This post is also available in: Spanish
There is only two weeks left before Panamanians choose who is going to have the country for the next five years. Since the Chamber of Commerce’s presidential debate last week, the public is beginning to realize who is who and what they are really all about.
José Domingo Arias, the presidential candidate for the Cambio Democrático (CD) party and Juan Carlos Navarro of the Partido Revolucionario Democratico (PRD) are starting to lose credibility as was shown in the last opinion polls published April 14. Arias is still at the front with 36% of the popularity vote, Juan Carlos Varela, the Panameñista Party candidate with 31% and Juan Carlos Navarro with 30%.
It is apparent that the debate hurt Navarro somehow who lost some of his initial impetus. Maybe the way in which he answered the questions and his constant pet slogan, “Vote for me”, could have caused some of his sympathizers to look somewhere else and presto the new man in shining armor is Varela, the underdog, the honest citizen who preferred to abandon President Ricardo Martinelli’s side rather than being his “puppet”.
Meanwhile, the smear campaign continues with rumors that Varela campaign’s funds come from money laundering. According to the Panamanian daily, Panama America, citing the U.S. newspaper “Diario de las Américas,” the money was the product of an Internet gambling operation that was dismantled by the FBI.
Funnily enough, Navarro’s campaign allegedly is also being funded by illicit sources. This time it is a Mexican cartel and of course, he also has the financial support of the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro.
The only one who appears to be free of any scandal is Arias. His opponents accused him of being “Martinelli’s mouth piece.” To make matters worse his Vice-president is no other than Martinelli’s wife, Marta. The most severe critics said that this is Martinelli’s attempt to stay in power and continuing to govern the country through a figure head.
The matter escalated to such an extreme that TVN, channel 2 refused to air any propaganda in which one presidential candidate denigrated the reputation of another.
Only two weeks for the final countdown, on May 4 the Panamanian will choose their leader.
José Domingo Arias 36%
Juan Carlos Varela 31%
Juan Carlos Navarro 30%