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The Solidario Celebratory Party That Went South

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Solidario birthday party draws criticism


Posted 25/03/2021

The celebration of the first year of the Solidario program - with live music, stage and dance - took place on the night of Wednesday, March 24, at o Atlapa convention center, where bags of food are assembled and then distributed to citizens affected by the health and economic crisis has been widely criticized.

It was attended by some political high rollers whose missteps have led to the squandering of millions of dollars.

President Cortizo visited Atlapa to personally congratulate the volunteers who have worked in the program. He expressed that, in the midst of the pandemic, Panama Solidario has complemented the subsidy program of the National Government, which exceeds the sum of $1.6 billion and that "has not stopped being paid."e0

"The beauty of this plan has been the more than 6,700 Panamanians, most of them volunteers who have been packing and distributing these bags of food throughout the country for a year," said the president

Until last March 21, the Panama Solidarity Plan has delivered 6,688,280 bags of food, and 2 944, 440 vouchers; and has accredited 8,249.68 digital vouchers, which have benefited 1,332,653 people, for an amount of  $830,140,640, according to the Government.

The criticism came when videos began to circulate on social networks about the celebration, in which the Vice President of the Republic and Minister of the Presidency, José Gabriel Carrizo, and the Minister of Housing and Land Management, Rogelio Paredes, among others, are appreciated. The artistic presentation was in charge of the Panamanian musician Osvaldo Ayala.

Minister Paredes assured that "it was not a party" that took place in Atlapa, although he admitted that at the end of the activity, he danced "for a few seconds." He questioned that in social networks it was implied that it was a party. "A party was not called, but rather an award ceremony," he said.

 Jean-Pierre Leignadier, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama, criticized what happened at the convention center. “We are living in an unprecedented socio-economic crisis. Thousands of lives lost, businesses closed, jobs, children without education. What are they celebrating? Here we all have to work and the public sector  has tomake real sacrifices. We reproach and refuse to act as authorities in Atlapa ”, he wrote on his Twitter account.



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Government heavy hitters flout pandemic rules


Posted 27/03/2021

The government is struggling to deal with the fallout from an event in Atlapa attended by the President and Vice President along with six ministers, which flouted rules established to stop large gatherings.  The event to celebrate the first year of the Panama Solidario program has generated criticism and outrage.

"It is human to get excited," said  Vice- President José Gabriel Carrizo on Twitter. The communication office of the Presidency says that what happened in Atlapa was not a party and that they have repeatedly brought live music to “entertain” the volunteers.

Videos  distributed  on social networks show that the "celebration" would have violated the Resolution of December 11, 2020, which prohibits any activity that involves crowds in public, commercial and any other places. The resolution adds that in cases of work meetings, only a maximum of 10 people with distancing will be allowed to participate.

One of the party's videos shows the reggaeton singer Anyuri dancing with Carrizo, to the rhythm of a live show by the typical music singer Osvaldo Ayala.

 The videos also show the ministers of Agricultural Development, Augusto Valderrama, and of Housing and Territorial Planning, Rogelio Paredes, and the governor of the province of Panama, Carla García, among other senior officials.

 In another, Cortizo himself appears walking around the room, while he was surrounded by officials. “It looked like a prickly pear. From time to time, his steps followed the rhythm of the music” reports La Prensa.

Solidarity bags 

According to the updated report from Panama Solidario, in the last year, nearly eight million bags of food were delivered and $259.4 million  allocated to making them.

Atlapa was established as the headquarters of Panama Solidario in March last year. Many of the volunteers who assemble the bags are officials who are not physically attending their offices. The country's public servants have been paid in full during the pandemic.

This, in contrast to the reductions in working hours, the suspension of contracts, and the layoffs experienced or experienced by private-sector workers. The economy is in a tailspin and, according to data from the Association of Restaurants, Bars and Clubs of Panama, more than 1,800 stores of this type have closed permanently.

At a  press conference last Tuesday, March 23, the Minister of Health, Luis Francisco Sucre, was blunt: "We remind you that parties, parking lots, and walks are prohibited." He asked to celebrate Holy Week "in an orderly manner" and called for "respecting the spaces and bubbles in the home."

Cortizo spoke along the same lines: "there is no way to play this virus alive." Regarding a possible rebound in cases, he said that "the best prognosis is for each of us to take care of ourselves because the Government cannot do it alone."

Eyra Ruiz, the advisor to the  Minister of Health, described what happened in Atlapa as "human overflow". She He assured that they will investigate.

The criticisms do not stop from different tribunes. The Deputy for Democratic Change, Génesis Arjona, stated in the plenary session of the Assembly that "the country and the Panamanians deserve respect and concrete solutions. "If the government wants Panamanians to be sane and in line, the rulers must lead by example," he added.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry condemned the event.

Gladys Bernett, a citizen who paid tribute to her father who died from Covid-19 during the special of TVN Héroes por Panamá special, expressed her dissatisfaction. "Zero respect for our families that we are celebrating anniversaries of our deceased relatives ...", she tweeted.

In one year, more than 6,000 people have died in the country from Covid-19 .



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OPINION – Elected Obtuse Executioners


Posted 27/03/2021

LAST WEDNESDAY, through videos on social networks, we were able to appreciate the celebration of the Government in Atlapa. They called it commemoration, although it is clearly seen that it was danced as it is done at a party. The spokesmen of this administration, including the star of the dance - the Minister of the Presidency and Vice President of the Republic - as well as ministers of State and other officials, justified the joyous shaking, because they are human beings. And while it is true that they are, it is no less true that humans are also endowed with a brain that allows us to discern and decide. 

Our authorities were elected, not because they are the same as all of us. It is supposed to be because they have - or should have - leadership characteristics and common sense. But it is proven that they lack both. And if they fail in things as simple as deciding whether or not to dance when the country mourns its 6,000 dead and despair invades tens of thousands of homes due to their economic situation, we cannot imagine the lightness with which they make complex and momentous decisions. That's how obtuse our rulers are. But there they are: executioners elected by their own victims.- LA PRENSA, Mar. 27



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