Presidential decree on hold after protest

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ON SATURDAY, June 10,  hundreds of  citizens concerned about changes to home taxation and mandatory  upward re-evaluation of property   gathered on  Avenida Balboa to protest the signing by President Juan Carlos Varela  of executive decree 130, to set the changes in motion.

The aggrieved protesters  surrounded the  Mirimar Towers where Varela  lives and with loudspeakers at full blast gave him  an earful of spicy comment.

The  president in his  near three years in office  has not earned a reputation for quick decisions and is lampooned as a tortoise by  local political cartoonists.

But in this instance he seems to have signed off without a lot of thought to the political consequences among  home owning  citizens.

Varela’s public image has been damaged in recent weeks with some self inflicted wounds, starting with his series of  large payments for private medical care to  political insiders and government employees from his tax payer funded  “discretionary” payment pot.

The roar of public disapproval was still ringing in his ears, when he took off with family and friends last weekend to see the Real Madrid-Juventus soccer game, hoping perhaps that the roar of the fans in Cardiff’s  Millenium Stadium  would drown out the disapproving  cries in Panama.

Attempts to quell the latest uprising came not from the president but  from The Minister of Economy and Finance, Dulcidio De La Guardia who at a  hastily  summoned  press conference announced on Sunday, that It will suspend the entry into force of Executive Decree 130.

Distortion
The reason given  for the seeming U turn was what  La Guardia   called a “distortion on the part of a political sector” on the scope of the decree.

“It has been a complete political fabrication to instill fear among our citizens about negative false consequences, like losing their homes.

“These types of lies must be repudiated and denounced for the damage they cause to the country and the housing industry,” he said.

His remarks were likely aimed at PRD deputy Zulay Rodriguez who has been conducting a vigorous Twitter campaign and was a prominent participant in Saturday’s protest.

Varela can now focus his attention on his upcoming Washington trip to meet with President Trump who believes the Canal should not have been handed over to Panama.

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