STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

US sanctions threaten 167-year-old Panama newspaper

The daily, La Estrella de Panama, and a sister newspaper, El Siglo, are in \'real danger of closing,\' the head of its publishing company.

Published: 14th June 2016 04:11 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th June 2016 04:11 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

PANAMA CITY: A 167-year-old newspaper in Panama that existed even before the country became independent is faced with extinction because its main shareholder has been hit with US sanctions for allegedly laundering drug money.

The daily, La Estrella de Panama, and a sister newspaper, El Siglo, are in "real danger of closing," the head of its publishing company, Eduardo Quiros, told foreign correspondents yesterday.

Both titles are published by Gese, which is part of a business empire owned by Abdul Waked, a Panamanian who also holds Lebanese and Colombian nationalities.

Waked, 66, and a relative, Nidal Ahmed Waked Hatum, 36, were on May 5 designated by the US as major money-launderers for big drug cartels. Waked Hatum was arrested in Colombia.

Their interests, which also span duty free shops, a bank, real estate, and malls, were put on a US sanctions black list that freezes their American assets and locks them out of doing business with Americans.

Though the US Treasury Department gave a special license "intended to allow both Panamanian newspapers to continue printing and operating by authorizing specific activities that would otherwise be prohibited," the writing for them appears to be on the wall.

Gese has seen its advertisers run away and local banks throw up financial obstacles. The group, which has 300 employees, has sacked six percent of its staff.

For La Estrella and El Siglo, the future looks bleak.

La Estrella is the oldest in the Central American country, and was started in 1853, back when Panama was a province of Colombia, before independence in 1903.

"If can't manage to reactivate our financial operations our situation is a situation that is not sustainable in the long-term," Quiros said.

"It's a vicious cycle of starvation in which you end up dying," he said.

The bosses of the newspapers warn that their closure would represent a setback for democracy and freedom of expression in the country, which has enjoyed greater prosperity in the wake of a 1989 US invasion that toppled dictator General Manuel Noriega.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp