The controversy over the cancellation of the U.S. visa of Panama’s tourism manager, “Salo” Saloman Shamah has re-surfaced following a Twitter message by President Ricardo Martinelli.
On Thursday of last week, the president wrote, "Salo Shamah Minister in the United States promoting tourism to Panama. Meeting with major operators."
But sources consulted by La Prensa re-affirmed that the visa had been revoked and maintained that status. Shamah, a close confident of the president and the man behind the recent attacks on Vice President Juan Carlos Varela, is not a Minister of State, although he attends cabinet meetings.
His visa was revoked in May last year. at the time of the release by Wikileaks of confidential cables from the former U.S ambassador Barbara Stephenson linking him to drug dealers.
At the time Martinelli indicated that a new tourism manager would be appointed, and he even went so far as to say it would be a woman. But Shamah survived.
La Prensa called Shamah to confirm if he had traveled to America and on what kind of visa, but his phone was off.
However, within minutes a public relations employee, Angel Sierra, called to report that the manager could not answer because he was meeting with airline representatives.
Shamah has steadily refused to answer questions on the subject, arguing that it is personal.
Sierra does not know if Shamah had traveled with a U.S. visa.
He left on Monday May 28 and returned from the United States on Saturday June 2: he was in Washington, New York and Philadelphia and met with owners of the Apple Vacation tour company, which handles the movement of 2 million tourists from theUnited States, Sierra said.