Panama’s President Assesses His First Year
In an interview with local newspaper La Prensa, President of Panama Ricardo Martinelli voiced satisfaction with his first year in power while acknowledging setbacks.
Martinelli recognized that his set of “Nine in One” laws opposed by labor unions and environmental movements pushed through pro-business legislation without allowing time for adequate assessment.
However, he argued that his one, five-year term gave him limited time to secure reforms. Martinelli’s popularity has seen a decline since he took office and now runs at less than 50 percent.
In his coalition deal to form the government, Martinelli agreed to a single five-year term, and will step aside in the enxt election (four years away) to permit his coalition partners to run for President.
His other major setbacks have been the rising crime rate, particularily drug gang related murders. He also raised the retail sales tax and lowered corporate taxes, a move which has been very unpopular.
Martinelli, a billionaire businessman owns the supermarket chain Super 99,as well as many other business interests in Panama.
Cover painting by Yolanda Van Der Kolk (http://www.yolandavanderkolk.com)