Sunday, December 20, 2015


President Varela
Juan Carlos Varela, Panama's beleaguered reform president, has come out and asserted that both his country's financial institutions, and government, have been long infiltrated by powerful organized crime groups, a situation that he will not tolerate. Varela came into office on a reformist platform, and immediately began an anti-corruption campaign, seeking to cashier corrupt judges and government officials from the administration of his predecessor, Ricardo Martinelli, now himself facing criminal charges.

If you saw the photo, posted here Friday, of the large bulk cash seizure that took place in Panama, the fact that the individual arrested was a government employee was only the latest in a string of offenses committed by corrupt government officials and staff members, whose affiliation with known drug gangs is a sad fact of political life in Panama. Likewise, the fact that Panama's firmly entrenched organized crime group, composed largely of individuals of Middle Eastern extraction, owns or controls many of Panama's money laundering banks, has frustrated any efforts to control financial crime in the Republic.

Mainstream Panama city newspapers and television stations refused to carry the president's strong remarks, reinforcing the fact that corrupt influence extends to the media as well.

Some observers, who have questioned why the United States is not very active in the current anti-corruption efforts, and in money laundering investigations, have concluded that the Panamanian financial and governmental structures are so rotten with criminal infiltration, that any effective clean-up is impossible. Foreign capital has been leaving Panama, in significant numbers, of late, and it is not being replaced by new "flight capital" that is legitimate. Is Panama on downward spiral ?  


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