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Political Propaganda in the New Panamanian Passports?

The release of a new electronic passport in Panama has been accompanied by chaos and many user complaints. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the images included in the passport to advertise the accomplishments of the government of Ricardo Martinelli.

The new electronic passport, announced with much fanfare a year ago, went into circulation at the beginning of 2014 after several delays. The passport has 30 security measures, including a polycarbonate sheet with a built-in chip and biometric system. La Prensa [es] reports that people have to endure interminable lines and are even sleeping outside the passport authority to get new passports. In addition, the price has gone from 50 to 100 dollars.

Carmen Bernárdez, the administrator of the Passport Authority, has confirmed that the introduction of this new travel document [es] seeks to sell the country’s image internationally, and in particular, the development that has taken place during the past four years with the Martinelli government.

Juan Amado comments that there are better ways to promote the country, for instance, through the magazine published by Copa, the Panamanian airline:

If the plan is to sell Panama, show its accomplishments in the Copa magazine, which the whole world sees. The only one who sees the passports is the customs officer.

Lucas Castrellon jokes about the image that appears in the passport about the “100 at 70” iniciative, that gives 100 dollars a month to people over 70 years old who have no income:

“Look, in Panama we have 100 at 70. Put the stamp right on top of the lady”—me to the customs officer with my new passport.

Carlos V. Ho Diéguez shares the photo of “100 at 70″:

I can’t believe the new Panamanian passport has images like this on its pages.

Alejandra Mata doesn’t understand how it’s possible that with so many options, they chose the achievements of the government.

There’s so much history and beautiful scenery in my Panama, why should the passport have so much garbage on its pages??

Jay Cardu is upset about what appear to be a series of measures aimed at promoting the current government: 

This just tops it all for Ricardo Martinelli, printing the passport with that bullshit! Only thing left is to change the name from Panama to the Republic of Martinelli.

A. Batista comments that the only photo missing was the President’s, and adds a cartoon showing what a person has to go through if they want a new passport:

Panama’s new passport only lacks the President’s photo… [cartoon caption: “Look how they line up so they can get the best passport they’ve had in 40 years”]

La Prensa shares some of the images from the new passport on its Twitter account:

At http://t.co/HS7NBFUpEi [es] there are photos of the new passport, with the specifics that are causing the controversy.

Thus, those Panamanians who want to travel must not only pay twice as much, but must also carry with them political propaganda for the ruling party.

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