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PANAMA/AMERICAS-Panama Media 15 Aug 11

Released on 2012-10-10 17:00 GMT

Date2011-08-16 12:52:32

PANAMA/AMERICAS-Panama Media 15 Aug 11

Panama Media 15 Aug 11
For assistance with multimedia elements, contact OSC at 1-800-205-8615 or – Panama — OSC Summary Monday August 15, 2011 19:04:54 GMT Panama City El Siglo reports on an operation conducted by the National Police (PN), the Drug Prosecutor’s Office, and the Judicial Investigations Directorate (DIJ) in Colon Province in the early morning of Sunday 14 August. Authorities seized around 75 kg of cocaine found hidden inside the double bottom of a truck with license plate 684247. According to police sources, the drugs belonged to a Colombian national, but a gang of drug traffickers managed to steal them and hide them inside the truck. PN Deputy Commissioner Rene Moses explained that the police had arrested the truck driver but other three men who were driving a 4×4 vehicle managed to escape. (Panama Ci ty El in Spanish — Online version of daily tabloid owned by the Waked Group — URL: Drug Cartels Moving Processing Operations to Panama, Prosecutor Says —

Panama City Panama America reports on statements by First Drug Prosecutor Javier Caraballo, who referred to a recent operation in which authorities dismantled an illegal cocaine lab in Cocle Province. According to Caraballo, this is the first time in the last 20 years that authorities find a location showing evidence of cocaine manufacturing and packing. He said that this is a sign drug cartels have clear intentions of coming to Panama to finish the drug processing stage, which raises an alarm. In addition, he explained that the materials found in the El Trozado plantation, near the Santa Maria river, show that the traffickers had been in the area for at least a month. Authorities found conclusive evidence that the criminals were planning on processing coca base into powdered coca ine. Preliminary reports reveal that the plates used to make up the cocaine bricks had the “Audi” automobile trademark stamped on them. The lab’s location is strategic due to it being remote and near a river with access to the sea, which allows for transporting the drugs very quickly.
The Drug Prosecutor’s Office for the provinces of Cocle and Herrera has filed charges against five Colombians for this case and is also investigating who owns the plantation where the lab was found. (Panama City Panama America Online in Spanish — Online version of right-of-center, business-oriented daily owned by the El Panama America Publishing House; URL Political News Panama, El Salvador Conclude First Binational Meeting —

Panama City Ministry of Foreign Relations reports on the first meeting of the Panama-El  Salvador Binational Commission held on 11-12 August. Vice President and Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela and Salvadoran Foreign Minis ter Hugo Roger Martinez both expressed their satisfaction for the results of the meeting, which focused on political and economic issues, as
well as on bilateral and regional cooperation matters. They discussed the importance of reactivating the various treaties related to touristic and technical-scientific cooperation, and to work on finding solutions to shared security problems such as drug trafficking, organized crime, and human trafficking. Varela spoke of the preparations for the upcoming fifth meeting of the Forum of Vice Presidents of Central America and the Dominican Republic to be held in Panama in September, with the purpose of implementing the Central American Security Strategy. He also explained that Panama is working on establishing a regional logistics center for humanitarian assistance as well as a regional UN center for Latin America and the Caribbean. Moreover, Varela extended an invitation from President Ricardo Martinelli for Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes to make an official visit in November. (Panama City Ministry of Foreign Relations Online in Spanish — Official website of the Panamanian Foreign Relations Ministry; URL: CD Attempting to Undermine Varela’s Popularity, Analyst Says —

Panama City La Prensa reports on an analysis by Jose Isabel Blandon referring to the communique issued by the ruling Democratic Change (CD) party after its ally the Panamenista Party (PP) refused to vote for the second electoral round proposal. According to Blandon, the CD took advantage of the PP’s decision in order to strike directly against Varela, as a way to hurt his rising popularity in the polls. Blandon added that while the CD is planning on going against the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in the 2014 elections, the internal struggle
within the ruling coalition between the CD and the PP has resulted in the latter gaining strength. PRD presidential hopeful Alfredo Oranges agreed with Blandon in his analysis that the PP has the advantage. Oranges did not dismiss the possibility that the PRD could negotiate an agreement with the PP. On his part, Olimpo Saez, of the Molirena (Nationalist Liberal Republican Movement), said that the CD’s ambition and growing membership has led the party to propose the second round option, forgetting that the CD did not obtain victory this way but rather through an alliance. Meanwhile, Jorge Arrocha, representing the PP at the National Dialogue Council For Development — currently discussing the constitutional reforms — expressed disagreement with the CD’s accusations that the PP had broken its promise of supporting the second round proposal. Arrocha explained that the party had abstained from voting because the commission members agreed to wait until Labor Minister Alma Cortes had substantiated the proposal. Conversely, CD Deputy Fernando Carrillo denied that his party was attempting to undermine Varela’s political aspirati ons. According to Carrillo, the second round issue is not to be seen as a “farfetched” idea proposed by the CD, since the initiative was discussed at a previous forum in which participants from various sectors, including the civil society, agreed to study the matter. (Panama City in Spanish — Website of most widely circulated daily, pro-business; URL: ) Spadafora Family To File Lawsuit Against Noriega —

Panama City La Estrella reports that the family of Hugo Spadafora is planning on filing a lawsuit in Italy against former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega for homicide. According to attorney Alexandro Tirelli, who represents the family, Noriega could face a 26-year prison sentence if
convicted of homicide. However, since the crime was “premeditated,” he could be imprisoned for life. The Spadafora family have expressed their dissatisfaction with the impending arrival of Noriega. Panamanian authorities have announced that Noriega could arrive next October, when he will be transferred from a jail in France to the El Renacer prison. (Panama City La Estrella Online in Spanish — Privately owned independent-centrist daily; URL: ACP Administrator Opposed to Bylaw Amendment —

Panama City Panama America reports on statements by Alberto Aleman Zubieta, administrator of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), on the possibility of amending the institution’s bylaws so that he can remain in his post after his term ends in 2012 (he was re-elected in 2005).
According to Aleman, “the law is clear” and should not be amended. He said that the regulations as they stand guarantee the institutional nature of the Canal, and as such its administrator can only serve for up to two seven-year periods and no more than that. President Martinelli recently spoke of a potential reform to the ACP’s bylaws in order to allow Aleman to remain as administrator until 2014, when t he expansion project has concluded. Deputies from both the ruling and the opposition legislative blocs expressed support for this proposal, saying that Aleman has done a good job. Nonetheless, Aleman has announced his intentions of going back to the private sector after his term ends. He said that it has always been policy to keep party politics and the Canal’s administration separate, adding that he has never been pressured by any president during his term as ACP administrator. He explained that the purpose behind the method used to elect the ACP’s board of directors and the administrator every seven years so as not to coincide with electoral periods is precisely to keep politics away. Finally, referring to concerns over the current global economic crisis, Aleman said that the Canal is an enterprise with long-term projects equipped to withstand crises. Economic News Banking Deposits Grew $25.71 Billion in Five Years —

Panama City La Prensa reports that according to statistics from the Banking Superintendency, total deposits grew from $28.82 billion to $54.44 billion — almost double or $25.71 billion more — in five years. Private deposits also doubled in the same period, going from $12.68 billion to $25.28 billion. Of these deposits, 85% are in general license banks and 15% in international license banks. Deposits in the national banking system (general license banks) amount to $46.42 billion. Of this, 77% ($35.51 billion) is made up of private savings, of which 44% ($20.2 billion) are fixed-term deposits, 18% ($8.4 billion) are in savings accounts, and 15% ($6.89 billion) are demand deposits. For the Panamanian Banking Association (ABP), it is interesting to note that in both local and foreign deposits the higher amount corresponds to private deposits. ABP Vice President Mario De Diego explained that the behavior of the banking sector is in line with the economic growth, which allows for a greater savings capacity and a greater credi t demand. The ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) has projected an 8.5% GDP growth for Panama this year, compared to the 7.5% registered last year, while Indesa projects a 9% growth. Panama Canal’s Profits Expected To Treble in 2014 —

Panama City Panama America reports that the Panama Canal today marks 97 years of  continuous operation, amidst an expansion project — valued at $5.25 billion — that shows a 28% progress. According to ACP Deputy Administrator Jose Barrios Ng, when the project concludes in 2014 the Canal’s net profits — currently around $1 billion — will increase threefold. He explained that the expansion project has helped ensure jobs for workers in the construction sector, adding that at least 13,000 people have been employed. Referring to the surplus income generated by the Canal, Barrios said that it is currently estimated at over $2 billion, and it is expected to grow almost 70% and eventually triple by the year 2025. The Canal has been averaging $825 million in contributions, and there are signs that by the end of the year this figure will surpass $1 billion, he added. Since the Canal reverted to Panama in 1999 it has contributed with at least $6.4 billion, which has been invested in social interest projects. Panamanian Issuances Attractive in Face of US Market Crisis, Analysts Say —

Panama City Panama America reports on the opinion of several analysts over the current US financial crisis and its impact on the Panamanian market. According to analysts, this situation is an opportunity for Panamanian debt issuances to become more attractive. This is especially true since various risk rating agencies recently raised Panama’s country risk rating from stable to positive, with an investment grade of BBB, while at the same time downgrading the US rating. For analyst Felipe Chapman, instead of keeping away from markets in trouble Panama should maintain its presence in the markets, as &quo t;regardless of what is happening in the United States and Europe, Panama is a good credit risk.” “We are going to receive more offers than we should accept, and thus we should remain cautious,” he added. Regarding Panama’s offer to the international market, Carlos Alberto Valdes, president of the Panamanian Securities Market Board (Capamec), estimated that the state has at least $1 billion available in short-term issuances. Valdes expressed his opinion that the crisis in Wall Street could benefit Panama, as “with all the panic in the markets, investors are going to look to Latin American economies, where Panama is well positioned.” On his part, Deputy Economy Minister Frank De Lima said that there is a large demand for Panamanian securities. He announced that the government will maintain its strategy of issuing in Panama’s domestic market.

The following media were scanned and no file-worthy items were noted:

Panama City Presidency of t he Republic of Panama Online in Spanish, Panama City Ministry of Foreign Relations Online in Spanish, Panama City Martes Financiero Online in Spanish, Panama City in Spanish

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