USA wants to Panama be removed from the lists of tax havens and stop being seen as a “place where money is hidden,” the new US ambassador, Mari Carmen Aponte, declared on Tuesday.
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“It is very important that we know that we have no interest in Panama being known as a place where money is hidden,” Aponte said at his first press conference in Panama, a day after presenting credentials to the Panamanian president, Laurentino Cortizo.
Panama is in the so-called “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and is working to improve its anti-money laundering systems. It is also on the list of “tax havens” of the European Union.
“There are all these statements that the FATF has made, that the European Union makes. It is very important for us to support Panama so that it gets off those lists”, the ambassador pointed out.
A lawyer and diplomat born in Puerto Rico, Aponte was appointed by the US president Joe Biden in a position that was vacant for four years.
After the resignation of Ambassador John D. Feeley in 2018, Washington did not designate a successor to show its annoyance with Panama for having broken diplomatic ties with Taiwan to establish relations with China (which considers the island part of its territory).
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Aponte also said that the United States can help Panama in the fight against corruption and in the fight against irregular migration, which “It is one of the great challenges in the region”.
The ambassador indicated that she will visit Darién, the Panamanian jungle through which thousands of migrants, mostly Venezuelans, enter each month from Colombia on their way to the United States.
“I hope to go to Darien […]It is very important to observe first hand” this problem, he added.
The new ambassador affirmed that she lacked “specific knowledge” on the program to eliminate chemical weapons left by the United States army after handing over the military bases and the interoceanic Canal to Panama, December 31, 1999.
Panama reported in 2017 that it had signed an agreement with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to clean San José Island, 80 km from the Panamanian Pacific coast, with financing from Washington.
The United States Army would have carried out tests in San José with mustard gas and other nerve agents for their possible use in the Second Vietnam War (1939-1945) and the Vietnam War (1964-1975).
I am Jack Morton and I work in 24 News Recorder. I mostly cover world news and I have also authored 24 news recorder. I find this work highly interesting and it allows me to keep up with current events happening around the world.