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Mireya Moscoso

Mireya Moscoso.jpg


44th President of Panama
In office
September 1, 1999 – August 30, 2004
Vice President Arturo Vallarino and Dominador Kaiser Bazan
Preceded by Ernesto Pérez Balladares
Succeeded by Martín Torrijos

Born July 1, 1946 (1946-07-01) (age 63)
Pedasí, Panama
Political party Arnulfista Party
Spouse(s) Widow of Arnulfo Arias, divorced from Ricardo Gruber
Occupation Interior designer
Religion Roman Catholic

Mireya Elisa Moscoso Rodríguez de Arias (born July 1, 1946) is a Panamanian political figure. She was the President of Panama from 1999 to 2004, representing the Arnulfista Party. Moscoso was Panama's first female president.

Moscoso has an interior design diploma from Miami-Dade Community College in the United States, and she is the widow of former President Arnulfo Arias.

President Mireya Moscoso is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an International network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.

Contents

Presidency

In the May 2, 1999 general elections, she became the country's first female President, taking office on September 1, 1999. She ran on a campaign to reduce poverty, improve education, and slow down the country's privatization process. She had run in the previous election (1994), when she was defeated by Ernesto Pérez Balladares of the PRD (Revolutionary Democratic Party). Her term in office began with huge popularity and hope for change.

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Panama Canal

She oversaw the U.S. handover of the Panama Canal in January 2000. Having fired every major officeholder in the Panama Canal Authority appointed by the previous administration, she is credited with keeping the Authority autonomous and running the canal in an efficient manner.[1]

Corruption scandals

Throughout her five-year government, numerous corruption scandals were aired on the media. None of her close allies, allegedly involved, were investigated.

Watches and earrings

Moscoso raised eyebrows soon after her election in 1999, when she gave all 72 members of the Legislative Assembly expensive Cartier watches and earrings worth an estimated $146,000 just before the vote on the government-proposed budget package. She claimed they were Christmas gifts and that she paid for them from her own money, not from public funds. No investigation was made.

Durodollar

One of the most famous corruption scandals was the "Durodollar" scandal. Moscoso's Executive Secretary filed a complaint with the police accusing her gardener of stealing thousands of dollars from her freezer. The gardener was put in jail, but the police never asked why a secretary had thousands of dollars inside her freezer, under the bed, etc; at her house. She only said that she "didn't trust banks". This secretary is currently under investigation.

End of term

Her popularity at the end of her government was the lowest for a Panamanian President. At the end of her term in office she held inauguration ceremonies for several unfinished public works. The most famous example is the new Centennial Bridge over the Panama Canal, inaugurated with big parties on August 15, 2004 (15 days before ending her term) by the government despite the fact that it would take until September 2, 2005 (a year later) to open the bridge for traffic, since only then the new highways leading to the bridge were finished.

Days before Moscoso ended her term and left Panama to retire in Florida, she pardoned four Cuban exiles– including the violent anti-Castro activist Luis Posada– who had been convicted of plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro, and implicated in the bombing of the Cubana Flight 455 in 1976, which killed all 73 people on board. Posada had admitted to The New York Times in 1998[1][2], having masterminded a bomb attack in a Cuban hotel, killing Italian Tourist Fabio di Celmo.

The pardon caused Cuba to break off diplomatic relations with Panama. The relations were reestablished under her successor, President Martín Torrijos.

Successor

Constitutionally barred from re-election,[1] she was succeeded on September 1, 2004 by Martín Torrijos, son of Omar Torrijos (the man who ousted her husband in 1968), who was elected in May 2004 with 47% of the votes. The Arnulfista Party (Moscoso's Party) reached only 16%, in distant third place. The blame for this loss was placed mainly on Moscoso. During the campaign, she openly attended rallies organized by her hand-picked candidate José Miguel Alemán, overshadowing him.

Corruption investigations

With the new government, numerous mechanisms to investigate corruption cases were instituted. It is alleged that Republic of China's donations to the Panamanian government were put under private foundations that were controlled by Moscoso's Cabinet and close friends.

Moscoso is now facing numerous corruption investigations in Panama. She blames Fidel Castro for initiating the corruption allegations. However, Moscoso's close aides point to Panamanian political rivals as the source. [3] (link broken)

References

  1. ^ a b Mireya-Moscoso, Encyclopædia Britannica, Retrieved 2007-7-7
Preceded by
Ernesto Pérez Balladares
President of Panama
1999–2004
Succeeded by
Martín Torrijos

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