Welcome friends from around this great world to the October edition of the Panama Nuggets NEWSLETTER for 2007.
First my apologies for the late newsletter. My lame excuse is that I was waiting for two important events to resolve themselves. First, was Manuel Noriega returning to Panama? and second, was the government going to reinstate its 90 day tourist visa. On both those counts nothing has been resolved. Noreiga is still, thankfully, languishing in a Florida jail and the government still hasn't made up its mind on the 90 day visa – although from the people I have talked to, it does seem that it will remain 30 days for US and Canadian citizens.
Anti-Americanism rears its ugly head?
I really don't like to write anything negative about Panama, but if I am a journalist worth his salt, then I must report the bad with the good. There has been a change in the governments attitude toward the US and Canada. The head of the ruling party in Panama the PRD (Revolutionary Progressive Party of Panama) recently elected Pedro Miguel Gonzalez as party leader and head of the national assembly. Pedro Miguel was alleged to have murdered a US soldier in 1992, just before the visit of US president George H. Bush.
The Panamanian courts found him innocent of this crime but the US feels the trial was a farce. The election is a slap in the face to US sensitivities in this area. The proposed free trade deal between the US and Panama is clearly in question.
What is happening in Panama?
The government of Martin Trujillos was elected on a promise of “zero corruption.” But after being elected one of Trujillos's first acts was to stop the corruption investigations of the former president's Balladeres and Moscoso. A recent poll shows that the majority of people in Panama believe there is more corruption now than in the final year of the Mireya Moscoso administration. I have a source connected to the banking industry, and I am told that there is more money laundering going on now, than in the time of Manuel Noreiga.
Which brings us to the case of the ex-dictator. Many people may scratch their head and wonder why Noriega is doing everything he can to be extradited to Panama instead of France? The truth is that if, and when, Noriega comes here he will not spend one single night in Jail. The law in Panama states that persons over 70 will instead go under house arrest. Noriega is seventy three year of age, and his former home in the Golf district of Panama has been receiving a paint job and face-lift, no doubt in expectation of his return to “luxury” house arrest.
The old political party of Noriega is the PRD, the party currently in power and the party that still has many of Noriega's cronies in positions of power. Skeptics might say that the reason Noriega wants to come back to Panama is that because his friends in power will ensure that he does not go to jail and eventually will engineer a decision from the supreme court that will “magically” find that he has served his time and will grant him complete freedom – freedom to enjoy his hidden millions of dollars and freedom to possibly return to political power?
The good people of Panama hopefully will make their presence and desire felt and ensure that this country, so full of promise, continues on it’s course to true democracy.
Is Panama still my number one choice as a retirement destination? Yes it is!