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Varela flies to Morocco to discuss migration

Panama President, Juan Carlos Varela who is the country’s most traveled leader.  arrived on Sunday, December 9 in the city of Marrakech, in Morocco. It is s his first  trip to the African continent where he will participate in an Intergovernmental conference of the United Nations Organization (UN)  on migration


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Lawyers  seek repeal of Varela  immigration decree


President Varela, nicknamed the tortoise" os rushing to catch up

Posted 14/06/2019

Panama’s National Bar Association (CNA). has asked president-elect  Nito  Cortizo to  repeal an executive decree governing  immigration signed by President Varela a few days ago

Juan Antonio Kuan, second vice president of the CNA , said that they are worried about the decisions that are being taken in the last days that are left to the current administration.

At the beginning of the week, the President and Security Minister Jonattan Del Rosario signed the  Decree 249 of June 10, 2019, which establishes the procedure and requirements for foreigners to apply  for permanent residence

According to Kuan, in Panama, there have been a number of modifications that create an environment where there is no clear migration policy in the country.

 Indira Polo of the ANC Migration Commission said that they have been struggling for years with the decrees approved by the president, which she described as"unconscionable and illegal".

They do not doubt that something must be done for the people who have 10 and six years of the processes of immigration regulation, but they suggest that the proposals be sought and that the National Immigration Service should legislate.

Kuan said that, in the last 11 years, over 75   modifications, They wonder why the decree has been issued  by the government



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Immigrant group seeks respect from lawmakers


IMMIGRANT group retreated to avoid confrontation

Posted 14/07/2019

Members of the Naturalized  Residents Association of Panama (Arena), collecting signatures for an appeal to the National Assembly after what have been described as xenophobic and Trump-like moves by a deputy, had to move away on Sunday morning after being confronted by an anti-immigrant group at the National Assembly.

The signatures will be attached to request that they intend to take to the office of the president of the National Assembly (AN), Marcos Castillero.

Rafael Rodrígez, leader of Arena, said that in the request they will ask that the issue be treated with respect and that derogatory words are not used to refer to migrants.

Foreigners of different nationalities arrived at the Assembly to sign the application but they were met by a group of who support the initiative that has presented by deputy Zulay Rodríguez.

To avoid confrontations, they moved to their premises, on Via Espana to carry out the collection of signatures.

Rodríguez, presented on Tuesday, July 9, a draft bill that "seeks, adds and reforms" the National Migration Service.

Rodriguez described the project as "quite hard", because you have to have immigration controls before the saturation of labor and public services

She says that a million foreigners have arrived since 2016 of which 146,000 are Venezuelans with refugee status.



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Anti-foreigner proposal signed by 25,743


DEPUTY Rodriguez takes populist stance

Posted 16/07/2019

Lawmaker Zulay Rodríguez 's proposal to  reform immigration legislation has ignited a heated debate, which demonstrates more the need to reform Panamanian politics than the urgency of correcting immigration regulations.

The move  seeks to include foreigners benefited by extraordinary regularization processes in a rigid system of controls, fines, and finally deportation. It includes a proposal to deport foreigners who insult Panamanian nationality.

Although parts of the project may clash with the Panamanian Constitution and international conventions, this has not mattered to the 25,743 signers on the Internet who offered their support to the project.

In this way, Panama enters the same scenario from Hungary to the United States: to be wary of foreigners reports La Prensa

Since the  Political Constitution  of 1941, which established prohibited migration races and deprived foreigners of civil rights, Panama had not faced such an intense controversy over a migratory legal norm, so far by the proposal presented by the lawyer and deputy vice-president of the National Assembly, Zulay Rodríguez  says Rodrigo Noriega

The eight-page document has an explanatory statement that promised more than the the 21-article proposal contains.

The first thing to say is that the article lacks legal systematics, since the usual when enunciating modifications to an existing law is to follow the numerical order of the norm that is intended to be modified. In this proposal, the articles that modify Decree Law 3 of 2008 organized by the National Migration Service jump from major to minor without a clear order. It also repeats unnecessarily the articles to repeal the executive decrees that supported the regularization of migration.

The proposal seeks to fill a "void" referring specifically to foreigners who benefited from massive regularization processes. Although it includes rules applicable to all foreigners residing in Panama, its main focus is those regulated by the Martinelli and Varela administrations.

The project contains some innocuous modifications, others more worrisome, and some specifically contrary to the  Political Constitution  and international human rights conventions of which Panama is a signatory.

An example of this is: "Those foreigners who publicly express offenses and insults to the Panamanian nationality ..." will be objects of deportation proceedings. This is the modification that Article 13 of the proposal makes to Article 65 of Decree Law 3 of 2008. Apart from the extremely subjective that is to define an offense, this enters into direct violation with Article 37 of our  Political Constitution  (freedom of expression), article 19 of the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights  and article 13 of the  American Convention on Human Rights , all on freedom of expression.

Article 5 of the bill requires that in six months from the enactment of the law, foreigners benefiting from extraordinary regularizations have a series of public and private documents, such as proof of payment of public services, work permits, declare income that proves that they have an address, that they have income at least equal to the minimum wage and that they pay the corresponding taxes.

According to the proposal, a Migration Unit for Field Action (UMAC) is assigned the main powers to receive, analyze, study, verify and validate the documents and facts declared by foreigners. There is no due process or transparent grievance mechanisms that guarantee the affected party that these procedures will be fair.

Bad joke

Although the proposal has controversial articles, one in particular seems a bad joke: Article 11 requires the Office of the Comptroller General to audit the funds received by the processes of migratory regularization and that this audit be published.

This is in contrast to the practice of the majority of the members of the National Assembly, including the proponent [Rodriguez].

 Panama needs a migratory reform that eliminates corruption and arbitrariness, and that establishes a due process with migratory judges and ex officio defenders that guarantee full rights to foreigners who face the migratory system.

It is important to punish abusive employers, as well as the t beneficiaries of the commercial sexual exploitation so openly practiced in the country. The saddest thing of all is that you miss the opportunity to make a good reform for the game of demagogy says Npriega.



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Posted (edited)

This editorial cartoon points up the hypocrisy of the Diputada proposing the legislation.


Edited by Keith Woolford

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Panama migration bill labeled dangerous racist, xenophobic


Rodrifuez harangues the Assembly

Posted 21/07/2019

Prominent analysts and jurists labeled as the preliminary draft of immigration reform presented by the PRD deputy and first vice president of the National Assembly, Zulay Rodríguez as dangerous, racist, and xenophobic.  

"It is a proposal aimed at Venezuelans ... there is no denying that migration rules should be reviewed, but this proposal is biased," Rodrigo Noriega, lawyer and the editorial board of La Prensa, said in the Open Debate program.

He said that instead of celebrating the entry of  Mariano Rivera into the Hall of Fame, a "foreigner" in the United States, "instead we are discussing a topic that is a smokescreen." 

The proposal, he said, is "arbitrary" and seeks to create the Migration Action Field Unit (UMAC), which is nothing more than a police "with superpowers." "We are talking about a dictatorial regime within a democracy"

He said that Rodriguez's initiative sends a "racist and xenophobic message." 

Engineer Carlos Salazar considered that Rodriguez's initiative is "dangerous". He mentioned, for example, the creation of the "special police", which would be in charge of investigating foreigners. It was a smokescreen before the case of deputy payroll and donations. 

Sociologist  Danilo Toro said the draft has an "argument that is obviously xenophobic, is anti-immigrant and does not disguise the rejection of foreigners and that is dangerous".

The lawyer and ex-magistrate José Abel said that Rodriguez's proposal creates a unit that would open proceedings to foreigners who insult the nation which he considered "dangerous.".

Meanwhile, the lawyer Carlos González Ramírez said that the proposal of the deputy is to "persecute foreigners" who took refuge in a speedy documentation program. 

Rodríguez defended her bill saying that in Panama there are foreigners who accepted extensions of their stay, but to date "have not fixed their papers," and her proposal, , is aimed at those who have not been regularized. 

"If the Panamanians do not pay taxes, they go to jail, if the employer does not pay the worker employers fee, a process is opened, if the foreigner does not pay, nothing happens," she said.

"We do not know how many foreigners entered illegally, with HIV, or with diseases," she added.

The  issue "unleashes passions" because Panamanians feel the immigrants  are against their "health, work and safety," she said



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Tough immigration draft bill moves forward


Zulay Rodriguez

Posted 31/07/2019

The Government Commission of the National Assembly gave unanimous approval to tough draft immigration, bill presented by PRD  deputy Zulay Rodríguez on Tuesday, July 30.

The preliminary draft presented by Rodríguez modifies articles of Decree-Law 2008 on the National Migration Service (SNM), in order to follow up on extraordinary regulatory processes.

The deputy asked the president of the Government Commission to open the document for consultation and reach a consensus, but to hear the rights of nationals. In her presentation, she called for the " courage " of the commissioners to ensure the work and legal security of Panamanians and residents who have documents in order. She, described the project as " quite hard ", because “we must have immigration controls before the saturation of labor and public services, as a result of the arrival of foreigners”.



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Church leaders denounce  moves against migrants


Posted 07/08/2019

The Standing Committee of the Panamanian Episcopal Conference (CEP) is concerned by debate about reforms of immigration laws in Panama parked by a bill presented by National Assembly Vice-president   Zulay Gonzales, who has been accused of xenophobia and has generated tension between some sectors of society.

The prelates emphasize that Panama has always kept its arms open to receive people from all over the world.

The Church maintains that migrants are not a threat, they are people who are looking for better living conditions because of forced displacement, human trafficking, violence, poverty, political persecution, and terrorism.



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