics is a war, and wars are fought based on information, and intelligence chiefs provide that information. I don't know about all of the details, but I bet I've got the structure and network about right. I think Martinelli will say "screw her" and then let Varela deal with the fallout once she starts to squeal in Colombia about her deal that went awry. I bet her palms are pretty sweaty right about now...

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Political Implications of Noriega's Return to Panama

PoliticsBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Earlier today as the "twittershere" started to heat up in anticipation of the return of the former military dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega to Panama, president Ricardo Martinelli wrote via his Twitter account "No les dâ risa escuchar ahora a todos los furibundos prds ex norieguistas renegandolo y hablando como si aqui nada hubiera pasado?" (Doesn't it make you laugh to hear now all of the angry PRD former Noriega supporters who are now renegades and talking as if nothing had ever happened here?) In fact Omar Torrijos created the Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD) to give some form of legitimacy to his military dictatorship, and the PRD was and is still the political party of the military dictators. There are several current PRD politicians who were very closely associated with Manuel Antonio Noriega. If Balbina Herrera had won the last general election in May 2009, they probably would have met him with a hero's welcome at the airport.

Convicted Criminal: Noriega's return serves to remind the Panamanian people that he is, in fact, a convicted criminal who is guilty of drug trafficking, money laundering, and murder. And in fact those convictions only just barely scratch the surface of the crimes he actually committed. And politically speaking, his return further reduces the already dismal chances of the myriad of PRD hopefuls who are jockeying for position to win the party's nomination for the 2014 elections (there are at least nine, at last count). In the minds of the Panamanian electorate the PRD will once again be the party of the murderous dictator - and they don't want any more of that stuff. Meanwhile, Martinelli and his Cambio Democratico administration will be seen as the guys who managed to bring him back to Panama, slam his ass in a cell, and force him to face justice here - finally. And of course the PRD guys are doing everything they can to spin it back around to make Martinelli look bad, any way they can. Politics, it's all politics.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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