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Volume 15, Number 16
October 20, 2009

news

Also in this section:
Long-time Martinelli accountant to be next Comptroller General
Ana Matilde Gómez and her woes
Colombian racketeer's extradition to USA may affect Panama
Martinelli and the Venes
Minnesota scam proceeds may be here
Indigenous protest at the Presidencia
The tenor of political discourse among Americans
Bosco's drug running city police chief back in prison
Vaya con Dios, Presidente Endara

A loyal Martinelli employee who once before went with him into the public sector
Gioconda Torres de Bianchini to be the next Comptroller General
by Eric Jackson

Early in the evening of October 20 Gioconda Torres de Bianchini, a CPA who has been overseeing the audits of President Martinelli's Importadora Ricamar food importing company, was elected in a 43-19 party line vote as the nation's next Comptroller General. The watchdog post has wide powers to approve or disapprove public spending or contracts, and to investigate the finances of public bodies at all levels. Her token competition was PRD legislator Abraham Martínez. Elected along with her as her second-in-command was Chiriqui businessman Luis Felipe Icaza. De Bianchini and Torres take office next January 1.

This will not be Mrs. Bianchini's first time in a public post. When Martinelli served as Social Security director during the Pérez Balladares administration, she served as head of accounting for the Social Security Fund. During those years, Martinelli occasionally clashed with employee unions. That administration's worst moment was when Martinelli was stymied when 11 kidney dialysis patients died, most likely from bad chemicals used in the machines, but an investigation was hampered by a wall of silence and the apparent destruction of evidence, which in turn prompted criticism of Martinelli's management. However, during those years there were never any financial scandals in the Social Security Fund --- that being something outside the norms for that institution --- and on the basis of her performance overseeing Seguro's finances Bianchini received the endorsement of some prominent anti-corruption activists.

The Comptroller General is a five-year appointment by the National Assembly rather than the president. Five years ago Martinelli criticized the selection of the outgoing comptroller, Carlos Vallarino, claiming that his main credentials were long-standing activism in the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and membership in former President Torrijos's inner circle of confidantes. This time around some in the PRD tried to turn this criticism around against Torres de Bianchini and Martinelli, but the comparison did not seem to stick in the public mind. The president, for his part, has denied that he interfered with or prompted this legislative decision; and it appears that people draw a distinction between 15 years as a confidential employee of Ricardo Martinelli's private businesses and long years working as a PRD member in public posts.


Also in this section:
Long-time Martinelli accountant to be next Comptroller General
Ana Matilde Gómez and her woes
Colombian racketeer's extradition to USA may affect Panama
Martinelli and the Venes
Minnesota scam proceeds may be here
Indigenous protest at the Presidencia
The tenor of political discourse among Americans
Bosco's drug running city police chief back in prison
Vaya con Dios, Presidente Endara



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© 2009 by Eric Jackson
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