After the deaths of dozens of migrants in one accident, and a near disaster when another bus caught fire, the National Migration Service (SNM) has suspended the transport of migrants by bus on the next stage of their journey north. Irregular migrants who cross the Darien gap and arrive from Colombia (from many countries) go to immigration reception stations (ERM), where they have their biometric data taken and are given food and have health assistance. They are then transferred by bus to one of these facilities located in Chiriquí, on the border with Costa Rica, so that they continue on their way to North America.
In a slightly controversial change to a system for selling lottery tickets (that help fund the social security system), which has effectively remained unchanged for many decades, the National Charity Lottery (LNB) has authorised the selling the new electronic games, in addition to the traditional paper tickets (of which I have a handful pinned to a board in front of my desk). The new electronic tickets will be for additional draws, twice a week, with the existing ticket-sellers also providing the new tickets. Sellers will be provided with a handheld electronic device (something like that used in shops for card payments). You see these ticket-sellers outside most supermarkets, mostly being women of a certain age, with wooden boards with the available tickets clipped to the boards. It would be a shame, and a significant loss, if these sellers were to be phased out in the name of progress.
On 25 February, the EU Council announced further sanctions on Russia. In addition to individuals named, the latest round relates primarily to technology and industrial goods such as electronics, machine parts and specialised vehicles, as well as specialised components for truck and jet engines. Sanctions apply to 121 individuals and entities, including suspending the broadcasting licences of 2 Russia-controlled media outlets, RT Arabic and Sputnik Arabic. 7 entities connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps are accused of helping supply drones and related technology to Russia for use in Ukraine. 3 more Russian banks were also added to the lists.
On 26 February, Deutsche Welle and others reported that the additional sanctions against Russia’s Wagner mercenary organisation are said to be for “human rights abuses” in the Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan and Ukraine. A total of 11 individuals and 7 entities linked to the paramilitary group were added to the sanctions list, and made subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban. 8 of the individuals are designated under the human rights sanctions regime, 2 under the Russa/Ukraine regime and 1 under the Mali sanctions.
Panama’s National Institute of Statistics reports that the country has an annualised rate of inflation of 2.7%.
Meanwhile, the health ministry reported another 21 new cases of monkeypox in Panama during the week to 24 February , bringing the cumulative number of cases nationwide to 160, with 20 patients in home isolation and 8 in isolation in health facilities.
On 23 February, Insurance Marine News reported that several ships appear to have been detained as part of a crackdown on what has been a significant increase in STS transfers of oil from smaller vessels to ocean-going tankers, with the origin of the oil often hard to pin down, but suspected in several cases to be Russian.
As a new round of sanctions is announced, on 24 February –
Wikborg Rein provided a useful summary of new sanctions from the US and HM Treasury;
OFAC published a Factsheet detailing its actions, and the claimed effect on Russian oil production etc after a year of the sanctions;
The White House issued a Factsheet concerning measures adopted after 1 year of the conflict; and
The US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a news release announced 4 rules developed in concert with international allies and partners in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine. The news release contains brief summaries and links to the text of the rules released on the Federal Register’s website, and the effective date for all of the rules was 24 February.
The rules include –
Enhancing the scope of the Russian and Belarusian industry sector restrictions (oil and gas production; commercial and industrial items; chemical and biological precursors) and the ‘luxury goods’ sanctions to better align them with the controls that have been implemented by US allies and partners;Imposes new export control measures on Iran in order to address the use of Iranian UAV by Russia; and
Adding 86 entities under 89 entries (due to some entities operating in multiple countries) to the Entity List for a variety of reasons related to their activities in support of Russia’s defence-industrial sector and war effort. 79 are Russian, 5 Chinese, 2 are based in Canada, and 1 each in France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Several of the entities in these countries are subsidiaries of entities based in China and Russia. In addition, 4 existing Russian entities are amended; and
The latest Covid-19 statistics have been released, for the week to 18 February, which shows a continued decline in case numbers. In the most recent week there were 356 new cases, compared to 444 the previous one. There were 3 new fatalities (there was just 1 the previous week). 1 person is in ICU, with 42 in other wards (53 last week), and 525 active cases (617 last week).
A news report today says that an alleged Panamanian gang leader arrested in Spain is linked to a 2011 company that exported scrap and ferrous metal to the Netherlands and Colombia.
The media also reports a “dramatic” increase in Ecuadorian migrants crossing the Darién Gap from Colombia, with 100 counted amoung the 6,352 migrants so far this year. The fatal bus crash last week included more Ecuadorians than other nationalities.
Meanwhile, the stand-off between the Government and the mining company continues.
On 24 February, the US announced further sanctions on Russia, after 1 year since the (continued) invasion of Ukraine. A large number of additional individuals and entities are designated. OFAC also issued 4 General Licenses, and 5 new associated FAQ. OFAC says that it is targeting key sectors, evasion efforts and military supplies.
On 24 February, OFAC issued a determination that section 1(a)(i) of E.O. 14024 (addresses national security threats posed by specified harmful foreign activities of the Russian Federation) shall apply to the metals and mining sector of the Russian Federation economy; and hence, that any person determined to operate or have operated in this sector shall be subject to sanctions.