Home Blog Page 154

The falling out — looking for motives

0
THEM
It’s not just the Wakeds. Look at the families represented on the board of the now seized Balboa Bank & Trust and some of the family ties to the Panama Canal Authority.

The falling out — looking for motives

by Eric Jackson

In just about any crisis, prudent investors move to cut their losses, opportunists move to squeeze advantage and conspiracy theorists move to promote coincidences real or imaginary into central facts. Motives can be awfully hard to prove and the background noise can make events difficult to follow. For instance, the Citi card. On March 10 that institution pulled out of a $625 bond issue for Tocumen Airport, alleging that circumstances were not as they agreed. So, a nefarious plot to trash Panama? On March 12 Citi agreed to buy the bonds after all, but at a more favorable to itself interest rate. So maybe it was just a business move in light of a riskier climate.

Balboa Bank & Trust is one of the institutions first banned by its inclusion on the US Treasury Department’s “Clinton List” of money launderers, then seized by Panama’s banking superintendent. The Securities Market Superintendency likewise intervened to take over Balboa Securities, the stock brokerage branch of this bank. These actions were taken due to allegations linking the institutions to the “Waked Money Laundering Organization.” Panamanian corporate secrecy keeps us from knowing just who owns just what, but it is alleged and commonly believed that the Waked family owns controlling stakes in these institutions. But as to the bank, there are some gaps in the veil of Panamanian secrecy.

First of all, the current owners of Balboa Bank & Trust, a corporation known as Strategic Investments Group, were chosen by the US government. That institution used to be the Panama branch of Stanford Bank and in the US move to shut down that operation the sale to the Waked-dominated group was negotiated by a US federal court appointed receiver, Ralph Janvey, and approved by US District Judge David Godbey. That deal was struck after — based on some undisclosed information from an undisclosed source, but we might easily guess — a well advanced process to award the bank to a group of investors led by former HSBC Panama branch executive Joe Salterio was vetoed. So in a sense, just like the US relationships with Manuel Antonio Noriega, Osama bin Laden, Colombia’s AUC paramilitary — and according to some allegations, now imprisoned ponzi scheme operator Allen Stanford — this was a falling out among people who had at one point worked together.

But who else? Does Panama live up to its reputation as a place where family means everything? Look at the board of directors of Balboa Bank & Trust and you the Quinano and Roy families represented. As in, relatives of the Panama Canal administrator Jorge Luis Quijano and of Minister of Canal Affairs Roberto Roy. Families with various stakes in the Panama Canal expansion are also represented on that board.

The suggestion that “you’re guilty because you’re related to ___, who is associated with ___” is obnoxious. But the Wakeds are not the only family affected by the US moves against those nearly 70 businesses (and indirectly others). Nor are the Mossacks and Fonsecas the only lawyers affected by the international furor over the Panama Papers revelations. Is the problem that Washington perceives not about one family but about Panama? This appears to be the case. But if it is about Panama in general, then the question of why the Americans moved against this group of businesses, about which they have known for years, at this particular time probably becomes important. It may at some point be an easy one to answer in retrospect, but at this point there are only shreds of evidence on which to draw inferences.

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Dems3s

Panama reels under a combination of blows, said to be against corruption

0
JCV
It has been nearly 48 years since an Arnulfista president was ousted in a coup d’etat. But will President Juan Carlos Varela’s tone-deaf response to foreign pressures, failure to carry out campaign promises and protection of criminal elements among his cabinet, party and government contractors combine with an economic slowdown to cut short his term? And even if things don’t get that extreme, will posing with law enforcement officers convince the world that he’s not shielding crooks? Photo by the Presidencia.

Panama reels under economic blows from without

by Eric Jackson

In light of the US sanctions against some 70 businesses controlled by the Waked family — which along with the Motta family controls the duty free areas at Tocumen Airport — CitiValores, a bond trading division of the US-based but largely Saudi-owned Citi group of companies, has pulled out of its offer to buy $625 million in bonds to finance the national airport’s expansion. In a May 10 letter sent to LatinClear and Panama’s Bolsa de Valores, CitiValores claimed that unspecified conditions had not been satisfied, so the bond purchase was called off. Certainly a US ban on any American citizen, resident or entity doing business with the Wakeds’ duty-free shops affects the potential value of an expanded airport.

Long ago the American Embassy fingered the Motta family as well as the Waked family as Tocumen Airport money laundering suspects. US action against the Mottas should not entirely be ruled out. In recent days the Motta-dominated Manzanillo International terminal was eliminated as a potential bidder for the Panama Canal Authority’s projected Corozal / Diablo port project. Also, the largely Motta-funded Independent Movement (MOVIN) that played a major role in getting Juan Carlos Varela elected as president has expressed its annoyance with “public contracting reform” legislation that bans companies convicted of bribery in Panama (of which there are none) from doing business with government agencies here, while permitting companies convicted of such abroad (Odebrecht, plus more than a dozen other companies with Panamanian public contracts at various stages of confronting corruption charges in foreign courts) to continue as before. (Varela may yet back down on the pro-Odebrecht stand.) Whether Motta setbacks and disappointments have any causal connection with the global uproar over the Panama Papers and US moves against the Wakeds — either way — the cloud of suspicion can only hurt Tocumen SA as a business. For the Mottas the duty free concession is a minor factor compared to their ownership of a controlling interest in Copa Airlines, which uses Tocumen as its international hub.

These problems come to Varela and Panama as OECD and European Union pressures that have been on again and off again are raised because the Panama Papers revelations indicate that the “know your client” reforms and pledges to get dirty money out of Panama’s financial systems exist on a continuum that runs from ineffective to insincere. The Fonseca family’s continuing sinecures in Varela’s administration and party do not help appearances.

Also forming the backdrop to the unfolding crisis is a miserable Latin American economy that hurts business for the import/export sector, the Panama Canal and Panama City’s financial institutions. The downturn is mainly due to a weak economy in China, which had been buying more raw materials at higher prices from Latin American countries before problems set in. That governments of most stripes are in trouble across the region is in turn largely a function of this economic slowdown.

Have businesses large and small in the Wakeds’ and Mottas’ original stronghold, the Colon Free Zone, been dabbling in money laundering schemes that they had been avoiding just to survive through a time of plummeting sales? Does the United States move now to control a situation that Washington has known about for years because the problem is getting worse?

We are left to speculate about many things. The stone-faced reception that President Varela got during his recent trip to Washington does not bode well for Panama. The pledge that Panama will start to share tax information in 2018 seems not to impress. The notion that this will all blow over and everything will go back to the way it was before may be a traditional outlook, but the way things are going it appears to be more conventional than wisdom.

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Dems3s

Good news for folks with TB that resists drugs

0
DNA testing for TB
Rapid test and shorter, cheaper treatment give new hope to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis patients.

Advances against TB

by the World Health Organization

New WHO recommendations aim to speed up detection and improve treatment outcomes for multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) through use of a novel rapid diagnostic test and a shorter, cheaper treatment regimen.

“This is a critical step forward in tackling the MDR-TB public health crisis,” said Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director of WHO’s Global TB Program. “The new WHO recommendations offer hope to hundreds of thousands of MDR-TB patients who can now benefit from a test that quickly identifies eligibility for the shorter regimen, and then complete treatment in half the time and at nearly half the cost.”

Shorter treatment with better outcomes

At less than $1000 per patient, the new treatment regimen can be completed in 9–12 months. Not only is it less expensive than current regimens, but it is also expected to improve outcomes and potentially decrease deaths due to better adherence to treatment and reduced loss to follow-up.

The conventional treatment regimens, which take 18–24 months to complete, yield low cure rates: just 50 percent on average globally. This is largely because patients find it very hard to keep taking second-line drugs, which can be quite toxic, for prolonged periods of time. They therefore often interrupt treatment or are lost to follow-up in health services.

The shorter regimen is recommended for patients diagnosed with uncomplicated MDR-TB, for example those individuals whose MDR-TB is not resistant to the most important drugs used to treat MDR-TB (fluoroquinolones and injectables), known as “second-line drugs.” It is also recommended for individuals who have not yet been treated with second line drugs.

WHO’s recommendations on the shorter regimens are based on initial programmatic studies involving 1200 patients with uncomplicated MDR-TB in 10 countries. WHO is urging researchers to complete ongoing randomised controlled clinical trials in order to strengthen the evidence base for use of this regimen.

Rapid diagnostic test to identify second-line drug resistance

The most reliable way to rule out resistance to second-line drugs is a newly recommended diagnostic test for use in national TB reference laboratories. The novel diagnostic test — called MTBDRsl — is a DNA-based test that identifies genetic mutations in MDR-TB strains, making them resistant to fluoroquinolones and injectable second-line TB drugs.

This test yields results in just 24-48 hours, down from the three months or longer currently required. The much faster turnaround time means that MDR-TB patients with additional resistance are not only diagnosed more quickly, but can quickly be placed on appropriate second-line regimens. WHO reports that fewer than 20 percent of the estimated 480,000 MDR-TB patients globally are currently being properly treated.

The MTBDRsl test is also a critical prerequisite for identifying MDR-TB patients who are eligible for the newly recommended shorter regimen, while avoiding placing patients who have resistance to second-line drugs on this regimen (which could fuel the development of extensively drug-resistant TB or XDR-TB).

“We hope that the faster diagnosis and shorter treatment will accelerate the much-needed global MDR-TB response,” said Dr. Karin Weyer, Coordinator of Laboratories, Diagnostics and Drug Resistance, WHO Global TB Program. “Anticipated cost-savings from the roll out of this regimen could be re-invested in MDR-TB services to enable more patients to be tested and retained on treatment.”

WHO is working closely with technical and funding partners to ensure adequate resources and support for the uptake of the rapid test and shorter, cheaper regimen in countries.

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Dems3s

MOVADUP, Entre el delito y la impunidad

0

Rector MagníficoEntre el delito y la impunidad, se hunde la Universidad

por el Movimiento de Adecentamiento de la Universidad de Panamá (MOVADUP)

Antecedentes

Desde hace más de año y medio, una pluralidad de panameños de distintas dedicaciones y profesiones, así como de diversas partes de la geografía nacional, han unido sus esfuerzos, sin ningún otro interés ulterior que no fuera luchar por el adecentamiento y rescate de la universidad del pueblo, la Universidad de Panamá, de una administración que la ha convertido en todo, menos en un centro de educación superior, al servicio del pueblo panameño y como Octavio Méndez Pereira la proyectara: conciencia crítica de la nación.

Hechos

Los tres últimos años han constituido un fiel registro de lo que ha sido y ha venido siendo la utilización de la Primera Casa de Estudios, no para el engrandecimiento del país, sino para la realización de los actos más sórdidos de corrupción.

El desempeño de una Administración presidida por el señor Gustavo García de Paredes durante los últimos veinte años ha sido objeto de señalamientos críticos desde un inicio por parte de profesores como Miguel Antonio Bernal, Federico Ardila, Jaime Turner, Ada Villareal y otros no docentes como Luis Chen González, de la Federación de Asociaciones de Profesionales de Panamá; y ha llevado a la comisión de actos de acoso, persecución y destituciones contra los miembros de los distintos estamentos que con valentía levantaron sus voces críticas, apelando a la conciencia del pueblo panameño, de forma que mirara hacia lo que estaba sucediendo a lo interno de la Universidad.

Ciertamente, y no como reproche, las distintas organizaciones de la sociedad panameña, desde los grupos empresariales, obreros y campesinos, jóvenes y no jóvenes, hicieron ciegas miradas, oídos sordos y mudas expresiones al clamor de honorables docentes y ciudadanos que, conscientes de la realidad, clamaban como una voz en el desierto.

Hoy es claro que aquellas denuncias han encontrado caja de resonancia en la constitución del Movimiento de Adecentamiento de la Universidad de Panamá (MOVADUP), al llevar a cabo una radiografía de las múltiples denuncias y exigir, ante las respectivas autoridades, el cumplimiento de los mandatos constitucionales y legales que los obligan a velar por el desempeño correcto, transparente y ético de la administración pública, en particular la referente a la educación superior, en la Casa de Méndez Pereira.

Acciones

La sistemática persecución sostenida contra el profesor Miguel Antonio Bernal, por años, se extendió a otros miembros del cuerpo docente y administrativo, tal como el caso de la profesora Anayansi Turner Yau, Defensora de los Universitarios, y el diseñador gráfico Ricaurte Paz, quienes fueron sometidos a nuevos procesos disciplinarios por denunciar los actos de corrupción, abuso de autoridad, uso indebido de los bienes y patrimonio de la institución, así como la aprobación de reglamentos dirigidos a seguir hostigando tanto a docentes, estudiantes y administrativos, tal como ha sido el reciente caso de las reformas al Reglamento de Carrera Administrativa.

Los despachos del Ministerio Público, Contraloría General de la República, Procuraduría de la Administración, la Autoridad de Transparencia o Contra la Corrupción (hoy ANTAI), Defensoría del Pueblo y muchas otras dependencias, como el Órgano Judicial, se encuentran repletos de quejas, denuncias y demandas, en las que se expusieron, con pruebas, cada una de las acciones de corrupción, abuso de autoridad y uso indebido del patrimonio universitario. Sin embargo, nuestra sociedad es fiel testigo de la inactividad, desidia y poco me importa de los regentes de dichas instituciones, al igual que de la conducta muda y ciega que expresa el inquilino del Ejecutivo, en quien ha encontrado refugio el señor Gustavo García de Paredes para seguir en su acción de corrupción.

Medios de comunicación

Una luz al final de túnel han constituido los medios de comunicación, entre los que destaca La Estrella de Panamá y La Prensa; los cuales, mediante reportajes, entrevistas e investigaciones, han develado la horrible trama por la que atraviesa hoy la Primera Casa de Estudios, la Universidad de Panamá, poniendo a flote toda una serie de acciones de la actual administración de Gustavo García de Paredes que coinciden de manera impresionantemente exacta con las distintas figuras delictivas descritas en nuestro Código Penal Patrio.

Procesos disciplinarios que constituyen claras acciones de violación de los derechos humanos; nombramientos de personas como profesores, incluso regulares, sin haber cumplido los requisitos (caso del señor Adrián Cuevas, en Derecho, el diputado Rubén Frías, ex líderes estudiantiles, y otros tantos más); el nombramiento de múltiples personas en la administración con jugosos salarios, familiares de políticos y diputados, a costa del presupuesto universitario; el manejo de la contratación pública con coimas y designaciones directas en las compras; las construcciones y obras de mantenimiento sobrevaluadas y con adendas escandalosas aprobadas por la Contraloría; el arrendamiento y venta de las tierras y el patrimonio de la Universidad, a centavos por metro cuadrado, a grupos económicos de amigos personales (caso de las empresas Parque Sur y otras) y del “círculo cero” del expresidente Ricardo Martinelli (Btesh, Virzi et al, ver las investigaciones del diario La Prensa); el uso de los fondos a través de la Fundación Universidad de Panamá, son solo algunas de las tantas acciones que se han realizado contra uno de los bienes más preciados de la nación panameña, como lo es su Universidad.

De no haber sido por los medios de comunicación y el papel objetivo que han llevado a cabo, hoy el pueblo panameño no habría tenido conocimiento de los negocios millonarios que se han realizado con el patrimonio de la Universidad de Panamá, beneficiando a amigos y en provecho propio.

El mudo papel del Ministerio Público y de la Contraloría General de la República ante todas estas acciones de corrupción, tiene una sola explicación: el silencio cómplice impuesto por el beneficio compartido de políticos (tanto de “izquierda” como de derecha), diputados, ministros, alcaldes, representantes, empresarios y testaferros que obstaculizan e impiden, a través de llamadas y tráfico de influencias, el desarrollo de las investigaciones, para hacer prescribir las denuncias presentadas.

Tanto en el Ministerio Público como en la Contraloría General de la República existen denuncias que llevan dos años de estar investigándose y no han pasado ni siquiera de la admisión en algunos casos, cuando en otros se han cerrado a espaldas de los denunciantes, sin haberse permitido dar seguimiento ciudadano.

Tal es el caso de la Contraloría, donde existen auditorías intencionalmente estancadas, así como la presentada por el señor Ricaurte Paz contra los señores Luis Palacios y Damián Espino, que se encuentran en manos del señor Jaime Vigil Selles, supuesto pariente de la profesora Aida Selles de Palacios, directora del Instituto de Criminología, entidad vinculada a la FUDEP en la lesión patrimonial por cerca de medio millón de dólares.

Igualmente, es un hecho destacable que en el único informe escuálido que ha presentado, la Contraloría tuvo el cuidado de no mencionar a Gustavo García de Paredes, pese a que este ha sido la persona que dio las órdenes para cometer la lesión patrimonial, tal como lo evidenció la periodista-investigadora Mary Triny Zea en su publicación del diario La Prensa, “El rector de la pluma mágica” (La Prensa de 3 de julio de 2015) en la que se demuestra claramente la orden delictiva y de intencional acción de peculado. Es claro que la Contraloría empeñó todas sus fuerzas con tal de no mencionar a Gustavo García de Paredes, lo que constituye una clara muestra de promoción de la impunidad.

Las denuncias en el Ministerio Público duermen todas el sueño eterno esperando que prescriban las delictivas conductas cometidas por el señor Gustavo García de Paredes, gracias a la red de tráfico de influencias que ha logrado tejer con el erario universitario.

No puede ser que los medios de comunicación, con exiguos presupuestos para la investigación, hayan podido develar en corto tiempo todas las acciones delictivas del rector de la Universidad, y no lo hayan podido hacer las instituciones de vigilancia y control. Eso solo tiene un nombre: complicidad, que tiene por propósito alentar la impunidad.

A ello agregamos el papel de algunas personas y opacos comentaristas que, considerándose detentadores de la verdad, sufren de una rara alucinación de creerse dueños de las aguas del río Jordán, en las que pueden bañar a cualquiera y devolverles la reputación.

Defensoría del Pueblo

La Defensoría del Pueblo debe cumplir su papel e iniciar una investigación de inmediato sobre los hechos denunciados que constituyen violaciones graves a los derechos humanos de los universitarios y de nuestro pueblo en general, pues afectar el patrimonio de la UP significa poner en riesgo la educación actual y futura de la juventud panameña.

MOVADUP

La responsabilidad histórica que ha recaído sobre los miembros de este Movimiento ha sido asumida con la valentía, decencia y energía suficiente para señalarle a la Administración Universitaria que no daremos cuartel en nuestra lucha por expulsar del Templo del Saber a mediocres, advenedizos y corruptos.

A las autoridades del Ministerio Público y de la Contraloría General de la República les manifestamos nuestro compromiso de someterlos a la máxima presión ciudadana. En los próximos días procederemos a presentar las denuncias penales correspondientes por la afectación del patrimonio universitario en las transacciones realizadas con las tierras de la Universidad.

A la Defensoría del Pueblo le señalamos que estaremos vigilantes de su comportamiento frente a los hechos denunciados. De no obtener justicia, procederemos a presentar la acciones respectivas frente a las jurisdicciones internacionales de derechos humanos.

Al pueblo panameño, verdadero y único soberano de la Universidad de Panamá, lo animamos a participar activamente en rescatar SU universidad. Cuanto más ha crecido la conciencia de su poder indiscutible, tanto más han retrocedido los enemigos de la Casa de Méndez Pereira, al punto de que su rector ahora no puede reelegirse y se han visto reducidos a realizar acciones pérfidas e indignas para tratar de aferrarse al poder. Pero la complicidad de poderosos elementos de las instancias estatales solo podrá ser superada por la decisiva participación de la ciudadanía. Solo a ella pueden y podrán atribuírsele todos los avances y triunfos contra el delito, la impunidad y la sevicia que reinan en la Universidad de Panamá.

 

~ ~ ~
Estos anuncios son interactivos. Toque en ellos para seguir a las páginas de web

 

Spanish PayPal button

Tweet

FB esp

The Panama News blog links, May 11, 2016

0


Usually we put music a the top. It’s an unusual time — but there is music at the bottom of the page.

The Panama News blog links

NPR, A wider and deeper Panama Canal prepares to open its new locks

Hellenic Shipping News, PanCanal revenue decline predicted

ITF, Unions stick by their safety critique of the new locks

Mongabay, Study says Nicaragua Canal threatens endangered species

JOC: ACP ousts MIT (Motta) bid, narrows field for Diablo / Corozal port concession

USA Today, Panama-flag ghost tanker washes ashore with no crew

ITCM, New air service between Panama and Istanbul

Xinhua, Avión de Delta aterrizó en Panamá por amenaza de bomba

Goal.com, Panama names Copa America soccer squad

FIBA, Centrobasket tournament at Gimnasio Roberto Duran June 19-25

Financial Times, Panama bows to pressure on international financial data exchanges

Reuters, CitiValores cancela compra de bonos de Tocumen

El Espectador, ¿Qué tanto le importa a Colombia la economía panameña?

CNS, EU blacklist of tax havens coming within six months

AFP, Desempleo en Latinoamérica escalará hasta el 7 % en 2016

TVNZ, Australia’s prime minister named in Panama Papers link

TeleSur, Hillary donors caught up in new Panama Papers release

Reuters, Panama closes border with Colombia

WCEM, Mexico begins to balk about taking Cubans from Panama

La Estrella, Robinson lllama para diálogo adentro del PRD

TVN, Autoridades desmantelan célula del ‘Clan Úsuga’ en Chame

BBC, Colombia to hit drug gangs with air strikes

Chiriqui Natural, Visita solidaria al campamento de protesta contra Barro Blanco

SOA Watch, Four arrested for Berta Cáceres assassination

Tech Crunch, Brazil orders cell phone carriers to block WhatsApp

WOLA, Colombia returns to spraying glyphosate on coca

ABC, Doctors Without Borders pulls out of UN aid summit

The New York Times, Panama confirms Zika-related microcephaly cases

Scientific American, Vaccines put brakes on yellow fever outbreak

The Intercept, GPS tracker catches US recyclers exporting toxic e-waste

STRI, Cooperative fish take turns with gender roles

PLoS, Underground fungi detected from space

PR, Varela: “My country is not corrupt”

Blades, Una oportunidad

Fischer, Reinventing Europe

Snowden, Whistleblowing is not just leaking — it’s an act of political resistance

Süddeutsche Zeitung, John Doe’s manifesto

Greenwald, The spectacular pundit failure about Trump

The Guardian: Ilma Gore, whose nude painting of Trump went viral

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Dems3s

Spanish PayPal button

Harrington, How stands the Crown on hypocrisy?

0
OUT!
Is the party line for the upcoming anti-corruption summit in London that certain things are better left unsaid? Mr. Cameron’s problem is that people are already saying these things.

How stands the Crown on hypocrisy?

by Kevin Harrington-Shelton

“We must practice what we preach”

Panama is being unfairly treated in an international pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey search for a culprit for the metastatic tax evasion underlying the chaos in the funding of public services in the United Kingdom. The Anti-Corruption Summit opening in London highlights the obvious: it doesn’t intend to get at the root of the problem. The European establishment actually promoted the principal politician behind the Luxembourg issue (Jean Paul Joncker) to the presidency of the Commission — and persecuted the whistleblowers. Neither Panama nor the British Virgin Islands — stars of the current Mossack Fonseca hit — are invited to share the red carpet in this new Oscars opportunity. “Out of sight, out of mind!”

There is (another) policy issue involved. Instead of making merchant bankers reap the whirlwind they had sown in the run-up to the 2008 financial crash, rather than insisting on a level-playing field for offshore services, on April 8 Prime Minister David Cameron quietly ramrodded through a major about-face on solving his own benefits funding problem. The City prevailed on backtracking from the UK’s 2013 G-8 landmark stance of requiring beneficial owner registries available to everyone — in the hopes that such a broad base of transparency minders will keep (even) the bankers honest. Registers on the mainland will indeed be available for public inspection from June 2016, but now the Crown’s offshore territories will — inexplicably — continue to sell secrecy, as their registers will remain closed to the public.

A killer phrase which ought be sculpted in stone at he Lough Erne shore where the Prime Minister pontificated it: “We must practice what we preach.”

Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn questioned it in the Commons: “If openness is good enough tor the UK, why should we accept a different position in our overseas territories?”

In light of the worldwide shock following Süddeutsche Zeitung disclosures, one is nonplussed by this about-face. And in the words the BVI government used to welcome it: “The BVI has worked for 30 years to carefully and legitimately build an industry that is well regarded and trusted by clients, global regulators and other international authorities. This agreement will play its part in ensuring that this continues to be the case.” This although its Financial Services Commission failed to consider one Mossack & Fonseca (BVI) & Co. license, after fining it $37,000 for deficient due diligence on money laundering. An Order in Council imposed direct rule on the tinier Turks & Caicos Islands in 2009, for far less than that. As befits the sunniest street in the City, the far-larger Cayman Islands (40 percent of whose residents are expatriates) describes a more thorough focus of the underlying issues, and its home rule appears to be firmly rooted in the Conservative Party donor list.

But still no one — anywhere in the Crown colonies — has posited any (moral) justification for purchasing a back-dated shelf company.

Yet not everyone in the UK is as passive as the government about reinforcing its revenues thus foregone to at least recoup $5,200 million gap arising from the Lords Spiritual recent objections to savaging benefits to the least-advantaged. Similarly concerned about the harm to which much of the Commonwealth — as well as the rest of the developing world — by granting regard of legal entity to companies formed on the mainland as well as offshore, on April 30 the charity “Christian Aid” carried out a unique protest in Mr. Cameron’s own constituency. (Curiously overlooked by media…) Using an internet database made available previously by Private Eye, Christian Aid politely pointed out two commercial properties held by Jersey and BVI corporations. Neither of which would be subject to the public scrutiny as the famous Oxfordshire pub aptly styled “The Fleece.” It may not be known in Panama that freeholders can weasel their way around (most) capital gains and inheritance taxes, by claiming not to be domiciled in the UK for tax purposes. Including nameless offshore corporations with friends in high places. The good burgers of Witney might be one day unpleasantly surprised to discover that the ultimate owner of the mall at 24-26 Witney High St. in BVI might turn out to be an instrumentality of one Chapo Guzman (and/or his heirs and assigns).

Is this why neither Panama nor Crown dependencies had been invited to the London summit? “Little children are to be seen and not heard!”

How stands the Crown on hypocrisy? Respondeat superior….

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Dems3s

Editorials, Hard times returning? and State of the jihad

0

TocumenBack to Panama’s late 80s economy?

The 1989 US invasion of Panama, with all of the innocent non-combatants killed, all of the Pentagon and Bush administration lies about it, the seizure and closure of Panama’s public archives that protected the richest criminals and both fuels corruption and impedes dignified national politics to this day, and the tawdry legal aftermath that may have seen Noriega convicted for things he actually did but also “legalized” the payment of more than $1 million in bribes to buy prosecution testimony against the former dictator as precedent for US law — those things were bad enough, and got some recognition outside of Panama. The several years of economic sanctions that preceded the invasion are less well known abroad and one of the historical memories that for a variety of reasons is suppressed here in Panama. The sanctions were devastating, and we may be headed into something similar.

Will the offshore asset protection industry and allied political forces take advantage of an economic crisis to hire dingbats to keep the protesters in line? Will loyalty to Mossack Fonseca become the wannabe prerequisite for patriotism, as loyalty to Manuel Antonio Noriega once was? Will the defense of a criminal element become a purported gesture of national unity?

And if the hard times imposed from within and without do come again, are we prepared to make all of the little private arrangements as in Noriega sanctions time to get us past the crisis? More importantly, this time will Panamanians be ready to make our own better arrangements to move on with our national life, rather than depending on a Washington crowd that neither understands nor cares about us to make arrangements for us?

We still have the dictatorship’s constitution because Panamanians depended on the United States to fix the Noriega crisis. We have a devastated agricultural sector because Washington decided that US-based companies should be the source of more of our food and we didn’t have a Panamanian government willing to walk away from that “free trade” offer. We are in trouble with much of the rest of the world — not only the United States — because we allowed politically influential predatory castes among the professions of lawyers, bankers, stock brokers, insurance executives, merchants and accountants to dictate our laws so as to build a business and financial paradigm that serves international criminals rather than ordinary Panamanians.

One tiny case in point is that a Panamanian can’t just pay a small fee and set up an assumed business name in order to get a post office box, listed telephone number, bank account and tax ID number without being prohibited by unaffordable lawyer and CPA bills. Our business laws are designed for foreigners’ shell games and the enterprises of richer Panamanians, not for the 40 percent of our work force who have been relegated by these laws to the informal economy. Isn’t it time that those considered too small to be profitable for lawyers and bankers to serve got some consideration?

Are we up to the task of overriding the politicians who have done the bidding for this untenable order? Are we ready to rearrange our business, banking, legal and productive systems to serve most Panamanians? We can’t just forget the Panama Papers or the US allegations against the Wakeds, much less international sanctions that may be imposed on us for being a money laundering center. But we can and should fix the ways we feed and govern ourselves, according to Panamanian criteria rather than according to other countries’ wishes. That doesn’t mean bogus legislation like Varela’s public contracting “reform” that might as well have been written by Odebrecht, or the continuation of predatory systems that only benefit a few Panamanians because that’s the way we have done things in the past, or endless discussions about procedure that never get to the substance of our problems. It’s a matter of looking at who most of us are and what most of us can use.

Will Dr. Stiglitz and the commission he heads tell us that? If so, fine. But that should be beside the point. We should figure it out and correct it for ourselves.

State of the jihad

STRATFOR is a corporation run by a conservative Republican whose bread and butter is advising multinational corporations. They gather and publish information to inform decisions that are mostly in the business realm, rather than to mobilize voters to make decisions at the polls. The company and its scholars have their own politics, but their information tends to be dispassionate and well grounded in fact. However, every person and every institution comes out of a social context and all have a point of view. There is no use denying it — better to acknowledge it and proceed.

So the editor was eager to read what STRATFOR had to say about Osama bin Laden’s legacy on the fifth anniversary of his death. The analysis by Scott Stewart noted that notwithstanding Bin Laden having been first run out of Afghanistan, then largely isolated from operation command of any forces, and ultimately tracked down and killed, his plans for a jihad against the West have pretty much gone according to plan, a central part of which was to draw US forces into combat in the Muslim world. “A man was dead, but the ideology of jihadism was going to continue to pose a threat,” Stewart wrote about the elimination of the CIA-trained mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Stewart also noted the split among jihadis between the al Qaeda and Islamic State factions and predicted that it would endure. He acknowledged the difficulty that governments have in waging wars against amorphous ideologies rather than armies in the field or defined organizations.

So what was the conclusion? First, that “the world simply cannot kill or arrest its way out of this problem;” and second, that “strong US leadership and cooperation from an array of regional allies and alliances” is required to confront the jihad.

The latter part of that is disappointing. Yes, it should always be a general principle of US law and foreign policy that to make war against the United States is a course of action that tends to leave one dead. But no, alliances that identify the United States with unsavory regimes in the Muslim world don’t work very well against the jihadis — they just give them political strength. What would be most effective is a policy that allows Islamists who come to power somewhere to receive all due respect and recognition — with not much of that due if they attack the United States on the one hand, but normal relations if they pursue the ordinary means by which countries and peoples relate to one another. The Sunni jihad against the Shiites — or its reverse — is the sort of cause for America to deplore rather than join. Better to pursue the traditional US role of providing a haven for those fleeing all that stuff and seeking to become Americans. It really does become an existential question for the United States because pursuit of the “Long War” against radical Islam that some Pentagon planners project to be ongoing after everyone who reads these words is dead and buried would be an adventure cut short by America’s financial collapse under the weight of such an undertaking.

Bear in mind…

 

Government is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex.
Frank Zappa

 

The game of life is the game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later, with astounding accuracy.
Florence Shinn

 

Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane.
Philip K. Dick

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Dems3s

CELA, Ciencia y tecnología en Panamá

0
Dr. Motta
Dr. Jorge A. Motta. Foto por SENACYT.

Ciencia y tecnología en Panamá

comunicado por el Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos Justo Arosemena (CELA)

Ciencia y tecnología en Panamá son términos exóticos. Son extraños a nuestra vida cotidiana. A pesar de ello, todos los panameños reconocemos inmediatamente sus aportes: la iluminación de las noches oscuras, salud y los vuelos al espacio, sólo por mencionar algunos. La poca percepción del valor de la ciencia y la tecnología en Panamá, es aún más difícil de comprender cuando se trata de los políticos que dirigen los destinos de la República.

Sucede con frecuencia que para estas personas, la ciencia no sólo es exótica sino también exógena. Es decir, algo que está más allá de nuestras fronteras. Los beneficios de la ciencia, aducen, pueden comprarse en un laboratorio o consultora en los países más o menos desarrollados.

La ciencia no es percibida por los políticos como un poderoso instrumento que puede contribuir al engrandecimiento del país. La ciencia en el país debe estar al servicio del bienestar de la población. Es imprescindible fomentar y valorar la investigación científica. La Secretaría Nacional de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (SENACYT), creada con este fin, ha sufrido un serio golpe al negársele el presupuesto mínimo para cumplir con sus responsabilidades. El Secretario Nacional de Ciencia, doctor Jorge Motta, ha denunciado este hecho e identifica al Ministerio de Economía y Finanzas como el obstáculo.

El CELA apoya al doctor Jorge Motta, secretario nacional de la SENACYT, en su lucha para promover la ciencia, pieza vital en cualquier esfuerzo por elevar los niveles de vida de la población panameña mediante sus propios esfuerzos.

El CELA exige que el gobierno recapacite y le proporcione a la SENACYT los recursos mínimos para que continúe su labor en todos los ámbitos del país.

El CELA considera urgente re-educar a la clase dirigente del país para que se ponga al servicio de las demandas nacionales y se coloque a la cabeza de los movimientos que promuevan la ciencia y la tecnología en Panamá.

 

~ ~ ~
Estos anuncios son interactivos. Toque en ellos para seguir a las páginas de web

 

Spanish PayPal button

Tweet

FB esp

The Nidal Waked indictment

0

indictmentClick here to read the indictment (PDF)

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Dems3s

Harrington, Mr. Varela back from Washington

0
Varela at DHS
Grim scene: Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela at the US Department of Homeland Security, as US moves against members of the Waked family and some 70 businesses of theirs were unfolding. Photo by the Presidencia.

Une petite veló

by Kevin Harrington-Shelton

President Juan Carlos Varela’s address at the Council of the Americas attempted to jawbone his way through the country’s growing political instability. Polls show nearly 80 percent of Panamanians no longer believe anything his government says. Yet, in a reality disconnect, the president used his favorite buzzword (“transparency”) a total of seven times. But not once about actually putting it into practice. And although “actions speak louder than words,” he has not issued any executive regulations to ensure information in the public interest is distributed widely, rather than to media selected to ensure the less flattering bits are glossed over (in exchange for access). Varela’s lack of political will on transparency is worse even, than a management style that might only charitably be described as sloth-like.

Case in point. Despite a reference evidently for export-only, about the rule of law and “an overriding commitment to transparency and accountability in the use of public funds,” Mr. Varela has yet to have his minister for canal affairs report to the National Assembly floor regarding the canal expansion, as mandated by a 2006 law still on the books. Nor has the contract for such works ever been made available for public inspection — as provided for by the Transparency Law (formally) en force. Similar fiction involves “investing the public funds with transparency to ensure the access to drinking water, basic sanitation, decent housing, education, healthcare and transportation” which is belied in a country (quite literally) falling apart.

Neither did our president add value to an improved understanding the Süddeutsche Papers. Scarcely a word either, about the star-studded Stieglitz Commission, nor about the demand side of the drug trafficking equation. His motherhood and apple pie policy statement (“our country is committed towards the automatic exchange of tax information in a bilateral way”) does not jibe with France’s April 11 “calls on all countries to subscribe to the agreement signed in Berlin in October 2014.” The French had been even less impressed by his Flashman-like brinksmanship — using a last-moment telephone call to (unsuccessfully) dissuade Francois Hollande from following ministerial advice regarding re-insertion onto a non-cooperative offshore blacklist — and then subsequently criticizing the French head of state for having disregarded his spur of the moment plea. Between the lines the subsequent ultimatum by its treasury minister let on that automatic exchanges were sine qua non for Gallic peace. Such poor statesmanship prompted a long-time member of his Panamameñista party to express publicly that the April 18 Paris talks would best have been handled by Varela’s foreign minister (and vice president) Mrs. Isabel De St. Malo de Alvarado, who “undoubtedly enjoys the best public image within the government, as reflected by the sincerity of her demeanor.”

Last, but certainly not least, regarding omissions: while in Washington, Mr. Varela not once made a fleeting reference to the lack of level playing fields that lie at the heart of the offsore tax evasion controversy (which is sure to flare up — again — on Monday, with Suddeutsche’s announced second dump). Interest might well be growing hard by the Beltway, in Delaware, and further afield, in Nevada and Wyoming, The president might have defused revelations that the Mossack Fonseca & Co (BVI) Ltd. had suffered “an administrative penalty in the amount of $37,500” for “failing to carry out the necessary enhanced customer due diligence measures in respect of a high risk customer as required.” And, as the Guardian had it: “For the last 10 years, the analysis suggests, the BVI has been licensing the firm even though it knew it was not fulfilling its legal obligations.” Probity would have presumed that background checks carried out prior to one of the principals’ elevation to the Panamanian cabinet on July 14, 2014 would have brought these references to light — or did they?

Preaching to the choir at the Rockefeller Foundation-sponsored event doubling as powwow highlighting energy development on the subcontinent, Mr. Varela heralded a forthcoming AES (“The power of being global”) methane plant in downtown Colon. But he “forgot” to praise a coal-fired generator at a Canadian open-pit copper mine smack in the middle of the Central American Biological Corridor further up the coast (of the type the World Bank decries as “a disaster for the planet”). Praise was also heaped on the 100-strong regional multinational headquarters program, which houses the families of expatriate managers working in currently-troubled parts of northern South America — hardly the stuff of sustainable development. Our airline hub is what makes the above possible. Yet once COPA went public on the NY Stock Exchange, some 80 percent of its benefits are siphoned out of Panama — with little hope that they will return.

A country lacking a central bank and its own monetary policy is ever walking on eggshells. Leadership and confidence is indispensable in such scenarios.

 

~ ~ ~
These announcements are interactive. Click on them for more information.

 

little donor button

FB_2

Tweet

Dems3s