Panama. According to
COUNTRYAAH, President Juan Carlos Varela made an effort
during the year to improve the image of Panama, which
emerged as a notoriously corrupt tax haven. Among other
things, extensive corruption allegations against former
President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-14) were investigated,
and in early April he was deprived of his legal immunity to
be subject to a criminal investigation. In June, the
prosecutor's office also decided to initiate a preliminary
investigation into bribery from the Brazilian construction
company Odebrecht after its CEO was arrested in Brazil.
Among other things, Panamanian bank accounts should have
been used to secure a contract for Odebrecht to build Panama
City's new subway, worth $ 2 billion. But Panama also ended
up on the EU's black list of tax havens, published June 17
with countries where money laundering.
In June, the Cocolis locks were filled on the Pacific
coast, which marked the completion of the extensive
redevelopment of the Panama Canal. The work was expected to
be completed by the beginning of 2016.
At the same time, a hydropower building caused major
protests from the indigenous people on the Tabasará River in
the province of Chiriquí. The government temporarily halted
construction in February for environmental reasons, but
protest groups blocked one of the country's major highways
after President Varela refused to meet the demand to
completely shut down the project. The indigenous people of
the area fear that their settlements will be submerged if
completed. Panama has long been hit by recurring energy
problems with major power outages, and Varela claims the
project is of national interest, while a majority of the
country's population supports the demands of protest groups.