The deputy has her cousin, Jorge Ramos, who is the mayor of Capira, appointed as driver in the Assembly. He is not practicing but has paid leave.
"He is not the only mayor of the country who is appointed in this or other institutions of the State," responded the deputy of the Democratic Change Party, Yanibel Ábrego, when questioned about the two salaries earned by her cousin, Jorge Ramos, who is the mayor of Capira, and has a position as a driver of the National Assembly.
Ábrego admitted that she has other named relatives, "I have some family working with me, what can I say? You have people you trust when you are a deputy of the Republic."
She considers these to be attacks "for being poor", and attributed it to a "class struggle".
The deputy questioned why this is being brought up, arguing that "it is not something new, it is a publication of persecution of the political class, specifically Yanibel Ábrego who aspires to the presidency of a political party and has touched the interests of an economic group. Poor Yanibel Ábrego cannot aspire because she is a fisherman's daughter, Rómulo Roux can," she said.
When asked if she considers it moral or not to have two positions and have paid leave when he earns another salary, Ábrego reiterated that the authorities must do their job, "that is not my issue, he sought your votes."
The mayor of Capira, Jorge Ramos, became nervous. The press asked him about the Association for Development of the Capira District (Aprodeca), in which he is director, as well as two officials who work for deputy Yanibel Ábrego.
And is that an official from the office of Mayor Ramos confirmed that Aprodeca handles the donations of that district, but they are administered by "the office of the honorable Ábrego."
Two official vehicles – identified as Aprodeca – are at Ábrego's office.
Ramos himself works for Ábrego as a driver, and, although he is on leave, his salary is paid in full, since it is a paid leave.
Questioned Ramos about his relationship with the spouses Mintoys Ávila and Adnan González, president and vice president of Aprodeca, said he did not know them. “That is a girl from there, from the town. I have no family ties nor am I his partner,” said Ramos. Then he confirmed that he does know her. She is "a distant cousin," he said, but denied being in partnerships with her.
Officials and relatives of Ábrego: companies and businesses
While doing politics to re-elect himself in office, Jorge Ramos - cousin of the deputy for Democratic Change Yanibel Ábrego - receives two salaries: one as a driver in the National Assembly (AN) and another as mayor in Capira, district of the province of Panamá Oeste, which is part of the 8-2 circuit, of which, precisely, Yanibel Ábrego is a deputy.
Ramos earns a salary of $3,000 per month in the AN and, at the same time, receives another $2,000 as mayor, that is, he charges more as a driver than as mayor. And, in full quarantine due to the pandemic, Ramos increased his income by another $1,600, due to "mobility" expenses. Therefore, as mayor he charges $3,600, which is added to his salary as a driver, for a total of $6,600 per month.
But Ramos is not employed in the AN, although he does get paid. The official enjoys paid leave and has the benefit of receiving the 13th month bonus salary as a permanent official of the AN, according to reports from the Comptroller's Office.
Since 2012, Ramos has been an employee of the AN, the year when he was deputy mayor of Capira, and with clear political aspirations to control that mayor's office, a position for which he was elected in May 2019, by the hand of deputy Yanibel Ábrego. The cars to promote his candidacy in 2019 were in a block factory in Capira, owned by Ábrego.
An AN source told La Prensa that he has never seen Ramos drive a vehicle of that state body and that, in fact, he is not known among its officials.
“Everyone knows that it is an invented position, but it is not the only one with privileges. More than half of the payroll [in the Assembly] is in the same situation," said the source, who wished to remain anonymous.
Converting the people
Ramos remains in a political campaign with Deputy Ábrego. Both have traveled almost the 13 townships of Capira, regardless of whether or not they do it on working days, according to sources, something that can be verified in Ábrego's social media accounts.
"We remain steadfast and unstoppable towards victory in 2024. Our objective is clear, a CD organized to win in 2024", are some of Ábrego's expressions on social networks, in which she emphasizes that she carries out the tours in the company of Mayor Ramos.
Other sources, residents of the areas visited by Ramos and Ábrego, said that on those tours to increase CD membership, officials have brought bags with food. "Two bags of food per person and money", the amount of which ranges between $ 80 and $ 100.
The photos published by Ábrego show long lines of people carrying bags of food, received at the end of her and Ramos' political speeches (see photos). "They are all promised help that they have not given in recent years," said a resident of Cermeño.
This person stated that, given the lack of work to support his family, he recently decided to enroll in CD. He said he did it at the Ábrego block factory.
“We have no choice but to listen to them to be able to receive some food in exchange… This is a forgotten town, economically depressed, and these politicians appear when they want something from us. But, out of necessity, we have to sell ourselves, as is commonly said out there," he said.
In a search of Ábrego's Facebook
and Instagram accounts, images are observed - from Friday, August 27 - in which people appear carrying bags of food, precisely in the vicinity of his block factory, in the Santa Rosa sector, Cermeño, in Capira.
Ramos and Ábrego not only visit Capira in search of votes for the next elections. They also make tours outside their electoral circuit to gain followers, since the deputy intends to preside over her party.
According to photographs and videos published by the deputy on social networks, they have delivered products in Bocas del Toro, Colón, Chiriquí and in other provinces to which Ramos has traveled on behalf of Ábrego.
The cousins are also seen together when Ábrego promotes legal action against the current directors of CD. Last August, for example, the mayor accompanied Ábrego to the Electoral Tribunal (TE) to present an appeal, in order to challenge a decision of the CD board, which did not accept the request to hold an extraordinary convention to elect replacements.
However, Ramos denies that he is campaigning during business hours. "I have not participated in any political act during working hours, I only do it on weekends," he told La Prensa.
When he went to the TE, together with the deputy Ábrego, was he not during working hours? Asked this medium. "Yes, of course it was, but I was not available, so I did not go to work," Ramos replied.
What excuse did he present for incapacitation? "Well, I informed Human Resources [of the Municipality] that I am not going to work," Ramos replied, but then he changed his version. He said it was vacation days. "I try to take care of myself, so they don't say that I use my work time for that," he added.
Mayor Ramos abruptly cut off the communication indicating that perhaps he would extend the interview in person on Wednesday, but did not define a time, despite the insistence of this medium.
Deputy Ábrego also has two people working in her office who are not only related to Mayor Ramos and herself, but since the end of 2019 the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor of the Public Ministry (MP) investigates them. They are Mintoys Ávila Medina and her husband, Adnan González Batista.
The ex-officio investigation for the alleged commission of a crime against the economic order to the detriment of the State is based on a citizen complaint that alerted the authorities that the "niece of a deputy and her husband, who allegedly work in the Assembly, maintain several cars, trucks and land in the Capira district, vehicles that are only driven by young people from that district.”
The MP document indicates, according to the complaint, that "it is unusual for a secretary to have so many assets." And, according to the AN's payrolls, Mintoys Ávila Medina is paid $3,500 per month, while her husband, Adnan González Bastista, receives $ 2,700 per month. Both appear on the payroll as administrative assistants, precisely, since January 2012.
These two civil servants have created several businesses after having received work on the part of the deputy Ábrego in the AN. One of the companies that they created, according to their notice of operation, is dedicated to the sale of office supplies, articles and equipment. A notice of operation in process from the company Mintoys S. [Samantha] Ávila was observed, dated January 1, 2011, for the rental of equipment, floats and machinery in general.
Ávila Medina also appears in other companies, which include relatives of her boss's husband, former deputy Quibian Panay. One of these companies is Desarrollo e Inversiones Turística Pty, SA, in which she holds the position of secretary, and is listed as a subscriber.
The company - created in February 2019 - has a notice of operation, whose trade name is Paradise World. The document says that it is a theme park. Deputy Ábrego's husband – Quibian Panay – appears as the legal representative. This place is directed to Santa Rosa, in the district of Capira – via Cermeño – in the province of Panamá Oeste.
In Santa Rosa, Ábrego and Panay remodel the residence where they were married, in February 2020. Ábrego's luxurious home has a private street, just like his house on Majagual Island, in Cermeño, Capira, with two exclusive accesses to the beach.
Several civil servants who work for the office of Yanibel Ábrego in the AN appear in companies dedicated to the businesses of the Ábrego family and their political associates.
For example, Mayor Ramos maintains a close relationship with Ávila Medina and González Batista: they appear in the Association for Development of the District of Capira (Aprodeca), in which Ramos is director and Ávila and González are president and vice-president, respectively.
Aprodeca obtained legal life in January 2000, but under the name of Asociación Pro Desarrollo del Distrito de San Miguelito, and not Capira. In September 2009 - when Yanibel Ábrego was elected an independent deputy - Ramos and the rest of the board of directors appeared, except for González Batista, who joined in 2012.
Another Aprodeca dignitary is Itzel Arosemena, who - like the Ávila-González spouses - receives a salary from the AN. In her payroll, she appears named as an administrative assistant in Yanibel Ábrego's office, with a salary of $ 4,000 a month.
Aprodeca –a private association– is part of the Capira Mayor's Office. Although the physical address of the office used by Ávila Medina as president of Aprodeca is unknown, this official has official vehicles, but identified with the name of Aprodeca. These vehicles - a pick-up and a bus, both without license plates - are kept in the Ábrego political campaign center.
State-owned vehicles remain in the campaign center of the Democratic Change deputy, Yanibel Ábrego, even on weekends. LP / Ereida Prieto Barreiro
In November 2010, Aprodeca asked the then Minister of Social Development, Guillermo Ferrufino, and member of CD, to recognize it as a non-profit organization.
According to La Prensa's sources Aprodeca also manages municipal funds, and that it is in charge of distributing the "donations" that the entity delivers. "They are proselytizing with public funds," the source said.
Another partnership in common with Mayor Ramos is the Misy Foundation, registered in September 2017. Ramos holds the position of secretary, while the spouses Ávila Medina and González Batista are president and treasurer, respectively. Its resident agent is Itzel Bello, who also works for Congresswoman Ábrego's office as legal advisor, with a salary of $3,000 per month.
Bello is also the secretary of the Capira 4x4 Team, SA company, whose treasurer is a brother of the deputy Ábrego, Luis Rey Ábrego Smith. In this society also appears –with the position of president– Adnan González Bastista, husband of Ábrego's assistant, the pre-named Mintoys Ávila Medina.
In the Centro Industrial del Oeste society, signed by Ábrego in June 2012, his assistant Ávila Medina once again appears as president; and Iztel Bello as secretary.
Likewise, Ábrego is a subscriber to another company, created in 2013, called Agro Ciri, SA. In 2014, this company had Yanibel Ábrego as president and Mintoys Ávila Medina as its secretary. A year later, Ábrego left the board of directors and 50% of the shares of that company passed into the name of Ávila Medina. The minutes of the boards of directors were formalized by the legal advisor of Ábrego's office, Itzel Bello.
Ábrego's permanent employee payroll amounts to 28 people, which represents an outlay in salaries of $ 51,000 per month, according to the June 2021 payroll.With information from La Prensa & Telemetro