Spanish version

Link between Martinelli and University of Arkansas generates controversy

He graduated from the school in 1973.

Spanish version

Temas:

Ricardo Martinelli receives an honorary degree from the University of Arkansas. Ricardo Martinelli receives an honorary degree from the University of Arkansas.
Ricardo Martinelli receives an honorary degree from the University of Arkansas. Tomado de nwaonline.com/Andy Shupe

Ricardo Martinelli was the first former student of the University of Arkansas to become a head of state and his links with the entity are generating controversy, according to an article published June 4 in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. 

Martinelli received an honorary degree in 2013 and is also a member of the School Fundraising Committee, as well as holding a position within the Executive Board of the Sam M. Walton School of Business, although he "only attended a single meeting since joining the board in 2013," University of Arkansas spokesman David Speer told the newspaper. 

Faced with questions about the different corruption investigations mentioned in Panama, former President Martinelli sent an email to the paper denying his participation in corrupt payments by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. 

"All the alleged allegations are politically motivated and none have facts or evidence," said Martinelli, who added that in Panama "there is no independent judiciary or rule of law, nor is there due process of law." 

On his future plans, Martinelli told the newspaper that: "My political party (Democratic Change) is likely to win the next presidential election in 2019 and I'm going to run for mayor of Panama City, and probably in 2024 I will run for president again. "

"We are aware of the situation," Mark Rushing, a university spokesman, replied when asked about Martinelli. Rushing assured that Martinelli "had not participated in the meetings nor visited the campus in several years."

Ricardo Martinelli created scholarships at the school and provided other gifts. None have been made after he left office in 2014. 

Orlando Pérez, a Panama policy expert and associate dean at the University of Millersville in Pennsylvania, questioned the University of Arkansas's relationship with Martinelli.

"If Martinelli was more of a global figure and the people of Fayetteville and Arkansas knew, I think the university would indeed have cut ties long ago," he said.

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