Archive for January 16th, 2010
Cambio is the Spanish word for change. During the last political campaign, Ricardo Martinelli based his political message in the word change. He said time had come to change to country. For much too long every new president was more of the same. He promised that if he won, he was going to break with the past. As many of you know, he did win by a landslide and has kept his promise. Strong winds of change are sweeping through the country and many are totally surprised—including myself—at the speed and intensity of this unexpected change.
In only five month he has made the following changes in the country:
- Salary improvement to all police officers.
- A $100 monthly bonus to all persons older than 70 years without a Social Security pension.
- Free WiFi Internet connection within the country to promote high-quality education.
- Free school textbooks and school supplies for public sector.
- Construction of a 14-kilometer subway with a price tag of $1.5 billion.
- Implementation of a new transportation system with modern buses (Metro Bus).
- New legislature on tax reform to relief the burden of the middle class.
- Imprisonment of all those connected with corruption practices.
Regarding the last item, nobody thought it would be carried out. It had been a long-standing tradition, that the big fishes were untouchables. I’m referring to Directors, Ministers, Vice-Ministers, and Presidents. They were above the law and they knew it Then came severe blow of the cambio, with Ricardo Martinelli.
Even as we speak, there are two ex-Education Ministers and a City Hall engineer in jail awaiting trial for corruption charges. The Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gómez, is being charged for violating the Constitution and could be removed from office by the Supreme Court of Justice. She allegedly tapped private telephone lines without the authorization of the Judicial Branch.
The latest news, is the capture of a big fish or mono gordo as we call them in Panama. Ex-President Ernesto Pérez Balladares was ordered house arrest for allegedly breaking the law and taking advantage of gambling casinos funds while he was in office.
Former President Ernesto Pérez Balladares was ordered to be held under house arrest after being interviewed by prosecutors Thursday on charges of money laundering and corruption. It’s the first time in the country’s history that a former president has faced criminal charges.
Mr. Balladares is being investigated for allegedly using shell companies to transfer millions of dollars of profits from slot machine parlors into his personal accounts.
As you can see, Panama is experiencing a series of deep cambios it hasn’t seen before. There’s a certain uneasiness in the air with all these wide-range changes; but in the big scheme of things, I would say the public is happy. For the first time, the big shots are arrested for stealing the people’s money. It’s time for a change in this country, and that time is now. Good Day.