Jose "popi" Varela, the president of the national assembly, has a most peculiar idea of how this whole concept with laws in a state works now that he has turned the assembly into the boardroom of Ricamar S.A. Annoyed by the many text messages he's receiving now that his cellphone numbers have been made public (6672-8836 and 6670-9836), he responded to some of them. And he defends the elimination of the environmental impact studies by saying that "the environment is already protected under the law", and that he himself planted half a million trees. So he loves the environment.
It's like some of those racists saying they have black friends.
The truth of the matter is that Varela doesn't plant these trees because he is such a nature lover, but because he has to because of his industrial activities.
FREE TRADE AGREEMENT - FORGET IT
With this "sausage law", there is no way the US is going to ratify any Free Trade Agreement with Panama. These FTA's contain provisions to protect the environment and these are violated by this law. A similar case is described here, halfway down the article, in Spanish. This law may be good for the government to fill its pockets (they have to decide who gets to be exempt from the environmental impact study requirement; guess how that will work), but it's bad for business in Panama. Which is probably why Panama's chamber of commerce, hardly a hotbed of socialism and anarchy, is opposing it.
UPDATE: As expected, this "law" was approved in third debate as well. Civil society is now looking to pressure Martinelli to veto it. This will fail too. They'd better concentrate on a strategy that counts with outside forces to correct this insanity.