Panama: Vanishing Act

Where has the President gone?

For a country on the brink of democracy, the announcement came as a troubling surprise. Without any forewarning, a terse official statement last week announced that Panamanian Vice President Jorge Illueca, 65, had been sworn in as President. In a televised address an hour later, Illueca delivered a speech intended to assure the citizens he would make no changes in government policy. Yet why had President Ricardo de la Espriella, 48, resigned? Mysteriously, official newspapers later made no mention of the resignation.

Such turnabouts have seemed appropriate to...

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