The website of La Prensa, Panama's biggest newspaper, has been down since 10:20 this morning. Trying to access the page results in an error notice. The newspaper says that not just the site is down, but journalists can't access the back-end either to update stories or post new ones.
Apparently, La Prensa does not maintain a mirror of its site outside of Panama, which would allow them to stay online while they fix whatever trouble they have locally.
Interestingly, La Prensa this morning published various articles about the trial against the former bagman of Italy's ex-president Silvio Berlusconi, Valter Lavitola. Among the evidence that Italian prosecutors are presenting are several recordings of phone conversations, involving Lavitola, Mauro Velocci and the son of president Martinelli, Rica Martinelli. From Newsroom Panama:
Velocci was the representative of the Italian company Svemark and says La Prensa,the recording confirms the son's participation in negotiations with Velocci over the construction of modular prisons. It also provides details of the delivery of a luxury helicopter that was for the president's personal use.
The younger Martinelli jokes with Lavitola about the possibility of the conversation being recorded by Italian authorities, apparently unaware that that was exactly what was happening. Velocci has confirmed he was at the meeting and identified the other two people as Martinelli and Lavitola.
He confirmed that the meeting was held at the headquarters of Super 99 on Feb. 12, 2011
La Prensa published the recordings of these conversations, and luckily they were smart enough to upload them to YouTube.
[youtube width="602" height="350" video_id="M3E8m-qIiz0"]
The helicopter that the Panamanian president received as a bribe in an elaborate scheme of contracts and purchases from Finmeccanica, among others, is an EC135Pi, with a VIP luxury interior designed by Hermes.
Partial transcriptions and more on this story can be found on Mi Diario, which has managed to stay online.
INSTANT UPDATE: Mi Diario reports that it is unable to access the back-end of its website. And here's a video of La Prensa's Associated Director Rolando Rodriguez, talking about the block of La Prensa.
UPDATE 2: It seems La Prensa is back up, but very slow - probably massive traffic spike right now. They have a story about the 8 hour block, here:
Ocho horas. Este fue el tiempo que duró el bloqueo al sitio web de La Prensa (www.prensa.com), lo que sucedió el martes 9 de octubre de 2013.
Stay tuned for more developments....