Skip to comments.Panama's Election Seals A Strong Free Market Orientation
Posted on 05/07/2014 6:54:54 AM PDT by expat_panama
Latin America: Defying polls, conservative Juan Carlos Varela won Panama's election Sunday, showing that five years of free-market policies merit another five. If he holds course, it's the best possible outcome.
Nobody thought the openly conservative Juan Carlos Varela could pull off a five-year term in Panama. The former vice president had been been running third in the polls and faced the negative headwinds of Ricardo Martinelli's five-year conservative rule. It especially didn't help that Panama's incumbent parties almost always do poorly in successive votes.
But Varela, who is believed to be at least as conservative as his predecessor, managed to distinguish himself from the status quo.
He did so by breaking with Martinelli in 2011 over the latter's ill-conceived plan to extend his own stay in office, compounded by a ridiculous and probably unconstitutional move to place his wife, Marta Linares, on the ticket of his hand-picked candidate, Jose Domingo Arias, as vice president.
Net effect: Varela was able to run as an anti-corruption outsider, a better thing for Panama to focus on than a populist referendum on free-market ideas that is often badly argued, despite Panama's 8.2% average growth rate over the past decade.
The left-wing candidate, former Panama City mayor Juan Carlos Navarro, garnered just 28% of the vote. Varela won with 39%.
It's a resounding vote for continuing the free-market policies that have opened Panama to the world with free trade, put the nation in the global trade spotlight with its multibillion-dollar expansion and ensured the country's economic shift from shipping to banking, services, medical tourism and new entrepreneurship. And it may just open the door to improving Panama's governance as well, if Varela is truly anti-corruption.
The election not only seals Panama's free market orientation, it also leaves Panama with two competing conservative parties, something similar to the Tea Party and...
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Interesting...and if the knuckleheads on your soccer team hadn’t let the US score in the last minute of the last WC qualifier, things would really be lively in Panama now. (Panama would have beaten NZ in the play-off)
Amazing; Panama can go from having brought in thousands of Cuban and Nicaraguan soldiers, and then a couple decades later be showing the U.S. what freedom and free trade is. My thinking is America can do it too.
Let’s hope we can do that, before Obama brings in the Cuban soldiers.
Panama has done a good job of running the Canal ... it's a tremendous revenue source but a great deal of that money goes back into the Canal infrastructure with a large expansion underway.
Visited Panama City earlier this year. The cities profile with many modern high rise buildings is impressive from a distance. Less impressive, as you enter the city, are the streets which are cluttered with garbage and in poor repair. Very third world.
It’s good to see that Panama is making positive strides...I always wondered how they would fare once they took control of the Canal...we had our doubts, but they appear to be stepping up quite well. Tip of the hat to them.
Good people, good fishing, good food, good surfing, good country...I miss it and hope to return one day, knowing full well that my “hometown” is no longer the same. However, somethings haven’t changed, The Ocean to Ocean cayuco race is still running...
Many of my friends and neighbors have moved back and taken jobs on the canal...it’s “home” for us Zonians.
It remains one of the easiest countries to get permanent residency in... If the new guy continues the old guys executive order.
Hope you are well!
Thank goodness Varela won, and not that bozo, Joey Sunday, eh? Cambio Democratico is big around here, not apparently so much elsewhere.
Political fortunes in those banana republics turn on a dime. I am not so bullish in the long run.
Panama is a unique country in the sense that they have been bequeathed an invaluable resource, the Canal.
They have their socio-economic problems like many Central American countries, but as a whole, they are doing much to improve their standing.
Diversifying outside of banking and ship registrations is something they’re busy doing as well...
A strong economy does wonders for a country’s “fortunes”...
I wish you all the best, and hope that history is not repeated. but, all it will take will be one eager left wing despot with the backing of the military, and you know the rest.
Thanks, I don’t live there any longer...did under Torrijos and he along with the US helped give “birth” to Noriega and his antics.
I went back to visit family in Panama when Noriega was in charge and there was a palpable tension with the Guardia that I don’t recall while living there.
Torrijos was pretty much “loved” by the general population, not so much with the more educated and successful...a rather unfortunate “accident” set some things in motion.
As the old saying goes, you get what you deserve with regards to voting...I hope the Panamanian President can set the country on a positive course to mitigate the potential for a despot gaining power.
Lumping all Latin America in one pot is worse than saying all Americans are alike. We know there's a big difference between a Texan from Waco and a New Yorker from Queens. Not only is there a bigger difference between Spanish speakers in Panama and Cuba, we also got places like Brazilians speaking Portuguese and Belize where English is spoken.
Sorry....I stand by that comment. Political instability is pretty much a norm south of our country. If I hurt your feelings, I’m sorry.
Golly, I sure hope I've never been known to take offense if my ideas are panned, although you're wise to be careful as there are many on these threads who do. At any rate I'll agree that the U.S. constitution is probably one of the oldest in the hemisphere --after the Cayman Is. maybe, and there are a few down south older than Canada's. Just the same there are some things more important than political stability. Back when Castro came to power I remember a Jamaican scoffing that Cuba always had a new revolution every 20 years. imho it's too bad that Cuba's been so 'stable' for a half century.
I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccesful rebellions indeed generally establish the incroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medecine necessary for the sound health of government." - Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, Paris, January 30, 1787
I understand that Brazil will soon be a top 5 economic world power. (Presently 7th) Hopefully they will morph into a stabilizing factor down there, and reduce the "banana republic" environment.
By and large that's true tho that sort of thing varies widely from area to area. A lot of new highways have been opened up and Panama City now has a subway/elevated mass transit. I'm remembering a movie company that was filming a New York scene in Toronto (cheaper there) but to make it realistic they had to dump garbage all over. Panama is to DC what DC is to Ottowa, though my neighborhood (eight hours away) is tidy --my picks up trash on her morning walk.
Here's to hoping....
Some how I’ve always found foreign stocks a nice investment to visit but never any thing I’d ever want to long haul. There were a number of companies I liked a lot in China and Russia that did very well in their day but lately don’t seem to be as productive...