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Panama National Elections

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This Sunday (May 3) Panama's national elections will take place. It's basically a non-event for those of us who are just guests in this country - except for the noise (VERY LOUD music seems to be an important factor in getting your candidate's message out to the voters), the traffic jams (long lines of cars - with BIG speaker systems playing the aforementioned LOUD MUSIC and blowing their horns) and the ubiquitous fireworks.

I did find something a tad unusual when I visited the Panama Guide (online English language news) and read this article related to the election process. The short version - command of Panama's security forces (basically the police) has been transfered to the Electoral Tribunal until the election has been completed and the results certified. While this is largely symbolic (today) it stems from the not too distant past when incumbents (not liking the outcome) would declare martial law, void the election results, and use the army to retain power.

For us, it will be a "stay at home" weekend to avoid all the excitement. Take care.

Special Note: Panama does NOT have an Army - their constitution prohibits having one. The country has a National Police Force, National Sea and Air Service (maritime security), National Border Service, and some judicial police. The army departed with Manuel Noriega and most Panamanians appear to like it that way.

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