The president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, is sending an ominous message internationally by filing a lawsuit against the Vice President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela.
The warning comes from Juan Carlos Hidalgo, public policy analyst on Latin America at the Cato Institute, based in Washington, DC. "That the President begins to sue citizens createsan ominous precedent," said Hidalgo on Friday May 11, says La Prensa. The message being sent, he said is that for criticizing the President strongly you can be sued for millions.. Martinelli confirmed Friday that he filed a civil suit against Varela for damages. His lawyer, Rosendo Rivera, told Efe that the president requires "$30 million" because that was the figure cited by Varela to accuse him of having received a bribe from Italian Valter Lavítola in exchange for a contract to build prisons. For Hidalgo, the measure creates a negative precedent for the Panamanian institutions. "Panama has stolen the headlines for the crisis." And with his actions Martinelli seems to generate a political crisis in Panama each week. The analyst said Panama’s leader copied from the manual of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, to begin to sue for "slander" those who bother you.
Hidalgo asked what impact does this type of action have for Panama, and what role will be played by the Panamanian judicial system when the applicant is the President.