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On the Possibility of a New Constitution for Panama, and Related Protests


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Referring to foreigners here in Panama.  Just remembering when I noticed natives  gathering in a park, I quickly gave away all my belongings & got a flight out of  Africa just before the riots in Kenya. (Other individuals didn’t make it).  Meaning nothing except hoping folks are paying attention to what is occurring around them.

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Thousands gather across country to protest electoral reforms

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Posted 14/09/2021

Thousands of members of multiple civil society organizations marched to the National Assembly on Tuesday, September 14 to express their rejection of the changes made to the electoral reforms by a group of deputies.

Promoted as “Civic Day” the event was replicated simultaneously in eight different parts of the country.

Many were dressed in white, others with the Panamanian flag in hand or other banners joined the concentration to chant slogans and bang pots in rejection of corruption and the way in which two blocks of the electoral reforms were approved in the Government Commission of the Assembly.

Police were deployed in the grounds of the legislature and metal fences were placed that prevented access to the street that connects the Plaza 5 de Mayo with the Assembly.

Jose Ramón Icaza, president of the Chamber of Commerce, participated in the mobilization and stressed that as a union what is sought is the continuous improvement of the electoral process as part of the strengthening of democracy.

"Justice,” … “enough is enough,” …  “down with the Assembly,“  … “do not play with the patience of the citizens “ and … “ out with corruption," were chanted at the demonstration.

In addition to the protest at the Assembly, in Panama City, the voices were also heard in Cervantes Park, David, Chiriquí; Government of Veraguas in Santiago, Veraguas; Libertador Park in La Chorrera (West Panama); Porras Park in Las Tablas, Los Santos; Via Interamericana, in Penonomé; Changuinola, Bocas del Toro; and Unión Park, in Chitré, Herrera.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/thousands-gather-across-country-to-protest-electoral-reforms

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Provinces join national outcry

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Posted 14/09/2021

With flags, pails, and banners, the Coclesanos joined the national demonstration that took place on the on Tuesday,, to demand an end to corruption and greater transparency in the discussion of electoral reforms.

Jeremías Guillén, a young Coclesian, said that what is wanted is a transparent process where everyone has equal opportunities, because "young people want to participate but with justice and respect, which is how the country can move forward."

Aristides Hazan said that Panama “does not deserve the treatment that politicians give us and that is why it is necessary to demonstrate and denounce corruption and that there are conditions of social, political and economic equality, that is why it is time to go out and fight for the democracy".

Flying the Panamanian flag, members of the civil society of the Herrera province also peacefully protested in the Parque La Bandera de Chitré to reject, among other things, the changes made by the deputies to the electoral reform project.

“A united people will never be defeated! Benicio, corrupt, this country is not yours; Crispiano, residue, you are a bandit! What are you looking at? They are also robbing you, ”the protesters chanted.

Beating pots and carrying banners, the complainants received the support of the drivers who passed through the area.

Eulalia Villalaz Cedeño said that the peaceful protest sought to show the government that "it has to completely and radically stop because they are leading the country to collapse."

Villalaz questioned the actions of the National Assembly in the discussion of the Electoral Code.

"This is a disaster. Imagine that prison inmates are allowed to contribute to politics. If this is the case, we would be handing the country over to drug traffickers, ”he said.

Chitrean businessman Roberto Alfedro Solis said that the Panamanian people have to react because the "country is close to falling into the abyss in health, education and other sectors of the economy."

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/provinces-join-national-outcry

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Twisting the law for political survival

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Posted 20/09/2021

Even though the elections are more than two and a half years away, there is already an electoral movement, while political forces secure money from the national coffers for their personal and electoral gain. That is precisely why it is necessary to outlaw reelection in the Electoral Code Although it is a fight lost beforehand, since these deputies will not pay attention to the popular will and are willing to lead the country into chaos, because what they have - including what they get under the table - is not enough. Knowing that, they buy the vote of the voters, who, unable to see the scam - a vote for a ham - mortgage their future and that of their descendants, condemning themselves to be dependent on crumbs, when their vote is the key that liberates them from their political masters. We suffer - it must be said clearly - a parliamentary regime in which a couple of scoundrels are in charge of the country, twisting laws in order to survive their own disaster, and for this they need to buy consciences that, unfortunately, are cheap.  LA PRENSA, Sep. 20.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/twisting-the-law-for-political-survival

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Protestors return to the streets

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Posted 24/09/2021

Despite the rain, hundreds of protestors returned to the streets on Thursday to protest changes made to bill 544 on electoral reforms, the actions of deputies of the National Assembly, and corruption in the three branches of the State.

They were mostly dressed in white following the path of the civilistas during the Noriega dictatorship “No to narco politics”, “not everything legal is moral; no to the double application ”,“ we do not lack resources; we have plenty of thieves ”, read some of the banners carried by the protesters stationed in front of the National Assembly.

For the most part, the crowd was dressed in white and waving Panamanian flags. Songs like Patria, by Rubén Blades, and Speak, people, speak, sounded from some speakers, an anthem that identified the civilistas who fought against the military dictatorship.

It was the second "citizen watch" convened so far in September

Among the slogans, complaints about the opacity in the handling of the legislative lists, the inflated budget, and the possible political proselytism with public funds also came to light.

One of the protesters was retired General Rubén Darío Paredes, who said that the situation in the country worries him. "I consider that the country is kidnapped by the political class ... a group of 500 people have kidnapped us," he said.

In his opinion, President Laurentino Cortizo "is aware of what is happening and is part of the national imbalance." He hopes that the president will "react" and that the majority of the people will take to the streets to demand their rights. He described the current administration as "very poor" and added that the modifications to the electoral reforms show that the political class seeks to "perpetuate itself or remain in power."

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/protestors-return-to-the-streets

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Protestors against electoral reform bill plan human chain

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Posted 04/10/2021

Protests will continue against electoral reforms contained in Bill 544 currently being debated in the National Assembly with a call for the creation of a human chain on Wednesday, October 6.     

Protestors will gather on Calle 50, corner of Novey, -old Danté, ar 4 pm in civic protest to how the deputies carry out the debate on electoral reforms. to stop what they have called an "electoral trap."

Aurelio Barría, ex-civilista, tweeted that he will participate in the protest "against the corrupt and deceptive parliamentary dictatorship that squanders public funds for its own benefit, intends to continue without approving electoral reforms / Residue, Penal Jurisdiction, Parity, and Electoral Subsidy."

The changes to project 544, which destroy the one-year work of the Electoral Reform Commission –which brings together all sectors–, have provoked protests from citizens, who demand transparency and equality for a fair contest.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/protestors-against-electoral-reform-bill-plan-human-chain

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Human chain protests  Assembly ’dictatorship’

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Posted 06/10/2021

Protests against lawmakers’ handling of the National Assembly debate on electoral reforms continue  with hundreds of people arriving on Wednesday, October  6 at the corner of Novey, old Danté on Calle 50 to form a human chain.  They attended with flags and  banners  carrying messages like: "Electoral fraud" and "Nito, I was wrong about you’"

Aurelio Barría, an ex-civilista, said that this movement seeks to “stop” what the “parliamentary dictatorship” approved in the Assembly. He argued that the deputies do not want to endorse some proposals presented, among them, that there is no criminal jurisdiction, that there is a more equitable electoral subsidy in favor of independent candidates and gender parity.

The changes to project 544, which destroy the one-year work of the Electoral Reform Commission –which brings together all sectors–, have provoked protests from citizens, who demand transparency and equality for a fair contest.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/human-chain-protests-assembly-dictatorship

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Electoral reforms can’t be a tailored suit – business execs

Posted 11/10/2021

The Panamanian Association of Business Executives (Apede), reacted on Monday, October 11, to the first debate  of the electoral reform package and the modifications made by deputies of the Democratic Revolutionary Party and Democratic Change in the Government Commission of the Assembly General.

Apede president Elisa Suárez,  accompanied by the members of the board of directors, said that the association requires, as a minimum, that the principles of equity, transparency, and accountability be respected when making any modification.

The Apede understands the power of the legislature to make changes to the proposals, while warning that, " modifications cannot be a tailored suit that  favors any of the participants in a fair electoral contest."

In addition, the Apede has requested that the strongly expressed citizen clamor about safeguarding democratic principles, be heeded and those they elected really represent them.

They ask that "democratic principles be safeguarded and preserved, observing with concern the sister countries that are struggling in instability and chaos by choosing stone idols that only involve scenarios which we never want to see in our country."

"As a defender and guarantor, since its foundation, of the rule of law, freedom, and democracy, Apede has participated for several electoral exercises, as a representative of the employer sector, together with other organizations of civil society, in the National Commission of Electoral Reforms. That is why we have the power to demand that the proposals be reviewed with the respect that our Electoral Code deserves and, we deplore any action that does not lead to the purpose that the voters feel confident that their vote will be respected with absolute transparency and clarity … We are concerned that democracy will continue to be trivialized in the midst of populism, prebendary politics, and insider networks. Therefore, we strongly deplore any modification to the Electoral Code that does not comply with the principles that we have indicated.

The Apede requires both the Electoral Tribunal and the National Assembly to “fulfill their role of defending democracy."
 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/electoral-reforms-cant-be-a-tailored-suit-business-execs

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Electoral reform - pants made to measure

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Posted 11/10/2021

There is no doubt that being a deputy in Panama is reaching something like Olympus. It is equivalent to filling yourself with privileges to see yourself above the common citizen.

 The deputies are never happy with what they have and now, in the discussion of the reforms to the Electoral Code, have decided to maintain the electoral criminal jurisdiction, a figure whose proposal was to be eliminated. However, the "stars" of our democracy have decided that such a shield of impunity must continue, so that candidates and directors of political parties will once again be untouchable by law throughout the electoral campaign. Why resort to that figure if there is nothing to fear? It is that, as we all know, many of our politicians are criminals who find refuge in these figures to evade justice. And what better way than to legalize a flight in fact, allowing undesirable subjects to be part of the government gear. His reforms only seek to take care of their backs, legalizing impunity. His criminal attitude harms democracy and, consequently, the entire country. Thus, these - his reforms - lack legitimacy, as they are nothing more than a pair of pants made to measure. How long are we going to hold on? –
 
 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/electoral-reform-pants-made-to-measure

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Citizen table calls for protest march on Wednesday

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Posted 18/10/2021

The “Mesa Ciudadana”, a citizen group in defense of democracy, called on the general public to support the call for a march that will begin at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, October 20, from Parque  Porras towards the Cathedral.

The call for union groups also includes causes such as the defense of the Social Security Fund and a halt to corruption in all spheres, issues that should unite all sectors, said the "Citizen Table" in a statement.

The group indicated that those who cannot participate in the  march should assemble in Plaza Catedral (near the Presidency), from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

The Citizen Board asked business owners to allow their employees to leave one hour earlier on October 20 so that they can participate in this activity. They also called for a "flexibilization" in the schedules of government entities, so that public servants can participate in this call, without facing labor repercussions.

Simultaneous activities have been scheduled for that day in Chiriquí, Veraguas, Los Santos, Herrera, Coclé, and Panama Oeste.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/citizen-table-calls-for-protest-march-on-wednesday

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As protesters plan march on Assembly Cortizo partially vetoes electoral bill

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Posted 20/10/2021

Faced with yet another protest march on the National Assembly over electoral reforms perpetuating impunity and privileges for lawmakers, President Laurentino Cortizo,  bit the bullet and announced that he will partially veto bill 544, which reforms the Electoral Code.

A tweet published on the account of the Presidency, says that "after the corresponding evaluations" the document will be returned to the AN.

It has not been specified which articles will be banned. The Electoral Tribunal had already communicated the rejection of at least four articles of the project.

Only six deputies voted against the electoral reforms endorsed on Friday, October 15, while public rejection intensified.

According to the website of that state body, 52 deputies voted in favor of the project, six voted against, and 13 deputies were absent when voting took place.

Of the 52 votes in favor, 28 were from deputies of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). The remaining 24 are from Cambio Democrático, the Liberal Republican Nationalist Movement, and the Panameñista Party. In the group of 13 who were absent, there are deputies from all the benches.

Meanwhile, civil society, including trade unions, workers' groups, and women’s organizations, and others, were preparing for the October 20, march to the Legislature.

 One of them is the “Mesa Ciudadana”, a movement in defense of democracy created in the context of the debate on electoral reforms, which called on citizens to join the march. Meanwhile, the National Forum of Women of Political Parties issued a statement in which they detailed their rejection of the project, particularly for the articles that contemplate parity.

The Electoral Tribunal, for its part, announced that it will request President Laurentino Cortizo to veto the project. In addition, they said that they will demand some articles before the Supreme Court.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/as-protesters-plan-march-on-assembly-cortizo-partially-vetoes-electoral-bill

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