Week in Review – Vol. 34#11


The “severe” El Niño effect on rainfall has diminished the catchment of the Panama Canal watershed and is causing lower levels in the Gatun reservoir, the main source of water for the operation of the waterway and water supply for human consumption. The phenomenon, says the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), could cause a restriction on the draft of ships, if insufficient rains continue in the area.


The Panama government seeks to turn the country into a certified international logistics hub through the new training center of the National Institute of Human Development (INADEH) in the Panama Pacific Special Economic Area. “We are currently working on the first stage with the private sector; analyzing curricula to prepare teachers to provide such training,” said the Vice Minister of the Presidency, Augusto Arosemena, who heads the Logistics Office.


In order to train both Panamanians and foreigners, there are plans to open, by September, the International Logistics Training Center. For the construction of this center an investment of $9 million has been made and it will have more than 10 areas of technology training for the logistics sector.


The Ministry of Environment inspected with members of the Attorney General’s Office and the Ecological Police, the pier at Juan Diaz, which is within the Panama Bay wetland refuge, where they detected filling work and an effect on land for wildlife. According to the environmental agency inspectors they arrived in the area following a complaint, and found that these works did not have an “environmental management plan or permits from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Municipality of Panama or other entities.”


Former President Ricardo Martinelli was in a hurry to acquire a system for wiretapping and other functions of espionage from the Italian company, Hacking Team, that facilitated the process. This is evidenced by the emails exchanged between the company and its representatives in Panama, filtered after the “hack” and available online.


The state has allocated $900 million to cleaning up Panama Bay, in an attempt to eliminate discharges of sewage into the rivers. But updating the master plan for this project reflects increased investment. It has identified 15 necessary investments in the districts of Panama and San Miguelito totaling $1.321 million.


Temporary Penal Center facilities on Punta Coco island violate human rights, concluded the Ombudswoman following an inspection on July 10. Ombudswoman, Lilia Herrera, recommended to the Ministry of Government the closure of the facility and requested the transfer of detainees Azael Ramos, Joseph Cossio and Carlos Mosquera, all processed for gang connections, drug trafficking and other serious crimes, presently in the facility.


The Canadian bank, Scotiabank, announced the acquisition of the business of the U.S. personal and commercial bank Citi Bank in Panama and Costa Rica. The operation, of which the amount is not known, is a sign of the divergent paths of U.S. based banks operating in the region.


“The substitute deputies should be stripped of their seats and the Electoral Tribunal call new elections,” was the conclusion of the secretary of the Front Against Corruption, Enrique “Chito” Montenegro, after 29 substitute deputies were reported to the Supreme Court for collecting two salaries.


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised down its growth projections for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2015, although in the case of Panama, it held at an estimate of 6%, the highest in the region. The director for the Western Hemisphere Department of the IMF, Alejandro Werner, said that Panama has been slowing from very high rates that exceeded 10% growth.

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