Bernal, A complaint about the ports contract extension

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The Port of Balboa. Panama Maritime Authority photo.

Criminal complaint

by Miguel Antonio Bernal

On June 25, the Board of Directors Resolution No. 043-2021, of June 23, 2021, was published in the Gaceta Oficial, by means of which the administrator of the MARITIME AUTHORITY OF PANAMA is authorized to respond to the request extension for 25 years to the PANAMA PORTS COMPANY SA contract, by means of which the concession for the development, construction, operation, administration and management of the Ro-Ro container, passenger, bulk cargo and cargo terminals is granted. in general, and their respective infrastructures, at the ports of Balboa and Cristóbal.

Regardless of the serious economic damage that said extension entails for the interests of the Republic of Panama and its population, I rely on the fact that the President of the Republic, LAURENTINO CORTIZO COHEN, stated in a ceremony held on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in the corregimiento of Juan Díaz, that the decision to extend the aforementioned contract was due to the fact that, if not, “the country would face a lawsuit.”

The fact that the representative of the executive branch publicly declared that the extension contract was signed in order not to face a lawsuit, suggests that the representatives of PANAMA PORTS COMPANY SA, warned the national government of such a possibility, forcing it to sign the extension. of the aforementioned contract.

That being the case, was there an open intimidation against the Republic of Panama in said decision that forced it to make a decision in favor of PANAMA PORTS COMPANY S.A.?

This conduct would be punished by Article 151 of the Penal Code:

“Whosoever through violence, intimidation or serious threat, to obtain an improper profit or any other benefit or to purcure such for a third party, forces another person to make a property disposition, to provide information or to tolerate, do or omit anything that harms or harms a third party, will be punished with a prison term of five to ten years.”

The reading of the aforementioned rule reveals, based on the statements of President Cortizo, that the offense was constituted when the Panamanian state received an intimidation or a threat on the part of PANAMA PORTS COMPANY SA, consisting of a lawsuit if the proprietary extension was not ordered in its favor.

It is mandatory for the Public Ministry to initiate, as a matter of urgency, an investigation that leads to determine whether such intimidation or threats really


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