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The Venezuelan Elections, From Panama

This post is part of our special coverage Venezuela Elections 2012.

In the last few years, Panama has seen an increase in the amount of Venezuelan immigrants. For this reason, many Panamanians and Venezuelan residents in the country have intently followed the presidential elections leading up to October 7. According to the website Info Sur Hoy [es]:

3,500 venezolanos residen legalmente, informó el Servicio Nacional de Migración de Panamá. Aunque también hay 86.815 venezolanos que llegaron al país en los últimos seis años y que no han legalizado su estatus migratorio, informó el periódico Panamá América.

3,500 Venezuelans [are] legally residing in the Central American nation, according to Panama’s National Migration Service. But there also are 86,815 Venezuelans who arrived in the country in the past six years and haven’t left, according to the newspaper Panamá América.

The Venezuelans that complied with regulations started coming to vote very early in the morning, as reported by El Venezolano [es], the weekly newspaper of the Venezuelan community in Panama:

A las 6:15 am se inició el proceso de votación donde tres salones han sido habilitados dentro de la Embajada. Hasta los momentos, todo ha sido fluido y organizado. Los venezolanos mostraron su cara de esperanza y felicidad por tener la oportunidad de ejercer su derecho en este país, desde muy tempranas horas de la madrugada cuando se acercaron a la Embajada, equipados con café, bebidas, agua, alimentos y su cédula de identidad.

Voting started at 6:15 AM within the embassy, where three rooms were equipped for the occasion. Everything has been smooth and organized so far. The Venezuelans came with hopeful faces, happy to have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in this country. They started coming to the embassy in the early morning hours, complete with coffee, drinks, water, food, and their ID cards.
Venezolanos votando en Panamá

Venezuelans voting in Panama on October 7, 2012. Photo shared by the user @ElVenezolanoP on Twitter.

Once the winner of the electoral contest was known, reactions quickly came through social networks, where Panamanians and Venezuelans were commenting on the results. For example, Diego de Obaldia (@DeObaldia [es]), a Venezuelan residing in Panama, joked a little:

(@DeObaldia) Vamos a ver quién puede más: la maldad de CHAVEZ o la hospitalidad de PANAMÁ…

(@DeObaldia) We're going to see who is more able: the evil of CHAVEZ or the hospitality of PANAMA…

Twitter messages with this tone started to circulate amidst messages of encouragement and hope for Venezuelans, even though there were also those who warned of a large new wave of immigration. La Estrella de Panamá [es] reports:

Tras la victoria de Chávez se prevé que ocurrirá una nueva ola de migración. Lo que si llega a pasar, sería bueno para la economía panameña de acuerdo con el economista socio de la firma Indesa Felipe Chapman.

After Chávez's victory it is predicted that a new wave of immigration will occur.  If it ends up happening, it would be good for the Panamanian economy, according to Felipe Chapman, economist and partner of the firm Indesa.

Panama has always been considered a multicultural country, explaining why Giordano C (@GiordanoCQ) [es] is grateful for the reception that Panama gives Venezuelans, and why he predicts a large new wave of immigrants:

(@GiordanoCQ) Presiento un tsunami de venezolanos a PTY , gracias Panamá por abrirnos las puertas y recibirnos como en casa …

(@GiordanoCQ) I can sense a tsunami of Venezuelans heading towards PTY [Panama City airport code], thanks Panama for opening your doors and making us feel at home…

For some Panamanians, the elections in Venezuela made them reflect upon the possibility of subsequent presidential terms in Panama (Reelecting presidents is unconstitutional in Panama). The user ‘ec’ comments on Foros Slot [es]:

En fin, yo creo que esto es un testamento de que en países con democracias tan inmaduras como las nuestras no debemos permitir re-elección por que las masas son fácilmente manipulables.

In the end, I believe that this shows that countries with democracies as immature as ours should not permit subsequent presidential terms, because the masses are easily manipulated.

Later in the night, on Sunday, October 7, the Panamanian Yoli Moreno (@_YoliM_) [es] reminded her followers of the importance of paying attention to these elections:

@_YoliM_: Leo algunos tuits y siento pena. Cuando empiecen a pensar globalmente se darán cuenta que lo que pase en cualquier país nos afecta.

@_YoliM_:I read some tweets and feel sorry. When you start to think globally you will realize that what happens in other countries affects us.

This post is part of our special coverage Venezuela Elections 2012.

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