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Martinelli’s Politics Say “Give Me Good Press or Else”. Press and Political Opposition Call it Harassment

Article Summary:

Panama is one of the countries with better economic performance in Latin America. However, the strong-arm practices President Martinelli uses for the country has been harshly criticized, especially the harassment and repressive attention he has given recently to members of the press and his political opposition. The crisis deepened this week when the entrepreneur and journalist Roberto Eisenmann, founder of the newspaper La Prensa, Panama’s most important newspaper, reported that agents of the Internal Revenue Service of the Ministry of Finance appeared to review his tax payments and announced that the newspaper has a debt with the IRS for a million and half dollars.

Photo Credit: Estrategia y Negocios

Original Article Text From Estrategia y Negocios via Google Translate :

Panamanian Opposition Criticized the Harassment of the President Martinelli
Known as a successful businessman with a competing supermarket against his commercial adversaries , the president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, has warned his opponents in the national press, who report against his authoritarian ways. Media and political opposition accused this week Martinelli of surpressing press freedom by harassing them, threatening tax collection to silence radio stations and newspapers and has been uncovered in recent months alleged corruption scandals that have shaken the government ofthe country, as far as questioning the course of his presidential term.

Martinelli “has a dermatological problem,” he told El Pais journalist William Adames, owner of Omega Stereo Radio, in the Panamanian capital. “It is intolerant of criticism, dissent and and its skin is very sensitive,” he adds.
“They sent tax inspectors to me and I was questioned by the Government about the radio and the newspaper La Prensa. This can be interpreted as bullying so that there is criticism and what he feels most journalists and media owners: criticizing nature involve some risk of intimidation, “said Adames.

Threats of similar or different nature over other media has been seen in recent years, while emerging state business complaints alleged acts of corruption covered up with local and foreign partners. “There are journalists who have been through tortuous legal events to make criticism of the Government of Panama and were allegedly made threatening any stronger measures of intimidation,” said Adames.

“What we have in common is that government actions are against critics of the management of Martinelli,” says this newspaper the chairman of the opposition Popular Party (PP), Milton Henriquez. “We’re seeing the use of state documents to silence dissenting voices. That’s typical of what the fascists were able to control absolutely. Martinelli’s authoritarian tendency was demonstrated from the beginning “of his Government, which began in 2009 and completed in 2014, he adds.

The crisis deepened this week when the entrepreneur and journalist Roberto Eisenmann, founder of the newspaper La Prensa, Panama’s most important newspaper, reported that fiscal agents of the Internal Revenue Service of the Ministry of Finance came as a surprise to one of its companies to review the tax situation and announced that it has a debt with the IRS a million and half dollars.

After describing the Panamanian president as “destroyer of institutions,” the founder of La Prensa said the prosecution against him is the answer for his articles that report and question Martinelli, 59. “As a good businessman autocrat, for he [Martinelli] everything is a transaction in business and buy things, businesses and legislators,” said the journalist. “Let’s see it as scandal, scandal, in what seems like an orgy of theft of state money,” said Eisenmann.

But the president, the conservative Democratic Change party (CD), argues in his Twitter account that “it is the best recipe for not paying taxes is to criticize the government, and if you get caught is against political freedom.”
The Ministry of Communication of the Government has demanded evidence that tax policies threaten freedom of expression and rejected what has been classified as “baseless accusations” and said it would sue judicially Eisenmann. The Director of Revenue, Luis Cucalón, argued that the journalist wants to “become the martyr.”

The Ministry did not respond to requests for COUNTRY to get a reaction on the allegations of the opposition, which says Martinelli is authoritarian, violates freedom of expression and an attempt to maneuver to be reelected in 2014 although the Constitution prohibits it.

The opposition claims that Martinelli achieve more state control. In the National Assembly (unicameral Congress 71 seats), the official banks increased from 13 to 36 deputies, “with all kinds of pressures and offers, and without having been through elections,” said Henriquez. The president also has “sufficient majority” of justices in the Supreme Court, says the leader of the Partido Popular.

“With this concentration of power and authoritarianism evident, began to persecute journalists and media when they did not say what he wanted to hear or say what he did not want to hear. In addition to this, is the creation of an authoritarian government in the making of a president seeking re-election immediately and remain in power, “notes Henriquez.

But one thing that, according to the opposition, the ruling clearly drawn: in October 2009 with less than 120 days as president, won for the Assembly appointed comptroller general, monitoring key political post of public funds to his Mona Lisa used Bianchini, who was head of audit Ricamar Importadora owned Martinelli and parent of Super99, the supermarket chain.

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