Panama’s two-headed quarantine coin draws outrage

Eyra Ruiz

2,215Views 7Comments Posted 02/09/2020

A day after she appeared on television threatening to fine those who protested in front of La Fragata, a restaurant where a group of officials gathered last Wednesday, the Minister of Health Counselor  Eyra Ruiz , attended a funeral in Santa Ana, a   gathering that defied at least five decrees relatingt to the Covid-19 quarantine.

Citizen unrest is based on the fact that while the majority have nuried   their deceased relatives, through Zoom, militants of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) challenged the health provisions to say goodbye to their partner Wendy Rodríguez, who was murdered. in the South Corridor last Thursday.

Neither the National Police nor the Justice of the Peace nor the Ministry of Health (Minsa) acted, despite the fact that the act brought together dozens of men on a day when only women were supposed to go out. Nor was the social distance decreed to avoid contagions taken into account.

 In addition, the guide for the handling of corpses in times of Covid-19 was ignored: while the curfew lasts, in the celebration of funeral services, only the attendance of a maximum of five people is authorized.

The rule that prevents gatherings of more than 10 people was violated and the provision that prevents local artists from working was ignored: the funeral featured mariachis.

Harassed by questions on social networks, Ruiz issued a statement, in which she claimed that she went to the church of Santa Ana to offer condolences to the mother of her partner and that the church complied with what was established by the Minsa: take temperature, shoe disinfection, alcohol on the hands and masks. "By regulations of the Minsa, churches can open their doors to parishioners complying with only housing 25% of their capacity (...)", she said, adding that she is willing to submit to any investigation.

But her explanation did not convince. The phrase #EyraRuizRenuncia became a trend on Twitter reports La Prensa.

They question her indifference to the crowd outside the church, despite the fact that last Sunday - referring to the incident in La Fragata - she said in the Telemetro Open Debate program, in an authoritarian tone: "Here the law is you have to deliver, no matter who is gathered and where. The Minister of Health [Luis Francisco Sucre] has been emphatic in saying that he will do the investigations until the last thing is reached and that everyone pays according to the law. But not only those who were inside that restaurant [...] also those who were outside because here we cannot allow anarchies ”.

s“Out of respect for citizenship, she must resign. If she had a minimum of respect, she would not have participated in an event that she knows violates what is established. Many of us have not buried our relatives, ”wrote the architect José Isturaín on Twitter.

“Do you know all the times that my mother tells me that my grandmother did not have a goodbye that she deserved? Tears come out in seconds ... why could your family have a funeral? 2000 people have already died from Covid, I wonder how many could have had a funeral like this (...) ", Olguita Reyna published on the social network.

Ruiz wasn't the only high-profile figure to attend the funeral. Deputies Crispiano Adames and Zulay Rodríguez, among others, were also present at the event.

The scandalous funeral of the PRD is yet another of the events in which officials are linked with the violation of the quarantine decrees saya La Prensa. For example, last weekend, the mayor of Colón, Alex Lee, challenged at least four sanitary fences (Colón, Panamá, Panamá Oeste and Coclé) to move to a beach house in El Decameron, Río Hato, Coclé, together with his family.

So far, there is no firm investigation against this official. His partner Iracema Dale, governor of Colón, who by law is responsible for opening an administrative process, said that she understands that the sanitary fences "were suspended in that area."

Meanwhile, President Laurentino Cortizo said that this was an issue that is the responsibility of the Minsa, but the minister of the sector assured the media that there were no longer sanitary fences. “What we have are guard posts. Even so, we have asked the director of the Colón region, and that of Coclé, to carry out the pertinent research ”.

What the minister said contradicts the decree # 183 of August 25, which warns that the sanitary fences will be "lifted" from September 14. In fact, several people who traveled last weekend to areas near the beaches were asked for a safe conduct to be able to transit.

The Minsa is also investigating at least seven officials who gathered last at the La Fragata restaurant bar.

The event took place just days after a party was detected at the home of Pedro Ortiz in Dorado Lakes, (Saturday, August 15), who even used an official vehicle to transport people who participated in the gathering. Ortiz was forced to resign as an advisor to the Cleaning Authority amid public outrage.

August began with another controversy related to the violation of lovkdown: on Saturday the 1st the mayor of Panama was discovered on Coronado beach, an area that is forbidden to visit. Although he apologized, the Minsa fined him $5,000.

The first event of this nature to be made public was the meeting held by the leadership of the PRD, together with its bench of deputies, at Jimmy's Grill, on the evening  of June 18. The issue made more noise because the call was made by two officials responsible for the strategy against the pandemic: Rosario Turner, at that time Minister of Health; and Eyra Ruiz,. The Minister of Labor, Doris Zapata, also participated in the event. The three officials belong to the PRD leadership. Although the restaurant and the PRD were fined $50,000, nothing happened with the officials.

The citizens?
The treatment given by the authorities to PRD personnel is the opposite to that given to citizens for less relevant events  reports La Prensa

On Saturday, August 29, the Institutional Protection Service detained a woman who was walking with her brother with Down syndrome on the Cinta Costera.. Days before, they detained a group of cyclists who were traveling on the road to circulate at hours that did not correspond to them.

They have also arrested men and women who walked dogs on forbidden days, and there are multiple similar cases.

“I sell flags of the PRD. Includes permission from the Minsa for: agglomerations at funerals trips to the Decameron, dinners in restaurants, parties and 'guarachas' at homes. The only requirement is to like all the tweets of the minister and those of 'Mr.' President ”, tweeted Cristian Ábrego, from the group  Citizen Conscience  group

Will there be punishment for the massive funeral of the PRD leader? La Prensa contacted the Minsa to find out if any investigation is being carried out and they did not respond.

The National Police were also asked  and they responded that "the Minsa are the competent authorities."

However, on August 14, at a funeral in Pacora that gathered dozens of people, the Police acted immediately and the Minsa immediately announced that it would impose sanctions on those responsible.



Comments 7


Devil'sAdvocate; I do not often agree with Jbbrown, but read what he first said: This happened during the "Good Times" here in Panama. Where he is a bit at fault, is not identifying that period. I do believe in "Giving back to Cesar, what belongs to Cesar". Have a good evening and stay safe. i do not often agree

9 months ago

BTW. Something didn't seem right so I took the liberty of following up on the post attributed to jbbrown. Indeed it was posted on expat exchange by panamajames, however it was posted nearly 5 years ago on 10/4/2015. That is the thing with credability it takes a lifetime to build and a few seconds to flush away.

9 months ago

Hope you are all enjoying your trial membership in the PRD's socialist utopia. Where everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others...

9 months ago

Brown's lengthy report is disturbing but doesn't seem yo have much relevance to the published report. It also casts doubts on his previous claims to have been driving around the streets of the capital. along with his observations of events he "witnessed unless he is armed with a space telescope.

9 months ago
Boquete Kid

Most crime here goes unreported because people know that the police won't recover the property or even catch a perpetrator. Heinous crimes like this happen here and with the current conditions on the ground worsening by the day I foresee desperate people doing bad things. If your skin is white here you are a target, never forget that!

9 months ago

This is why we ultimately decided against retirement in Panama! We also found it to be a very dirty and low brow destination overall. Just a matter of time until you are targeted. I hope she ultimately survived?

9 months ago

This happened during the "Good Times" here in Panama, just imagine now with a total economic collapse here! From expat exchange! panamajames Login to Contact Some more scattered info that is surfacing..................Various posts....... ..........Elizabeth and I spoke with Dr Cattan this morning...blood needed is A pos or O neg....she is in stable but serious visitors until further notice.More details later . gracias. The victim is Marion Clamp a widow. She lives very close to a previous armed home invasion victim, Paul Cody. Apparently the police have caught one or two of the 3 or 4 maleantes. They will probably turn out to be underage and will be released. Let's hope not. Marion fought back like the feisty lady she is. She got one of them with wasp spray. She was shot twice with a small caliber pistol and then stabbed. I believe she must be in Hospital Mae Lewis because Dr. Cattan practices there and that's where she always has gone in the past. The neighbor also said there were 4 of them rather the 3 that has been reported elsewhere. The detective did say the maleantes approached the house on foot. They broke in a side door that did not have any security bars on it--simply used a stick to break the glass, reached in and opened the door. As you say, she did resist (she would!), but she also told them where to find the money they were demanding. It did not prevent them from stabbing and shooting her. She did sound the boat horn she has. A neighbor heard it, then heard two gun shots. I have just talked to the lady in question and I want to clarify just two points 1. Neither of us heard shots 2. The lady in question did do something, the right thing. Any talk of shots may have been in reference to a shotgun blast I heard 2-3 nights ago a lot closer than the house in question. Not last night. I am in contact with the physician. I just got a message from him that No one has gone to donate, because elsewhere it is posted it is not necessary. Please, disregard all comments about blood unless it comes from me. We STILL need donors. I just called one back, who did not go earlier today because of what she read here. If you would like to donate, please go to, look for the blood donation link on the left side. Read the criteria for donating, & if you are eligible, please call Tamara or me. We are grateful for the concern & desire to help. yes. She needs 3-4 units. Have EVERYONE contact Charlotte Lintz to coordinate. UPDATE. 5PM. The nurses in intensive care report that Marion is awake and all her vital signs are stable. She is VERY weak. A few people have tried to stop in to see her. They are discouraging all visitors at this time. Marion needs to rest. Her daughter is arriving tonight. Pray, give blood, don't go see her, yet. Marion is indeed stable but still in critical condition. I spoke to her briefly this afternoon and reassured her that everything possible was being done. After I got home I was told that the person detained this morning was released (not involved) but later either one or two from Potrerillos Arriba were arrested. Donna Rosado is housing Marion's daughter (who arrived yesterday) and they will go down this morning. I understand that Stacey is going to give blood today , also one other person has volunteered. We will update asap..Drs are not giving much/any info over the phone.

9 months ago
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