Panama: The Mrs. next?

Of the women presidents in Latin America, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Isabel Peron of Argentina, and Mireya Moscoso of Panama became presidents because of their husbands. Now Panama may get a wife as VP, coupled with lack of transparency:
Panama’s King Moves the Queen
President Martinelli can’t run for re-election, so he’s picked his wife to be the candidate for VP.

Center-right Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli is an outspoken critic of Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro. Back home in Panama, though, Mr. Martinelli is laying the groundwork for a power grab of his own. If he prevails the region will take another step backward on the freedom trail, yet the Obama State Department remains silent.

Mr. Martinelli’s term ends on July 1 and the constitution bars him from re-election. But the wealthy supermarket magnate is not letting go so easily. He has made his wife, Marta, the vice-presidential candidate on his Democratic Change Party (CD) ticket for the May 4 presidential election. The presidential candidate is José Domingo Arias, his former housing minister.

The Panamanian Constitution anticipates the caudillo who tries “moving the queen,” as this tactic is known elsewhere in the region, to get around a prohibition on re-election. Its Article 193 states that relatives within “the second degree of marital relations of the President of the Republic” may neither be president nor vice president immediately following his term.

A constitutional challenge to Mrs. Martinelli’s candidacy has been brought to the Supreme Court. But the president seems to be betting that the five—of nine—judges who regularly vote in his favor will do so again.

The Panamanian democracy is on the ropes once more. This time Mr. Martinelli has asphyxiated it by waving money under the noses of the political class.

Sometimes it feels like I could replace the dates in old news articles, doesn’t it?

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2 Responses to “Panama: The Mrs. next?”

  1. Old Timer Says:

    Election day is May 4th. So far this month of April Marinelli has inaugurated the first line of the new Metro (the first subway in Central America), the third phase of the Coastal Strip and a new 5,500 seat soccer stadium. Also, most week ends the government will set up and sell basic food items such at rice, cooking oil, etc at reduced cost. A 20 pound bag of rice (with the logo showing it is from the Government of Panama) sells for $6.00. At stores rice sells from 50 to 60 cents/pound depending on quality. Panamanians eat about 155 pounds of rice per year, one of the highest rates in the world.

  2. Panama: Martinelli strikes back | Fausta's Blog Says:

    […] after Mary O’Grady wrote about Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli choosing his wife to run for vice-president, Martinelli […]