End to “tip included” restaurant bills

August 4th , 2016, (Newsroom Panama)

INCLUDING TIPS  on restaurant and hotel bills  became illegal in Panama on Wednesday, July 3 , when President Juan Carlos Varela signed off on a consumers’rights bill..

“The new rule states that the tip or gratuity for the service is voluntary, so it will not be included as an additional charge to the price agreed or announced, except in the case of services pre-contracted  in which the gratuity charge is determined ” says  a statement of the Ministry of Communication
It adds that , the tip may be suggested, provided that the total is specified in the bill to pay, including taxes or fees and also display a clearly differentiated total to pay, including taxes, fees and suggested tip.

The bill also  provides obligations of the supplier accept  coins or notes of any denomination without submitting personal identification.

The legislation specifies that in the case of parking  services a sign must be displayed saying: “This place does not offer free parking to customers.”  It must also announce the rates and conditions of service “.

The law, take effect from its promulgation, also provides that the supplier must accept coins or notes of any denomination duty without  personally identifiction, provided they are legal tender in the Republic of Panama as well as deliver the exact change..

Any establishment selling goods must display the price  accurately and  clearly visible to the public
“Provider adoption of any practice that misleads the consumer to confusion or misleading about the price of goods and services is prohibited,” said the statesman.


30% of Panama’s garbage dumped in ocean!

August 4th , 2016, (Newsroom Panama)

THIRTY PERCENT   of the garbage  produced each day   in Panama City, ends up being dumped in the ocean. , according to the United Nations Program for the Environment (UNEP) and the Ministry of the Environment.

That amounts to 700 tons, the  majority of which   is plastic, an element that  moves back into the food chain and takes 400 years to decompose .

Experts in marine biology and oceanography argue that thewaste poses a threat to fish and crustaceans.

In response to the major environmental problem, the Water Resources Authority has created a marine research center to study the effects of plastic and other substances, such as pesticides, on marine species.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Environment is working on legislation to confront the daily dumping of  garbage into  the sea.

According to UNEP data, each year about 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean

This poses a risk to humans because the contaminants can end up in fish eaten by people.

A recent study of shorebirds found that 90 percent of those found dead had plastic in their stomachs. A similar study of sea turtles found the same result.

“The problem of plastic is very serious, as when it degrades it begins producing biphenyl, a chemical that poses a danger to humans  said scientist Edison Barbieri.

“We are part of the ecosystem, and if it is not directly affecting us, it certainly is indirectly,” said the oceanographer.

He said that increasing recycling would be the quickest way to address the problem.


Zika in Panama -- What is the current situation?

…are we sure all cases are being detected reported? 

August 4th , 2016, (Agencia EFE)

Local mosquito transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika) has been reported in Panama. Local mosquito transmission means that mosquitoes in the area are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people.
Because Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, CDC recommends that travelers to Panama protect themselves from mosquito bites. The mosquitoes that spread Zika usually do not live at elevations above 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) because of environmental conditions. Travelers whose itineraries are limited to areas above this elevation are at minimal risk of getting Zika from a mosquito. The following map shows areas of Panama above and below 6,500 feet.* For more information, see Questions and Answers: Zika risk at high elevations.

Click to enlarge map
*The categories shown on this map are intended as a general guideline and should not be considered to indicate absolute risk. Elevation may vary within an area to a larger extent than this map can depict. The presence of mosquitoes may change seasonally, with increasing temperatures or rainfall, and may change over time. Travelers to destinations that cross or are near an elevation border may wish to consider the destination as an area of lower elevation. Travelers to high elevations are still at risk of getting Zika from sex.

Zika Virus in Pregnancy

A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:

  • Women who are pregnant:
    • Should not travel to any area of Panama below 6,500 feet (see map).
    • If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip. If your itinerary is limited entirely to areas above 6,500 feet, there is minimal risk of getting Zika from a mosquito.
    • If you have a partner who lives in or has traveled to Panama, either use condoms or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during your pregnancy.
  • Women who are trying to become pregnant:
    • Before you or your partner travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
    • See CDC guidance for how long you should wait to get pregnant after travel to Panama.
    • You and your partner should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
  • People who have traveled to Panama and have a pregnant partner should use condoms or not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during the pregnancy.

Sexual transmission of Zika virus is also possible, so travelers are encouraged to use condoms or not have sex.
Many people infected with Zika virus do not get sick. Among those who do develop symptoms, sickness is usually mild, with symptoms that last for several days to a week. Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis for a few weeks to several months, is very likely triggered by Zika in a small proportion of infections, much as it is after a variety of other infections. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent damage.
As more information becomes available, this travel notice will be updated. Please check back frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.
What can travelers do to prevent Zika?
There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE, also called para-menthane-diol [PMD]), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use all EPA-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label.
    • Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children older than 2 months. (OLE should not be used on children younger than 3 years.)
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
  • Mosquito netting can be used to cover babies younger than 2 months old in carriers, strollers, or cribs to protect them from mosquito bites.

Because Zika can be sexually transmitted, if you have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) while traveling, you should use condoms.
After travel:
Many people infected with Zika virus do not feel sick. If a mosquito bites an infected person while the virus is still in that person’s blood, it can spread the virus by biting another person. Even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning to the United States from Panama should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so that they do not spread Zika to uninfected mosquitoes.
Travelers returning from Panama who have a pregnant partner should either use condoms or not have sex for the rest of the pregnancy.
People who have traveled to Panama but don’t have symptoms should use condoms for at least 8 weeks after travel to protect their sex partners. Men who have Zika symptoms or are diagnosed with Zika should use condoms for at least 6 months after symptoms start; women with symptoms should use condoms for at least 8 weeks after symptoms start.

Travelers who are thinking about pregnancy should talk with their health care provider. Men who have traveled to Panama should wait at least 8 weeks after travel before trying to get pregnant or at least 6 months after symptoms start if they develop symptoms of Zika. Women who have traveled to Panama should wait at least 8 weeks after travel before trying to get pregnant, or at least 8 weeks after symptoms start if they develop symptoms.


Panama promulgates cooperation agreement signed with Taiwan

August 4th , 2016, (Agencia EFE)

PANAMA CITY –  Panama City, Aug 3 (efe_epa).- Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela today sanctioned and promulgated State Law 25 which approves the Technical Cooperation Agreement between Panama and Taiwan, and was signed in Panama City on Mar. 9, 2016, an official source said.

The Act details that the objective of the agreement is to boost the technical cooperation between the two nations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama said in a statement.
The joint collaboration will include shipping and the exchange of specialists (project managers, technicians, instructors and other advisers) who will drive the technical cooperation projects and others that are of mutual interest.
The agreement will be valid for five years and will be automatically renewed for the same period and can be amended by written agreement between the parties at the request of either of them and according to the procedures in force in both countries, according to official information.Latin America and the Caribbean is Taiwan's main diplomatic bastion in its sovereignty dispute with China as 12 of the 22 diplomatic allies of Taiwan are in this region of the world.



Death on the Serpent River: How the Lost Girls of Panama Disappeared - Parts 1 & 2


The mysterious deaths of two young tourists in Panama puzzled examiners and shocked nations on both sides of the Atlantic; now secretly leaked documents could reveal what happened.

July 28th , 2016,


This is the first in a three-part investigation into what may have been a savage crime or a tragic accident. In addition to a trove of documents and photographs revealing hitherto unexamined aspects of the case, The Daily Beast has consulted several top sleuths in fields as varied as wilderness survival and photographic analysis, with the expert opinion as well of forensic anthropologist and best-selling author Kathy Reichs.



Money Fish Sportsman TV Channel:  Report of episode filming by Capt. Shane Jarvis of Sport Fish Panama Island Lodge. 

Epic Video from Recent Trip here to Sport Fish Panama Island Lodge

July 28th , 2016

The word "epic" gets thrown around a lot when it comes to fishing. But just wait till you see this video/new sizzle reel for the lodge...then you may agree with how EPIC it really is!






Race the Craters Edge

La Dorada trail run promotes conservation efforts in El Valle

July 27th , 2016, (PTY English News) by Charles Conn

Runners and trekkers take note.  North Face’s annual La Dorada trail run in El Valle is all set to take place Sunday, August 14.  The race, which coincides with Panama’s National Golden Frog Day, is held to raise awareness for the brightly-hued yet endangered amphibian, widely considered a national symbol.

Event organizer, Caminando .Panamá, known for their extensively-researched trail guides available free-of-charge online, expects this year’s racing slots to sell out as they did the year before.  They urge anyone interested in taking part to purchase their race entry early.

La Dorada offers distances of 5k, 10k and 15k starting from El Valle’s Hotel Campestre beginning at 7 a.m.  Participants will go past Panama’s famous square trees and over three ridges, one of which, Cerro Gaital, winds through one of the town’s rural communities.  With a total ascent of 612 meters, reaching a maximum altitude of 992 meters above sea level, the route promises breathtaking vistas, with a portion of the trail following the La Mesa river.
The entry fee is $25 per racer, payable by cash or check made out to Fundación Caminando Panamá.  All profits will be used to promote educational activites and benefit conservation efforts in favor of the golden frog and other endangered amphibians.  Entries can be purchased at The North Face store in Multiplaza Mall or the Hush Puppies stores in Altaplaza and Albrook Mall.  Racing kits will be handed out on Thursday, August 11 at 6 p.m. at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Insititute’s Tupper Auditorium located on Ancon Hill. 
For more information about the race, go to CaminandoPanama.org.  For details about golden frog conservation efforts, visit AmphibianRescue.org     

A few fun golden frog facts:

Despite its common name, the Panamanian golden frog is a true toad.  The species, Atelopus zeteki, is endemic to Panama, living close to mountain streams on the eastern side of the Tabasará mountain range in the provinces of Coclé and Panamá.

The golden frog’s skin color ranges from light yellow-green to bright gold, with some individuals exhibiting black spots on their backs and legs. Highly toxic, the skin was used for centuries by the native people of the Panamanian forests for arrow poison.

Over the last decades, the Panamanian golden frog suffered major declines possibly linked to chytridiomycosis, a fungal infection caused by an invasive pathogen that reached El Valle in 2006.  Habitat loss and pollution are also believed to have played significant roles.

The last time the species was filmed in the wild was in 2006 by the BBC Natural History Unit for the series, “Life in Cold Blood” by David Attenborough. The remaining few specimens were taken into captivity and the location of filming was kept secret to protect the amphibians from potential poachers.

In 2003, the San Diego Zoo started their own golden frog conservation efforts. Since then, they have been able to successfully breed several hundred individuals in captivity, but will not release them into the wild until the fungal disease is less of a threat. The San Diego Zoo also sends money to Panama to keep up the conservation effort in the frogs' native country.

In 2005, the Houston Zoo established the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center (EVACC) in Panama for the purpose of providing endangered frogs with a protected research and conservation facility in their native country.  Since then, EVACC has become a popular El Valle tourist attraction, housing a population of the species that is monitored closely by researchers.


Feature Story- When under attack, these Panama frogs attack themselves - VIDEO

July 27th , 2016, (New York Times) by Dr. James Gorman

It’s a good thing for frog embryos to be able to hatch early. Suppose there’s a drought or some other environmental change that means the growing tadpoles would be better off in the water than in the egg.

The timing of hatching is subject to cues from the environment for many species, but even among these flexible hatchers the red-eyed treefrog stands out. It can escape its egg in seconds if threatened by a predator.




Panama receives free air ambulance, ending dispute with Italian firm

July 27th , 2016, (Fox News Latino)

Panama received a free helicopter ambulance on Tuesday valued at $8.1 million as part of a deal to end a dispute with Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica.

Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel De Saint Malo traveled to Milan, Italy, to receive the aircraft on behalf of the Panamanian government.

The helicopter will be used in rescue and humanitarian aid missions, and it is expected to be transferred to Panama at no cost by Agusta Westland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica.

The air ambulance is part of a deal between President Juan Carlos Varela's administration and Finmeccanica sealed in February that included the conglomerate's scrapping of plans to take "legal action against the state" of Panama, the government said.

Under the terms of the agreement, Panama did not have to pay about $42.2 million and received $31.6 million in credit to purchase new helicopters, equipment and aircraft parts for its current fleet, officials said.

The negotiations between the parties took place after the Varela administration suspended the Italian firm's contract in response to contracting irregularities during the 2009-2014 Martinelli administration.

The air ambulance will be used by the Panamanian National Naval Air Service and has the capacity to carry two pilots, two doctors and two patients from an accident scene to a hospital.

The deal with the Italian firm includes pilot training, four mechanics, one year of maintenance and a three-year warranty, the government said.


Authorities blame weather for Panama Canal ship scrape

July 27th , 2016, (Associated Press)

Panama Canal authorities say a Chinese container ship's damaging scrape with the canal's new wider locks was caused by bad weather and the vessel not lining up correctly.

Canal administrator Jorge Quijano said Tuesday there was intense rain, poor visibility and winds between 30 and 40 knots when the ship carrying 9,000 containers was using the locks Thursday.

Quijano says it was the only such incident in the widened canal's first month of operation. He says unfortunately these things happen in their business.

Before the canal's inauguration, some tug boat captains expressed concern about having relatively little room to maneuver with the huge New Panamax ships.


Canal opening brings high expectations for Panama's infrastructure

The expanded Panama Canal opened recently and the influx of larger vessels brings with it a deep pipeline of infrastructure opportunities

July 27th , 2016, (Latin Finance)

The potential for investments in Panama’s infrastructure sector has received a boost since the expanded Panama Canal opened in late June, sources told LatinFinance.

The canal expansion, designed to fit larger New Panamax vessels, creates investment opportunities for related infrastructure projects, particularly in the logistics sector, said a debt capital markets banker who worked on financing for the Panama Canal Authority (PCA).

Panama CanalThe expanded Panama Canal can now hold new 'Neo-Panamax' vessels

"The more deals coming out of the country has a positive reinforcement on the rest of Panama’s prospective project financing needs," he said. "There’s been over $5bn in investment into this infrastructure and it reinforces Panama as a logistics center."

The PCA could open a tender for a new container port terminal and it is also considering a new transshipment terminal of automobiles, said a second source familiar with the agency's plans. The authority has requested proposals from potential bidders, he said.

Liquefied natural gas transportation is another area set to benefit from the Panama Canal expansion. LNG exported from the US to Asia through the Panama Canal will reach its destination about two weeks earlier than it would under existing routes, decreasing freight costs.

However, low commodity prices will limit the potential for natural gas shipments in the short term, the banker said. An oversupply of natural gas, stemming from proposed production projects in Australia and the US, contrasts with lower demand from traditional LNG importers, such as South Korea and Japan, he said.

Funding plans for future projects have not been outlined, but the banker said DCM will likely provide the bulk of financing. Sovereign bonds from Panama or new issues from the PCA could help the country fund investments, he said.

PCA sold a $450m 20-year note in September last year to finance the construction of a bridge at the canal. Bank of America-Merrill Lynch priced the A2/A-/A bond at 220bp over US Treasuries for a yield of 5.09%.

Airport operator Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen (AITSA) sold a $575m cross-border bond in May this year to fund the expansion of the Tocumen International Airport. Citi priced the 20-year notes at par to yield 5.625%, after strong investor demand allowed the issuer to increase the size of the deal by $75m.


Ship hits wall of Panama Canal, renews design concerns - 3rd incident in month!

July 26th , 2016, (Reuters)

A Chinese container ship hit a wall of the new lane of the Panama Canal, a Canal Authority official and a local ship agent said on Monday, the third such incident since the expanded waterway opened one month ago amid design concerns.

Thomson Reuters ship tracking data showed the Xin Fei Zhou, owned by China Shipping Container Lines, was anchored outside the canal after a photograph published by the maritime online news site gCaptain.com showed the vessel with a sizeable gash in its hull. The ship agent said it was undergoing repairs.

The latest incident comes after two other vessels have reportedly made contact with the newly expanded canal since the $5.4 billion project was inaugurated on June 26.

The expansion, which triples the size of ships that can pass through the waterway, has drawn criticism from industry groups that claim its design makes the transit of larger ships unsafe for the vessels and workers.

The Panama Canal Authority said its operations team was investigating the latest incident.

The Lycaste Peace, the first LPG tanker to pass through the new section of the canal, ripped off a fender during a collision in late June, causing some minor damage to the railing of the ship, according to a source familiar with the incident.

The Panama Canal Authority did not respond to a request for comment about the Lycaste Peace.

The Authority has confirmed that the Cosco Shipping Panama, the container ship that made the inaugural journey through the canal, also made contact with its fenders, which a spokesman for the Authority said was normal.

A representative for MC-Seamax Management Limited, the manager of the Cosco Shipping Panama, said it suffered no damage.

While contact with fenders may occur in transit, the three events together are likely to renew concerns about the safety of moving expensive vessels through the expanded canal, which experts say has less space for maneuvers than the original locks.

The International Transport Workers' Federation commissioned a study of the expansion in response to safety concerns of its members. Among other issues identified in April, the study found the dimensions of the new locks were too small for safe operations and that the design left little room for error.

The Panama Canal Authority dismissed the study's findings.

(Reporting by Liz Hampton, Marianna Parraga, and Eli Moreno in Panama; Editing by Terry Wade and Dan Grebler)


Netflix, John Wells Developing Panama Papers Movie

Netflix is developing a movie about the Panama Papers scandal with John Wells and Claire Rudnick Polstein producing.

July 26, 2016, (Varitey)

The streaming giant has acquired the rights to the book “The Panama Papers: Breaking the Story of How the World’s Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money,” written by German journalists Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer.

It’s the second Panama Papers movie that’s been unveiled this month. Steven Soderbergh, Lawrence Grey’s Grey Matter Productions and Anonymous Content are producing an untitled project based on Jake Bernstein’s upcoming book “The Secrecy World.”

Obermaier and Obermayer, who write for German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, based their reporting on access from an anonymous whistleblower to 11.5 million documents from the offices of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. The papers provided details on how the wealthy and powerful used the firm to take finances offshore to avoid tax liabilities.

The documents were leaked by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a global group of reporters and publications, which began revealing their findings in April.

Obermaier and Obermayer will work with producers Wells and Rudnick Polstein, and executive producer Zach Studin of John Wells Productions. Marina Walker and Gerard Ryle of the ICIJ — which oversaw more than 400 journalists in 76 countries on the release of the Panama Papers — are also collaborating on the film in an unspecified capacity.

“We are confident that between the expert investigative work of Obermaier and Obermayer, the only journalists in touch directly with John Doe, the ICIJ, and the master storytelling of John Wells Productions, we will be able to deliver a gripping tale that will deliver the same type of impact as the Panama Papers when they were first revealed on the world’s front pages,” Netflix COO Ted Sarandos said.

Rudnick Polstein, the president of features for John Wells Productions, said, “We could not be more excited to be working with Netflix on this project. They have an excellent track record of producing top notch filmmaking and together, we are very much looking forward to getting started on shedding light on one of the most compelling news stories in recent memory.”

Obermaier and Obermayer said, “It all started with a ‘ping,’ when John Doe contacted us. That relationship and the work that came out of it grew to become the biggest data leak in history, and by far the biggest collaboration of journalists. The world has ever seen; with over 400 journalists ultimately participating in this investigation. We are proud that our newspaper was the starting point for this story which grew to be something monumental.”

No director or actors are attached. Wells most recently helmed “Burnt,” starring Bradley Cooper, and “August: Osage County,” based on the Tracy Letts’ play. He also exec produced the Brian Wilson biopic “Love and Mercy.”


Panama chief justice fails to act against judge who dismissed 25 drug cases

July 26 , 2016, By Kenneth Rijock (Caribbean News Now)

MIAMI, USA -- José Ayú Prado, the chief justice of the Panama Supreme Court of Justice, has publicly refused to take any action against an allegedly corrupt auxiliary member of the judiciary, Yoideth Chirú Manrique, who is under investigation after she ordered the immediate release of 25 defendants charged with narcotics trafficking.

Observers with legal backgrounds have stated that there was no legal basis for the release of the defendants, and unjustified dismissal of charges.

Suspicions that multiple bribes paid to Chirú to facilitate the release of the 25 drug trafficking defendants were shared with Ayú Prado have Panamanians up in arms over the scandal.

Notwithstanding his involvement in several major bribe and kickback scandals, neither the president of Panama nor the local equivalent of the judicial qualifications commission, which is apparently toothless, have been able to remove the chief justice from office.

Many Panamanians, who are now asserting that there is no possibility that Ayú Prado will be forced to step down, have concluded that President Juan Carlos Varela's much-anticipated reform government was a paper tiger, with no real intention to take down the judges that are taking bribes to fix cases, and are waiting for the next government to actually conduct much-needed reform.

They are ready for Varela to leave office, but that will not occur until July 1, 2019.

Kenneth Rijock is a banking lawyer turned-career money launderer (10 years), turned-compliance officer specialising in enhanced due diligence, and a financial crime consultant who publishes a Financial Crime Blog. The Laundry Man, his autobiography, was published in the UK on 5 July 2012.


Panama government to investigate 1989 US invasion - VIDEO

July 26, 2016 (CCTV.com) by Jim Spellman 丨 CCTV.com

Panama has officially established a truth commission to delve into the U.S. invasion of its territory in 1989. The country’s vice president and foreign affairs minister, Isabel Saint Malo hosted the ceremony to begin what is being called “the December 20 Commission.”


The government of Panama will ask the United States to declassify documents related to the 1989 US invasion that led to the arrest of former president Manual Noriega.

Panama wants to determine how many people died in the military action. The U.S. says about 500 Panamanians were killed in combat, but other estimates put the figure as high as 8,000. An independent commission in 1990 found that about 3,000 Panamanians were killed.

Panama hopes to identify who died and to eventually recommend reparations to their families. This is part of an effort launched by the President of Panama a year and a half ago to “heal the wounds and reconcile our country.”

The U.S. dubbed the 1989 mission “Operation Just Cause.” About 26,000 U.S. troops took part in the assault which lasted less than a month. Twenty-three U.S. service members died.

The invasion targeted then president Manual Noriega who was eventually arrested and taken to the U.S. on drug trafficking and other charges. Noriega, 82, and in frail health, is back in custody in Panama after serving prison sentences in the U.S. and France.

Panama says that once it has determined who was killed in the conflict it will work with international law experts to determine appropriate reparations.


Panama - Online Censorship Proposed - Again!

July 26 , 2016, By Eric Jackson


We must do something about the Internet.

Ricardo Martinelli in 2012

It’s back. This time, the rabiblancos, politicians and crooks want the “right to be forgotten.” As in Proposed Law 11, which would be a new press gag law. Any natural or juridical person, public officials and political parties not excepted, could complain. There would be no right to a day in court, only a summary finding based on a complaint to the National Public Services Authority (ASEP). No need to claim that the item sought to be erased is false — “imprecise” or “not updated” would suffice, and no proofs would be required. The authority could summarily fine a small website $10,000, that is, shut it down in most cases.

Does The Panama News publish an analysis or opinion piece that states that the Panameñista Party’s founder was a friend of Adolf Hitler’s who stripped Panamanians of Asian, non-Hispanic West Indian and Middle Eastern ancestry of their citizenship? It’s absolutely true but the president’s political party could say that because such an utterance did not contain the party line denying all of that, a website that publishes such a thing could be forced out of business. Does The Panama News publish an article that notes that the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) was founded by a dictatorship that killed or disappeared dozens of its opponents? That’s also true, but the party could shut down this website over it. Does the La Prensa investigative team uncover a bribery and kickback scheme? An anonymously owned company that was absolutely involved in such a thing could move to get the story summarily erased from the Internet.

The law proposes extraterritorial effect, which would be enforced by blocking access from Panama to certain search engines, databases or websites. Like, for example, that bastion of online history and bane of fraud artists, The Wayback Machine Internet Archive .

Introduced nearly four years to the day after Ricardo Martinelli went before an international audience and pleaded for global legislation to erase the criminal record that he was then compiling from the Internet, Panameñista legislator Melitón Arrocha is up to the same thing. The legislators might pass it, but probably won’t. The president might sign it, but his wife is a journalist by trade and he probably won’t. If it is passed and signed, it might be upheld by Panamanian courts — in the past those sorts of questions have sometimes been decided on the basis of bribery, partisan passions or political influence rather than on law — but by treaty any decision would be subject to an appeal to the Inter-American Human Rights Court, which would be unlikely to uphold such a law.

One never knows what the politicians and courts might do here, though, and press organizations are not taking any chances. A joint communique by two corporate press organizations, the Forum de Periodistas and the Consejo Nacional de Periodismo, hits three main points. First, they note the proposal’s vague provision that allow a wide range of censorship without any judicial recourse. Next, point out the law’s purported extraterritorial reach which, among other things, would purport to erase certain infamous facts about Panama from the global record. Finally, they cite the internationally recognized right of a people to their history, their collective memory.


Panama's Modern Day Pirates and Treasure Hunters by Cindy Little

July 26 , 2016, (PTY English News)

Why was a ship in Panama laden with treasure from the wreck and sailing to Florida intercepted by the United States Department of Homeland Security on Sept. 15, 2015 at the bequest of the government of Panama? And how is it that the confiscated treasure failed to make its way back to Panama?