Panama. In October, the Prosecutor’s Office decided to launch an investigation into allegations that, during his time as lieutenant in the National Guard, Interior Minister Daniel Delgado murdered another guard officer in 1970. Delgado himself acknowledged the incident but claimed it was a legitimate police action that was being investigated and closed down already. However, the media reported that no such investigation exists, and in connection with a government reform in mid-November, Delgado was forced to resign. He was controversial even before the revelation, including for his connections to Panama’s strong man in the 1980s General Manuel Noriega.
The Delgado Falls revelation also cast its shadow over the upcoming presidential election in May 2009. The public in Panama, according to opinion polls, is deeply concerned about the insidious remilitarization of society and associates President Martín Torrijo’s ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Democratico, PRD) presidential candidate such development. President Torrio’s government reshuffle in November was also considered by the opposition to be a disguised way for the president to give Delgado fired to save the government’s face in the run-up to the presidential election.
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On September 4, a general strike was carried out in protest of delayed wages, inflation and the security situation in Panama. The general strike was the culmination of a wave of protests in the country’s largest cities, including 15,000 protesters in Panama City on August 14. Already in February, union dissatisfaction with the government exploded after a construction worker was shot dead by a gunshot in the back of a Colón police officer as he was on his way to a hospital for care after violent demonstrations, and 40,000 members of the construction worker union went out into the streets across the country in protest against police violence. The protests also touched on President Torrio’s controversial proposal to reorganize the country’s police force and intelligence service to combat rising crime in a way that is believed to reinforce the remilitarization tendencies in society.
According to Countryaah reports, the population of Panama in 2008 was 3,642,576, ranking number 130 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.810% yearly, and the population density was 49.0004 people per km2.