UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION CENTRE IN PANAMA
19 February – 4 March
Panama headquarters of the UN Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean
Crítica, La Estrella, Panamá América and El Siglo (25 February) state that Panama will be the headquarters of the United Nations Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean. On 24 February Vice President and Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela and Regional Director of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) María Noel Vaeza signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of the offices.
Peruvian women part of UN peace keeping forces
Ellas (25 February) states that 23 women of the Peruvian Air Force will form the first female contingent that will participate in United Nations peace keeping operations. Lt. Col. Dante Gallegos Rengifo explained that the group has received special training to work in war zones and areas struck by natural disasters. At the moment Peru is taking part in the United Nations peace keeping mission in Haiti.
Panamá América, La Estrella and La Prensa (26 February) states that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the United Nations Security Council to take “concrete actions” to stop the violence in Libya. Ban Ki-moon added that “it’s time for the Security Council to consider concrete action. The hours and the days ahead will be decisive for Libyans and their country, with equally important implications for the wider region”. La Prensa (27 February) states that the Security Council has imposed an arms embargo against Libya and issued a travel and asset ban on Muammar Gaddafi and his family. El Siglo (26 February) states that the United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution to consider suspending Libya’s right to membership. The Council has also called for an investigation into human rights abuses in Libya. La Estrella (26 February) quotes United Nations High Commissioned for human Rights Navi Pillay when she asked the world “to step in vigorously and end the government’s brutal suppression of protests in Libya”.
El Siglo, La Prensa (27 February), Panamá América and La Estrella (26 February) state that the United States government will impose unilateral sanctions against Libya. President Barack Obama said that Gaddafi lost legitimacy and needs to leave immediately.
Inequality in Panama
La Prensa, El Siglo and La Estrella (23 February) report on the 2010 Human Development Report (HDR), presented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). According to the report the conditions of life of the Panamanians have improved a lot over the last 20 years. Panama moved from an index of 0.64 in 1990 to 0.75 in 2010, which means life expectancy and access to education and public health care have increased. Despite the fact that Panama is listed among the 43 counties with a high Human Development Index (IDH) there is a lot of inequality and poverty in parts of the country. Panama ranks 54th on the Human Development Index, but would lose 20 points if the inequality variable would be applied.
Changes Mining Code still causing conflict
La Estrella and El Siglo (23 February) report on the agreement about the controversial changes to the mining code, which two representatives of the Ngäbe Buglé indigenous people and the Panamanian Government signed on 21 February. According to two representatives of the Coordinating Traditional Congress of the Ngäbe Buglé comarca the people who signed the agreement had been bought over, as a result of which the agreement is a farce. Rogelio Moreno, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Ngäbe Buglé, had no right to do so as only the Ngäbe Buglé Congress can agree upon an agreement or resolution.
(At this time the Cabinet revoked the controversial mining law.)
Election of ombudsman criticized
La Prensa (4 March) reports on the election of Patria Portugal as ombudsman in Panama. Various groups within the civil society questioned the election, stating that Portugal became ombudsman because President Martinelli wanted so and that the appointment of Portugal will further weaken an institution that has never been independent in the first place. Juan Jované stated that Martinelli’s support demonstrates that the government tells the other state organs what to do, which can be called authoritarianism. Rafael Chavarría stated that the election of the new ombudsman shows that democracy is at risk in Panama.