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Cablegate: Panama: Prd Confirms Rodriguez Choice for Na

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHZP #0635 2122139
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 302139Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY PANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2361
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L PANAMA 000635

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/30/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL KJUS PM
SUBJECT: PANAMA: PRD CONFIRMS RODRIGUEZ CHOICE FOR NA
PRESIDENT

REF: PANAMA 00616

Classified By: Classified by A/POLCOUNS Eric Geelan for reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d)

-------
Summary
-------

1. (C) The Democratic Revolutionary Party's (PRD) National
Assembly (NA) caucus formally selected Raul Rodriguez on July
29 as their candidate to replace Pedro Miguel Gonzalez (PMG)
as President of the National Assembly (see Reftel). The
actual election will take place on September 1 when the NA
reconvenes, but his victory is a virtual certainty. The
selection of the relatively unknown Rodriguez is a sign that
President Torrijos as reasserted his control over the NA
caucus, after last year's election of PMG.

------------------------------
PMG To Be Replaced September 1
------------------------------

2. (U) The Democratic Revolutionary Party's (PRD) National
Assembly (NA) caucus met July 29 and selected Raul Rodriguez
as its candidate for President of the National Assembly.
Given party discipline, and the PRD's majority in the NA,
this decision means that Rodriguez will replace Pedro Miguel
Gonzalez (PMG) as President of the National Assembly on
September 1. Rodriguez will serve out the last year of this
legislature's five-year term. Rodriguez is a first term
Deputy.

3. (U) The caucus also selected first term Deputy Nelson
Jackson, representing Colon, as its candidate for Vice
President of the National Assembly, and first termer
Elizabeth de Quiroz as its candidate for Second Vice
President.

4. (C) Third term Deputy Ruben De Leon was chosen as the
PRD Majority Leader. Deputy De Leon has taken controversial
positions on issues of interest to the USG in the past. He
voted against the Corozal Cemetery Agreement in 2000, which
authorized the continued existence of the U.S. military
cemetery at Corozal, and against the agreement authorizing
OPIC to work in Panama, also in 2000.

-------
Comment
-------

5. (C) The choice of these relatively unknown Deputies to
direct the NA is an indication that President Torrijos has
reasserted his power over the PRD caucus. Last year's
election of PMG embarrassed Torrijos and damaged the chances
for passage of the TPA by the U.S. Congress. Torrijos has
sent a clear message to the NA that he expects no surprises
during his last year in power.
MESA

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