Unknown quantity in presidential race
PANAMA. The electoral campaign in Panama is heating up and in five months a new president will be elected. The players are Balbina Her...
PANAMA. The electoral campaign in Panama is heating up and in five months a new president will be elected. The players are Balbina Herrera for the Democratic Revolutionary Party PRD (Partido Revolucionario Democratico), Ricardo Martinelli for Democratic Change CD (Cambio Democrático), Guillermo Endara for the Moral Vanguard of the Motherland (Vanguardia Moral de la Patria) and Juan Carlos Varela for the Panameñista Party.
The Panameñista candidate is promising social changes, better wages for everyone and an educational system with a strong emphasis on the English language. However, it is not clear how he is going to deliver those promises, if he is elected in May 2009.
In a meeting with La Estrella’s editorial board, Varela said that the Panamanian people who are victims of inflation, a rising crime wave and low salaries need a president who can solve those problems.
The politician has identified most of the problems that affect the population; but he is still working on his government plan, which will be made public over the next few weeks.
Varela is very optimistic about the chances of the opposition in the next general elections, because the Panamanians appear to be disillusioned with the PRD and what it represents.
Recently there have been a series of squabbles between President Martin Torrijos and Panama’s Mayor, Juan Carlos Navarro over the levels of citizens’ insecurity, which according to Varela showed a divide within the PRD.
He believes that Torrijos and Navarro are fighting over who will become the PRD’s presidential candidate in 2014, if they lose the 2009 elections.
The Panameñista Party has also had it share of problems however and Varela has been associated with the old guard like former president Mireya Moscoso, whose government was tainted with embezzlement scandals.
Additionally, Varela continues to be a mystery for many Panamanians, who only know that he is part of the successful company Varela Hermanos that manufactures Seco Herrerano, a very popular alcoholic drink in Panama.
The politician has been with the Panameñista Party since the age of 15 and appears to be popular in the interior, especially in Veraguas and the central provinces, but with 50 percent of the prospective voters in the province of Panama, he will have a tough time competing against the CD candidate, Ricardo Martinelli, who has been campaigning hard all over the country.