Isthmian Update – Vol. 21#32

San José coins decommissioned

A representative of the company, Investigaciones Marinas del Istmo, was recently detained at a shopping center with a briefcase that contained coins from the sunken Spanish galleon, the San José, shipwrecked in the vicinity of Saboga Island in Panama’s Las Perlas archipelago in 1631. The company was granted a concession to manage and explore the site of the wreck in 2003. According to the agreement with the state, the company is entitled to 35% of the discovered artifacts, but breached the agreement by failing to notify authorities that they were moving part of the treasure. The decommissioned coins are now in custody of the National Customs Authority while a decision in the case is made. A company spokesperson commented that there was no intention of removing the treasure from the country and that all the proper permits are in order.

Penedo ends Galaxy contract

The 33 year old Panamanian soccer player, Jaime Penedo, last week terminated his contract as goalie for the Los Angeles Galaxy signed August 2013. Penedo and The Galaxy reportedly came to a mutual parting of ways following a two-year stint by the Panamanian that included winning an MLS Cup title in 2014. Penedo was reportedly unhappy with his contract and asked to be released from it. “The contract didn’t satisfy the conditions for stability in soccer nor for family,” the player commented via Instagram.

DICINE strikes deal in Cannes

Panama’s International Film Festival (IFF) has become affiliated with the film festival in Cannes, announced Pituka Heilbron, head of the country’s Film Direction (Dirección General de Cine or DICINE). Starting in 2016, the top film of the IFF First Look (Primera Mirada) selection will enjoy a screening in Cannes as part of the line-up hosted by the “Marché du Film” industry market, which last week drew around 10,000 participants in their annual event, the largest cinema market in the world. A delegation from Panama attended the event to promote the 2015 First Look winner, “Te Prometo Anarquía” (I Promise You Anarchy); Abner Ben Aim’s documentary, “Invasión,” and the collection of shorts by multiple directors, “Historias del Canal.”

Panama robotics team honored

Panama returns from the RoboCup International Robotics Competition, held towards the end of July in Hefei, China, with special honors. Two teams from the Isthmus took part. The team comprising Raúl Cedeño and Luis Villalaz, students of the Urracá de Veraguas Institute competing in the “Juvenile Rescue” category placed 20th out of 27 teams. The team comprising Pedro Cerreras and Roy Rodríguez, students of the Guadalupano Institute of Chiriquí competing in the “Juvenile Dance” category, did not place. They instead received a special recognition along with the participants from Sweden and Mexico, who altogether were recognized as the “Dance SuperTeam of the Year.” This is Panama’s second appearance at the RoboCup, the first time being in 2014 when the tournament was held in Brazil.

“Pirate” buses fined

According to figures recently published by the Transit and Terrestrial Transport Authority (ATTT), in the first semester of the year, at least 2,596 individuals were sanctioned for violating Article 132 of the Vehicular Transit Rules (Reglamento de Tránsito Vehicular), which prohibits the use of unauthorized vehicles for public transportation. The measures to control the proliferation of so-called “pirate” buses are being undertaken to help mitigate the high incidence of traffic accidents, explained Julio González, director of the ATTT. Fines for pirate bus drivers range from $150 – $500.

Cetacean eludes assistance

Residents in the district of Pocrí, Los Santos province, recently reported the presence of a humpback whale near Isla Iguana whose tail had become entangled in fish netting. Since the report was made, representatives of the Ministry of the Environment (MiAmbiete) and the National Aero-Naval Service have scoured the area, but have been unable to locate the animal. The agencies are continuing to monitor the area.

Panama wrestling champ makes request

Alvis Almendra, 27, is the Veraguas born wrestler who won the silver medal for Panama in the PanAmerican Games celebrated recently in Toronto, Canada. As he currently prepares for the World Championship games, scheduled for early September in Las Vegas, Nevada, Almendra has issued a request for Panamanian authorities to remodel the Eduardo Campbell gymnasium where he trains. Located in the neighborhood of Urracá in Santiago, Veraguas, the gym is home to many athletes who use it to train across a variety of disciplines. According to Almendra, it has become “too small” due to overcrowding, and is in need of a pain job, new bathrooms and equipment. “We should not let our second home fall into disrepair,” said the wrestler. “Great athletes have emerged from this coliseum,” he added.

National Handicraft Fair in figures

Figures just released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI) shows that around 16,642 visitors made their way to the National Handicraft Fair, held last weekend at the Atlapa Convention Center. This represents an increase of 11.21% over the number of attendees in 2014. The expo featured 500 vendors displaying artisan goods from each of the country’s 10 provinces, including wood carvings, clothing, leather goods, hats, molas, etc. Visitors also enjoyed typical Panamanian food, contests and a variety of folklore presentations held over the festival’s four days.

Katy Perry’s world tour lands in Panama

International pop superstar, Katy Perry, just announced tour dates that include a stop in Panama, where she will perform at the Figali Convention Center. This will be the pop diva’s first visit to the Isthmus, to promote her latest album, “Prism.” After Panama, Perry’s world tour continues to Europe, Asia and South America, where the singer will perform at the Rock in Rio concert taking place in Brazil on September 25. The Prismatic World Tour arrives in Panama October 15, with tickets ranging from $30 – $400, available through Panatickets.com starting August 10.

Chorrillo, now a culinary destination

“Sabores del Chorrillo” (Flavors of Chorrillo), the open air food court located outside the Maracaná football stadium, inaugurated to much fanfare last week, when hundreds of Panamanians, residents and visitors crowded together to take part in the latest initiative of the City’s Mayor’s Office. Mayor José Blandón said that the 11 food stalls will be run exclusively by residents of the El Chorrillo neighborhood, who will feature local seafood specialties. To raise the bar, the merchants were provided with extensive training with renowned local chefs. “We geared them to maintain cleanliness, order and quality,” said the Mayor.

La Chorrera gets money

A result of the Decentralization Law of Local Governments is that the municipality of La Chorrera will, as of next year, have $5.1 million per year to bankroll their coffers, all stemming from the collection of the ITBM sales tax. According to official figures, around $180 million is generated by the collection of ITBM sales tax per year in the entire country. In terms of municipalities, those benefitting the most from ITBM funds are Panama, David and Colón. La Chorrera will begin to receive quarterly payments which the city must invest solely in projects. Town halls are being scheduled throughout the region to determine which communities shall receive prioritization.

Subsistence loggers seek repeal

After issuing a ban on subsistence logging for six months, Panama’s Environmental Ministry (MiAmbiente) is now at the bargaining table with the Association of Darien Loggers to set new parameters to regulate the industry’s practices. Rubén Perea, president of the logging group, has called for the immediate repeal of MiAmbiente’s resolution, since “it affects the family economy of hundreds of people.” MiAmbiente’s resolution was recently the source of contention in Bocas del Toro where “artisan wood harvesters” blocked roads in protest.

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