Viewing cable 04PANAMA715
Title: NAMES FLOATED, A BLAST FROM THE PAST, AND A

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
04PANAMA7152004-03-29 12:38:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Panama
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PANAMA 000715 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN/BRIGHAM 
 
 
E.O. 12958:N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR PM POL SPECIALIST
SUBJECT: NAMES FLOATED, A BLAST FROM THE PAST, AND A 
SHOOTING. PANAMA ELECTION COUNTDOWN #8: 5 WEEKS TO GO 
 
 
Ref: A. Panama 0651 
     ¶B. Panama 0613 
     ¶C. 03 Panama 3294) 
 
 
Summary/Comment: Simmer to rolling boil 
--------------------------------------- 
¶1. (SBU) Panama's electoral campaign suddenly became more 
interesting with a bristling 3/23 confrontation between 
Arnulfista youth and Endara supporters and a 3/24 shooting 
incident in a depressed area.  From here forward, campaign 
tensions will mount, primarily in the form of mudslinging 
and editorials rather than violent confrontations.  Thus 
far, there have been few surprises in cabinet nominations 
or endorsements.  We doubt that any of the candidates want 
to identify possible Cabinet members this early, since the 
potential ministers could become a lightning rod for public 
criticism.  Furthermore, none of the candidates want to 
offend key members of their campaign by excluding them from 
possible top jobs.  See septels for reports on each of the 
three major campaigns.  End Summary/Comment. 
 
 
Campaigns' brush with violence 
------------------------------ 
¶2. (SBU) Aside from vandalized political posters, election 
campaigning had been peaceful until this week.  A March 23 
Arnulfista youth gathering on a main street in Panama ended 
with a strident, though not physical, confrontation between 
mainstream Arnulfistas and Endaristas.  Arnulfista youth 
gathered at noon on the Transistmian highway near 
presidential candidate Guillermo Endara's campaign center. 
The Endaristas, who consider that area their turf, exited 
the center and confronted the Arnulfistas.  After the 
yelling and cursing began, an Endarista called the 
Electoral Tribunal and Electoral Delegates where sent to 
the area to calm the waters.  No damage or injuries were 
reported.  (NOTE: Former President Guillermo Endara, a 
lifelong Arnulfista, is running on the Solidarity ticket 
because he asserts the party has strayed from its roots 
under President Moscoso's leadership. END NOTE) 
 
 
Activist shot 
------------- 
¶3. (SBU) In a violent incident, on March 24 a political 
activist that supports Arnulfista legislator Francisco 
Reyes was shot in her left thigh while she was campaigning 
door to door.  Reyes was participating in the event, so 
questions remain on whether the attack was aimed at him. 
Witnesses reported that the perpetrator was a minor and 
Police are investigating this incident.  We believe this 
was an isolated case of violence and not a harbinger of 
worse things to come. 
 
 
Former campaign manager re-appears 
---------------------------------- 
¶4. (U) PRD Martin Torrijos' first cousin and former 
campaign manager Hugo Torrijos re-appeared on a live TV 
interview campaigning for Martin.  Hugo Torrijos, who had 
been "separated" from the campaign early in January 2004 
due to his links with the PECC scandal (reftel C), has 
returned as "electoral promoter" ("encargado de oferta 
electoral").  In that capacity, Hugo's two main 
responsibilities are making sure party promoters ask voters 
to vote for the entire party slate ("voto en plancha") and 
that voters nationwide gets transportation to voting 
centers on Election Day.  Hugo Torrijos announced that the 
PRD wants to a get a solid legislative majority to avoid 
the need for alliances with smaller parties.  (This comment 
probably did not sit well with the Partido Popular, which 
is a PRD ally and hopes to secure as many as seven seats, 
which would give them greater leverage in a PRD 
government.) 
 
 
Potential Cabinet members 
------------------------- 
¶5. (U) During a TV interview, Solidarity presidential 
candidate Guillermo Endara announced that his First Vice 
Presidential candidate Guillermo Ford would become his 
Minister of Economy and Finance.  Endara also said Second 
Vice Presidential candidate Alejandro Posse would be his 
Agriculture Minister.  Former Foreign Minister Jose Raul 
Mulino would Endara's Foreign Minister again, and current 
Alternate Attorney General Mercedes A. de Grimaldo would 
become the new Attorney General when current Attorney 
General Jose Sossa's term expires in December 2004.  El 
Panama America confirmed these names in a 3/25 article 
about potential cabinet members. 
 
 
¶6. (SBU) El Panama America had approached all candidates 
asking for names of likely Cabinet ministers in the next 
government.  Arnulfista candidate Jose Miguel Aleman 
mentioned only campaign manager Carlos Raul Piad as a 
future Cabinet member.  Torrijos refused to give names to 
the newspaper, but in a TV interview on 3/25, he finally 
announced that actor/singer Ruben Blades will be part of 
his cabinet, along with his two Vice Presidents, Samuel 
Lewis Navarro and Ruben Arosemena.  Strong rumors are that 
Lewis Navarro would also serve as Torrijos' Foreign 
Minister.  Arosemena allegedly would be in charge of anti- 
corruption plans within the Cabinet.  Cambio Democratico 
Ricardo Martinelli recited a list of mostly well-known, 
well-reputed Panamanians that might end up in his Cabinet. 
The voluminous list even included highly successful banker 
Alberto Vallarino, who obtained 17% of the popular vote as 
a 1999 presidential candidate, but would likely refuse a 
job in anyone's Cabinet. 
 
 
Martin Torrijos to void his vote 
-------------------------------- 
¶7. (SBU) In an interview hosted by popular boxing 
journalist Juan Carlos Tapia, Torrijos, the last of the 
four candidates to appear, said if he were not running that 
he would void his vote.  Tapia just laughed when Torrijos 
dodged the question.  Tapia has been linked to the PRD for 
many years and traditionally his political comments before 
his boxing show criticize whoever is in power.  Tapia did 
not turn the screws on Torrijos to answer the question, as 
he did for Martinelli and Endara, or criticize his 
evasiveness, as he did with Aleman.  Tapia told Torrijos on 
air that he is the only candidate he, "considers a friend," 
providing more reason to believe allegations of his bias 
toward Torrijos.