Political, Economic, and Social development of Panama
Panama’s political development:
Panama has made notable political and economic progress since the December 1989 U.S. military intervention that ousted the military regime of General Manuel Antonio Noriega from power. Since that time, the country has had five successive civilian governments, with the current government of President Ricardo Martinelli of the center-right Democratic Change (CD) party elected in May 2009 to a five-year term (Sullivan, 2012). Until the May 2009 Presidential election, the fight for political power in Panama had been essentially limited to the Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD) and the Partido ...view middle of the document...
Torrijos maintained that his first priority would be job creation. He called for the widening of the Canal, a project that would cost several billion dollars, and would seek a referendum on the issue. (Sullivan, 2012)
Martinelli Government (2009-2014)
Inaugurated on July 1, 2009, Martinelli is a businessman and former government minister. His electoral alliance, known as the Alliance for Change, also won a majority of seats in the unicameral National Assembly. The strength of President Martinelli’s CD grew significantly after the 2009 election because of defections from other parties, but the CD’s ruling alliance with the PP fell apart at the end of August 2011. President Martinelli sacked PP leader Juan Carlos Varela as Foreign Minister for allegedly neglecting his duties by spending too much time fostering his ambitions to run for President in 2014, while Varela maintains that the coalition fell apart because of policy differences related to transparency and accountability in the use of state resources. (Sullivan, 2012)
Panama’s economic development:
Although Panama is categorized by the World Bank as having an upper-middle-income economy because of its relatively high per capita income level of $7,910 (2011), one of the country’s major challenges is highly skewed income distribution with large disparities between the rich and poor. According to the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Panama’s poverty rate was almost 37% in 2002, but declined to about 26% in 2009 and 2010. Extreme poverty or indigence in Panama also fell from 18.6% in 2002 to 11.1% in 2009, although it increased to 12.6% in 2010. In order to tackle poverty, the previous government of President Martin Torrijos (2004-2009) initiated a social support program of conditional cash transfers to poor families and the elderly living in extreme poverty. Since taking office, President Martinelli has fulfilled his campaign pledge to provide $100 a month to poor seniors. In May 2011, the World Bank approved a $100 million policy loan for Panama to help it strengthen fiscal management, improve tax collection, and expand key social programs. (Sullivan, 2012)
Panama has seen a continuing economic expansion, a high rate of foreign investment, and a steady increase in property values over the last decade since the Americans handed over control of the Canal in 2000. The economic boom since then has translated to Panama’s Political Stability (Economic, 2012). Panama’s largely service-based economy has been booming in recent years, spurred on by the Panama Canal expansion project that begun in 2007 that is expected to be completed in 2015 (Sullivan, 2012). The democratic country of Panama has strong economic assets and is well governed which will exploit these assets to the good of its citizens and those wise enough to invest in Panama’s future. The Canal expansion will boost growth by an average of 1% in each of the next two years, which should partially...