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Jobs on the Line at Panama’s Oldest Newspaper

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Not sure that I understand all of the issues here. My gut tells me that there is more to this story than what appears below. Maybe there is nothing more to it, but inquiring minds want to know. If any of you can elaborate, please do so.



Jobs on the line at Panama’s oldest newspaper

Posted on December 5, 2016 in Panama

Post Views: 157

THE JOBS of 250 workers of the Editorial Group El Siglo and La Estrella (Gese)  are on the line and the company has asked the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury for an extension of the license allowing  them access to the US financial system.

Eduardo Quirós, president of Gese, said  that since the inclusion of Abdul Waked, the main shareholder of the editorial group, on an OFAC sanctions list, Panama’s oldest  newspaper (La Estrella) has had to cut 30 percent of its staff.

He warned that the employment of the remaining 250 workers is currently at stake.

On May 5, Abdul Waked was identified by the United States as the ringleader ­ along with his nephew Nidal Waked ­ of a criminal organization aimed at money laundering.

On that day, the Wakeds and 68 corporations, including Gese, were included on the list, also known as the Clinton List.

The United States prohibits its companies and citizens from maintaining commercial or financial relationships with anyone on the list.

Since then, the Treasury Department has licensed both newspapers to allow them to access to markets.

The latest license expires at midnight on Jan. 5. US Ambassador to Panama John Feeley has said that his country will not adopt measures that affect the operation of the newspapers and that its government is willing to renew the licenses.

“We do this out of respect for their journalistic integrity and for our commitment to protecting press freedom,” he said in a statement issued May 13.

Quirós said Monday, Dec 5  that they have maintained contact with officials of the government to express their concerns.

“The next 30 days become a defining stage for a newspaper (El Siglo) with more than 30 years of being ‘the newspaper of the people’ and for the oldest newspaper in Panama and the third­ oldest on the entire west coast of the American continent,” said Quiros.


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Part of my "interest" in the background behind this news article is the reference to the "Clinton List". That is a tool that was created by the US government under Bill Clinton's administration to target money laundering, and other illegal and hidden activities.

To repeat, inquiring minds want to know (the whole story)....

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Business guild demands action to save media group

Posted on December 10, 2016 in Panama

Post Views: 83

WITH LESS than a month to go before the temporary operating license of Panama’s oldest newspaper expires, the Chamber of Commerce is urging  its owner to act.

The  majority owner of Grupo Editorial El Siglo y La Estrella (GESE),  is Abdul Waked, whose family conglomerate of 68 businesses is accused of money laundering and links to narco-trafficking and has been placed  on the Clinton list.

In a Saturday December 6 statement  the Chamber asked Wacked to execute “the necessary mechanisms for the company to be removed from the Clinton list.”

The Chamber also announced its support for the government’s proposal to make a formal request to the Office of Control of Assets Abroad of the US Treasury Department  (OFAC), to extend the operating license of  the publisher.

According to the business body , this safe-conduct would be until there is  “a permanent solution” to the situation

The Chamber’s call comes with the aim of “protecting freedom of the press, safeguarding the jobs of 250 employees  and preventing the repetition of what happened with the newspaper Tiempo, in Honduras  that in October of 2015 had to say ‘Hasta pronto, Honduras’,”

The Chamber of Commerce also invited the business sector to maintain its commitment to the newspapers, as advertisers for “what they represent for Panama.  LaEstrella has been publishing for more than 150 years and its survival “should be a concern of all.”

Its operating license extended by OFAC, expires Jan. 5.


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Panama media group fights for survival

Posted on December 13, 2016 in Panama

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EDUARDO QUIRÓS President of Grupo Editorial El Siglo y La Estrella (GESE), with barely three weeks left in the media group’s temporary operating license  is making a last gasp attempt to save Panama’s oldest newspaper and the jobs of the remaining 250 staff.

Quiros announced on Tuesday December 13 that he has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to ask that the newspapers receive a license to engage in transactions with U.S. entities.

The temporary license granted to the group expires Jan. 5.

The group was placed on a sanctions list in May due to the alleged connections between its owner, Abdul Waked, and money laundering.

The action was taken by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

In a press conference, Quirós read the letter he sent to Kerry, in which he advocates a “definitive” solution to the situation.

He said granting another temporary license would not be the right move, as it would only “delay the execution and not reverse the sentence.”

The director recalled that Kerry, on different occasions, has recognized the importance of a free and active press.

“We at La Estrella and El Siglo are as curious as any other journalist, but that curiosity is about to be turned off and unfortunately the U.S. government will be responsible for that result,” the letter said.

Quirós added that GESE has sought financial resources to continue normal operations, but said that remaining on the sanctions list would make it  impossible to continue.

“Secretary Kerry, close ranks with us, and let us continue our vocation,” the letter concluded.

Quirós added that he has met with Minister of Economy and Finance Dulcidio De la Guardia to find a definitive solution, but no concrete measures have been reached.


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U.S. asked to extend licenses of Waked owned newspapers

Posted on December 15, 2016 in Panama

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PANAMA’S Minister of Economy and Finance Dulcidio De La Guardia  has sent a note to the United States Department of the Treasury requesting  a one­ year license to allow Grupo Editorial La Estrella and El Siglo (Gese) to have access To U.S. commercial and financial services.

Gese’s operations have been negatively affected since its main shareholder, Abdul Waked, was included on a blacklist in May for alleged ties to money laundering and drug trafficking.

The United States prohibits its companies, institutions  and citizens from maintaining commercial or financial relationships with entities on the list.

“Forcing these newspapers to close their operations as a result of sanctions would have a significant impact on press freedom in Panama given that El Siglo is currently one of the two most popular newspapers in the country and La Estrella is not only the oldest newspaper in Panama, but it is also part of our national identity and a source of great pride for all Panamanians,” De La Guardia said.

Gese currently has an operating license, which expires on Jan. 5.

De La Guardia said in his note that the extension request is not only based on a respect for freedom of the press, but also to save the jobs of about 250 people working for the two publications.


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Threatened newspaper staff march on presidency

Posted on December 21, 2016 in Panama

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WITH ONLY two weeks to go before the expiration of the temporary operating license of the newspapers El Siglo and La Estrella, the combined staffs   marched to the Office of the Presidency on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Editors, journalists, correctors and photographers, gathered in Porras Park, Calidonia,  for the march

To ask that the editorial group GESE, which owns the papers, be excluded from the Clinton List, which prohibits it from engaging in transactions with US entities.

GESE was placed on the list May 5 due to the fact that its majority shareholder is Abdul Waked.

He is accused of money laundering, and links to drug trafficking and 68 of his companies were placed on the list.

“The more than 250 GESE workers express our deep concern about the effects of the Clinton List on the fate of our employer, which have a multiplier effect on the families who depend on their livelihoods,” said a spokesperson


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Time running out for two Panama papers

Posted on January 2, 2017 in Panama

US Ambassador John Feeley
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WITH THE POTENIAL closing of La Estrella, Panama’s oldest newspaper and El Siglo its tabloid stablemate, only three days away, the United States Ambassador to Panama held out little hope for their survival on Monday January 2.

 “If the captain does not give way, I have nothing more to say. ” said Ambassador John Feeley referring to Abdul Waked the owner of  Grupo Editorial El Siglo and La Estrella (Gese), whose operations have been affected since May 5, when The US  Treasury Department included Waked,  principal shareholder of the company, in the Clinton List for activities linked to money laundering and drug trafficking.

“When a boat is on the high seas and the conditions are rough, the boat is between sea and wind … and the captain is, by other considerations, unable to continue handling that ship, there is the option to yield the helm to others  to  guide that ship to a safe harbor and rescue’’ said

In this case, there is a 250 crew … If the captain does not give up the helm, then I have nothing more to say.”

Eduardo Quirós, President of Gese said he would not make any statements.

The United States prohibits its citizens and entities from maintaining commercial and financial relations

With listed entities, but the Treasury Department through the Office of Asset Control Abroad (OFAC) made an exception and granted a license in favor of

Gese, until January 5. The Panamanian government requested an extension, without obtaining a response so far.

At the reopening of the National Assembly on Monday, the Assembly’s president, Ruben de Leon, made a plea for the papers, saying that their deaths would reduce essential press involvement in the country.


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Panama’s oldest newspaper again facing closure


LA ESTRELLA de Panama, born in 1849, has received a possible death sentence from the country whose citizens founded the paper as The Panama Star during the Californian gold rush.

The  United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) formally advised lawyers in Washington, DC, that it will not renew the operating  license for La Estrella and El Siglo so that US citizens will not be able to do business with the company


Staff  get the  news

In a statement published on Tuesday evening, July  11, the company said it would continue to operate as long as possible.

“We know of the great support of the Panamanian people, our advertisers and society in general, for that reason our commitment and firm readiness to continue,” said Eduardo Quirós, president of the editorial group.

“Extending the general license would be inconsistent with the current policies of the United States government,” notes the letter denying the extension of the license.

The papers reached the edge of extinction once before and produced “final editions” before receiving an eleventh-hour reprieve.

They are owned by the Abdul Waked family conglomerate which is on the Clinton List accused of money laundering and drug smuggling. The group has already been forced to sell Soho Mall, The Felix  Maduro retail chain and Balboa Bank, but Waked remains committed to the newspapers.



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The temporary permission to operate issued by the U.S. government to the GESE media group has expired. It had exempted Panama's oldest newspaper, La Estrella, from Clinton List punishment.

At this time, owner Abdul Waked has made a proposal to the U.S. which would allow the entity to continue in operation. The Government of Panama is also appealing to the U.S. through diplomatic channels.

There are a lot of jobs at stake and many Panamanians see this action as a sovereignty issue and/or a blow to freedom of the press.


Edited by Keith Woolford
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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Jobs on the Line at Panama’s Oldest Newspaper

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