Panama’s Minister of Government and Justice, José Raúl Mulino, announced that Panama will sign an agreement with the United States by October 30th to establish military naval stations in Bahia Piña and Punta Coca, on the Pacific coast.
The bilateral meeting between the Panamanian leader, Ricardo Martinelli, and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, held on Saturday the 26th in New York City for ratification of the Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) between the two countries, also addressed the issue of security, in particular the war on drug trafficking.
Panama is a member of the Mérida initiative, promoted by the US government to combat drug trafficking. Last year the US government granted 3.8 million dollars to Panama, with 7 million more to follow this year.
The discussion also touched on the topics of tourism and trade: according to a press release from the State Communications Department, Martinelli proposed lowering taxes for US companies holding conventions in Panama.
Intelligence reports reveal that two thousand locations have been identified on the Pacific coast as strategic drug trafficking points. So far this year, authorities have seized 40 tons of drugs, a figure which reached 53.9 tons in 2008.
The current political crisis in Honduras was also addressed during the talks.
*(Translation provided by Patrick C. Yancey)*