2019 will be the year in which Panama decides who will occupy the position of President, but for this the electoral offer must be clear. Only three candidates may apply through the independent channel and those with the largest number of support signatures shall participate. To be a candidate for the Panamanian Presidency, the independent pre-candidate must collect at least 15,500 signatures.
Until today the three independent candidates that head the list with the most accepted signatures are Ana Matilde Gómez, Dimitri Flores and Ricardo Lombana with 71,167, 67,703 and 29,163 respectively. According to the Department of Political Parties and System, the information corresponds to the books that have been entered by the presidential candidates at the national level and whose signatures have been validated until November 6, 2018.
Ana Matilde Gómez was the first woman to occupy the position of Attorney General in Panamanian history, and in 2014 marked another milestone in the democratic life of the country, by becoming the only deputy by Free Postulation in the national assembly (AN). She has a degree in Law and Political Science, with a Master's degree in Criminology, both from la Universidad de Panamá, and a Diploma in Human Rights from the Santa María La Antigua University.
"Early in my life, I understood that education is the best social leveler, and the only way worthy facing inequalities. I believe in the power of effort, self-improvement and respect for human life," Gómez says on her website. "After my illegitimate exit from the attorney general's office, the citizens' backing gave me the support to go and find a seat in the AN, to be the voice of decent and transparent citizens."
In the private sector, she held the position of Executive in the Panamanian Continental Bank, being Assistant Vice President of Legal Affairs, member of the Business Executive Association, where as Vice President, she was part of its Board of Directors and actively participated in the Commissions of Legal Affairs and Equal Opportunities.
In the academic field, she has dictated among other subjects, Criminology and Human Rights at the Universidad Latina de Panamá. Dedicated to the free exercise of the profession as a litigating lawyer in the area of Criminal Law, and was a Legal Consultant for AID for the Projects of the Improvement Program of the Hydrographic Basin of the Panama Canal.
Dimitri Flores. The case of Flores is different from Ana Matilde Gómez. Some call it a strange event in politics. He has little media exposure and yet he has remained among the three main independent candidates for the Panamanian Presidency thanks to the signatures collected. Some point to him as the ace up the sleeve or the Trojan horse of the ruling party.
He has received some criticism regarding the number of signatures collected. Dimitri Flores "El Amigo del Pueblo" told TVN Noticias that no one is financing him, he has an account in the Panamanian National Bank where he has a record of the expenses he handles "dollar to dollar", "we do not hide anything because we do not have anything to hide," he said.
"We have been walking the country for more than 24 years ... I do not take the money from the State to do this, it is my private fund, what I generate as a person and my family and what we donated since 1994 to help our people."
Ricardo Lombana. In 1998, he graduated with a degree in Law and Political Science from la Universidad de Panamá, which also gave him the opportunity to pursue a Master's Degree in International Law, in 2001, at "The George Washington University" in the United States. While in his master's degree studies, he won the "Thelma Weaver" Honor Award. This Award is given to the international student of the graduating class of Master of Laws who has most contributed to the professional and intellectual life of the School of Law, its students and its professors.
His experience in public office begins when in 2002 he was appointed as the first Special Delegate for Freedom of Expression of the Ombudsman of the Panamanian Republic. For his career in these positions, in 2004 he was appointed Minister Counselor of the Panamanian Embassy in the United States (before the White House) and later Consul General of Panama in Washington, DC until 2007.
Ricardo, has a long career and extensive participation with promoters of Freedom of Expression and Human Rights that includes being a lecturer, member and activist. Due to this journey he is recognized as an expert in these subjects.
Recently he spoke exclusively with Panama Today and explained that for this period of signature collection he is not promising anything, "because doing that is easy, making a brochure any printing company prints it, making a government plan, whatever it is it can be written for you. It is written by political marketers, who end up writing these brochures, which reflect what people want to hear but not what the country needs to discuss ... The main mistake I think the President made was to promise that he would make this system reform, that was going to promote a Constituent to change the bases of the system that are rotten and then when it attracted the independent vote, that helped him to win, he filed the proposal".
He stated that the situation with the justice system is serious. "Justice in Panama pitifully can be bought, it is part of the problem we are experiencing. I do not generalize. There are judicial officials who do their work in an integral way, including the judges, not everyone can always be put in the same basket but I think the examples given by some of the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ). Here a magistrate was tried and convicted and imprisoned, for very serious crimes, he was President of the Court at some time. Then another magistrate was being investigated, and before that the investigation was completed, that magistrate resigned. While that happened there was a third magistrate, magistrate Harry Diaz, in an interview in the La Prensa newspaper, said that the case of Moncada Luna was only the tip of the iceberg of all the corruption that was in the Plenary of the Court, he is still a magistrate. The man who said that Moncada, who is in prison, was nothing next to what he knew existed. That is the Court that continues to impart justice."
See here the full interview of Ricardo Lombana: https://bit.ly/2AXZUCK