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Monday, July 16 2018 @ 08:40 AM EDT

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Carrillo Will Bring Trusted People With Him To Immigration

Immigration IssuesThe new director of the National Immigration Service, Javier Carrillo, will bring some known and reliable staff members with him, who he will make part of his new team, he said Friday when asked by the local media. Carrillo, who was chosen by President Ricardo Martinelli just three days ago to take over the position as the Director of Immigration, said he would would not fire any officer unless they are involved in acts of corruption, because the people need a transparent institution. He added he would implement some new control measures so the public can see they are doing a good job. Moreover, the director said it would be a priority that all foreigners who have to complete some kind of requirement at Immigration should be treated equally. Carrillo's spoke with the media as he arrived at Immigration this morning, where he met with the former director Maria Cristina Gonzalez to begin an orderly transition. (La Estrella)
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Carrillo's Goal - No Bribes At Immigration

Immigration Issues The new director of the National Immigration Service (SNM), Javier Carrillo, said he hopes that the people who have to complete a procedure in this institution will not have to pay a bribe or the use of influence peddling. "We hope that everyone who has to address issues regarding their immigration status in Panama can do so on an equal basis," said Carrillo, upon the conclusion of a transition meeting with the former Head of Migration, Maria Cristina Gonzalez. There he learned, at the hands of Gonzalez, the functions and procedures in the National Immigration Service, he said. Carrillo also announced that "gradually" he is going to implement measures of monitor and control in Immigration. He added these rules seek to avoid situations "that the community could feel are incorrect." Carrillo took office yesterday in a ceremony attended by the Public Security Minister, Jose Raul Mulino. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Ahhhh - big sigh of relief. Now, let's see it Carrillo follows through on his mandate of running a relatively clean and corruption free Immigration service in Panama. If he does, it will be a first. This looks and feels like a good news story for all of the members of our community of English speaking expatriates living in the Republic of Panama. Sooner or later we all have to deal with Immigration, be it when seeking a "pensionado" visa or something as simple as checking in through the airport.

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New Immigration Director Denies Having Lied To The DEA

Immigration IssuesThe former head of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation, Javier Carrillo, today denied having lied to the DEA to infiltrate an agent into the eavesdropping program known as the Matador. Carrillo said he was not involved in the Matador program. Carrillo made ​​the remarks after taking office as the new director of the Directorate of Immigration, together with Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino. Carrillo replaced in office Maria Cristina Gonzalez amid a corruption scandal. Gonzalez denied the United States had revoked her visa. After taking office, Carrillo called for calm among immigration officials and promised he would not fire anyone, and announced that this Friday he would meet with Gonzalez to make an orderly transition. (TVN Noticias)

Editor's Comment: The TVN Reporter asked Javier Carrillo about the publication of a new WikiLeaks cable, in which he supposedly lied to the DEA in order to get a person into the Matador program. I have not seen that cable or report yet (let me go find it...). But that's got to be a new record - the boy gets appointed and sworn in and BAM - he's hit with a Wiki pie in the face. Welcome aboard.

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New Director of Immigration Sworn In

Immigration Issues Javier Carrillo, recently appointed by President Ricardo Martinelli for the post of director in the National Immigration Service, was sworn in on Thursday morning. Maria Cristina Gonzalez, who held that post until she recently resigned, will meet with Carrillo for an orderly transition. The new Director of Immigration said to the officials currently working at the institution that with his arrival he would not dismiss anyone, so they should have no fear. (La Estrella)
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Gonzalez refused to resign after the president's request

Immigration IssuesThe director of the National Immigration Service, María Cristina González, ceased to hold this office hours after confirmation that the U.S. government revoked her visa to visit that country. This was confirmed by Panamanian government sources and the US government, through sources in Washington. Visa revocation is one of the tools applied by the U.S. government against corruption in other countries, as reported from the northern country. To date the United States has revoked the visas of more than 10 former Panamanian officials, or declared them ineligible, including a former president and a current Supreme Court judge.

However, Gonzalez's departure from Immigration has been in the works for more than 15 days, when, for the first time, president Ricardo Martinelli asked her to resign from the post voluntarily, official sources said. Martinelli again asked Gonzalez to resign on Monday, but she refused. The president then proceeded to order her removal (fire her), according to highly placed official sources within the government.

Yesterday, Martinelli announced the name of the person who will replace Gonzalez: Javier Carrillo, head of the National Police in the former Canal Area, and former Director of the Judicial Investigation Department (DIJ). In the Presidency last night it was reported that Carrillo's appointment was made official. "Carrillo Silvestri, the new General Director of the National Immigration Service, replaces Maria Cristina Gonzalez, who submitted a formal resignation to the office, and under Article 183 of the Constitution of Panama, is vested with the President to coordinate the work of administration and public facilities," says the statement.

The Panama America, between Monday and Tuesday of this week, consulted Gonzalez on the revocation of her visa and she denied it. "I have no revocation," she said emphatically yesterday. Martinelli also said he did not know if her visa had been revoked. "That is personal to different people. I think there is much commotion here," he said.

During the presidency of Mireya Moscoso, the USA revoked the visa from the Director of Immigration, Antonio Dominguez, after he was linked to the trafficking of Chinese citizens. During the administration of Gonzalez, the National Immigration Service went through several scandals related to a network of human trafficking of Asian citizens. The latest problem occurred last week, when it dismantled an alleged network of "white slavery" operating with women brought from Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Romania and Voldavia) and Colombia. In this case, González took the complaint to the Public Ministry, indicating the visas were authorized by her deputy, Jaime Ruiz, in her absence, and signed by the ambassador of Panama in Russia, Julio Córdoba. Ruiz, of the Panameñista political party, was removed last Friday.

Yesterday Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino announced the beginning of the transition to the change of command in the Immigration Service. "We will try install a new system there, with officials who are not likely to go with a political purpose or to benefit supporters. Nor to do any of these activities," said Mulino. Mulino also said he was unaware which officials have had their US visas revoked, but said this type of sanction is a subject "that is known, and that goes against morals and the law." "Whoever gets into those things has to pay the consequences. Certain types of crimes go beyond the border," he said. (Panama America)

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New Directors of Immigration and Tourism in Panama

Immigration IssuesPanama's president Ricardo Martinelli announced changes in the direction of the National Immigration Service and the Panama Tourism Authority yesterday. The president said María Cristina González will be replaced as the Director of the National Immigration Service by National Police Commissioner Javier Carrillo Silvestri, while Solomon Shamah would move to another post in the government, and he will be replaced by a woman whose name he did not reveal. Security minister Jose Raul Mulino said Carrillo was picked to replace Gonzalez to keep Immigration from being "politicized" because Carrillo is not a politician. In fact, yesterday Martinelli signed an executive order naming Carrillo. Mulino said Gonzalez has not been involved in any corruption case, and he said the change will be effective from July 1. The announcement about changes in Immigration and the Panama Tourism Authority coincided yesterday with the emergence of a new scandal over the alleged revocation of visas by the U.S. Government of Gonzalez and at least 20 people, including judges of the Supreme Court, ministers, former attorney generals, and other former officials. In this regard, Gonzalez denied that her visa has been revoked. "Because of U.S. laws, we can not comment on visa records or the visa status of a particular individual. Our policy remains not to comment on matters of visas, nor with the media or individuals outside the United States government," said a spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Panama. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: First of all, this supposed list of more than 20 people who have had their visas revoked is mostly just smoke. There are rumors and no one wants to make an officials statement. The US Embassy plays this game of "we're not going to talk about it" so I guess we will just have to wait for the next batch of "WikiLeaks" documents to come out. Personally, I'm all for full disclosure. I think it would be cool to have a US State Department website where they could list, by country, all of the officials of every government around the world whose visa has been revoked. Wouldn't that be fun? Anyway, where there's smoke, there's usually some fire under there somewhere.

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Director of Immigration Resigns (Finally...)

Immigration IssuesThe director of the National Immigration Service, María Cristina González, told La Prensa that the U.S. government has not revoked her visa to enter that country, as stated in the local media today. Gonzalez said the last time she traveled to the US was last May and she had no problems entering the country. Moreover, she confirmed that she presented her resignation to President Ricardo Martinelli on Monday, but gave no details about the reasons for that decision. President Martinelli said this morning that Gonzalez would be replaced as the Director of Immigration, and he named police commissioner Javier Carrillo, the secretary general of the National Police as a possible substitute. On 8 June, Martinelli accepted the resignation of the Deputy Director of Immigration, Jaime Ruiz, who has not yet been replaced. Ruiz has been named in a scandal over the issuance of visas to women from different European nationalities, a case that is being investigated by prosecutors. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Well, all I can say is "it's about time." I've been very critical of María Cristina González for a long time, practically since she took over. She and the people who worked for her used Immigration as their own little money factory, squeezing bribes from foreigners in vulnerable situations from all walks of life. Immigration has traditionally been one of the most corrupt organizations within the Panamanian government, regardless of which political party is at the helm. They need to fight that corruption with TRANSPARENCY - nothing Immigration does has to be secret, confidential, or close held. They can (literally) put every single transaction on the Internet for the world to see. There should be regular and routine visits by the Public Defender to the holding cells where they (often illegally) arrest and detain foreigners. Any and all deportations should be reviewed and approved by Minister Mulino - before they occur. That was the huge weapon used by María Cristina González - she would threaten to deport people which she could do on a whim - and if you refused to "cooperate" (pay hefty bribes) then they would put you on the next plane leaving the country, before you could put up a stink. Hopefully the next guy will be - well - less corrupt. This is a terribly important issue for every foreigner living in Panama.

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"The Transition in Immigration Begins Today" - Mulino

Immigration IssuesPublic Security Minister, Jose Raul Mulino, said the transition in the National Immigration Service begins today. As for who will replace the current director of Immigration, María Cristina González, the Minister said on channel 13 Telemetro Report that he did not want to divulge the name. However, Mulino said it would not be a politician because "the president, Ricardo Martinelli, was very clear in his intent. We are going to try to install a new staff with no political purpose, who will not try to benefit political allies," said Mulino. According to Mulino the changes in the National Immigration Service are coming as a result, among other things, of the scandals that have emerged in recent months within this entity. (Panama America)
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Former DIJ Director Javier Carrillo Will Be New Director of Immigration

Immigration IssuesThe president, Ricardo Martinelli, reported this morning he is thinking about installing Javier Carrillo as the new director of the National Immigration Service (SNM). Martinelli, speaking to local media, erred when saying Carrillo's name, instead saying Fernando. However, it is understood he was referring to Javier Carrillo, because he referred to him as the former Director of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) of the National Police. The President also said Carrillo is currently an officer of the National Police. Indeed, he is the Police Commissioner of the Canal Area. The President said Carrillo would come in with a work team with the intention of changing the image of the National Immigration Service. Also, according to Martinelli, he was thinking about putting one of his Vice Ministers in charge of Immigration, but in the end he decided to go with Carrillo. (La Prensa)
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Immigration Has Deported 166 Foreigners During 2011

Immigration IssuesPanamanian immigration authorities have deported 166 foreigners during the first five months of 2011, said the director of the National Immigration Service (SNM), María Cristina González. Among the grounds for deportation are entering into Panamanian territory without having sufficient funds, reentering with an existing impediment, and presentation of false documents. Gonzalez said operations to detect foreigners who violate immigration laws will be maintained and strengthened throughout the country. 'It is a commitment by the government and our administration', she said, referring to the enforcement policy of the entity that includes the strengthening of controls to prevent illegal entry. According to the SNM, from January to May this year, 48 Nicaraguans were deported, 46 Colombians, 21 Bangladeshis, seven Pakistanis, six Nepalese and the remaining 38 of other nationalities. (El Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Questions: How many people did Immigration detain (total) in the first five months of 2011? Who maintains those records? Were all of these detentions legal? Did Immigration detain any foreigner who was in the country legally? Were these people illegally held and detained for no apparent reason and then let go after a week to two weeks of illegal detention? Why were these people then released? Did Immigration officials extort bribes from these people, threatening to deport them if they did not pay a bribe? Does this happen regularly and routinely? Who (which Minister) in the government of Panama is responsible for the oversight of the National Immigration Service? Are the arrest and detention records in the National Immigration Service a matter of public record? Can I review those records? If not, why not? - Answer to all of the above questions: The people who were deported were the ones who either would not, or could not, pay bribes. Immigration uses this threat of deportation as a weapon against foreigners. While of course they do occasionally discover and apprehend illegal immigrants and justly deport them, for the most part they spend a great majority of their time extorting bribes from people who are in the country legally. This article is a "swish" piece - like see, we're doing our jobs. But they don't want you to ask too many questions about what really happens. I have literally dozens of sources, and they all tell me basically the same story with very little variation. And, they can't file a complaint for fear of being deported. It's time for the adults to take over Immigration and clean that mess up.

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