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Panamanian Corruption Spreads to Land Holdings

After the approval of the Panamanian free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States on October 12, 2011, President Ricardo Martinelli praised members of the United States Congress who had supported the pact, stating that “through their hard work and supportive pro-growth policies, Panamanians are building one of the strongest, most competitive economies in Latin America.” With the lucrative Panama Canal expansion project and the recently passed FTA, in the next five years Panama is projected to have the highest rate of economic growth in Latin America. Despite such growth, however, Panama’s economic and social development will most likely be crippled by the revelation of persistent government corruption, including major land titling and construction scandals. These concerns come at a crucial time, as relatively vast investments are being attracted from around the world and the U.S. is strengthening ties with its long-linked trade and security partner.

Land Scams: Widespread Government Involvement
Recent news articles have brought to light a new series of scandals, as investigative journalists level accusations against Panamanian government authorities for illegally granting land titles to anonymous companies and close friends. Panama’s officials, known for their cronyism and skullduggery, have been awarding the transfer of extremely expensive parcels of land to such companies as Segura Ventura, S.A. The real owners of these companies, in accordance with their anonymous status, are usually kept secret. Intimate friends of the Martinelli administration have also become possessors of illegal land titles. Allegedly, the administration is deeply involved in these land scams in the areas of Juan Hombrón, Paitilla, Costa del Este, and Chilibré. Due to increasingly discernible government corruption, these land titling scandals, once fully disclosed, will most likely hinder Panama’s economic and social development.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Staff.

To read the full article, click here.

Child Poverty and Access to Education: Adding Up the Hidden Costs on the U.S.-Hispanic Community

The Pew Hispanic Center recently published a report on the growing presence of child poverty in the United States. Since 2007, at the onset of the recession that hit this country under the George W. Bush administration, the number of children living in poverty has risen to nearly the highest in history. Moreover, this is the first time that the greatest racial or ethnic population of child poverty is not white. The child poverty rate of the Hispanic population has come to exceed that of both the black and the white populations. In the report, it was recorded that in 2010 over 15.5 million children lived in poverty in the U.S., where poverty is defined as a factor of the size of the family unit and the number of children less than eighteen years of age. For example, if a family of four, with two children under eighteen, has an annual income that is less than USD 22,113, then it would be considered to be “in poverty”. Of those 15.5 million children, 4.4 million (26.6 percent) are Black; 5.0 million (30.5 percent) are White; and a record-breaking 6.1 million children (37.3 percent) are Hispanic.

According to the United States 2010 Census Report, 16.3 percent of the total population in the U.S. and 23.2 percent of the U.S. population of people less than eighteen years old is Hispanic. The amount of Hispanic children living in poverty is 35.5 percent of the total U.S. population, of which 67.2 percent have parents who immigrated to the U.S. The other 32.8 percent have parents who were born in the U.S.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Linnea LaMon.

To read the full analysis, click here.

Wednesday November 9th, 2011 | Research Memorandum 11.3

________________________________________

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being "one of the nation's most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers." For more information, please see our web page at www.coha.orgENDS


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