Panama: Netizens Urge President to Sign Law to Protect Animals

Update (12 April, 2012):

President Ricardo Martinelli decided to veto Law 308 that protected domestic animals. According to the President the veto is simply to correct some interpretations. He tweeted (@rmartinelli) [es] that, “only an article of the bill has been vetoed so that students can continue to carry out experiments in schools. Everything is O.K.” This, however, takes the law back to the National Assembly and domestic animals still don't have a law that protects them.


Panama's National Assembly passed a new law to protect domestic animals. The Animal & Nature Friend Association of Panama [es] celebrated the new law with an emotional post on its website:

Después de muchos meses, mucha persistencia, mucha constancia el Proyecto de Ley 308 es un hecho. Nos unimos, discutimos, se negoció, lloramos, reímos y en el día jueves 15 de marzo de 2012 se hizo historia, el Proyecto de Ley 308 que ampara a los animales domésticos, es un hecho.

After many months, a lot of persistence and constancy, the Project of Law 308 is a fact. We joined together, discussed, negotiated, cried, and laughed. And on Tuesday, 15 March 2012, we made history. The Project of Law 308, which protects domestic animals, is a fact.

Angels of Animals, a group dedicated to picking up animals from the streets and finding them a new place to live share with Internet users the complete law on their webpage [es]:

Que contiene las modificaciones y adiciones introducidas al Proyecto de Ley No. 308, “Por medio de la cual se dictan medidas de protección a los animales, reforma normas penales y dicta otras disposiciones para mantener un trato digno a los animales domésticos”.

That contains the modifications and additions introduced to the Project of Law 308 “The project contains measures of animal protection, penal regulations and other dispositions reforms to maintain an honorable way of life for animals”.

Netizens are also sharing this video to inform about the law:

However, nineteen days after the law was passed by the Assembly, it still hasn't been sanctioned by the president. In Panama, the signature of the President is necessary in order to pass or veto a law.

On the March 31, President Ricardo Martinelli (@rmartinelli) [es] wrote an enigmatic tweet saying that he could partially veto the law 308:

Aun en legal de la presidencia la ley 308 Tan pronto finalize analisis se firma entera o se veta parcialmente. Igual con seguros, minera.

As it is still on hold in the presidency, as soon as the analysis finalizes, Law 308 will be signed completely or vetoed partially. The same will happen with the insurances and mining [laws].

The issue didn't go unnoticed in social networks, causing a lot of reactions against the president and requests to pass the law as soon as possible. The hashtag #ley308 [es] was created and Twitter users encouraged each other to write to the president as a measure of pressure.

Edward Allen (@DjEdwardAllen) [es] uses the president's campaign slogan, “los locos somos más” (“we crazy people are the majority”), to request the ratification of the law:

Los que estamos Locos por los Animales somos Mas! Porfavor firme ya la #ley308!! @rmartinelli @angelesanimales

“The ones crazy about animals are the majority! Please sign the #ley308!! @rmartinelli @angelesanimales

Elisa Sánchez (@Elisa_TaoTao) [es] promises to keep on writing to the president until he signs the law:



Amie Lurie (@AmieLurie) [es] wonders which are the reasons that prevent the president from signing the law completely and she reminds him that his presidency is in a constant evolution:

Pq tanta vuelta le da para firmar?Q se lo impide??@rmartinelli no todo es jumboferias y el metro tambien hay cosas mas importantes #ley308

Why so much hesitation about signing? What impedes him to do it ?@rmartinelli it's not all about jumboferias and the subway. There are more important issues. #ley308

But not everybody shares the same urgency about the ratification of the law. In the blog Chrisfaw [es] blogger Chris Faw confesses that he thinks that there are more important and urgent issues in Panama, such as stopping the increasing violence in the country, although he clarifies that promoting the law is an honest, worthy and important effort.

Me parece crítico que pongamos tanto empeño en aprobar esto, tomándolo como un problema fundamental y viendo cómo tanta gente se involucra con esto, mientras que muchos panameños pierden la vida a causa de la violencia a manos de otro ser humano. Dice mucho de nosotros como sociedad que haya más interés no provocado* para con la prevención de la violencia contra los animales que para la prevención de la violencia entre las personas.

I think it is quite significant that we put every effort into passing this, considering it a fundamental problem and seeing the quantity of people involved, while many Panamanians lose their lives due to violence from the hands of another human being. The fact that we have a greater interest in the prevention of violence against animals than in the prevention of violence against people says a lot about us as a society.

This law is still waiting to be passed or vetoed while the people keep on discussing the topic on a lot in the social networks. Even international organisations are involved; Humane Society International asked Panama's president to pass the law, as La Estrella de Panamá (The star of Panama) [es] informs:

“Instamos al presidente Martinelli a promulgar esta ley para proteger a muchos animales de la crueldad”, dijo Alexandra Rothlisberger, directora de programas en América Latina para HSI, en un boletín de prensa.

“We urge President Martinelli to enact this law to protect many animals from cruelty”, said Alexandra Rothlisberger, Latin America program director for HSI, in a news bulletin.


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