Mireya Moscoso

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Mireya Moscoso

Mireya Elisa Moscoso Rodríguez de Arias (born July 1, 1940) was the President of Panama from 1999 to 2004, representing the Arnulfista Party.

Moscoco has an interior design diploma from the Miami Dade Community College, and she is the widow of former president Arnulfo Arias. On May 2, 1999, she became the first Panamanian woman to be elected president, and she took office on September 1, 1999. She ran on a campaign to reduce poverty, improve education, and slow down the country's privatization process. She had run in the previous election (1994), when she was defeated by Ernesto Pérez Balladares of the PRD (Revolutionary Democratic Party).

Her term in office began with huge popularity and hope for change. Nevertheless, throughout her five-year government, numerous corruption scandals were aired on the media and none of her close allies, allegedly involved, were investigated. One of the most famous corruption scandals was the "Durodollar" scandal. Moscoso´s Executive Secretary filed a complaint with the police accusing her gardener of stealing thousands of dollars from her freezer. The gardener was put in jail, but the police never asked why a secretary had thousands of dollars inside her freezer, under the bed, etc; at her house. She only said that she "didn't trust banks".

Moscoso raised eyebrows soon after her election in 1999, when she gave all 72 Panamanian legislators expensive Cartier watches and earrings worth an estimated $146,000 just before the vote on the government-proposed budget package. She claimed they were Christmas gifts and that she paid for them from her own money, not from public funds. No investigation was made.

Her popularity at the end of her government was the lowest for a Panamanian president. At the end of her term in office she held inauguration ceremonies for several unfinished public works. The most famous example is the new Centennial Bridge over the Panama Canal, inaugurated with big parties by the government despite the fact that it would take at least another year to enter into service after the access roads leading to the bridge were completed.

She was succeeded on September 1, 2004 by Martín Torrijos, son of Omar Torrijos (the man who ousted her husband in 1968), who was elected in May 2004 with 47% of the votes. The Arnulfista Party reached only 16%, in distant third place. The blame for this humiliating loss was placed mainly on Moscoso. During the campaign, she openly attended rallies organized by her hand-picked candidate, overshadowing him. Days before Moscoso ended her term and retired to her home in Florida, she pardoned four Cuban exiles accused of plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro, causing Cuba to break off diplomatic relations with Panama. The relations were nevertheless restablished under her successor, President Martin Torrijos.

With the new government, numerous mechanisms to investigate corruption cases were instituted. It is alleged that Taiwan's donations to the Panamanian government were put under private foundations that were controlled by Moscoso's Cabinet and close friends.

From the safety of her Floridian retirement[1] ( Moscoso is now facing numerous corruption investigations in the country from which she fled. And while she blames Fidel Castro for initiating the corruption allegations, even Moscoso's close aides point to Panamanian political rivals as the source. [2] (

Preceded by:
Ernesto Pérez Balladares
President of Panama
September 1, 1999 - September 1, 2004
Succeeded by:
Martín Torrijos
de:Mireya Moscoso

es:Mireya Moscoso eo:Mireya MOSCOSO pl:Mireya Moscoso sv:Mireya Elisa Moscoso


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