Gerardo González Vernaza

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Gerardo González Vernaza
Born c. 1929
Veraguas Province, Panama
Died October 21, 2006
Panama City, Panama
Nationality Panamanian
Occupation politician
Known for Vice President of Panama, President of National Assembly
Political party
Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD)
Children Pedro Miguel González Pinzón

Gerardo González Vernaza (c. 1929 - October 21, 2006)[1] is a Panamanian politician from Veraguas Province.[2] He served as Vice President of Panama and President of the National Assembly, serving in the latter post from 1997 to 1999.

Political career[edit]

From 1975 to 1978, González Vernaza was the Vice President of Panama under Demetrio B. Lakas. In 1979, he helped found the Democratic Revolutionary Party of military ruler Omar Torrijos.[2]

In December 1991, serving as the president of the PRD, he vigorously criticized the administration of president Guillermo Endara, stating that "in 24 months, Endara has lost his political and moral authority, demonstrating his incapability to lead Panama."[3] He also opposed Endara's ultimately successful measures to abolish Panama's armed forces.[4]

González Vernaza opposed the presence of US forces in Panama past the 1999 deadline for withdrawal set by the Torrijos-Carter Treaties for the handover of the Panama Canal.[5][6] He campaigned in favor of a constitutional referendum that would have allowed President Ernesto Pérez Balladares, a fellow PRD member, to seek a second term in office, calling the measure's opponents "cockroaches and scorpions".[7]

In 2004, González Vernaza was elected as a Panamanian representative to the Central American Parliament.[2]

Son's murder trial and acquittal[edit]

In July 1992, González Vernaza's son Pedro Miguel González Pinzón was accused of the murder of US Army Sgt. Zak Hernandez, who had been shot to death in his Humvee, and a warrant was issued for González Pinzón's arrest. According to a lawyer for the US Embassy, three witnesses stated he was present at the scene, while others saw him and two accomplices in the stolen car used in the shooting. The car was later found on a farm owned by his father.[8] The US Federal Bureau of Investigation matched an AK-47 from the attacks was found on the farm as well,[9] while Scotland Yard and the Panamanian police did not find the AK-47 to match the bullets from the shootings.[10] Though an arrest warrant was issued for González Pinzón shortly after the murder, he evaded arrest for more than two years, reportedly spending part of this time in Cuba. In 1995, he surrendered directly to new President Ernesto Perez Balladares on live national television, accompanied by his father.[8] González Vernaza stated that the unusual circumstances were needed "to avoid an attempt on the kid's life". He accused the previous Endara administration of "judicial terrorism" and stated that under the Perez Balladares administration, his son could receive a fair trial.[8]

González Pinzón was acquitted by a Panamanian court in 1997, though he remained wanted in the US, where he had been indicted by a grand jury.[11] He later followed in his father's footsteps, serving two terms in the National Assembly and becoming its president despite US protest in September 2007.[10][11]

Death[edit]

González Vernaza died on October 21, 2006 in Panama City of a disease.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ha muerto Gerardo González Vernaza". Democratic Revolutionary Party. Archived from the original on 16 November 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Fallece líder histórico del PRD en Panamá". El Nuevo Diario (in Spanish). EFE. October 21, 2006. Archived from the original on 16 November 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  3. ^ James Aparicio (December 22, 1991). "Endara's status slips in Panama". Chicago Sun-Times.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Panama". Caribbean Update.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). October 1, 1994. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Silvio Hernandez (September 8, 1995). "Heated Debate Over Renegotiation of Canal Treaties". Inter Press Service News  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Silvio Hernandez (September 27, 1995). "Presidential Tour Sparks Expectations and Controversy". Inter Press Service  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "Vote today could set canal's future". Sunday Gazette-Mail.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). August 30, 1998. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c Larry Rohter (August 24, 1997). "G.I.'s Slaying in '92 Entangled in Panama's Politics". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 8, 2012. Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Outrage in Panama". The Washington Post.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). December 15, 1997. Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Marc Lacey (November 28, 1997). "Fugitive From U.S. Justice Leads Panama’s Assembly". The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Top Panama Lawmaker Sought in U.S. Death". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). September 2, 2007. Retrieved November 8, 2012.