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Saturday, November 01 2014 @ 09:07 AM EDT

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Local District Level Representatives March, Protesting Against A Lack Of Funding

PoliticsHundreds of local district level representatives from the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Panameñista, Molirena, and independent political parties held a protest this afternoon, Wednesday, Jan. 8, over a lack of fairness in the distribution of circuit funds. The march began at the National Assembly and went to the Comptroller General's office on Avenida Balboa. According to the representative of the Association of Municipalities of Panama, Joaquin Vasquez, the Social Development Programme (Prodeso) gives $100,000 to representatives from the ruling Democratic Change political party (CD), while the rest of the representatives who do not belong to that political party have their projects "shelved." Similarly, they say the projects of the Community Development Programme (PRODEC) have not been executed in the past three years. Jose Herrera, president of the Association of Municipalities of Panama, said they feel solidarity with the feelings of the Ngäbe Bugle and they expect the government to comply wit the agreement signed yesterday, because "they believe in the word of the current government." He also said they have submitted a claim to the Comptroller General of the Republic, asking her to suspend the Social Development Program (Prodeso).

Editor's Comment: If you're in the "right" party (CD), you get funding and can do projects in your community. If you're in the "wrong" party (PRD or Panameñista) then you get squat.

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A Video Of Opposition "Rebels" Getting Paid To Make A Scene In The National Assembly

PoliticsThe Deputy and Vice President of the National Assembly, Marcos Gonzalez, said today, Thursday February 2, he has in his possession a video which proves that, apparently, members of the Panameñista caucus offered money to people who staged clashes in the public area of the legislative chamber, while they were debating Bill 402, about the Fifth Chamber, on Monday 30 January 2012. Gonzalez said they are former officials of the Municipality of Panama, who were working for the opposition Deputies from the Panameñista party, who were paid to be "rebels". "There are even Panameñista party members," said the Vice President of the National Assembly. "You can't be playing with public opinion, making accusations that do not conform to reality," said Gonzalez. The Vice President said the video is being presented to the public, because there have been allegations that the ruling bloc led to the payment of money to people, "when it's not true, putting the lives of the other Panamanians in danger, who were there that day." (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: This is an old tactic in Panama. If you have a fist full of $20 bills, you can get a crowd who will protest for or against anything, anywhere, anytime.

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National Assembly Vice President Flips Off The Peanut Gallery During Live Television Interview (Hilarious)

Politics The Vice President of the National Assembly, Marcos Gonzalez, apologized today for the rude gesture he made as he was being interviewed by TVN journalist, Magda Maxwell after the riots in the Legislative Palace. The Vice President of the National Assembly raised the middle finger when he was booed by the audience during the interview. However, Gonzalez attributed his offensive gesture to the tension of the moment. Gonzalez also denied having sent people to beat others in the stands during the unrest in the National Assembly, as hinted in the Twitter accounts of National Assembly Deputy Jose Isabel Blandon from the Panameñista party. The Panameñista lawmaker said in the television images he saw Gonzalez's drivers (in the stands, involved in the fight.) Gonzalez said the drivers must always be at the headquarters of the Assembly. Meanwhile, access to the Legislative Palace on Tuesday has been restricted to avoid further clashes, according to the legislative authorities. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Ha! I love it. Finally, a politician I can respect. Well, sort of. He apologized. Wouldn't it have been better if he had said "No, I wanted to send them a message. It was a gesture which means 'Fuck You' and that's exactly what I was thinking. Yeah, it was the heat of the moment, but fuck those guys anyway..." Whoops, is that video camera running during this live television interview with Magda Maxwell? Yeah, whatever. Tensions are getting a little hot at the National Assembly these days. Anyway, I have to take this Gonzalez guy out to lunch. He just won some kind of a Panama Guide award or something, that I have to make up right now...

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Political Opposition afraid of justice

PoliticsOld Guard afraid the judicial part of our government might actually function. Well, the circus continues in the Legislature. Looks like the opposition parties whom wanted to keep the diablos rojos, the roads remaining as obstacle courses and the post office not delivering mail are on the move again. Now they want to block the possible functioning of a judicial system. God knows what would happen if Panamanian citizens were held to the law, prosecuted and tried quickly? We can only hold our breath and keep wondering at the crazy antics of these kindergarten children......honestly! God save an honest political system! Jim dandy, this Panama!
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Neither the CD nor Martinelli Seeks His Reelection - Henriquez

PoliticsForeign Minister Roberto Henriquez said today on the channel 2 TVN morning news broadcast that the Democratic Change political party is not seeking the reelection of the president, and what's more president Ricardo Martinelli himself is not interested in re-election. The Chancellor said Martinelli's reelection is not the goal of the Fifth Chamber in the Supreme Court, so therefore the opposition's fears are not justified. The Chancellor said the country needs the Fifth Chamber or some other judicial structure to handle cases related to constitutional elements. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: I believe it. I don't think Martinelli is interested in the least in being reelected. I think he is 100% interested in having whoever is the presidential candidate from the Cambio Democratico party win, however. What's more, I think most of the political moves they are making are aimed towards that goal. Any CD candidate would proceed with many of the initiatives started by Martinelli.

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Electoral Tribunal Will Wait To Read Supreme Court Decision in Bosco Vallarino Case

PoliticsThe Electoral Court judge (TE), Gerardo Solís said the entity bases its decisions on facts, and in order to completely understand and to see the consequences of the Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the retroactive elements of Resolution No. 2 of the National Assembly, from July 3, 2009, which returned citizenship rights to former Mayor Bosco Ricardo Vallarino, one must know the reasoning behind it. According to Judge Solis, one should wait to for the ruling to be issued in order to analyze it, in order to determine what is appropriate, because the country has seen an advance of the decision. He also said judges must act on facts, completed, therefore one cannot advance an opinion until the contents of the formal document are known. Similarly, he said Mayor Roxana Méndez was chosen by direct popular vote, as the Deputy and replacement for the former Mayor Bosco Vallarino, who was elected by a vote of Panamanians, and therefore she "is entitled to act right now" as the Mayor of Panama City, he said. He said it's important to analyze the opinion of constitutional experts, and that the public and express themselves freely. (Panama America)
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Supreme Court Decides Against Bosco Vallarino's Citizenship Rights

PoliticsThe presiding judge of the Supreme Court of Justice, Alejandro Moncada Luna, said Bosco Ricardo Vallarino maintains his Panamanian nationality, but only from the date of the resolution that restored his rights as a citizen, in 2009. This means that when he ran as a candidate for the Panameñista political party to be the Mayor of Panama City, for the period 2009 - 2014, he had no citizenship rights, in accordance with the unanimous decision handed down by the Supreme Court. According to Resolution No. 2 of 3 July 2009 and published in the Official Gazette on July 9 of that year, the National Assembly declared that Vallarino "resumed his citizenship since 2000, when he took up permanent residence in the territory of the Republic of Panama." And, therefore, Article 2 of that resolution determined Vallarino's rights as a citizen had been rehabilitated "since 2000." It was this phrase, "since 2000," which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional, said judge said Moncada Luna, after completing the special meeting of the full Court this January 24, 2012. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: This case became a "who cares" issue the minute Bosco Vallarino resigned from office.

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Martinelli Says The Fifth Chamber is Necessary

PoliticsPresident Ricardo Martinelli said today the "Fifth Chamber" of the Supreme Court is need to streamline processes. In 2008, while campaigning for the presidency, Martinelli declared his opposition to the "Fifth Chamber" and said it was the intention of the then ruling party (PRD) to create the new chamber in the Supreme Court in order to protect the back of the president at the time, Martin Torrijos. The president expressed his support for the Fifth Chamber on Friday during a ceremony to inaugurate the new North Concourse of the Tocumen International Airport. Members of the PRD have warned they would file a complaint against the creation of the Fifth Chamber as unconstitutional, as the bill is discussed in the second debate in the National Assembly. National Assembly Deputy Agustin Sellhorn said the President only changed his stance to adapt to the times, and he knows how to make adjustments to his position when necessary. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Ah hem ... Bullshit (all around). Back in 1999 then president Ernesto Perez Balladares created this concept of adding the "Fifth Chamber" to the Supreme Court. At that time, he was trying to change the rules so he could run for another term. When Mireya Moscoso got elected she squashed it, and it stayed squashed until it was brought back to life by Ricardo Martinelli. The "bullshit" part is when any politician tells you the new court is needed to streamline the processes, clear out backlog, or what have you. In reality this move serves to give any sitting president three more appointments to the court, changing the math, and allowing him to take over the judicial branch of government. Everyone knows this, and it's going to happen anyway. And the funny thing is, all of the PRD politicians are on record as supporting the Fifth Court as necessary, when it was being proposed originally by Ernesto Perez Balladares. And I think it's ironic as hell that Martinelli is taking a page out of their own playbook, and then beating them in the head with it. Are .. we ... having ... fun ... yet ... ?

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MOLIRENA President Sergio González Ruíz Appointed As New Director of National Lottery

PoliticsPresident of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli, appointed the President of the MOLIRENA political party Sergio Gonzalez Ruiz as the new Director of the National Lottery, through Executive Decree No. 15 of 19 January 2012. Gonzalez Ruiz is a major political ally, he is the current President of the MOLIRENA political party, who has tried unsuccessfully to merge MOLIRENA with the ruling Democratic Change political party, led by Martinelli. This appointment will be forwarded to the National Assembly for approval as set forth in paragraph 4 of Article 161 of the Constitution of the Republic, said a press release from the Presidency. Executive Order No. 15, which appoints the new Director General of the National Lottery, will take effect once he is approved and installed. According to the Government, Gonzalez Ruiz will strengthen the work being done by the institution on behalf of Panamanian families and the growing development of the country as part of the solution this government brings to the problems of the poor. (Estrella)

Sergio González Ruíz - New Director of National Lottery

Editor's Comment: Sergio Gonzalez Ruiz tried to merge the MOLIRENA political party with the CD, twice. Both times he was stymied by the Electoral Tribunal, which is controlled by the PRD. So now apparently Martinelli has changed tactics, and instead of trying to absorb the MOLIRENA party, he will make them his new allies, which gives a great place for all those Panameñistas who are no longer happy with the Varela - Blandon leadership. Martinelli will also focus on taking over control of the Electoral Tribunal, in order to eliminate that stumbling block between now and the elections of 2014. Appointing Sergio Gonzalez Ruiz as the new Director of the National Lottery (a traditional "honey pot" for corrupt politicians) is the clearest signal Martinelli can send. Join us and you'll get paid. Don't join us and we will crush you. Questions?

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The Growing List Of Political Operatives I'm Ignoring...

PoliticsBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - There are a large number of political operatives I ignore for the most part. These same people appear in the headlines again and again because, simply, that's "what they do." They make themselves heard and almost require the press to cover their stunts, in an attempt to gain name recognition to position themselves for future political activity. I tend to simply ignore these people for the most part, when I can. The list grows by one today - Zulay Rodríguez. I won't talk about her anymore, and she joins people like Balbina Herrera, Mireya Moscoso, Miguel Antonio Bernal, among others. I mean, I will talk about these people when it's relevant, but I refuse to chase around the never ending stream of politically motivated rants, like a kitten chasing a laser light. No. Zulay Rodríguez pulled another stunt today. There. I've done my job. Out.

Copyright 2012 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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Four Lawmakers Will Abandon Panameñista Political Party For MOLIRENA

Politics Four members of the Panameñista political party - who are Deputies in the National Assembly - are negotiating with the President of the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (Molirena), Sergio Gonzalez Ruiz, to change their allegiance to this political party, at a time when he has been named as the new Director of the National Lottery. It was learned that Osman Gómez, Tito Rodríguez, Francisco Alemán and Miguel Fanovich have had meetings with Gonzalez Ruiz, with an eye towards making the leap to the "party of the Rooster." Three of the four deputies confirmed their intentions to change from the Panameñista party to MOLIRENA, due to the clashes of opinion they have had with the directive of the Panameñistas. In the first meetings they talked about the possibility of registering in the MOLIRENA party next February, when this party opens its books to sign up new members.

Deputy Rodriguez admitted he is negotiating with the leadership of the Molirena political party, saying "Well, we're going to support MOLIRENA, I come from this party, I was already there," he said. Rodriguez justified his decision to abandon the Panameñista political party by saying the Directors of this political party have not been very fair. "I feel a little uncomfortable. I have not been able to develop as a Deputy, nor have I been able to do the things that are best for my community, because the party gets into many things," he said. He added he would help to life the MOLIRENA party and to seek new members. He also said there are "anointed ones" in the Panameñista political party, "there will always be those who are preferred," he said.

This view is supported by Deputy Fanovich, who said "Yes, there are those who have been anointed. There are three people who make all of the decisions in the game." He said at this moment in time he is going to consult with the members of his community, because that's what he owes them.

Meanwhile, Deputy Gomez said he has always run as the MOLIRENA candidate in all of his elections, saying "the six times I've ran at the circuit level, I've have always been nominated by MOLIRENA."

For his part, National Assembly Deputy Jose Luis Varela of the Panameñista party (the brother of Vice President Juan Carlos Varela and former President of the National Assembly) declined to comment further and would only say: "I do not have this as confirmed, so therefore I cannot give an opinion about something that at this moment in time is just speculation."

However, inside of the MOLIRENA party, critics of González Ruiz want the party to break their alliance with the Cambio Democratico party, and they do not want to permit the entry of the aforementioned members. They also demand González Ruiz's resignation as the president of the party. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: It sounds to me like anyone who is unhappy as a member of the Panameñista party can jump ship to the smaller MOLIRENA party, and those who are in the unhappy minority of the MOLIRENA can jump ship to the Panameñistas. This story is interesting in that it exposes the cracks in the underlying infrastructure of the Panameñistas, caused by the raw political ambitions of the Varela brothers, together with Jose Blandon. They decided to torch their alliance with Ricardo Martinelli's Cambio Democratico party, and now it's pretty clear that not all of the rats are willing to go down with Varela and Blandon with their ship, which is clearly on fire and sinking faster than the titanic. The name of the political game in Panama right now is "I'm a Panameñista today, and how many supporters can I bring with me when I decide to support the CD candidate in 2014." Everyone is doing the same math that I am. The PRD can't win because they don't have a candidate strong enough to steal the votes they need to get elected. They will get somewhere between 35% to 38%, no more. The Panameñistas - when they were a solid voting block - could only muster about 20% or so, and that number is now shrinking by the minute. These kinds of moves by these four Deputies and the stuff Mireya Moscoso is doing will bleed Varela's support even more, and drive his take of the vote down to around 12% to 15% - no more. If the PRD gets 35% and the Panameñistas get 12%, then the CD candidate gets 53%. If the PRD gets 38% and Varela gets 15%, then the CD candidate gets 47%. Right now, today, everyone has already decided that the CD candidate (whoever that ends up being) will win in 2014. The smart, career politicians are jumping ship, one way or the other, in order to land with the winners. They're coming over from the PRD as well as from the Panameñistas - becau$e the CD i$ where the money i$. The MOLIRENA has traditionally been an ally of the Panameñistas, but now about 2/3's of their members support Martinelli and the CD. I predicted a CD win in 2014 as soon as the alliance was ruptured in August 2011 - and so far I have not seen anything that would change the fundamental underlying political dynamics from a strategic point of view. But it's still a long way off and a lot can happen, so let's see.

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Galindo Chides Ferrufino For Using State Resources In Campaign

PoliticsThe adviser and potential presidential candidate for the ruling Democratic Change (CD) political party, Aníbal Galindo, reminded his fellow party member Guillermo Ferrufino, of the president's speech in which Ricardo Martinelli said that anyone who has political aspirations has to do it from outside the government. "For us to be clear, what you cannot do is to be playing politics with state assets. I'm sure those who fought for democracy do not want state resources to be used to favor anyone," he said. He said president Martinelli was clear when he said that everyone has a right to seek elective office, but this has to be done from outside the government. (La Critica)

Anibal Galindo - Future President of Panama?

Editor's Comment: And there you have it. This is the first (that I can remember) cross fire from within the Cambio Democratico political party between Aníbal Galindo and Guillermo Ferrufino. Both of these men would like to replace Ricardo Martinelli in office. The discussion is about a recent "rally" held by Guillermo Ferrufino, that was attended by Ricardo Martinelli and other CD politicians. Guillermo Ferrufino handed out cars, washing machines, and a whole bunch of other stuff. They said it all came from political donations and not tax dollars. But still, his detractors are crying "foul." At some point in time both Galindo and Ferrufino will have to eventually resign from their posts in order to dedicate their time to their political campaigns. Things will be heating up within the CD party as the different camps jockey for position.

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PRD Lawmaker Pineda Reacts To Criticism About "Fifth Chamber" Vote

PoliticsThe support given by the National Assembly Deputy from the PRD political party Raúl Pineda to the bill creating the "Fifth Chamber" of the Supreme Court (Constitutional Guarantees), whose vote was the key to the approval of the bill in committee in the "first reading," has intensified internal frictions within the PRD party. Pineda responded to criticism made against him by Pedro Miguel Gonzalez, who accused him of lobbying for the Cambio Democratico, despising his words and pointing to each of the corruption cases involving Pedro Miguel Gonzalez. "Pedro Miguel Gonzalez, who had a push button in the National Assembly which shamed the PRD Deputies? Pedro Miguel, who charged (got paid) in the municipality with Bosco? Who transferred state lands to himself, and who is a millionaire thanks to corruption? He who got paid for roads that were never built?" he asked. According to Pineda his support for the creation of the Fifth Chamber was not due to a political agreement, because his support for the measure dates back to when it was presented during the PRD administration of Ernesto Perez Balladares, and he does not intend to change his view. What's more, he also reminded Pedro Miguel Gonzalez that he was also in favor of the measure, "he himself criticized the elimination of the Fifth Chamber when he was a Deputy, and I am going to pull all of the records when he said it was disgrace (to eliminate it), and when he said the Fifth Chamber and to be revived." (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Sooner or later they will all become Borg. The political power of the Cambio Democratico has grown up in the middle between the two traditional political power centers in Panama, the PRD on the left and the Panameñistas on the right. In this case, the Government Committee of the National Assembly passed this bill in committee with the votes of all of the members of the Cambio Democratico political party, and this one vote from PRD Deputy Raúl Pineda. The Panameñista members of the committee were not even in the room. There was a committee meeting scheduled which they apparently decided to blow off - that'll teach 'em, eh? So they crammed this thing through committee and now it will go to the full body of the National Assembly, where it will also have the votes to pass. When it does, Ricardo Martinelli will appoint three more warm bodies to the Supreme Court. Right now (today) he has already appointed four out of the nine sitting justices on the bench. Add three more for the addition of the new "Fifth Chamber" of the court, and that will raise the numbers to Martinelli 7 appointees - all others 5 - and that will cement his control of the court.

Electoral Implications: There is a special court in Panama that oversees all issues having to do with elections, called the "Electoral Tribunal." This body is different in that there are three sitting judges, and each of the three branches of the government are responsible for appointing and filling one of the three slots. This year the term of current Electoral Tribunal Gerardo Solís expires. His position is filled by the Supreme Court, and they will have to name a replacement sometime towards the end of this year, like September. So, by then Martinelli will have a 7-5 majority on the Supreme Court, so they will pick someone to the CD's liking. With a straight majority on the bench they can dominate any particular decision, regardless of the evidence. And then Martinelli will still get one more Supreme Court pick before the end of his term, bringing his majority to 8-4. This is important because it will give him a 2/3's majority, which is required to make a decision against someone like a sitting National Assembly Deputy or his own Vice President Juan Carlos Varela. This simple fact (of the 2/3's majority) has the Panameñistas literally shitting themselves. They know - flat out - that Martinelli has the goods on them. He knows where the bodies are buried. And if he wants to (helped by controlling the court) he could put them all away on corruption charges. Some are convinced Martinelli intends to change the rules to allow him to run again in 2014, despite his repeated assurances that he has no plans to run, but he still makes people nervous. And if the CD wins in 2014? Then their majority on the court will improve to 12-0, and his control of the National Assembly will grow. They can decide to change Varela's name to "Susie Purple Panties" and there won't be a damn thing he can do about it...

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Carles Rejects Moscoso's Statements About Martinelli

PoliticsThe political leader from the Panameñista political party Luis Ernesto Carles on Tuesday referred to the statements made by former president Mireya Moscoso, who defended Ricardo Martinelli's style of government. Carles said Moscoso, who is also a member of the Panameñista party, has all the freedom to give her views on any topic. But he said such statements "are not in tune" with what the Panamanian people feel, with regards to the authoritarian actions being taken by Martinelli. On the program "Cala" broadcast on CNN in Spanish, Moscoso said Martinelli's way of governing "is completely different to ours, some people like it, some people do not like it." Moscoso said Martinelli is the President the Panamanian people voted for, which should be respected.

Dialog: On TVN news Carles said the Panamanian people are focused on the call to promote dialogue and to seek a consensus with regard to the current situation in Panama, according to Juan Carlos Varela, the President of the Panameñista party. For Carlos, today people should also focus on the call made by the Panamanian Episcopal Conference, who warned that Panama "is not safe from a scenario of authoritarian regression." Given this, the bishops called for the separation of state powers and called for the acceptance of the results of the National Electoral Reform Committee, among others. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Man, the Panameñistas are so completely and totally screwed. First of all their party can't raise more than 20% of the vote in practically any modern scenario. This simple fact relegates them to the role of "third place spoiler party" for the foreseeable future. Their nominal candidate Juan Carlos Varela is already very weak as it is, and now he has Mireya Moscoso coming back from the dead, like some kind of zombie in a B grade horror flick. She can still muster a certain percentage of the Panameñista vote, and she probably figured it out. If Juan Carlos Varela and Jose Blandon don't want to strike a deal with Martinelli, then she will, on her own. She helps the Cambio Democratico party get reelected in 2014 by damaging Juan Carlos Varela's chances, and there will be some kind of a payout for her and her people. There are very few dyed in the wool Panameñistas who will jump ship all the way to the PRD, but a hop to the ranks of the CD is a much shorter jump. So whatever damage Mireya can do to Juan Carlos Varela helps Martinelli. Yeah, at this point I would say Mickey Mouse has a greater chance of being the next president of Panama than Juan Carlos Varela. Well, he decided to flush the alliance, and now he's living with the results of that decision. Oh, and about the text of this article - the statements being made by Carles is like watching a guy who is trying to start a fire with wet kindling. Just keep blowing, and hope for the best, but it's probably not going to work. No smoke, no fire, just a lot of huffing and puffing.

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"Anyone Would Have Been Better Than Bosco As Mayor" - Sergio "Chello" Galvez

PoliticsThe Deputy in the National Assembly for the Democratic Change political party and Representative in the municipal government of Panama City from the district of El Chorrillo, Sergio "Chello" Galvez, said with the arrival of Roxana Méndez as the new Mayor of Panama City, he would now work for the betterment of the capital city, and he said anyone would have been better than Bosco Vallarino. "Any figure is better than Bosco in office right now," said Galvez. According to the Representative of El Chorrillo, getting Vallarino out of office was not his goal, but the capital district needed Vallarino to leave office. He said Vallarino felt his health came first, and second, his poor administrative capacity to solve the problems of the 21 townships in the capital district. (TVN)

Sergio "Chello" Galvez

Editor's Comment: This guy, Sergio "Chello" Galvez, is an astute politician, and "crazy like a fox." He's basically one big walking sound byte. Anytime he gets near a camera or a microphone it's like, "pass the popcorn," because he's going to say something provocative and controversial. It's what he does, what he's known for. He managed to get himself elected (again) to both the National Assembly and the Municipal Government, and he drives everyone else crazy with his antics.

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There Are No "Anointed Ones" In The Cambio Democratico Party - Henriquez

PoliticsThe Foreign Minister and Director of the Democratic Change political party, Roberto Henriquez, said president Ricardo Martinelli "has not anointed anyone" because he invited others to join in an internal party competition (primary election) to determine who will be the candidate for the CD (in the next national general elections in May 2014). "I have no intention to participate. I've heard Anibal Galindo and Guillermo Ferrufino (will run)," said Henriquez. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Hmm. Roberto Henriquez doesn't want to be the next president of Panama? I saw an interview he gave this morning and he looked to me like someone who was keeping his options open. I suspect there will be about four or five candidates to emerge from within the Cambio Democratico political party, there will be a primary election, and from those primary candidates the party's candidate will be selected. Thus far it appears Ricardo Martinelli has in fact "anointed" Guillermo Ferrufino based on their actions together in several public events. Personally, I'm not sure Ferrufino can carry the ball across the finish line, so it might be a risk on Martinelli's part. In any case, these issues will work themselves out over the next 12 to 18 months or so, for all three of the important political parties. There are about nine "pre-candidates" in the PRD at last count, and Mireya Moscoso seems to be coming back from the dead in the Panameñista party, probably the result of a deal with Martinelli to weaken Juan Carlos Varela.

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Panama City Treasurer Marion Lorenzetti Resigns

PoliticsThe Municipal Treasurer of Panama City, Marion Lorenzetti, officially submitted her resignation to Panama City Mayor Roxana Mendez, after the new Mayor requested the resignation of all of the high ranking officials in the municipality. However, the treasurer has not yet been dismissed, because according to Carlos Perez Herrera, the representative of the district of San Francisco for the PRD political party and former President of the City Council, Lorenzetti will remain in her position as the City Treasurer until the City Council determines a replacement. He added when speaking on RPC Radio, an absolute majority is required in order to make changes to the City Council, saying "we have no thought at present or in the future of making changes to the Board of the Municipal Council."

The spokesman for the Mayor told the Panama America newspaper that Lorenzetti's proposal was read today in the City Council and accepted by the other members of the council. Among the items discussed in the City Council is the selection of the members of the Finance Committee. Lorenzetti started to work in the Municipal Treasury in November 2010, after being proposed by former Panama City Mayor Bosco Ricardo Vallarino, and she was elected with 17 votes in favor, one against, and zero abstentions. (Panama America)

Marion Lorenzetti

Editor's Comment: I don't really understand the inner workings of the City Council of the municipal government of Panama City very well. It appears as though I'm going to have to go out to get myself educated. There will be much more of this kind of stuff going on, as the new Mayor of Panama City cleans house.

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New Panama City Mayor Says About 1,000 Positions Are "Unjustified"

PoliticsThe mayor of Panama City Roxana Mendez expressed her concern this Monday morning, 16 January 2012, over the large number of unjustified positions within the municipality. Mendez said after she was elected as the Vice Mayor and went to work in the municipality after the elections of 2009, there were a total of 3,000 employees working for the city's government. She said of those, about 1,000 employees worked for the (now defunct) Municipal Directorate of Urban and Household Cleanliness (DIMAUD) (garbage collection.) Now that she has returned to work as the new Mayor of Panama City following the resignation of Bosco Vallarino last week, she discovered there are still more than 3,000 officials working for the city government, even though the DIMAUD no longer exists, because the responsibility of collecting the garbage in Panama City was passed to the newly created Authority of Urban and Household Cleanliness. (Note: The central government of Ricardo Martinelli stripped the responsibility to collect garbage away from Bosco Vallarino, because they simply could not get the job done.) "That tells me there are many people working whose positions are not justified," Mendez said to local media.

MOVEMENTS - Mendez, who took over as mayor on 13 January 2012 said whenever there are changes, there are fears of layoffs. However, she reiterated so far she is working with the management level of the city government. Despite this, the official said there should be no concern. "Anyone who has good performance, is efficient, and has a justified position is going to be kept," said Mendez, adding that the office of the Mayor of Panama City has to continue to function.

Mendez made her statements upon arrival at the Coastal Strip, to inspect the areas and facilities that will be used for the Carnival celebrations this year. Mendez said the Coastal Strip is a special place where citizens can enjoy themselves, as long as there is good security, and that "all of the details of coordination" are taken care of. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Yup, she's probably going to lay off about 1,000 people or so, saying their positions are simply not justified. When she left the Mayor's office to become the new Minister of Government, her biggest complaint about Bosco Vallarino was that he seemed to only be concerned with creating as many positions as possible, and stuffing in as many of his political allies as possible from the Panameñista party to fill those positions. So, it makes sense that her first order of business upon returning would be to clean all of that crap out. She's no-nonsense...

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Electoral Prosecutor Denies The Existence Of A Criminal Complaint In Mayor's Resignation

PoliticsThe Electoral Prosecutor Eduardo Peñaloza denied a criminal electoral complaint has been filed over the resignation of Panama City Mayor Bosco Vallarino. Peñaloza said it should be Vallarino himself who would submit any such complaint, if there was any type of pressure or intimidation applied to force him to resign. "So far it is known his resignation was due to health problems, at least that's what is being said via the social media, and by his family," Peñaloza said. In the midst of a tour of Chiriqui, in celebration of 40 years of the establishment of the office of the Electoral Prosecutor, and the start of a campaign to prevent electoral fraud, Peñalosa also referred to the investigations being conducted by his organization info criminal offenses in El Bebedero of Los Santos and the allegations made against the Director of PAN, Giácomo Tamburelli. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: I suspect pressure was applied by Martinelli against Vallarino. I suspect they had "something" on him - and threatened to expose him if he didn't resign immediately. Of course these are only my suspicions, but if that's the case then of course as a result of that deal neither Vallarino nor Martinelli would ever admit what happened. The evidence goes way (like nothing ever happened), but if Vallarino decides at some time in the future to start talking about the details of how it all really went down, then they would pull it back out and use it against him. There are rumors from politically motivated and generally unreliable sources that I don't trust about a meeting, Vallarino supposedly accepted a bribe, but it was all a set-up, it was video taped, and based on that he was forced to resign. The unreliable source contains all of the (supposed) details, most of which I'm not buying. It might all be true, some of it might be true, or it all might be just flat-out fabrication. In the end it doesn't really matter. Vallarino resigned, game over. Tell me - what charges were ever filed against the former Director of Immigration after she was fired? Answer - none. In Panama when you get caught, you get fired, and that's it. It's relatively rare that there's an investigation and charges are pressed, unless it's politically motivated.

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Panama City Mayor Roxana Mendez Asks Municipal Department Heads To Resign

PoliticsThe transition process within the Mayor's office of Panama City will take several days, as the new Mayor Roxana Mendez gets settled in, according to Eliades Serrano, the General Secretary of the institution. Mendez met with the Directors of each of the Municipal departments, who explained their roles and projects for 2012. At the end of the meeting it was learned Mayor Mendez asked all of the managers to "make their positions available," but to remain in office until their replacements are appointed. Mendez is expected to surround herself with people of confidence. Roxana Méndez, the former Minister of Government, took office after the resignation of Ricardo Bosco Vallarino. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: When they say "make their positions available" that means resign. Think of the Mayor's office as a mini-presidency. These Department managers are like her cabinet of ministers. So obviously she's going to be cleaning out all of the old Panameñista guys and putting in her loyal Cambio Democratico guys. One of the reasons Roxana Mendez left the municipality to become a Minister in the government of Ricardo Martinelli was because she didn't like how Bosco Vallarino was mostly concerned with finding jobs and positions for his Panameñista political followers. Anyway, yes, she will be cleaning house.

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Jorge Ricardo Fabrega - New Minister of Government

PoliticsFollowing the resignation of Roxana Méndez from her position as the Minister of Government (so she could assume the position of Mayor of Panama City following the resignation of former Mayor Bosco Vallarino), president Ricardo Martinelli decided to appoint Jorge Ricardo Fabrega in this position. Until now Fabrega was the Director of the Land Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT). (Telemetro)

Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, Panama's Minister of Government. He replaced Roxana Mendez in office.

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Bosco Vallarino Released From The Hospital - On Bed Rest

PoliticsAnabel Espino de Vallarino said the Mayor of Panama City Bosco Vallarino was released from the hospital today, Friday, 13 January 2012, but he must return to the hospital next week to receive medical treatment. Vallarino left the Punta Pacifica this morning, but his doctors ordered complete rest, so he will not have access to news, a computer, or his cell phone to avoid having a relapse. Vallarino's wife said he would be subjected to a radioactive iodine treatment to reduce thyroid activity and control hypertension, but must wait until Monday, because this medicine comes from outside of the country. She said the former mayor saw part of the meeting held yesterday afternoon at the headquarters of the Panameñista political party, and the Vice President Juan Carlos Varela is keeping him informed of what's going on. "When he is finally released, he will give his own statement," said Mrs. Vallarino. (Panama America)

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Shamah Asks Vallarino's Party Members To Forget Politics For A Moment

PoliticsPanama's Minister of Tourism Solomon Shamah said democracy is not in danger, because no one can force a politician to resign, especially if the position is popularly elected, even if there were threats from the president. Shamah said President Martinelli told him he had not requested Bosco Vallarino to resign, who resigned from his position as the Mayor of Panama City yesterday morning. According to Shamah, Vallarino told the president he would resign because he was suffering from health problems, so Shamah asked the members of Vallarino's political party to forget politics for a moment and to focus on following his recovery. "Then there will be time to talk politics," said Shamah. He added while speaking in the channel 13 Telemetro morning news broadcast that Vice President Juan Carlos Varela only speaks of politics. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: And that's the party line this morning. I've seen about six or seven people give basically the same interview today. The talking points are;

  • Vallarino resigned of his own free will.
  • Vallarino resigned for health reasons.
  • There were no threats or intimidation.
  • The other politicians only talk about politics.
  • They should focus on Vallarino's health issues, and his speedy recovery.
  • We continue to do the work of the people.
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"Varela Is Just Looking For Votes" - Camacho

PoliticsThe spokesman for the Presidency, Luis Eduardo Camacho, said today Juan Carlos Varela continues to do the only thing he ever does, talk politics, because he feels like a presidential candidate. In a press conference in which he deplored the resignation of Panama City Mayor Bosco Vallarino, Varela said the people who voted for President Martinelli are going to judge him for having pressured Vallarino to resign. Camacho said six months ago Varela would have said exactly the opposite of what he is saying now, because he is looking for votes. The official spokesman echoed the statement the President issued on the eve of Vallarino's resignation, saying he resigned due to health problems and he demanded respect for the family of the former mayor. In the interview on channel 2 TVN morning news, Camacho also said Bosco Vallarino's resignation has not sparked any political crisis and that the majority of Panamanians simply continue to do what they do every day, working to achieve their livelihood and to contribute to the national development. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: I saw a lot of interviews this morning, and all of the representatives of the administration of Ricardo Martinelli stayed "on message." They all said basically the same thing - that they are working for the people of Panama, and that everything else are simply political attacks being launched by their opponents. With regards to the resignation of Bosco Vallarino, they said he resigned voluntarily, of his own free will, and that there were no threats or intimidation (which I personally think is bullshit.) But anyway, the point is that they all stuck to the party line. Neither Bosco nor Martinelli will discuss or reveal the contents of their discussion, or whatever it was that Martinelli used as leverage to pressure Vallarino into resigning, because to do so goes counter to the whole point. I suspect the agreement was Vallarino resigns in order to avoid the shit storm that's coming. It simply does not make any sense any other way. If Martinelli didn't have anything on Vallarino, then Bosco could have just sat there and said "screw you." And Camacho is right - everyone else, all of the opposition politicians - are already running for office with an eye towards the 2014 elections. Meanwhile, the Martinelli administration continues to rack up the achievements and accomplishments. And who's to blame for Vallarino's departure from office? Juan Carlos Varela and Jose Blandon, who decided to torch their alliance with the CD back in August 2011.

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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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