Panama: Ex-President Sentenced to 10 Years for Money Laundering

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    The Facts

    • Former Panamanian Pres. Ricardo Martinelli on Tuesday was sentenced to ten years in prison and fined $19M for money laundering.

    • The case against him centered on claims that public funds were used to purchase a media conglomerate, giving Martinelli a majority stake.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    The anti-corruption wave in Latin America has made the region's ex-presidents more vulnerable to criminal prosecution than ever before. Martinelli's sentencing is even likely to be followed by that of former Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez. Their convictions send a message to crooked officials — who set up an entire illegal structure to collect the bribes — that betraying the public trust will no longer be tolerated.

    Narrative B

    Despite Tuesday's sentence, Martinelli remains an influential political figure. Last month he emerged victorious in his party's primary, which granted him the right to seek another term. These money laundering and corruption charges are politically motivated, while the trial is equivalent to political persecution. Martinelli is a victim of political manipulation designed to prevent his participation in the upcoming presidential elections.

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