Parlacen Protests Unilateral Withdrawal by Panama

The president of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen), Jacinto Suárez, announced Friday that he has submitted a formal protest against the government of Panama to the Central American Court of Justice in Managua, Nicaragua for its unilateral decision in November 2009 to leave Parlacen. In December, President Ricardo Martinelli of Panama signed into law a decision to withdraw his country from the body. According to Mr. Suárez, Panama cannot abandon Parlacen without the consent of the presidents of the other member countries of Central America. As part of the protest, Mr. Suárez is also seeking US$1.1 million in outstanding dues from Panama.

Parlacen, located in Guatemala City, Guatemala, is a political institution dedicated to the integration of the countries in Central America. Member states include the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and formally Panama. Costa Rica is not a member. Each nation, except the Dominican Republic, elects 20 representatives to the organization, in addition to former presidents. The Dominican Republic is allowed 22 appointed representatives, plus former presidents.


Former president Ricardo Maduro threatened on numerous occasions to withdraw Honduras from Parlacen. In September 2004, President Maduro called the organization "useless" and announced that Honduras would no longer pay its dues. "Parlacen has yielded no concrete results and, as president, I will not spend one cent more on it" said Mr. Maduro.


Each member country of Parlacen reportedly pays annual dues of US$1.7 million to support the organization. Each representative or "deputy" earns a salary of US$4,000 per month and is entitled to diplomatic immunity. (3/27/10)

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