Candidate’s fate in the balance

  • 07/04/2009 02:00
  • 07/04/2009 02:00
PANAMA. The mayoral candidate for the Alliance for Change, Bosco Ricardo Vallarino Castrellón has been officially denounced by three co...

PANAMA. The mayoral candidate for the Alliance for Change, Bosco Ricardo Vallarino Castrellón has been officially denounced by three concerned cotizens before the Electoral Prosecution Office as having two nationalities and therefore unable to occupy a public office.

They have moved who decided to put an end to debate that has clouded the campaign since last week when the Panama Star first received the information. The electoral tribunal has been asked to carry out a judicial investigation.

The accusers Dinoska Yinett Montalvo, Gerardo Rodriguez Sterling and Dimas Lombardo Rodaniche, asked the Electoral Prosecution Office not only to investigate Vallarino, but also two other people Charles Albert Garavitt Leguia, who is running as a legislator and has an American passport and Testa Carrera, who in the 70s adopted Venezuelan citizenship.

Vallarino, Garavitt and Carrera, all members of the Alliance for Change have been accused of trying to run for a public office while holding another nationality, which is contrary to article 13 of the Political Constitution of Panama.

The article says that when a person takes another nationality, his Panamanian citizenship rights are automatically suspended and there is no right to vote or run for office.

The Vallarino bombshell exploded last week, when the news of his dual nationality was revealed by local media.

At that point the Electoral Prosecutions had not been officially notified and for that reason could not start its enquiries.

This is a devastating blow for the Alliance for Change with only three weeks remaining before the national elections.

The presidential candidate for the Alliance for Change, Ricardo Martinelli has not spoken about the case, but sources close to the Panama Star said that many neighborhood representative candidates from that party will be supporting the mayoralty Liberal Party candidate, Miguel Antonio Bernal.

Vallarino, a broadcaster who has a marketing agency, has tried to justify his actions and said that he has done nothing wrong.

He brings up arguments about American ancestors and the fact that he has not been in the United States for the last three years, although his mother and sister are there.

During a press conference Vallarino said: “I am being ambushed by the Electoral Prosecutor, who has decided to make his enquiries before the media. This is a political persecution and the Electoral Tribunal has not yet made a decision.”

Visible shaken and with a faltering voice, Vallarino said that he only adopted the American citizenship, because he was been persecuted by General Antonio Noriega and he did it to save his life as he was fighting the dictator.

According to Vallarino, this is a smear campaign as he is in second place behind their candidate. Roberto “Bobby” Velasquez. < He said that according to the Suarez Doctrine of 1911, when a naturalized person returns to his country of origin, he automatically regains his citizenship rights. However, the Electoral Judge, Eduardo Valdez Escoffery said that once a person adopts another nationality he automatically loses the right to vote or be elected to public office.

Vallarino’s popularity has diminished since last week and the star of the television program “Bailando por un Sueño” (Dancing for a Dream) is currently being accused of committing an electoral crime.

The Electoral Prosecution Office will investigate the three cases and will have to decide if they are going to be taken to court.

During the late 80s many political activists fled the country running to escape prison and death, among them was Miguel Antonio Bernal, who although went into exile in several occasions, never adopted another nationality.

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