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Thursday, July 19 2018 @ 01:35 PM EDT

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Martinelli Asks Political Parties To Monitor Voting

PoliticsPresident Ricardo Martinelli said he has doubts about the computer company hired by the Electoral Tribunal, which will be responsible for capturing and transmitting the votes cast during the next general election.

"It does not give me a good feeling, knowing the company 'Centauris' is owned by Julio Escobar of the PRD," warned Martinelli.

"I call on the representatives of the political parties to be vigilant, and to make sure that the voting information arrives correctly to the Scrutiny Committee" stressed the president.

"It is necessary that the vote be respected," he said. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: So, what company was counting votes in 2009? I think there's enough safeguards built in to make sure the election can't be stolen.

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Polls Indicate CD's Jose Domingo Arias Will Win In May Elections

PoliticsBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - We are now just 75 days away from the next general election in Panama, and all polling indicates Jose Domingo Arias, the candidate representing the ruling Cambio Democratico (CD) political party created by sitting president, supermarket magnate Ricardo Martinelli, will win the only poll that matters.

It's important to understand that all of the Panamanian news media has been divided up among the different political parties, so right now there are no important or significant news sources who are truly independent. The La Prensa newspaper supports and defends the Panameñista political party and their candidate Juan Carlos Varela. The Telemetro news broadcast supports the Partido Revolutionario Democratico (PRD) and their candidate Juan Carlos Navarro. And the Panama America newspaper supports the CD. This matters when talking about polling data, because it's the news organizations who pay the companies to conduct the polls, and the results are often skewed (at least slightly) to reflect the thoughts and politics of their sponsors.

I've been predicting a CD win since the breakup of the alliance between the CD and the Panameñistas in the end of August 2011, based on the popularity of president Ricardo Martinelli, the effectiveness of his administration, and their ability to get things done. And, on the math. In a three-way race in Panama the winner only to get the most votes - there is no runoff or a need to achieve 50% of the vote - so it's possible to win with 33% +1, an easy feat for the CD at this point.

All polls show basically the same thing. Arias will win. The PRD and Navarro will come in second place. The Panameñistas and Varela have third all locked up. Then who cares about the Independent candidates and Gerardo Lopez of the FAD, all of whom will be appearing as the "also ran" candidates.

This will be the first time any political party has been able to remain in power after having spent five years at the helm, since the end of the 21 years of military dictatorship in 1989. It's gone Panameñistas (1989 - 1994), PRD (1994 - 1999), Panameñistas (1999 - 2004), PRD (2004 - 2009), then CD (2009 - 2014). Past administrations have had a tendency to do things while in office that make them vulnerable when trying to get reelected. But this time around, things have been different with the CD.

Martinelli had a clear strategy from day one. His plan was to do more, built more, and get more done than any other administration had ever done in the history of the country - then he did it. Panama has been one big construction zone since July 2009. The list of things they have built is long and impressive, including the first subway system in Central America. This election is clearly a validation of the Martinelli administration, and the Panamanian voters will be saying "we want more of the same" when they go to vote on Sunday, 4 May 2014. This is true, to the point that the CD candidate Arias even went so far as to name the current First Lady - Ricardo Martinelli's wife - as his running mate.

I'm even going to predict that Arias will achieve more than 50% of the vote. If you look at the last poll taken in late April 2009 they were all right - and wrong - at the same time. They all predicted a win for Martinelli, but the numbers were actually about 10% low, across the board.

Polling data from Unimer and La Prensa had Martinelli winning with 50.2% of the vote. Data from Ipsos and the Panama America showed Martinelli with 51% of the vote. The La Critica newspaper and the polling company PSMSigmados had Martinelli winning with 47%. The La Estrella newspaper and the Dichter & Neira polling company showed Martinelli winning, with 49%.

Then in the election Martinelli did win (the polls were right), but he did so with 60% of the vote (the polls were wrong). I think the same thing will happen in this election. Arias will win (polls are right) but they will have the percentages too low (polls are wrong). This phenomenon is occurring because when someone is talking to a pollster a certain percentage will say "I don't know" or simply refuse to answer. However 100% of those who walk into the polling station will cast a vote, and most of those people who are now showing up in the polls as undecided will cast their votes for Arias.

Copyright 2014 Panama-Guide.com.

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CD's Jose Domingo Arias Still Leading In The Polls

PoliticsWith less than three months to go before the next national general elections in Panama, to be held of 4 May 2014, the candidate from the ruling Cambio Democratico (CD) political party, José Domingo Arias, is leading in the polls (37.7%), a full eight percentage points ahead of the closest challenger, the PRD's candidate Juan Carlos Navarro (29.7%) .

Vice President Juan Carlos Varela of the Panameñista party remains in third place with 21.4%.

The most recent poll commissioned by the newspaper La Prensa by the company Quantix Panama SA, shows that, with respect to the polling data from January 2014, both Arias and Navarro gained two or three percentage points, while Varela remained stagnant, with the gap between second and third widening to eight percentage points.

The survey was conducted of 1,475 people between 6-9 February 2014, and has a margin of error of 2.55 percentage points. The full results will be published in La Prensa on February 17 in the supplement Pulse of the Nation. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: And that's going to be the finishing order. Arias will win, Navarro will the highest ranking loser, Varela will lose in third, and all of the rest of the independents will sweep up the trash. In short, the results will be exactly what I predicted at the end of August 2011, when the alliance between the CD and the Panameñistas fell apart due to the Finmeccanica scandal, and Martinelli fired Varela from his position as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The MOLIRENA party has since replaced the Panameñistas as the CD's ally, and their star continues to rise. The Panameñistas are as dead Arnulfo Arias, and the PRD is as dead as Omar Torrijos. It's going to be awhile before a political party arises that can challenge the CD - but it's not going to be either of these two "traditional" parties. Nor is it going to be any sort of a grassroots extreme left party - because those things only tend to fly during times of economic hardship. It's been party time for the Panamanian economy for the past ten years and everyone is trending towards the better, which means poverty and disenfranchisement is trending down. Not good seeding ground for commies...

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Varela Hermanos Not Paying Their Workers Minimum Wage, Again

PoliticsPanama's Ministry of Labor and Workforce Development revealed in a press conference Monday the company Varela Hermanos SA owes $102,000, after they conducted an inspection to verify that the company is complying with the new minimum wage that went into effect on 1 January 2014.

For this reason, the company was fined $202,500 which is added to the $107,500 the company already owes due to fines levied by Mitradel in 2011.

Dario Falcon, Vice Minister of Labor, explained the company Varela Hermanos is categorized as processing sugar cane, which has a higher minimum salary rate, and the amount they pay in minimum salary should be based on this activity, "it's not to see if they are doing it or not; they should set an example, and pay their workers," he said.

Meanwhile, Mario Molino, the Secretary General of the Mitradel, said this was not a question of political persecution, but rather they are checking this company in the same way as they check all others, to make sure the they are following the law. "I urge the company to come to the Mitradel and to pay this fine, and with this to be good countrymen," he said.

Mitradel revealed there are about 220 workers on both the permanent payroll as well as those hired to work during the harvest who are owed the wages.

During this inspection they checked the books of about 69 different companies. Of these, they found 12 that were not paying the correct minimum wage.

On 30 December 2013, the Government announced the new minimum wage of $624 per month for zone 1, and $488 per month for zone 2.

The Mitradel inspections will continue on Wednesday. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Doesn't really matter all that much. Juan Carlos Varela, the presidential candidate for the Panameñista political party, really had no chance of winning anyway. It's hard to get elected by a bunch of poor Panamanians, if you don't pay your workers fairly, and as required by the law. And of course this is "political persecution." They are conducting just enough inspections of companies in the surrounding areas, and I'm sure if there are any owned by "friendly" businessmen who vote for the CD, then they will get a heads-up to let them know the inspections are coming, and to give them time to get their books in order. The other 12 companies that were also fined were probably also owned by people who have political tendencies not in alignment with the CD, either PRD or Panameñista. The Panamanian government in general, and this administration in particular, makes an art form out of "selective enforcement" for fun and profit.

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Solis, Pinilla and Valdes Have Divided Power in the Electoral Tribunal

PoliticsIt seems the Electoral Tribunal has lost its sense independence, and even more so as one of the most disputed elections the country has ever seen draws closer, on 4 May 2014.

All power within the institution is literally controlled by three people who, as if in a privately owned company, divided among themselves key positions within the Electoral Tribunal where they have placed their family members, close friends, and acquaintances.

This situation is most concerning to the Independent presidential candidates, who are openly questioning the Electoral Tribunal's objectivity, upon having learned how the key positions within the institution have been divided up and distributed, including those people whose primary responsibility is to organize the electoral process, count votes, prepare the results, handle challenges, and other important tasks.

This distribution of positions has been going on since Gerardo Solis was the presiding judge, together with Eduardo Valdés Escofery and Erasmo Pinilla.

Although Gerardo Solis left the Electoral Tribunal on 15 November 2012 and is now the Vice Presidential candidate on the PRD ticket of Juan Carlos Navarro, he still controls 27 people who hold key positions of power within the TE, according to documents of the institution, to which the Panama America newspaper had access.

The designations made by Solís, Pinilla and Escofery are not only confined to national level positions, but they also extend to the provisional headquarters of the TE.

The other two judges, Pinilla and Escofery, control another 48 key positions each in the institution, including National Director positions, as well as Coordination Chiefs for the National Electoral System, who are responsible for the transmission of election data, among other strategic positions.

Some of those who are still active on the TE's payroll who were hired and placed by Solis are; Evangelista Ortiz, the Deputy Chief of the Electoral Commission who is also currently in charge of updating and auditing the Electoral Register; Rosalba Chin, Legal Deputy; Francisco Gómez, in charge of Election Results; Myrtha Varela, General Secretary, who is also in charge of the Commission for Appeals and Challenges, among others.

Editor's Comment: (The original article here goes on to name - by name - dozens of people who have been hired and place by the other judges of the Electoral Tribunal to key positions of power within the institution.)

Meanwhile, the judge who replaced Solis, Heriberto Arauz, has only been able to make three appointments within the TE, including his executive assistant and secretary, his bodyguard, and driver.

The Panama America newspaper contacted (several people) within the TE, but all decided to not make a comment.

Pinilla tried to justify the appointments by arguing that everyone goes through an evaluation process and a review of their merits, but he accepted are the judges themselves make the final decision.

" The judges make proposals, but the decisions (to hire) are made in the agreement room," said Pinilla.

What Judge Pinilla did not clarify is that the so called "agreement room" is comprised of the three judges of the TE.

Valdés also accepted that appointments to the TE are made by the judges, and he said that's why there are still people on the staff who were recommended by past judges who are no longer working in the TE. In this case he was referring to Gerardo Solis.

"If anything has characterized the Electoral Tribunal, it is the stability of the staff in their positions, based on their merits," said Valdes.

The Panama America tried to elicit a comment from Solis but he did not respond to the request.

Meanwhile, Eva Aime Alvarado, the Deputy Director of Human Resources, who was appointed by Solis, has denied that the former judge has any influence within the institution.

She said "the people who were appointed by Solis are quite competent, and that's why the other judges decided to stay with them."

Politicians and presidential candidates criticized the handling of appointments within the TE.

José Muñoz, the campaign manager for CD candidate José Domingo Arias, expressed concern about this situation.

"I do not see magistrates appointing persons of confidence to staff positions as a major problem, but that a former TE judge (Solis) with people who still hold positions of trust within the TE is another thing," he said.

"We hope the TE will maintain a level of confidence, as it did during the last elections, where the (legitimate) winner was recognized," he said.

Doris Zapata, the Third Secretary of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) , said key appointments in an institution like the TE should be made through a professional profile.

"For an institution to be transparent, they must fill these characteristics, and have recruitment rules as a priority," she added.

Meanwhile, independent presidential candidate Juan Jované thinks administrative processes within the institution should not be handled by "cronyism, rather - the appointments should be competitive."

This would avoid any uncertainty from being generated in something as important as an election process, said Jované.

He suggested that, as in the education system and the University of Panama, appointments to the TE should be made ​​through merit and contests.

Another independent presidential candidate, Gerardo Barroso, made ​​strong accusations against the judges - related to the control they wield within the institution.

"Not only do they control the institution at will, but they are also abusing their power, and they deserve to be removed for violations of the Electoral Code," Barroso claimed.

The candidate said it was the judges who are imposing a series of obstacles for independent candidates, including the subsidy payment for advertising campaigns. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: So on the same day and article appears in La Prensa making allegations against the CD and their presidential candidate for using state gathered data for their electoral campaign, the government run Panama America newspaper comes back with their own allegations of abuses of power within the Electoral Tribunal. The fact of the matter is the CD and Ricardo Martinelli do not (currently) control the Electoral Tribunal - the PRD does. The CD only has one of the three judges and the Electoral Prosecutor in their back pocket. The rest are wild cards - and that makes them very nervous indeed.

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State Information - Available to the CD's Candidate Jose Domingo Arias

PoliticsThe ruling Democratic Change (CD) political party created a computer database to support the election campaign of their presidential candidate, José Domingo Arias, in which anyone with a user account and password can access the personal information about any Panamanian, including the details of their family, work and political affiliation.

The website www.josedomingoarias.org, created in August 2013 by a company headquartered in Florida, provides information such as date of birth, political affiliation, if the person is currently working in a government position, or if they are participating in any of the government's social support programs such as 100/70 or the Guardian Angel program.

In order to conduct a search users only need to know the target's cedula number. The database also contains other personal information such as details on parents, siblings and even family acquaintances.

The purpose of this system, as revealed by a source who attended seminars held when the system was rolled out, is to build a network of supporters of the Arias campaign.

When a person registers, users punch in personal information, if they live near a polling station, if they have a car, and if they can transport more voters, or if their house can be used on election day.

There are four categories of participation; circuit leaders who recruit coordinators, they are supposed to each bring in 10 "multipliers," who in turn should represent 20 voters each. That is to say, each coordinator, in theory, should bring in 200 voters to the CD's presidential campaign.

Something similar was proposed by the President of the Republic and the CD political party, Ricardo Martinelli, during the party's convention on 15 December 2013. He called this strategy and "avalanche" of victory.

José Muñoz, the National Assembly Deputy from the governing CD party, who is also the campaign manager for Jose Domingo Arias, said he was unaware of this system. However, he asked for a chance to investigate.

"I get the impression this page was hacked," he said later. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Hacked? That's ridiculous. I love politicians who feel they can lie straight to the public's face when caught flat-footed on a question they were unprepared to answer. Of course Arias' campaign manager José Muñoz knew about this computer system. Their entire campaign strategy is built on "getting the vote out" and creating a sort of MLM structure for election day. Each "circuit leader" recruits ten "multipliers", and each "multiplier" then has to sign up 20 votes. Therefore, each "circuit leader" should bring them 200 votes in theory.

Listen, there's nothing wrong with an election campaign organizing their grassroots following in an effort to make sure everyone gets to the polls, has a ride, actually shows up to vote, etc. The real problem comes when the candidate for the ruling party has access to the information contained in official government computer databases, and then they use that same information to structure their recruiting efforts, and their push to get the voters to the polls.

And ask yourself, did the PRD to exactly the same thing when Balbina Herrera was their candidate and Martin Torrijos was president, leading up to the 2009 election? Of course they did, but with less sophistication. Martinelli is much more adept at using technology, so their effort is more likely to be successful. And will there be people who are going to complain about this? Of course. Will anything be done about it? Of course not. The Electoral Prosecutor is in the CD's back pocket. Politics, Panama style...

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Selection of First Lady as CD's VP Candidate Draws Ire

Politics Sectors of the civil society and recognized political figures repudiated the appointment of the First Lady, Marta Linares de Martinelli, as the Vice Presidential candidate for the governing Democratic Change (CD) and Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (MOLIRENA) political parties.

The selection of Linares de Martinelli "constitutes an abuse of power and a disrespect for the constitutional and legal standards by Ricardo Martinelli and his government," said the lawyer Ricardo Alberto Arias.

According to him, the "spirit behind this is to control the next government," so that "he [Martinelli] can be elected" in period 2014-2019. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Yeah, everyone who is not a fan of the CD and Ricardo Martinelli is gnashing their teeth over this one. Clearly, this move will keep Martinelli at the very least close to the Executive branch of government. After Arias wins and his wife becomes the Vice President, Martinelli can spend five years fishing, making more money, screwing off - and playing the "who, me?" card for the press. He won't have to spend any time looking over his shoulder, either - because both the Legislative and Judicial branches will be dominated by the CD as well. So yeah, anyone who is not in the CD is - pissed. Aghast. Appalled. Unhappy. Frustrated. And screwed...

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Arias Names First Lady As CD Running Mate

Politics Amid a debate regarding the legality of naming the current First Lady as his running mate, and accusations that naming her would in fact be a disguised reelection of the current President Ricardo Martinelli - last night the CD's presidential candidate Jose Domingo Arias officially added Marta Linares de Martinelli to his ticket as the Vice Presidential candidate.

"For me it is an honor to accept the nomination," she said before the board members of the ruling Democratic Change (CD) political party and their political allies of the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (MOLIRENA) political party - who ratified her nomination.

"For five years I worked in a responsible and quiet manner," said the First Lady, accompanied by her husband, President Ricardo Martinelli.

As her first proposal, she invited the ruling parties to sign the Electoral Ethical Pact, an initiative that so far has not been supported by these political groups.

The candidacy of the first lady lit off an intense debate over the constitutionality of her candidacy. In other circles it is the opinion of Martinelli's political opponents her election as Vice President would mean the de facto continuation of Ricardo Martinelli in power.

Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño , a former Supreme Court justice, thinks her nomination does not contradict the constitution or the Panamanian legal system, but she did call it a "violation" of the "ethical content" of the standard.

She referred to Article 193 of the Constitution, Numeral Five, which prohibits the election as vice president relatives within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity of the President of the Republic.

Meanwhile, the CD political party released a press release, saying the Electoral Tribunal responded to a request made by the party, saying there is no deterrent in law that would prevent the president's wive from accepting the nomination or aspiring to the office of Vice President, because they are not blood relatives but rather related by marriage.

Although she was not a government official, as the First Lady she managed an office with a budget of $12.5 million during her time in office.

Carlos Gasnell, the Vice President of Transparency International, said "during the past year there has been a public over exposure of the First Lady organizing activities." (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Wow. Well, I'm surprised. You can forget about any legal or constitutional argument against the nomination of the First Lady as the new Vice Presidential candidate for the CD party - mostly because President Ricardo Martinelli appointed the majority of the sitting justices. So even if there is a legal challenge to the nomination (and, you can bet the PRD and Panameñistas will be filing some sort of a suit) it won't get anywhere. So, from a legal point of view it's a done deal.

Politically speaking, Martinelli and the CD's candidate Arias obviously came to the conclusion that Ricardo Martinelli is a relatively popular sitting president. Arias has been running on a campaign promising to basically continue to do all of the things Martinelli did, only more. Having the First Lady on the ticket as the VP is simply further confirmation that Arias will be little more than a Martinelli puppet or clone. They believe this will practically guarantee them an election victory in May.

And now I realize who Martinelli reminds me of. "Gru" from the movie "Despicable Me" - practically a dead ringer...

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Juan Jované Is Now Officially An Independent Candidate For The Presidency

PoliticsAfter several days of waiting, Professor Juan Jované today received the resolution from the Electoral Tribunal and their decision to formally recognize him as an independent candidate for the Presidency of the Republic.

Although yesterday the presiding judge of Electoral Tribunal Erasmo Pinilla spoke about the possibility that this resolution might take some time to be published, this morning Jované went to the offices of the Tribunal, where he was given a copy of the notification.

"We now have the resolution, and we begin our path to the presidency," said Jované upon receiving the document identifying him as a candidate.

Therefore, the professor now expects to be taken into account in the presidential debates scheduled for the coming days. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: Yeah, whatever. Jované has always had a sort of low level following, especially among the younger extreme left-wing radicals who hang around the University of Panama. His chances of actually winning an election and becoming the president of Panama are mighty slim indeed. He might manage 1% of the vote - on a very good day. A total of seven candidates will appear on the ballot in May, four from the officially recognized political parties (CD, PRD, Panameñistas, FAD) and three independents. Of those, the CD will probably get somewhere between 45% - 50% of the vote and Jose Domingo Arias will be the next President of Panama.

The remaining 50% or so will be divided between all of the other losers. Juan Carlos Navarro and the PRD might get to 30%. Normally the PRD can count on at least 35% but today their party is divided as rats abandon the sinking ship, in search of greener (CD) pastures. Juan Carlos Varela and the Panameñistas might see 15% - another party that's internally divided with many members switching to the MOLIRENA or the CD as it becomes more and more obvious the Panameñistas are a thing of the past.

That leaves the remaining 10% to be divided between the three independents and the FAD. And it's probably optimistic for them to think there might be 10% left to be divided. In reality it will probably be even less. I'm not going to talk too much about the FAD and the three independents, because it's a waste of time...

Anyway, I'm glad to see that Juan Jované has been officially recognized as an independent Presidential candidate. At least it will spice up his obituary a little...

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" After the elections we will discuss the Constitution "

Politics"If there is a need to do something with the National Constitution, most likely it will be done after the general election of May 4" said the Minister of the Presidency , Roberto Henriquez.

"It's an issue that is latent and must be discussed after the elections, so as not to create any suspicion regarding reelection," he said on Noticias AM.

Meanwhile, the State Communications Secretary Luis Eduardo Camacho said the election period is not the best time to discuss the issue.

According to Camacho, presidential reelection should be immediate, and a sitting president should not have to wait for five or ten years before being allowed to be reelected, in order to give continuity to a government that is doing well.

He said on the morning news Constitutional reforms have to be the product of national agreements.

Yesterday, President Martinelli said the present Constitution has foundations of militarism which impede the administration of the country under the development Panama is currently experiencing.

In an interview with CNN International in Spanish, the President explained that Panama has undergone considerable changes, both in its development and economy, so while running the country from the right "you can do the things the left preaches, but they fail to do when they assume power." (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Under the current National Constitution of Panama, the current sitting president is prohibited from running for reelection until after he (or she) has sat on the sidelines for ten years. So under these rules Martinelli won't be eligible for reelection until 2024. Martin Torrijos could run again in 2019, because he left office in 2009. Mireya Moscoso could have run in 2014 because she left office in 2004. Ernesto Perez Balladares (1994 - 1999) is also currently eligible for reelection. And the only other post-dictatorship former president, Guillermo Endara - is dead.

Ricardo Martinelli is advocating making a change that would either reduce the waiting period from ten to five years - which would make him eligible to run for reelection in 2019 - or for eliminating the waiting period altogether. But these potential changes are not going to be discussed until after the May 2014 elections.

Mind you, the CD wants to (first) win the election in 2014. If they pull that off, it will be the first time in the modern post-dictatorship era that any political party has done well enough in office to get themselves reelected. After they have won the election, the CD's next goal is to get Martinelli back in the presidency. So if they manage to eliminate the waiting period, then we might end up with Martinelli (2009), Arias (2014), Martinelli (2019), Martinelli (2024) (he'll probably die in office by then, like Chavez...) Can you die of suffocation if you're buried in money?

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Jose Domingo Arias Trying To Decide On A Running Mate

PoliticsThe First Lady of the Republic, Marta Linares de Martinelli, is one of the figures being considered as a possible running mate for the presidential candidate of the ruling Cambio Democratico political party, José Domingo Arias.

This was stated by Arias himself, who added he is also considering other women who have a "letter of presentation in the society" and who would "help us to built and give continuity to the projects."

Arias said he would announce his selection for a running mate on January 29.

"The most important thing is that that person shares with me the vision we have for the country," he added.

He said he will select the person based on their strengths and personal qualities. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Err, no. Vice Presidential candidates in Panama are always (always) selected based on how many additional votes they will bring to the election. Selecting Marta Linares de Martinelli for the position doesn't really make all that much sense in terms of political calculus, because all of the die hard CD and Martinelli fans are already going to be voting for Arias, anyway. Naming her as his running mate will only open up a debate about how he's actually just a Martinelli puppet (which he is) so it's all negative, and not much positive.

In this article Arias is pretty much saying his running mate will be a woman - mostly because that will help them to bring in some additional women voters. Anyway, no need to spend all that much time speculating. I'll just wait another week to see who he picks. Hey, but what's the fun in that? My dark horse prediction - Roxana Mendez - great choice. Lucy Molina would be a great (and really fun) choice. She has a vagina. She's black. She's respected by everyone (except those whose ass she's kicking - namely the teacher's unions). So I'd be happy with either one of those. But at this point I don't think it's going to be Marta Linares de Martinelli. This article basically says as much. "We were thinking about her, and now we've changed our minds."

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Raisa Banfield Joins Jose Isabel Blandon - Now Running For Deputy Mayor of Panama City

PoliticsAfter repeated proposals and consultations, the architect and environmentalist Raisa Banfield agreed on Tuesday to be the Vice Mayoral candidate for the Panameñista and candidate for Mayor of Panama City, Jose Isabel Blandon.

Banfield was emphatic when she said she accepted the nomination to work for a city and not for a political party.

Both Banfield and Blandon went to the offices of the Electoral Tribunal to present the candidacy. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: The CD is holding a stick of dynamite with Jose Isabel Blandon's name on it. They only have to decide when to light the wick. They've been holding off for well more than a year, waiting for the right moment as we get closer to the elections in May 2014. In politics (and especially underhanded manipulation of information designed to sink an opposition candidate) timing is everything. But it's a pretty safe bet to say he's not going to be the next Mayor of Panama City. I've been waiting for that particular "boom" to go off for a very long time. Any minute now ... they're probably just waiting for him to spend some real serious money on his campaign effort. You know, bleed him dry a little first.

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Jované Demands To Be Recognized As An Independent Candidate (After The PRD Picks Up Solis)

PoliticsThe campaign team of economist Juan Jované filed a legal challenge against the proclaimed independent presidential candidates in Panama, demanding that the Electoral Tribunal recognize him as an independent candidate, following the departure of the former judge Gerardo Solis.

Yesterday, the judges of the Electoral Tribunal met to analyze Jované's case, however, a source said they did not reach an agreement because Solis, who on Sunday became the vice president on the ticket of the PRD presidential candidate Juan Carlos Navarro, has not renounced his candidacy as an independent.

Javier Víquez , Jované's attorney, said Solis, having accepted the vice-presidency for the PRD ticket, tacitly renounced his candidacy as an independent.

The lawyer said in this situation, the TE should immediately recognize Jované because the third position is now vacant, as established by the Electoral Code, because the period allowed for appeals had not yet finished as of yesterday.

On Friday 10 January, Electoral Tribunal proclaimed the former judge Solis, Esteban Rodriguez, and Gerardo Barroso as the three independent presidential candidates.

However this Sunday Solis became Navarro's running mate, leaving his position as an independent candidate vacant.

Jované, who was the person who filed the lawsuit that eventually resulted in a Supreme Court decision opening the door for all independent candidates, ended up out of the game himself, because the electoral law stipulates that only the three applicants with the most signatures will be those chosen. Jované finished fourth, so he was left in the cold.

The former president of the National Bar Association, Rubén Elías Rodríguez, said the terms of the law are clear, and Jované can only be made a candidate if Solis's nomination is invalidated.

He said Solis should resign his candidacy as an independent because he is no longer an independent, but rather he has now been nominated by a party.

It was impossible to obtain a reaction from Solis. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Poor Jované - won in the Supreme Court. Got left out in the cold in fourth place. Now he can't even get in after Solis gets picked up by the PRD. Doesn't matter, really. He's the definition of a snowball in hell - no chance of winning whatsoever. Well, I guess he's got even less of a chance if he's not in the race at all, right?

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"Martinelli, you're a traitor to democracy!"

Politics Gerardo Solis, who was running as an independent candidate for President , yesterday became the running mate of presidential candidate Juan Carlos Navarro.

Navarro announced via his Twitter account that Solis - a former judge of the Electoral Tribunal - had accepted the offer to become his running mate as the presidential candidate of the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

Earlier he had received the approval of the president Ernesto Perez Balladares, who called him an "honest man."

Since the National Directory of PRD has to ratify the appointment, Solis went to the party's headquarters at 3:00 pm where hundreds of party members were waiting.

Once the process was completed, he and Navarro led the political rally.

With a very tough speech railing against the government of Ricardo Martinelli, Solis thrilled the participants. "You're a traitor to democracy," he told the president.

Martinelli responded via his Twitter account, saying "in politics all of the 'packages' attract one another like magnets ... good luck to the two 'packages' ... " (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Spanish (slang) Lesson! In Panamanian Spanish if you have someone who is worthless on the job, you call them a "bulto." This is most commonly used in situations like construction. The Spanish word "bulto" literally translates to "package" or "bundle" - but when you call someone a "bulto" you're basically saying they just lay there like a "bundle" of building supplies - meaning they are worthless on the job. Martinelli said Navarro and Solis are both worthless - so best of luck. (End of Spanish Lesson)

The PRD politician who I most dislike is easily Balbina Herrera. She's got the #1 spot all locked up. Following closely behind her is Gerardo Solis. He got into the Electoral Tribunal by being a faithful lapdog of Ernesto Perez Balladares. He was first the Electoral Prosecutor, then he became a judge on the Electoral Tribunal, and finally he became the Presiding Judge of the Electoral Tribunal. And in all of that time he went out of his way to twist and tweak each and every decision in favor of the PRD and against anything that was not the PRD. This, while serving in a position that was created specifically to oversee and safeguard the neutrality of the election process. So yeah, complete and total dirtbag. Can't stand his ass. I see his face on the television and I instantly dive for the remote control - can't change the channel fast enough. I mean, almost nauseating...

But what does this appointment mean for the campaign of the PRD's candidate Juan Carlos Navarro? Solis has some followers, and he was going to be running as an independent candidate anyway. It's a relatively smart move by Navarro because it sort of reunites the severely divided PRD party (currently divided into several camps) and everyone who was planning to vote for Solis as an independent candidate will now vote for Navarro.

But, they are still not going to win. This will probably help move Navarro's numbers upward somewhat, but he's still locked in a battle for second and third place with the Panameñistas and Juan Carlos Varela. The winner in May will be Arias and the CD will repeat in office.

TVN just released new polling numbers reflecting just how happy Panamanians are with the performance of president Ricardo Martinelli. He got an astounding 79% approval rating. Now. In January 2014, just a few months before the next election. Clearly, Arias is not an old political war-horse. He's basically a new rookie. Everyone (and I mean, everyone) knows Arias will be just a continuation of Martinelli's plan to change the country. And, they like that. That's what the Panamanian people want. Not only is 79% a "holy shit" number - it's a record. No other president in Panamanian history has ever been so endorsed, especially this close to the end of his term in office and so close to the next election.

The good news is that it's going to be a slam dunk for Arias. This Solis headline is a very small news bump, and with this article he's just about burned up his usefulness. He will now go out and act like a rabid dog (that's why they hired him, he's good at that) so the candidate can act "presidential". So when you see Solis barking on TV, please do me this favor. Just picture a little yapping rabid crazy Chihuahua, snarling and growing and trembling in the corner. That's what I see anyway. Nuts and noisy, but not really all that much of a threat.

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Jované Not Going To The Dance

PoliticsOver five years ago, when the Panamanians were preparing for the elections of 2009, the university professor Juan Jované filed with the Supreme Court a writ of unconstitutionality to the rule that did not allow independent presidential candidates.

When the 2009 campaign and was in its final phase , the Supreme Court declared the rule as "unconstitutional" and stated independent candidates would be allowed to run.

The Electoral Tribunal has recognized Gerardo Solís, Esteban "of the people" Rodríguez and Gerardo "El Chiricano" Barroso, as the three independent presidential candidates.

The court allowed three days for objections to those applications to be submitted.

As time was running out, Prof. Jované decided to postpone his candidacy for 2014.

However, despite being who promoted this possibility through his legal action before the Supreme Court, today he ends up outside of the election because he was unable to collect the number of signatures necessary to run as an independent candidate.

Gerardo Solis was able to collect more than 35,000 signatures. Esteban Quintana has about 25,000 and Gerardo Barroso has 21,578 and these three will appear on the ballot in May 2014 as independent candidates.

Jované with 21,412 was left outside, looking in.

In short, "no one knows for whom he works."

Editor's Comment: When they set the rules of the game, it was decided that the three people who were able to gather the most signatures would run as independents. It doesn't matter all that much really. None of these people have a snowball's chance in hell of winning. It's all really about vanity, and politicians enhancing their name recognition.

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Allegations of Politically Motivated Bribery Against MOLIRENA Party Members

PoliticsFelix Moulanier, the President of the Youth of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), disguised his interest in changing over to the MOLIRENA political party, and instead made a public denouncement, saying he was offered money and politically appointed positions (for his people) in the National Lottery Office for his wife and others, by the directors of the ruling party, in exchange for him quitting the PRD and enrolling in the MOLIRENA political party.

At noon he went to the offices of the Electoral Tribunal accompanied by Emilio Somoza, the director of the National Lottery and MOLIRENA party member.

He was also accompanied by the Secretary of the Youth of the MOLIRENA Alberto Arjona and some party activists who were supposedly there to act as witnesses.

But his change from the PRD to the MOLIRENA party would be impossible to register, because a decree was issued by the Electoral Tribunal announcing the suspension of political party registrations dated 30 December 2013 - which will remain in effect until after the elections of May 2014.

But Still, Molulanir and the MOLIRENA party members went to the Electoral Tribunal.

SURPRISE - Upon arrival Moulanier was thoughtful. He was silent for a minute, even though his face was surrounded by microphones and tape recorders, as journalists waited for him to make a statement.

Felix continued slowly and speaking with pauses, as though he was structuring a speech that was costing him to get off of his chest.

He did not speak until a reporter broke the ice, and then he spoke as if he was unburdened, saying "at 50 years of commemorating the historic feat of January 9, where the youths fought for our country with principle and dignity, today, I Félix Moulanier, have become proof of what the MOLIRENA is doing with the political youth of this country."

The young opposition leader surprised the MOLIRENA party leaders when - instead of resigning from the PRD - he reiterated his support for the PRD presidential candidate Juan Carlos Navarro. What's more, he said what no one though he would say when he denounced the Director of the National Lottery, who was standing right beside him, of having offered him money and politically appointed positions in exchange joining the ranks of the MOLIRENA.

Moulanier shouted "I invite the Electoral Prosecutor to come here, and to take a statement from the Director of the Lottery and the staff of that institution."

Emilio Somoza 's face began to change. He was amazed by the speech from the person who was supposedly going to weaken the PRD. He was stunned. He did not say a word as he and several of his companions kept their mouths shut, spun on their heels, and started walking towards the exit. Other MOLIRENA party members followed. They took off their distinctive red hats, rolled up their banners, and walked to the exits.

Among the complaints, Moulanier said he has recordings and videos and that he can prove his accusations.

He claims that the cameras installed in the Lottery building can attest to his words and will serve as evidence supporting his claims.

And he told a television channel that in the morning he went to the Lottery building, where he was taken to the offices of the Counseling Department where he was attended by Alberto Arjona, who asked him to send in his resume in order to add him to the payroll.

Then Moulanier said he was taken to Somoza's office, where the conversation began.

They phoned Sergio González Ruiz, the President of the MOLIRENA political party, who congratulated him and promised him that many more opportunities would come "because MOLIRENA would give him the best opportunities."

According to Moulanier, they were trying to organize things so that the presidential candidate Jose Domingo Arias would be there at the Electoral Tribunal, who would witness his resignation from the PRD.

The strange thing is that before this happened there was some confusion over what Felix's decision would be.

PRD sources say it was a closely guarded secret, and that's why no one from the party was there to provide support to Moulanier once the action was taken.

Moulanier was left alone standing in front of the Electoral Tribunal. He had come there with the MOLIRENA party members, and now he had no ride back. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Go figure. It seems like this Moulanier guy didn't know which way he was going to go until he actually got there to the Electoral Tribunal. Then, at the last minute he got cold feet and backed out. I seriously doubt the story that this was supposedly some sort of a PRD secret move in an attempt to make the MOLIRENA look bad. It's much more likely that Moulanier was simply weighing his options between the short term (and relatively small) gains of switching over to the MOLIRENA party, as compared to the potential to become a larger player over the longer term in the PRD. He simply decided to stick with the PRD, and in the process he threw some mud in Somoza's face. And of course now there will be no action taken against Somoza or anyone else, because this is simply how the game is played in Panama. But, it did make for a mildly interesting news cycle, to say the least.

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Somoza Challenges Moulanier To Present Evidence

PoliticsThe director of the National Lottery, Enrique Somoza challenged the leader of the Youth of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Felix Moulanier to present proof for the "so-called payment" he would have received for leaving the PRD and switching to the MOLIRENA political party.

Somoza said he was willing to submit to polygraph and "unmask" a Moulanier, who accused him of having offered $50,000 and other perks in exchange for changing parties.

"I'm going to take a polygraph, and after that I'm going to put him in prison," Somoza said. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: This is a little mini-scandal that sort of exploded in the news today. According to the PRD politician Moulanier, supposedly Somoza offered him money and other things to abandon the PRD and switch to the MOLIRENA political party. Right now things are heating up in preparations for the next general elections in May 2014. There's a full court press on by the CD to round up as many players as they can from all other political parties - including small little bit players such as Moulanier. The MOLIRENA party is in a political alliance with Ricardo Martinelli's Cambio Democratico (CD) party, so it serves as a handy stepping stone for those who wish to jump from an "opposition" party to one that's going to be winning the 2014 elections. So, did this bribe offer happen? Hard to say. This afternoon lawyers for Somoza filed a criminal complaint against Moulanier for defamation and slander. In any case, it's a side show - but at the same time possibly indicative of some of the back room deals that are being made in order to sew-up the 2014 election.

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PRD Members Jumping Ship to CD and Arias Campaign

PoliticsBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Predictable. Now that any chance of an opposition alliance between the PRD and the Panameñista political parties has melted away, today the CD candidate Jose Domingo Arias said he's been getting calls from PRD members who now want to support his campaign.

I'm not the only guy who can count heads and do the math. It is now practically impossible for either the PRD or the Panameñistas to beat Arias and the CD at the polls in May.

These guys are career politicians. Most of them really don't care what party they are a member of, as long as they are on the winning team and able to suck bribes out people and skim money out of the government coffers. The only thing that really matters to any of these guys is the money. So, PRD today, Molirena tomorrow - who cares?

There is one thing that matters, though. The sooner they jump ship, the more likely they are to get some sort of payola. And, the more voters they bring with them when they come, the better. Panamanian politicians tend to gather up "followers" and loyal supporters who they can "bring to the table" when negotiating for things like posts an political assignments. So jumping ship from the PRD or the Panameñistas today is much more valuable than doing so two days after the election is over.

So yeah, now there will be rats jumping from sinking ships, followed by their minions into the CD camp. And Arias will win. And the CD will make even more money. And they will appoint more Supreme Court judges. And so it goes...

Copyright 2013 Panama-Guide.com.

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"Navarro's Feelings Are Not Real" - Roberto Eisenmann

PoliticsThe businessman Roberto Eisenmann said this morning his plan to create an alliance between Juan Carlos Navarro of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and Juan Carlos Varela of the Panameñista party failed because Varela would have had to be the Presidential candidate, because the constitution prohibits him from being the Vice President twice in a row.

The plan would have required Navarro to wait for his turn until 2019, after supporting the opposition alliance and taking the back seat in 2014.

His plan proposed the possibility of forming a 10-year partnership program in which first Varela would rule - because the constitution would not allow him to run again as the Vice Presidential candidate.

The proposal included convening a constituent assembly with the commitment that Varela would support Navarro's aspirations in 2019.

Eisenmann said on Telemetro that the statements made by Navarro when he announced his decision to not participate in the plan were not "emotionally real," because the PRD candidate tried to make it sound like he had done everything possible to refine the strategy.

"I remember that Navarro said he would do anything to prevent the CD from being reelected, but his actions did not follow his words," said Eisenmann, who has cases pending against him for tax evasion.

The businessman added that another factor that played against the alliance came due to the fact that the two candidates are tied in the polls.

He also said President Ricardo Martinelli has a plan to remain in power for 15 years, leading through the figurehead of his wife Marta Linares de Martinelli, and through a plan to reduce the amount of time a former president must remain on the sidelines before being able to run for reelection. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Eisenmann is licking his wounds. Now his only hope is to - never mind. There's no hope. The PRD and the Panameñistas now have second and third place all locked up. All that remains to be seen is how many of the lesser seats their respective parties are able to grab in things like the National Assembly (where they will be in the minority), and seats like local Representatives and Mayoral positions in the cities and towns of the country. It is my belief that the old political parties of the PRD - created and formed by Omar Torrijos (who is dead), and the Panameñistas - created and formed by Arnulfo Arias Madrid (who is dead), will have to twinkle and die off completely before any sort of a new party might emerge capable of successfully challenging the CD. In the meantime, it's perfectly safe to write your campaign donation checks to the CD political candidate of your choice...

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Polling Shows Arias 22 Points Ahead of Navarro and Varela

PoliticsThe presidential candidate representing the Democratic Change (CD) political party, José Domingo Arias, is leading the polls ahead of the general elections to be held in May 2014, according the latest survey conducted by Datexco for Panama America, NexTV, and KW Continente.

In this last survey of 2013, conducted from 10 to 16 December, about 1,200 people participated nationwide, excluding the province of the Darien and indigenous territories .

The poll has a 2.9% margin of error and a confidence level of 95%.

The survey revealed Jose Domingo Arias now leads all other candidates with 43% of the preferences.

In this poll Arias increased 2% compared to the 41% he saw in November 2013.

The two other presidential candidates - Juan Carlos Navarro of the PRD and Juan Carlos Varela of the Panameñista party - were tied for second place at 21% each.

Compared to last month, Navarro suffered a downturn and lost three percentage points, dropping from 24% to 21%.

Meanwhile, Varela increased by one percentage point - from 20% last month to 21% this month.

The sample also revealed that 53% of those who intend to vote for Arias are women.

Last month, Arias held a 41% popularity among female voters .

Arias has as part of his plan to govern a project called "Women City" which seeks to consolidate in one place offices which provide government support for the protection and improvement of women.

The polling data also reveals that the broadest support for Arias comes from voters concentrated in the Western regions of the country with 54%, while his weakest support comes from voters residing in the East at 33%.

There were several responses to the release of this most recent Datexco polling data.

The PRD representative Javier Ortega said the PRD does not give credibility to the polls because they do not reflect the reality they see among the electorate.

Meanwhile, the Panameñista lawmaker Luis Eduardo Quirós said it is necessary to view and analyze each survey carefully.

He said in this particular case, the survey shows no polarization.

"Soon we will see how the trend will change, as well as who will be the candidate who will lead the government," he said.

Quirós said the election period is just starting, the the percentages revealed by the polls are irrelevant.

Meanwhile, Luis Cortés, a national board member of the CD , said the survey is a photograph of the current electoral moment.

According to the politician , the results of this survey reflect the work done by the candidate José Domingo Arias, and confidence felt by the Panamanian people who think he will continue the projects that have been started by the current administration.

Arias , who last August was in a tie with the PRD candidate Juan Carlos Navarro with 29% in the polls, has made ​​progress over the last five months of this year.

Between August and September, his polling numbers rose 10 percentage points to 39%.

In October he increased by one percentage point to 40%.

And during the last two months of this year has risen another three percentage points.

By contrast, during this same period , both Navarro and Varela have either declined or remained at the level of percentage in the polls where they were five months ago, when Datexco started doing their polling.

For example, the PRD presidential candidate Navarro peaked at 35% in September 2013. However, he could not remain stable in the fourth quarter, closing the pre-election year with just 21%.

Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Panameñista party Juan Carlos Varela rose to a high of 30% in October 2013, but like Navarro he could not maintain this level of support, and has closed the year with only a few percentage points more than he had in August 2013, when he was at 18%.

Datexco , the company that conducted his poll for "The Pulse" magazine published by the Panama America newspaper, NexTV, and KW Continente radio, is an independent international market research and public opinion agency, with 17 years of experience in Latin America.

The company has been working in Colombia for 15 consecutive years, measuring the public's response for the El Tiempo newspaper and W radio.

Since 2008 , Datexco began the process of consolidating its international operation by developing marketing studies and public opinion polling in many different countries in Latin America - including Guatemala , Honduras , El Salvador , Nicaragua , Venezuela , Colombia , Ecuador , Peru , Chile, Argentina , among others. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Slam dunk. It's in the bag. Arias wins by a landslide. This article missed the real headline - "Arias Has More Support In The Polls Than Navarro and Varela Combined." So, even if Navarro and Varela had found a way to forge an alliance (it didn't happen and that ship has sailed), Arias still probably would have beaten their combined ticket. So yeah, the prediction I made in August 2011 still holds. The CD will win in 2014. Personally I think the CD is poised to retain control of Panama for the next 50 years or more.

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Eisenmann Is A Threat To Democracy in Panama

PoliticsThe failed proposal for a single opposition candidacy devised by Ithiel Roberto Eisenmann, who is the "president for life" of the opposition newspaper La Prensa, had elements that violated the country's democracy in exchange for favoring his personal interests.

Eisenmann admitted being the author of the proposal put to the candidate Juan Carlos Varela, of the Panameñista party, and Juan Carlos Navarro, of the largest opposition group, the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

The plan included the distribution of power in the country for the next decade, with the sole objective of bringing competition to the ruling Democratic Change party and its ally the MOLIRENA political party.

The entrepreneur, who calls himself an "independent," recommended a covenant alternating between both parties.

But he added there was a "constitutional" element, because Varela could not come back and repeat in office as the Vice President.

In this manner he made his intentions clear - that all of the opposition candidates should gel behind the candidate of the Panameñista political party.

"We began the effort by designing a document that made an effort to create a new institutionalization of the country, a kind of new Republic, via a new constitution; we put a lot of effort into that document, Mario Galindo, Alvin Weeden, and myself," admitted the businessman on Radio Panama.

"When we presented the plan to each candidate individually, alone, they both reacted very positively. Therefore, we were encouraged to think that maybe it was time for an alliance," Eisenmann said, adding that "based on the enthusiasm we saw in both candidates about what was in the document, it seemed perfectly acceptable to both of them."

"But it was the climate that was in the document that led us to think that the thing had possibilities," admitted the businessman.

For some political analysts, forming an alliance would have violated the institutionalization of both political parties, because it would be ignoring the decisions made by the majorities of the political parties, and it would have been imposed by people who are not members of their parties, even by those who call themselves independent.

Another point to consider, said the source, would be the loss of money spent during the primary elections, whose funding was subsidized by the state. This, without figuring in the discontent that would be generated among the members of the different groups.

Eisenmann said it was not easy to get Navarro and Varela to sit down at the same table, "because there was much suspicion" in both of them, and he said "national covenants are made between enemies or opponents, they are not made among friends."

After a first positive approach , Eisenmann confessed that his entire power project was wrecked in the second meeting: "It fell apart," he said.

In a false retrospect after an outright defeat, he applied makeup to his failure by saying "obviously, looking back now, one can say the conditions were not there."

Given these strong statements, at the margin of electoral law, the judges of the Electoral Tribunal have decided to remain silent on a story where there was pressure in exchange for money and the media power of the print newspaper.

Eisenmann also would have added to his effort by having convinced Navarro to step aside, and for Varela to favor the businessman Stanley Motta, one of the richest men in the country,who also controls one of the important groups of shareholders in the opposition newspaper La Prensa.

However, yesterday Motta distanced himself from Eisenmann, shortly before Navarro came out to publicly confirm the failure to form an opposition alliance.

Eisenmann is currently facing a trial for alleged tax evasion of about 3 million dollars. What's more the Tourism Authority of Panama suspended his company from the National Register of Tourism, after finding that allegedly falsified documents were used to obtain state subsidies through property in Coronado that does not belong to him.

After that, Eisenmann became a self declared enemy of the Ricardo Martinelli administration. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Yeah, nice try. Eisenmann's grand scheme had practically no chance of working, from the very start. Now the government newspaper - the Panama America - is reveling in his failure and taking the opportunity to point out no one wants the CD out of power more than Eisenmann. Oh, and for the record - Eisenmann and La Prensa can declare themselves to be "independent" all day long and of course that's bullshit. They are 100% Panameñistas - all the way through. They are no more independent or politically neutral than the Panama America, which is 100% CD and pro-Martinelli. Given a three dog race (which we have) and the CD is guaranteed at least 45% of the vote - the remaining 55% will be divided between the PRD and the Panameñistas. Now normally the PRD would get about 40% but Navarro is relatively weak, even in his own party. Varela is also weak with a good portion of the Panameñistas switching sides and coming over to the CD along with Mireya Moscoso and the payola she's receiving in return. So the fence sitters in both opposition parties will probably gravitate toward the stronger (winning) candidate from the CD. The PRD and Panameñistas have second and third place locked up, respectively. In short, with the math as it is right now, the CD almost can't lose. Now we just have to wait until May to make it official. Yup, the end of December and it's already decided, just like last time. Martinelli is good at this shit...

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Opposition Parties Fail To Forge An Alliance

PoliticsThe presidential candidate of the Panameñista political party, Juan Carlos Varela, and Juan Carlos Navarro, of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) failed to reach an agreement to form a political alliance yesterday, in preparation for the 2014 elections.

Navarro and Varela met at a residence in Punta Barco, in the district of San Carlos, to explore the possibility of creating an opposition alliance.

A few hours before the legal window closed for the formation of alliances between political parties, the candidates discussed a proposal submitted by businessman I. Roberto Eisenmann, the former comptroller Alvin Weeden, and the attorney Mario Galindo.

The proposal raised the possibility of a partnership programmed for 10 years. In the first five years Varela would govern, because he would be prohibited by the constitution from serving again as the Vice President in 2014.

The proposal included convening a constituent assembly, with a commitment on the part of Varela that he would support Navarro's aspirations in 2019. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Nice try. Slick, but stupid at the same time. There's no way in hell Navarro - who has just finished fighting his way to the top of the PRD pecking order - would bow out now and allow Varela to lead the ticket in the 2014 elections. Remember what happened to Navarro in 2009? He was leading in the polls and he actually won the internal PRD primary election (the election results were stolen by PRD power brokers and Balbina Herrera was declared the winner.) A severely pissed-off Navarro was forced to take a back seat and - in exchange for this silence - he ran as Herrera's running mate. They were trounced by Ricardo Martinelli. So this plan, which basically asks Navarro to do the same thing he did in 2009, was obviously a non-starter for him. By now he knows he won't win the general election in 2014. But, he will still be the General Secretary of the PRD for the next five years, and in that position he will have enough sway and power over all of the other PRD politicians who do manage to get elected in the lesser elections to get paid on a regular basis. So, there will be no opposition alliance and both Navarro and Varela will go to elections alone, where they will lose to the CD machine. As predicted, a long time ago. No one should be surprised by any of this stuff...

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No alliance on the horizon

PoliticsThere was no white smoke. The possibility of movement to consolidate an alliance is now dormant.

On Tuesday there was a private meeting between representatives of some political parties and those who are pushing to create a deal between the opposition political parties in order to confront the ruling party in the upcoming elections.

The event took place at the Casa del Marisco restaurant during the in mid-day hours.

In attendance was the former Comptroller and alliance supporter Alvin Weeden, businessman Roberto Eisenmann, and Javier Martínez Acha of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

The idea was that both presidential candidates (from the Panameñista and PRD political parties) would quit their aspirations and that a third candidate or and independent would pick up the baton as a single candidate on behalf of the opposition.

All in attendance laid out their individual positions, in order to explor one of the last alternatives before time runs out to present at initiative before the Electoral Tribunal for them to run together.

But sources have reported that after the 30-minute meeting was over, two of its participants left with long faces.

The pessimism is shared by a few others. José Luis Varela, a National Assembly Deputy from the opposition, said he thinks such a plan would be "very, very difficult" to put together.

Political analyst Ebrahim Asvat said "I don't think it will happen."

And so, and in case of a last attempt, the opposition political parties only have three days left to put together any sort of a deal so they can unite their positions.

So for now it does not appear that any sort of an alliance will be formed among the opposition parties - something seen by many as essential to be able to defeat the ruling party in May. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Yeah - dumb plan. Both Varela and Navarro have worked too hard and too long - winning internal primary elections within their respective political parties - to just quit because it's now becoming obvious in the polls that they are both going to lose. Politicians are eternally hopeful. Maybe they are wishing a box of bricks or some sort of really explosive scandal will hit the CD right in the candidate's chest - and they will be standing there ready to sweep up the votes when it all dies down. But that's not very likely. I stand by the prediction I first made in August 2011 - that the CD will win in May 2014 and will remain in office.

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Sergio Gálvez Blasts Journalist Alvaro Alvarado

PoliticsThe President of the National Assembly, Sergio Gálvez, attacked journalist Alvaro Alvarado (Telemetro) for comments he made about the hams Gálvez was handing out in Chorrillo on Monday.

"This man is should be ashamed. I don't know that Alvaro Alvarado has ever given even a pound of rice to anyone in this country," he lashed out. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Every year Sergio Gálvez uses taxpayer dollars to buy Christmas hams, and every year he hands them out to the people who vote to put him in office, in Chorrillo. And every year the journalists in Panama point to the blatant corruption. And every year, nothing changes.

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Pineda Is Mentioned In Messina's Case, According To Ramos

PoliticsThree months have passed since September 23, when the attorney and political leader Juan Ramón Messina was murdered, and there are still no clear leads to why he was killed.

Kathy Ramos, Messina’s wife, during an interview with Telemetro, said the current deputy of the opposition party, the PRD, Raúl Pineda, has been mentioned by one of the witnesses in the file handled by the Second Superior Prosecutor.

Ramos, during the interview, said her life “is in danger,” because her husband was “brutally murdered.”

According to Ramos, the Prosecutor Argentina Barrera, who is investigating the event, “knows who the murderers of her husband are.” Ramos says the Prosecutor has the names and the addresses of the involved in this case, but “they have not investigated the situation as they are supposed to.”

She said there are both material and intellectual authors involved in the murder of the attorney Juan Ramón Messina.

She also said she will not allow any more lies to surround this event and hopes the truth about his husband’s death comes to light. She considered this event as a political crime. (Critica)

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CD Will Choose Vice President For Arias On January

Politics

Delegate and campaign manager for the presidential candidate of Democratic Change, José Muñoz Molina, said the running mate of José Domingo Arias will be announced on January.

"There's no hurry, this issue is being analyzed, we're currently evaluating other things," as said by Muñoz.

He added there is a long list of people from different opposition parties who want to be Vice President for José Domingo Arias.(Panama America)

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The Executive Branch Confirmed They Directly Support Jose Domingo Arias

PoliticsThe Presidency Minister, Roberto Henríquez, confirmed that José Domingo Arias’s campaign is supported by the government and its works.

“The important thing in a campaign is the candidate or group supporting him, and in José Domingo’s case is the government and its works,” said the official during an interview with Telemetro.

The Panamanian Government is violating three legal provisions taking his statement into consideration; one of them includes an article from the Constitution. (Prensa)

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Ferrufino Can't Run As Vice President

PoliticsAfter knowing that Jose Domingo Arias said it was possible he would choose the Minister of Social Development, Guillermo Ferrufino, as his running mate, the legal provisions preventing this situation started circling around.

According to the electoral calendar made by the Electoral Tribunal (TE), public servants must resign to their position before 3 November 2013, to participate in the 2014 elections.

The calendar says on 3 November 2013 “public servants in the article 27 of the Electoral Code, who aspire to the positions of popular election, must present their resignation to their position.”

Article 27 says “those public servants who are not eligible for popular election due to not resigning six months prior to the elections are: Minister and Vice Minister of State, Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, the Director and Deputy Director, national, regional and provincial ministries, director and deputy director, administrator and deputy administrator, national, general, regional and provincial manager and deputy manager, of autonomous and semi-autonomous entities.”

Others not eligible –according to the article– are “officials from the Judicial Branch, Public Prosecutor, Electoral Tribunal and the General Electoral Prosecutor, Comptroller and Deputy Comptroller of the Republic, Magistrate of the Court of Auditors, Ombudsman, Governor of a province, indigenous region, Corregidor and members of the Public Force.”

On the other hand, article No. 28 says “each nomination that violates article 27 disables the candidate from running for this position. This effect will also apply if the candidate accepts the position.”

On the matter, the lawyer and former magistrate of the Electoral Tribunal, Guillermo Márquez Amado, said Ferrufino can’t be a candidate for the vice presidency of Panama because he hasn’t resigned to his position.

Even if he runs as vice president taking into consideration his condition of deputy, it’s still not possible. The fact that he is a minister prevents this from happening, he said.

Important representatives within the CD have mentioned Ferrufino and the First Lady, Marta Linares de Martinelli, as possible vice presidents for Arias. Today, the First Lady said the presidential candidate of the CD must decide this himself. (Prensa)

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First Lady Flatly Denied Having Family Ties With Roberto Linares

Politics

Today, the wife of President Ricardo Martinelli, Marta Linares de Martinelli, flatly denied having any family ties with Roberto Linares, who seeks ratification again as administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority.

The First Lady wrote on her Twitter account: "Roberto Linares and I are NOT family, His family comes from Cuba."

Yesterday, Roberto Linares was surprisingly ratified by the Credentials Committee of the Assembly as administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority, after he had resigned, raising suspicions.(Mi Diario)

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Ferrufino Doesn't Rule Out The Possibility Of Accepting The Vice Presidential Ticket

Politics

Today, Guillermo Ferrufino said he didn't rule out the possibility of accepting the vice presidential ticket if he receives the proposal, but said if the first lady Marta Linares de Martinelli is chosen, he will support her one hundred percent.

During the interview, the Minister of Social Development said he's willing to work as he did a job for three years and has leadership in the bases of the conventional, but also recognizes the work done by the first lady.

Ferrufino said Arias is the one who has to decide who will accompany him on the presidential ticket.(Mi Diario)

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