Cortizo appointments will round out new direction for Panama.


The president-elect must appoint six magistrates of the Court, the electoral prosecutor, five directors of the ACP and two of the CSS, among others.

In his term, Laurentino Cortizo must appoint six principal magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice .

Credentials will not be held; appointments of magistrates will remain for Cortizo
He will also have to appoint five directors of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) , two of them pending in this mandate; and the replacement of Eduardo Peñaloza in the Electoral Prosecutor’s Office , which also did not materialize in this period.

Likewise, it will designate two main members in the directive of the Social Security Fund and one in the Savings Fund of Panama .

Leaders of civil society blame the outgoing government for having broken the balance of power by not completing several of these appointments.

Thus, the Cortizo alliance will have a majority in the National Assembly and would have no difficulty with these appointments.

Cortizo, with the power to name

The next president of the Republic, Laurentino Nito Cortizo , will be responsible during his term (2019-2024) for appointments for periods beyond his administration in at least six entities.

Only in the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) to Cortizo would it behoove him to appoint six principal magistrates and nine substitutes. Of that total, four (one principal and three alternates) had to appoint President Juan Carlos Varela , but the process was not completed in the National Assembly (AN) .

Varela sent to the AN for ratification in extraordinary sessions the appointment of Luis Fernando Tapia as chief magistrate to replace Jerónimo Mejía, whose term expired on December 31, 2017. He also requested approval of the appointments of Luis Camargo, Katia Di Bello and Judith Cossú as substitute magistrates of Olmedo Arrocha, Cecilio Cedalise and Ángela Russo, respectively.

Appointments State Pact
The president-elect, Laurentino Cortizo, affirmed that until the constitutional reforms are approved, he will appoint the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice that corresponds to him under the rules of the State Pact for Justice. The mechanism of the agreement establishes that a commission composed of representatives of all sectors of society will receive the documents of the candidates – sent by the Executive – and will receive the opinions that organizations and citizens have about them

However, the president of the Commission of Credentials, the deputy Sergio Chello Gálvez , announced last week that this instance will not be held again for the remainder of the constitutional period -that come June 30-, because “there is no environment” to approve those appointments.

In the court

During his mandate, between 2019 and 2024, Cortizo will be responsible for appointing the replacements of 6 principal magistrates and their respective alternates. A 5 will be due their constitutional periods of 10 years in the next 3 years. These are Hernán De León (2012-2022), Harry Díaz (2010-2019), José Ayú Prado (2013-2022), Luis Ramón Fábrega (2012-2021), and Abel Zamorano (2010-2019).

Likewise, he must appoint the replacement of Jerónimo Mejía (2007-2017), who, as said, has already expired.

In the case of Zamorano, the AN ratified it last March as chief magistrate, to complete the term of former magistrate Alejandro Moncada Luna (2010-2019), who was convicted for unjustified enrichment and falsehood.

Control of the ACP

Meanwhile, in the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) the new governor will appoint five executives, who are due for the period between 2019 and 2022. These are the replacements of José Sosa (2010-2019), Nicolás Corcione ( 2010-2019), Alberto Vallarino (2013-2022), Lourdes Castillo (2013-2022) and Henri Mizrachi (2013-2022).

In the case of the replacements of Sosa and Corcione, Varela sent to the AN for ratification the appointments of Roberto Roy, current Minister of Canal Affairs; and Marietta Jaén, former Public Works Manager, but neither would be considered in extraordinary sessions.

Roy and Jaén were chosen after the vice president and chancellor, Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, and the ambassador of Panama in the United States, Emanuel González Revilla, declined to these appointments and urged the president Juan Carlos Varela to seek candidates for “consensus” ”

In addition, the Court has yet to resolve a claim of unconstitutionality against the appointment of former Minister of the Presidency Jorge González as director of the ACP -enforced by Varela-, which has already gone through the process of ratification in the AN. Gonzalez replaced Marco Ameglio, who ran as a presidential candidate in the last elections.

Electoral attorney

In the meantime, Cortizo will also have to appoint a new electoral attorney to replace Eduardo Peñaloza, whose 10-year term expires in January 2018.

In this position, Varela appointed María Eugenia Pérez de Preciado, but was not ratified by the AN.

The Assembly also did not consider the appointment made by Varela of Miguel Ángel Estribí as director in the Superintendency of Insurance and Reinsurance, for which Cortizo will be responsible for making this designation.


Meanwhile, the new president will have four appointments on the board of directors of the Social Security Fund (CSS): two main members and two alternates.

This is the representative of health professionals and technicians and another representative of employers, both with alternates.

Likewise, you must designate a member of the Panama Savings Fund (FAP).

With majority in the AN

Cortizo would have no major problems for the AN to approve the appointments, since his alliance, Uniendo Fuerzas, will have an absolute majority.

Of the 71 deputies that make up the plenary, 35 are from the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD); 5 of its ally, the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (Molirena); 18 of Democratic Change (CD); 8 are from the Panameñista Party and 5 are independent deputies.

Will respect

On this issue, the president-elect has said that he will respect the designations made by Varela for up to 10 years: Rigoberto González at the Office of the Attorney General and Kenia Porcell at the National Prosecutor’s Office.

Too much Power:


In turn, in January of 2020 it will be up to the AN to appoint the replacement of Federico Humbert in the General Comptroller’s Office of the Republic .

Gabriel Tribaldos, of the Independent Movement, said that the lack of political will and not doing things on time, with efficiency and consensus, has left a large number of appointments that will entail a responsibility on the shoulders of the next regents of the Executive and the Legislative .

“We must all be aware that the best people are appointed, regardless of criteria, strong principles and professional size,” he said.

“The citizenship in general, as sovereigns that we are, although many forget it, we have to ensure that this is so. After all, they are our resources and for that we contract them through the vote, “he said.

For his part, the political analyst Richard Morales considered that it is too much power for the next Executive, which reflects the institutional dysfunctions of an “excessive concentration of power”, which will allow a president and a party, only because of an electoral conjuncture. , make decisive designations without supervision.

In his opinion, the democratization of power is urgent, which implies opening the institutions to citizen participation, so that the appointments are not at the discretion of the incumbents and their partisan and economic interests.

In as much, the lawyer Ernesto Cedeño considered that, “definitively, the new government is going to have a lot of power, but it will depend on us the citizens to supervise and to watch that the things are done well, without abuse of power and in the opportune time”.

For Freddy Pitti, of the Together We Decide Movement, it is “extremely dangerous for democracy that the balance of power has been broken” in the country.

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