Panama: 37th OAS General Assembly, A Trail of Poisoned Medicine and Update on the New Immigration and Health Laws

# At the same time the OEA (OAS, Organization of American States) celebrated their thirty-seventh Regular Session of the OEA General Assembly in Panama from June 3-5, 2007, there were many congregations of groups peacefully protesting against the recent developments in Venezuela, involving the closing of RCTV which, to many, limits and conditions free speech and freedom. The local TV stations ceased operations for 30 seconds in the morning and 30 seconds in the afternoon, showing only the image we are sharing here. The message reads "Sin expresión no hay libertad, ni en Venezuela ni en el resto del mundo," which means "Without free speech there is no freedom, in Venezuela or in the rest of the world."

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Local newspapers in their websites and a group of bloggers also participated with the initiative. Learn more by visiting Diablo Rojo.

# Suntracs.org shares the audio file (ES) of the speach Canciller Maduro from Venezuela gave at the OEA's General Assembly meeting in Panama.

# From LaPrensa Blog, a very controversial issue is exposed. ¿Cómo evalúa usted las investigaciones por las muertes con medicamentos contaminados? (How do you evaluate the investigations of the deaths by contaminated medication?)

El tema de los medicamentos contaminados que provocaron la muerte a un centenar de panameños, cada día toma un giro distinto. Éste semana el Ministerio Público ordenó la detención de actual director de la Caja de Seguro Social, René Luciani, para ser indagado con respecto al tema. Igualmente se ordenó la detención de los ex directores Rolando Villalaz y Juan Jované.

Sin embargo, el proceso ha estado caracterizado por su lentitud, han pasado ocho meses desde que se supo del caso y la fecha todo sigue confuso y sin vistas de ser aclarado.

This process of investigating the death of more than a hundred Panamanians by the ingestion of contaminated medication takes a new turn every day. This week the detention of Rene Luciani was ordered, the current Director of the Caja de Seguro Social (Social Security Agency) to give testimony about the case. Rolando Villalaz and Juan Jovane, ex directors of the same institution were also called for the preliminary inquiries.

Nevertheless, the characteristic of this process has been slowness, it has been eight months since we learned about the case and to date it remains confuse and unsolved.

Head over to LaPrensa Blog to read the complete report and the array of interesting comments.

# The Noriegaville News meditates on the new immigration law and new health regulations from a different perspective: Panama stands firm against dangers of tourism.

First of all, if visitors came to Panama with the idea to stay for six weeks or so to find property or spend a couple of months in their condo or vacation home, they will find that a freshly implemented law makes this a criminal activity. The duration of the tourist visa has been reduced from 90 days (the standard all over Central America) to 30 days only, and for an extension one has to go through the nightmarish bureaucracy at the Immigration service.

Carry your obligatory vaccination card!The new visa regime is not the only measure the government takes against tourists entering the country. A new law is being debated in the National Assembly that makes it obligatory for anyone in Panama or entering Panama to carry a "vaccination card" as proof of having been vaccinated against unspecified diseases. Read more

# Panama Guide reports on the changes on immigration law in Panama: Update on the 30-Day Tourist Visa Issue.

Today I interviewed Lic. Karen Zamora, the Chief of Investigation for Panama's Department of Immigration, regarding the recent changes to the tourist visa law. She said they can instantly check the status of any tourist in Panama using a new and sophisticated computer system. They capture the tourist movement data at entry points such as Tocumen Airport and Paso Canoas for every entry and exit, and they have the technology to instantly check on the status of any tourist in the country at any time (pretty cool). She demonstrated the technology using a mock suspect, and said "he last entered in January and has not left, so he's currently illegal." They can also now easily see the multiple tourist entries and exits over time, so they know who are the "perpetual tourists." She added that anyone who enters Panama after 22 May 2007 falls under the new law and regulations, and that anyone who was in the country prior to that date will be treated under the old regulations. She said that they know this is a period of transition and that there are people who have gotten "caught in the change" to the new law. Read the complete article

# Panama Guide shares some vital information: FAQ: What Shots Do I Need For Panama?

Panama's Ministry of Health is tasked by law to specify what vaccinations are required. Their program is called the "Programa Ampliado de lnmunizaciones" (PAI) (Extended Immunization Program). Within this program they publish the "Esquema Nacional de Inmunizaciones" (National Immunization Scheme), which specifies what vaccinations are required by who, at what age, special conditions, etc. So far I have not been able to find a link to this document (but I know it's there somewhere.) The new law as published does not contain a comprehensive list of required vaccinations, but rather simply talks about new vaccinations that will be funded through the law and provided to the Panamanian population through the new immunization program. There are, however, other sources that will work as a start for now. Read more

# Boquete Guide finds an unique place in Volcan, Chiriqui: Road Trips from Boquete: Sitio Barriles, an amazing archeology site which lays secret to most of visitors and residents.

Of all the places I have been so far in Chiriqui this site is most amazing. Three distinct cultures inhabiting this one area in a 2600 year span. Distinct cultures if their images and artifacts are indicative. It is theorized one was Asian and another African both in about the same time frame. And then Mayan at about 900 AD.

I cannot recommend this day trip enough if this bit of history is of interest to you. Edna takes her time to explain it all and answers questions. Oh cost, we never asked and even after Jennifer bought some trees and other plants and I gave a large gratuity the cost was far less than Finca Dracula. Read on

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6 comments

  • RCTV didn’t get CLOSED, it just expired the license.

  • If they can’t broadcast what is the difference?

  • I agree, if they can not broadcast its closed.

  • Edgar Brown

    The non-renewal of the RCTV license required an active role by the government, with clear justifications of why. RCTV had the right to appeal the decision, a right that was denied. Furthermore RCTV equipment was confiscated (dare I say illegally when the very chavista supreme court is the one generating the confiscation order?); which on its own can be typified, through the constitution itself, as illegal.

    So spun in any way, it was a closing, a very unconstitutional pillage and closing of the main venue for a dissenting voice in Venezuela. And, as any international organization and press organization in the world has clearly stated, a crime against freedom of expression in Venezuela.

    That the OAS, and specially its president, decided to ignore this as possible violation of its democratic provisions speaks very poorly of the future of this body. So much so, that Bolivia’s president decided to do the same thing a couple of days later with their main opposition newspaper.

  • I am not surprised to learn about Bolivia’s president taking a similar action.

  • Which Bolivian newspaper was this? This is the first that I’ve heard of this claim.

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