Friday, December 17, 2010


(Based on article from LA PRENSA newspaper dated Decebmer 10,2010)

Panama Canal Suspends Operations

The transit of ships through the Panama Canal was suspended temporarily yesterday from 12: 00 noon because of the record level registered at Gatun and Alajuela lakes after the continuous rains.

Gatun Lake, whose maximum level is 88.5 feet above sea level reached 88.56 feet, forcing the opening of the gates to release the water. The Alajuela Lake with the maximum level 252.0 feet, with the constant rain reached 257.6 feet above sea level.

The Executive Vice President of Operations of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Manuel Benitez said “the measure was adopted because transits through the Canal could have been affected by the current of the Chagres River, which flows into the waterway at Gamboa, in view of the spill at Alajuela.”

After the order of suspending Canal operation, PANAMAX vessels were stranded along the canal until the locks were back in operation. Although the ACP always suspends temporarily operation in some of the locks, be it for some maintenance task or form some incident, yesterday the administration ordered the suspending operation at all the locks.

The last time the canal was paralyzed for more than one day was during December 20, 1989 after the U.S. invasion of Panama.
The alert situation led to a meeting among the top ACP authorities to evaluate the situation and to determine the normalizing of operation during the next few hours

The rains also affected the expansion operations especially in the Atlantic sector where the rains have been more persistent. A source linked to the task of design and construction of the third set of locks stated that suction pumps have been placed to extract the water in areas where there are excavations.

Yesterday, the ACP, coordinating with local authorities, evacuated about 50 residents of the Guayabalito and Santa Rosa communities in the lower part of Madden Dam Lake which feeds Alajuela Lake.

The ACP warned that the communities near the Chagres River, as well as Nuevo Vigía Salamanca, and Boqueron- on the upper part of the dam should be placed on state of alert pending instructions from the authorities.

The ACP said that the preventive spill of water through the Gatun Spillway also affected automobile traffic through the bridge connecting the towns of the South Coast of Colon. It asked residents of the towns in that sector to avoid travel due to the limited use of the bridge.

As part of the actions coordinated with other authorities. A system was devised to move the people in case of an emergency.

Summary by Juliette Passer, Esq.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A bit of Chinese wisdom for all of us!

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”

The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?'”

“That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

SO, to all of my friends and colleagues, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

During the first six months of this year, tourist activity increased by 9.6% in Panama, summary by Juliette Passer


(Based on article from PANAMA AMERICA Oct 16, 2010)

Panama Tourism and the Canal

Although the Panama Canal reflected a decrease of 3.3% in revenue during the first six months of the totaled US $871.5 million. The Canal is one of the most important sources of income to the Republic.

According to the Panama Tourist Authority (ATP). The Canal Revenues amounted to US $871.5 million during the first six months of this year. Meanwhile, the Tourist Authority of Panama (ATP) advisor Ernesto Orillac said that new investments in restaurants, malls and others projects have transformed the area into one of the most productive sectors of the country. Purchases by tourists have become an important source of revenues and made tourism an important productive sector. There are two hotels and one condo-hotel being built in the in the Albrook Mall area.

During the first six months of this year, tourist activity increased by 9.6%. The total number of tourists arriving was 652,000, which is 10% more than during the same period last year. Many international fairs are being held in Panama now increasing tourist incentives. Hotels reported 3,847 rooms occupied during this period which is more than the 3,437 rooms during the same period last year.

The ATP is making plans to provide transportation to in-transit tourists to take them to Metro Mall for their purchases. This initiative is not new; it is also being used in Miami.

Angelo Paredes, president of the Panama Association of Tour Operators says there has being an increase in tourism since 2007. The Cruise Ship season started yesterday so these figures will be more attractive in the coming months.

Finally, the Government reports it is planning to offer The Atlapa Convention Center free for events activities. This offer would increase the number of people coming to Panama as well.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Assembly Passes Parts Of Law 30 (Aviation, Environment) suammry by Juliette Passer

Assembly Passes Parts Of Law 30 (Aviation, Environment)

The Panama National Assembly passed two parts of Law 30, summarized by Juliette Passer in the prior post, about promoting the development of commercial aviation and general environmental matters.
Mario Wilson of the Commercial Pilots Union said he was pleased with the measure because it upholds the agreements reached at the negotiating table benefitting commercial airline pilots.

Meanwhile, Yessica Young of the MarViva Environmental Foundation said that although some of the articles were not repealed, consensus was reached on the importance of environmental measures to improve the country’s situation.

Summary by Juliette Passer, Esq. and Mario Talavera

Trust experience and knowledge.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Innovative Trump Ocean Club is nearing completion in Panama City, photos by Juliette Passer

Innovative Trump Ocean Club is nearing completion in Panama City, photos by Juliette Passer - see at

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

PANAMA CANAL AUTHORITY closes Fiscal Year 2010, summary by Juliette Passer


Article from La PRENSA Newspaper in Panama City
PANAMA CANAL AUTHORITY closes Fiscal Year 2010 with
US $1,482 million revenue

On September 30, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) closed the Fiscal Year with the total of 300.7 million tons of cargo handled, totaling $1,482 Million revenue. ACP administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta stated that this figure represents only tolls and does not include other operations like the sale of electric energy and drinking water.

There was a growth of 1.6 million tons of cargo compared to the same period last year according to the Universal System of the Monitoring Ships in the Panama Canal. Aleman Zubieta said that he was very pleased with having surpassed three hundred million tons in a difficult year for world economy.

In 1914 during the first year of operations, the Canal registered 1108 transits, about 3 ships a day. The most transits effected was in 1970 with 15,523.000 tons, an increase attributed to the Vietnam war - at present the Canal averages 14,000 transits annually, while the size of the ships has increased. Several important world events have affected the Panama Canal. First there was the Great Depression of 1929; afterwards between 1939 to 1945 operations diminished drastically because of the Second World War. During the 1980s there was an increase of up to 200,000 tons because the of the oil shipped from Alaska. When the Alaska pipeline was opened, this figure went down to 160 million tons.

Summary by Juliette Passer, Esq. and Mario Talavera

Trust experience and knowledge.TM

Monday, October 11, 2010


Summary by Juliette Passer

Aero Perlas Airlines manager Nestor Echevers said that these two cities will be included in a global reserve system like Amadeus and Sarber. Joseph Mohan, COPA Airlines (the Panamanian airline) Vice President said talks continue with Air Panama to connect these two destinations with this purchase of a single ticket. He said that if no agreement is reached, COPA will consider buying its own planes or to deal with another airline. The article discusses the procedures to be followed by passengers from these destinations.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

SUMMARY by Juliette Passer

SUMMARY by Juliette Passer
(Based on article from LA PRENSA newspaper)

PANAMA CANAL AUTHORITY closes Fiscal Year 2010 with
US $1,482 million revenue

On September 30th the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) closed the Fiscal Year with the total of 300.7 million tons of cargo handled, totaling US $1,482 Million revenue. ACP administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta stated that this figure represents only tolls and does not include other operations, such as the sale of electric energy and drinking water.

There was a growth of 1.6 million tons of cargo compared to the same period last year according to the Universal System of the Monitoring Ships in the Panama Canal. Aleman Zubieta said that he was very pleased with having surpassed three hundred million tons in a difficult year for the World economy.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

“LOCAL CURRENCY OR THE DOLLAR? THAT IS THE QUESTION” summary by Juliette Passer and Mario Talavera


Article from EL FINANCIERO supplement
Of LA PRENSA September 21, 2010 entitled

Panama has always had the dollar as its national currency. The time has come for a change. In March 1988 the U.S. Government froze the funds held by the Banco Nacional de Panama at the FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM in New York. That should have been warning enough for Panama to establish its own bank.

The value of the dollar dropped in 1995. At that time well-known financial expert Jose
Nessin Abbo proposed the free circulation of several currencies in Panama. The United
Nations has also suggested a new currency to replace the dollar. What is Panama waiting for? It seems that this problem will not be solved until the dollar collapses, or the
international community agrees on a system to replace the present one. After 150 years of using the dollar, Panamanians have the idea that the dollar is our national currency. This problem cannot last much longer.

The housing bubble has been deflated. The price of gold has doubled, and there seems to be no political will in the United States to face the problem. The U.S.A. is waging a $2 billion war and plans to expand the war to other areas. Other Latin American countries have dollarized their economy, but for different reasons from Panama.

Now Panama has a Canal and a solid economy that generates thousands of millions of
Dollars. Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Peru have Central Banks that function perfectly. There is no reason for Panama not to follow their example.

The truth is that the dollar will collapse sooner or later. The collapse could be caused by a political or economic shock or as a result of an agreement among the great powers. From a historical viewpoint, this phenomenon is inevitable.

Summary by Juliette Passer, Esq. and Mario Talavera

Trust experience and knowledge.TM

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The IMF has predicted a 6% increase in economic growth for 2011 for Panama, summary by Juliette Passer

by Juliette Passer
(Based on article from EL FINANCIERO Annex, LA PRENSA newspaper dated September 14, 2010 by Mario A. Muñoz)

When the Assemblymen talk about approving a record budget for 2011, it is crucial to find out where the financing is going to come from.

Panama’s 2011 budget will be 13 billion dollars as compared to other Latin American countries: Costa Rica’s is 11 billion, El Salvador is 3.7 billion and Paraguay is 8.284 billion.

According to the comments by economist GUSTAVO CHELLEW relying on the data from the Ministry of Economy and Finance - government revenue has increased by 4.8% in 2010, so real income increased by $337.7 million over same period in 2009. This is an increase of 15.8% up to July 2010. According to the foregoing, public finances have been consolidated and are, therefore, sound. This is the basis for sustainable economic and social development. This situation will allow the Government to maintain public policies seeking fairness in distribution of income. For example, there was a decrease in the income tax (Law 8 of 2010) that benefitted 90,000 employees earning less than $50,000 per year.

All the foregoing is based on expected income for 2011 and on a budget execution of 90% with a real economic growth of about 5% in the Gross National Product for 2011 similar to that of 2010. The banking system has recommended generating finances. Besides, personal consumption has increased by 6.8% which reflects the dynamics of economic growth for 2011.

The IMF has predicted a 6% increase in economic growth for 2011.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Por Juliette Passer

PANAMA ofrece un clima único para inversionistas extranjeros. Los factores más importantes para tener en cuenta son:

• El dólar de U.S.A. es de libre circulación

• No hay control de tasas de cambio

• La Constitución da igual trato a ciudadanos locales y extranjeros

• Tiene una de las Leyes Corporativas más flexibles del mundo. Basada en el Código de Delaware, al igual que la disponibilidad de otras formas de entidades legales, incluyendo a Compañías de Riesgo Limitado

• No hay restricciones a inversiones 100% extranjeras

• No hay restricciones a fusiones, adquisiciones, o inversiones conjuntas

• Alto porcentaje de fuerza laboral capacitada y bilingüe

• Incentivos favorables para inversión y finanzas

• Excelentes puertos, aeropuertos y telecomunicaciones

• Facilidades excelentes de hoteles y suites para ejecutivos

• Ambiente bancario excelente y estable, con más de 65 bancos

• Internacionales y locales, sucursales y oficinas representativas

• Una de las Zonas Libres más grandes (en Colon)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Investment Climate of Panama by Juliette Passer

Panamá Investment Climate
By Juliette Passer

Panama offers unique business climate for foreign investors. Major factors to be considered are:

The U.S. Dollar is legal tender

Total absence of exchange controls

Equal treatment of foreign and local citizens under the Constitution

One of the most flexible Corporations laws in the world, based on the Delaware Code as well as availability of other forms of legal entities, including Limited Liability Companies

No restrictions on 100% foreign owned investments

No restrictions on mergers, acquisitions, or joint ventures

High percentage of skilled and bilingual labor force

Favorable investment and financial incentives

Excellent ports, airport and telecommunications

Excellent Hotels and business executive suite facilities

Excellent and stable banking environment, with over 65 international and local banks, branches, and representative offices

One of the largest Free Trade Zones in Colon

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Law 30 in Spanish

For our Spanish-speaking readers – Panama Law 30 by Juliette Passer in Spanish:

Trust experience and knowledge™.

“Confíe en la Experiencia y el Conocimiento”

Ley 30 de Panamá del 12 de junio de 2010
por Juliette Passer

Una mezcla de reglamentos, la nueva Ley 30, también conocida como la Ley “9 en 1”, fue aprobada por la Asamblea Nacional de Panamá el sábado 12 de junio y firmada como Ley por el Presidente Ricardo Martinelli.

De un plumazo, la Ley modifica los Códigos Laborales, Judiciales, y Criminales, al igual que otras seis Leyes. Estas reformas controversiales fueron metidas en un proyecto de Ley presentado para aumentar la inversión en aviación comercial que inmediatamente causaron malestar público en todo Panamá, mientras aumenta la controversia acerca de la aprobación de la Ley 30.

Esta controversia - según Juliette Passer - se enfoca principalmente en dos medidas que han molestado a dos distintos grupos de intereses panameños: los ambientalistas, que nunca han tenida mucha influencia en la política panameña, y los Sindicatos obreros que si han tenido mucha influencia en ese sentido. Los ambientalistas están preocupados por las disposiciones que permiten que los proyectos de construcción continúen avanzando sin el debido estudio de impacto ambiental cuando el Gobierno considere que existe un “interés social” en construir el proyecto.

Los Sindicatos obreros opinan que la nueva Ley interfiere en su territorio y protestaron en las calles. La fuerza tradicional de los Sindicatos en Panamá se basaba en la protección que les concedía el Código de Trabajo y el bloque de votos que podían obtener en unas elecciones. Sin embargo, su fuerza política comienza a debilitarse. La Ley 30 contiene disposiciones que permiten a obreros que pertenecen a sectores sindicalizados, tales como la construcción, a decidir si quieren o no pagar sus cuotas sindicales; antes de la nueva Ley, las cuotas sindicales eran descontadas del sueldo automáticamente.

El Articulo 12 de la Ley 30 dice:

“El Artículo 373 del Código del Trabajo dice lo siguiente: Artículo 373 – El patrono no está obligado a deducirle al empleado cuotas ordinarias ni extraordinarias que esten establecidas a favor de un sindicato. El obrero que desea pagar las cuotas ordinarias o extraordinarias establecidas por un sindicato, deberá pagarlas voluntariamente.”

La Nueva Ley también permite al Gobierno adoptar medidas más fuertes contra las huelgas y a usar a obreros no sindicalizados. Esta batalla se libró en los Estados Unidos y el Reino Unido en los años 1980s; ahora se está comenzando a librar en Panamá.

La base de la Ley contiene elementos relacionados a la aviación comercial, y especialmente una codificación de un requerimiento para forzar a compañías panameñas de aviación, tales como COPA, a emplear a un 85% de panameños, incluyendo pilotos. También contiene nuevos requerimientos y restricciones acerca de mecánicos y técnicos de aviación – la mayoría extranjeros.

La lista de otras reformas incluye permitir a patronos a emplear a obreros no sindicalizados para reemplazar los que están en huelga y ordena a la policía a tomar control de los sitios afectados por las huelgas. La Ley “9 en 1” también aumenta la pena para el tráfico humano y falsificación de documentos, pero rebaja las penas a oficiales de la policía que cometen crímenes durante su trabajo. Juliette Passer termina diciendo que es una Ley rara, parecida a las que vemos en Washington cuando Leyes importantes contienen un sin número de disposiciones no relacionadas.

© 2010, Juliette M. Passer, Esq.

Acerca de la autora:

Juliette M. Passer es una abogada estadounidense con más de 19 anos de amplia experiencia internacional transaccional en finanzas corporativa y de proyectos, al igual que en nuevos medios y comercio. Juliette Passer tiene un título (cum laude) del Cardozo School of Law y estudió Ley Soviética en la Columbia University School of Law. Ella ejerció la abogacía con la firma internacional de abogados Debevoise & Plimpton andPatterson, Belknap, Webb y Tyler en Nueva York especializándose finanza corporativa y de proyectos. Juliette Passer pertenece al Concejo de Relaciones Exteriores y es parte de las juntas directivas de varias compañías. Ella aparece en el Who’s Who in American Women. Ella, pro bono, representa a artistas, bailarinas y músicos Rusos y Ucranios, Juliette Passer frecuentemente es invitada como oradora a la Facultad de la Academia Jurídica Rusa, Universidad de Kaplan, Moravian College, y otros.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Panama Laws and Advice

Juliette Passer wrote an article on Panama Law 30

Trust experience and knowledge™.

Panama Law 30 of June 12, 2010

by Juliette Passer

A mixed collection of regulations, the new Law 30, also known as the "9 in 1" law, was passed by the Panama National Assembly on Saturday, June 12, 2010 and signed into law by President Ricardo Martinelli. In one broad sweep, it amends the Labor, Judicial and Criminal Codes as well as six other laws. These controversial reforms were bundled in a bill to increase investment in commercial aviation and immediately stirred public unrest across Panama, while controversy surrounding the passing of Law 30 continues to grow.

This controversy - Juliette Passer explains - is focused mainly on two measures that have upset two different Panamanian interest groups: environmentalists, who have never been very influential in Panamanian politics, and Labor Unions, who have been quite influential. The environmentalists are upset about provisions that allow construction projects to move forward without an environmental impact study, if the government determines that there is a “social interest” in pursuing a project.
The Labor Unions see the new Law as infringing on their territory and took their dislikes to the streets. The traditional strengths of Labor Unions in Panama were the protections they enjoyed in the Labor Code and the bloc votes they could cast in elections; however, their political force is beginning to weaken. Law 30 contains provisions which allow workers in unionized sectors, such as construction, to decide whether or not they want to pay union dues; before the new Law, dues were automatically taken out of workers’ wages.

Article 12 of Law 30 reads:
“Article 373 of the Labor Code will read as follows: Article 373 - The employer is not obligated to deduct from workers in favor of a union ordinary or extraordinary union dues that are established. The worker who wishes to pay the ordinary and extraordinary dues established by the union should pay those dues voluntarily."
The new Law also allows the government to take stronger action against strikers and to use non-union workers. This is a battle that was fought in the 1980s in the US and UK; it’s just beginning to be fought in Panama.

The bulk of the underlying law has contains elements related to commercial aviation, and most of which is a codification of a requirement to force Panamanian aviation companies, such as COPA, to hire 85% Panamanians, including pilots. There are also new requirements and restrictions on aircraft mechanics and technicians - mostly foreigners.

The string of other reforms includes allowing employers to hire non-union replacements for striking workers and requires police to immediately take control of work sites affected by strikes. The "9-in-1" law also increased penalties for human trafficking and falsification of documents, but relaxed sanctions for police officers who commit crimes while on duty. It is an odd piece of legislation, although not unlike some we see in Washington, DC when major laws contain a myriad of unrelated provisions, Juliette Passer concludes.

Copyright 2010, Juliette M. Passer, Esq.

About the Author

Juliette M. Passer is a U.S. attorney, with over 19 years of broad international transactional experience, specializing in corporate and project finance, as well as new media transactions and e-commerce. Juliette Passer holds a JD (cum laude) from Cardozo School of Law and studied Soviet Law at the Columbia University School of Law. She practiced law with the international law firms of Debevoise & Plimpton and Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler in New York, specializing in corporate and project finance. Juliette Passer is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on boards of several companies. She is listed in Who’s Who in American Law and Who’s Who in American Women. As a pro bono undertaking, she represents Russian and Ukrainian artists, dancers and musicians. Juliette Passer is a frequent guest lecturer and an adjunct graduate faculty at the Russian Juridical Academy, Kaplan University, Moravian College and others.

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