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Panama Politics

Ricardo Martinelli, Panama's newly elected president, has been very busy during his first three weeks in office. Most people seem to like what he's doing and just hope he can keep it up. So far:
  • He's announced he will not accept his presidential salary, but will have it sent directly to several non-profits for their use in improving education and health care for the poor. Not a move you'd normally expect from a Central or South American president.
  • He gave the police a 25% raise. Now the base pay for a police officer in Panama is a whopping $6000 a YEAR! At least it's a start.
  • He's taken back a couple of government owned properties where developers had failed to pay the required government fees for use of the land. This was a very BIG DEAL because it gives some hope that the business as usual practice (either not paying concession fees or pay someone under the table) employed by the well connected in Panama may at least slow down.
  • The electrical rates have been reduced by 10%
  • Instituted a new program to pay a $100 monthly check to any Panamanian who is both over 70 years of age and who is not receiving any other kind of monthly pension or payment. Yep, that's $100 a MONTH - suddenly "fixed income" has a new reality.
Should be interesting to watch the new guy at work and see if he can change the "system". It certainly won't be easy.

Take care.

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