Panama City Mayor Resigns

The resignation of the Mayor of Panama's capital city, amidst still unclear circumstances, marked the start of the 2012 political intrigues. Newspaper La Prensa [es] reports on its website:

El alcalde capitalino Bosco Ricardo Vallarino presentó este jueves, 12 de enero, su renuncia a ese puesto, mediante una carta enviada a la gobernadora de la provincia de Panamá, Mayín Correa.

La información se confirmó a través de un comunicado de prensa enviado vía correo electrónico, en el que se adjuntó una copia de la carta firmada por Vallarino. Vallarino explicó que está obligado a someterse a un tratamiento radioactivo que pueda revertir dos severas afectaciones que pesan sobre su salud.

The Mayor from the capital Bosco Ricardo Vallarino presented on Thursday, January 2, his resignation to that office, through a letter sent to Mayín Correa, Governor of the province of Panama.

The information was confirmed in a press release sent via e-mail, with a copy of the letter signed by Vallarino [es] attached. Vallarino explained he must undergo radioactive treatment in order to revert two severe issues affecting his health.

The news arrives in the midst of confusion because the now former Mayor belongs to the centre-right Panameñista (Arnulfista) party, which had been allied to the ruling party (right-wing Democratic Change, or Cambio Democrático [CD] in Spanish) until last year when they broke relations. The Panama City mayorship is one of the most coveted political positions, and the office will now be occupied by Roxana Méndez, from the ruling party.

Panama City. Picture from Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons Attribution 1.0 Generic licence (CC BY 1.0)

Bosco Vallarino was severly criticized during his administration, and in several occassions was publicly warned by President Ricardo Martinelli. His resignation also occurs in the midst of a Supreme Court ruling which could revoke his citizenship, and therefore his position. Vallarino had adopted US citizenship voluntarily without being entitled to it by birth or family relationships, which, according to the Constitution, forbids him from being a Panamanian citizen. Nevertheless, this fact had been ignored during the elections, and after winning a law was passed which restored his citizenship and all his rights, including being elected Mayor.

Two years later, the law was about to be revoked; Vallarino preferred to resign before the Court's ruling and after a meeting with the president where there were allegedly conflicts and arguments. This was denied by the president, who wrote on his Twitter account (@rmartinelli [es]):

Altercados o discusiones no he tenido con nadie en el dia ayer

I didn't have any disputes nor arguments with anyone yesterday

The resignation has caused all kinds of reactions on social networks, from those who agree with Vallarino's decision, to those who see the action as an abuse of power by the president.

Lulu’s Cake (@lulu20cake [es]) thinks the resignation was a blow to democracy and wrote on her Twitter account:

No pertenezco a ningún partido político, pero todo este caso de Bosco, es un golpe muy duro para nuestra democracia. Muy injusto.

I don't belong to any political party, but this whole Bosco case is a very hard blow to our democracy. It's very unfair.

Jose Blandon (@BlandoJose [es]), deputy to the National Assembly and advisor to the now former mayor, wrote a tweet along the same lines:

Habrá quienes se vanaglorien y piensen q Bosco perdió. Perdió nuestra democracia. Pero la lucha por defenderla, debe continuar.

There will be those boasting and thinking Bosco lost. Our democracy lost. But the fight to defend it must go on.

Ubaldo Davis (@DavisZone [es]) comments that if Vallarino had nothing to fear he wouldn't have resigned, no matter how much pressure was put on him:

Dicen q la verdad Bosco renuncio por presión, el que no la debe no la teme, la plata jamás le ganara a la verdad

They say the truth is that Bosco resigned because of pressure, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, money won't ever beat truth

There were also tweets that handled the ex-mayor's situation humorously; for example, Delmiro Quiroga (@delmiroquiroga [es]) refers to the participation of the former mayor in the Panamanian version of Bailando por un sueño (“Dancing for a dream”) and tweets:

El gobierno falló, debió haber puesto que la gente llamara a un número o mandara un chat si querían salvar a Bosco.

The government failed, it should have made people call a number or send a chat if they wanted to save Bosco.

Gina Lee (@nowginalee [es]) jokingly writes about the way Bosco Vallarino went from being a widely criticized Mayor to becoming a popular personality:

everybody loves raymond es un detalle a lado del nuevo show panameño everybody loves bosco.

Everybody loves Raymond is nothing compared to the new Panamanian show Everybody loves Bosco.

The Mayor's party, the Panameñista party, made a statement where the vice president reminded President Ricardo Martinelli that he would be judged by the Panamanian people. La Prensa reports [es]:

“El mismo pueblo que te eligió te verá juzgado y derrotado”. Este fue el mensaje que le envió esta tarde el vicepresidente de la República y presidente del Partido Panameñista, Juan Carlos Varela, al presidente de la República, Ricardo Martinelli, tras reaccionar a la renuncia de Bosco Vallarino como alcalde de Panamá luego de presiones del mandatario.

“The same people who elected you will see you judged and defeated.” This was the message sent this afternoon by the Vice President of the Republic and president of Panameñista Party, Juan Carlos Varela, to the President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli, after reacting to Bosco Vallarino's resignation as Mayor of Panama (City) under pressure from the president.

Finally, blogger Joao Q reflects on this resignation and writes on his blog MedioCerrado [es]:

Sí, podrá decirse que una vez más se pisotea la institucionalidad y la legalidad dentro de gobierno, pero en honor a la verdad esto era como el título de una famosa novela de García Márquez, Crónica de una Muerte Anunciada. En buena parte nosotros mismos como votantes nos buscamos eso (ustedes porque yo voté por Bernal) al votar por Bosco, por ser como dice Andrés Vega “Domplin”: un pueblo demasiado emocional, por olvidar las razones al llegar a las urnas y estampar el gancho en la casilla del que tiene más cara de bonachón, por el que más llora o más caridad hace frente a las cámaras de televisión. Esta debe ser una lección para nosotros, un castigo por ser un pueblo que gusta del dramatismo y del escándalo. Bosco es la personificación de todo eso llevado al extremo y ya fuimos testigos de su tragicomedia que en buena parte también es la nuestra.

Yes, arguably once more the institutionality and legality inside the government are trampled on, but in honour of the truth this was like the title of a famous novel by García Márquez, Chronicle of a Death Foretold. To a good extent we as voters asked for this (you, because I voted for [Miguel Antonio] Bernal) by voting for Bosco, by being, as Andrés Vega “Domplin” says: too emotional, by leaving reasons behind when getting to the polls and marking the face of the one who seems most easy-going, the one who cries more, or the most generous in front of TV cameras. This should be a lesson for us, a punishment for being people who love drama and scandals. Bosco is the personification of all that taken to a extreme and we've already been witnesses of his tragicomedy, which is ours too, to a large extent.
Betsy Galbreath contributed to this translation.

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