"With five successive elected civilian governments, the Central American nation of Panama has made notable political and economic progress since the 1989 U.S. military intervention that ousted the regime of General Manuel Noriega from power. Current President Ricardo Martinelli of the center-right Democratic Change (CD) party was elected in May 2009, defeating the ruling center-left Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in a landslide. Martinelli was inaugurated to a five-year term on July 1, 2009. Martinelli's s Alliance for Change coalition also captured a majority of seats in Panama's National Assembly that will increase the chances that the President will be able to secure enough votes to enact his legislative agenda. A significant challenge facing the Martinelli government has been dealing with the economic fallout stemming from the global economic recession, but while the growth of Panama's servicebased economy has slowed, it has avoided the economic contraction experienced by many Latin American economies. The Panama Canal expansion project has played a large role in stimulating economic growth. President Martinelli has called for a number of large public infrastructure projects, including a subway for Panama City, and the government has begun to move ahead on some of these projects. In March 2010, President Martinelli secured legislative approval of a tax reform measure that reduces corporate and individual income taxes while raising sales and other taxes that overall is expected to increase government revenue."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30981
U.S. Department of State, Foreign Press Centers: http://fpc.state.gov/