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¿Wappin? Free form from 9°N / Estilo libre desde 9°N



Looking out from our isthmus
Mirando desde nuestro istmo

Neil Young – Cowgirl in the Sand

Romeo Santos & Ozuna – Sobredosis

Bigg Robb – Please Don’t Judge Me

Pussy Riot – Police State

Cienfue – La Décima Tercera

Isely Brothers & Santana – Higher Ground

U2 – The Blackout

Chlöe Howl – Magnetic

Adán Jodorowsky & Natalia Lafourcade – Vivir con valor

Frank Zappa – Cheap Thrills

Wolf Alice – Don’t Delete the Kisses

Marianne Faithfull – Sister Morphine

Empire Of The Sun – On Our Way Home

Imagine Dragons – Whatever It Takes

Julieta Venegas en Paris 2012


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Just like that — 19 economic agreements, details for us to know later

President Varela and President Xi get the red carpet treatment in Beijing. Photo by the Presidencia.

Just like that

by Eric Jackson

From Beijing, where he went with a large Panamanian delegation, much of his cabinet, a small group from Panama’s Chinese community and labor leader Genaro López, President Juan Carlos Varela tells us of 19 agreements, most apparently about such economic matters as “free trade,” infrastructure projects, agriculture and tourism. The texts of said agreements have not been disclosed and we don’t know whether they will be treaties debated by the National Assembly or executive orders which we may never know much about until one of their provisions is invoked. (The Status of Forces Agreement with the United States, which gives members of undisclosed US forces operating on Panamanian territory diplomatic immunity, is one of those.) Panama’s economic relations with China thus start out in marked contrast with our ties with other countries in the Americas, the details of which generally took years to negotiate.


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Avnery, A history of idiocy

Anonymous, apparently contemporary, depiction of Crusaders vs Saracens at 13th century Damascus.

A history of idiocy

by Uri Avnery — Gush Shalom

I am furious. And I have good reason to be furious.

I was going to write an article about a subject I have been thinking about for a long time.

This week I opened The New York Times and lo, my yet unwritten article appeared on its opinion pages in full, argument after argument.

How come? I have only one explanation: the author — I have forgotten the name — has stolen the ideas from my head by some magical means, which surely must be branded as criminal. A person once tried to kill me for doing the same thing to him.

So I have decided to write this article in spite of everything.

The subject is idiocy. Particularly, the role of idiocy in history.

The older I get, the more convinced I am that sheer stupidity plays a major role in the history of nations.

Great Thinkers, compared to whom I am a mere intellectual dwarf, have pursued other factors to explain what has turned history into a mess. Karl Marx blamed the economy. The economy has directed humankind from its earliest beginnings.

Others blame God. Religion has caused awful wars, and still does. Look at the Crusades, which for almost two hundred years raged in my country. Look at the 30-year War which devastated Germany. No end in sight.

Some accuse Race. Whites against Red Indians. Aryans against Untermenschen. Nazis against Jews. Terrible.

Or geopolitics. The White Man’s Burden. The Drang-nach-Osten.

For many generations, Great Thinkers have been searching for some deep explanation for war. There must be such an explanation. After all, terrible historical events cannot just happen. There must be something profound, something sinister, which is causing all this untold misery. Something that has accompanied the human race from its very beginnings, and that still directs our destiny.

I have adopted most of these theories in my time. Many of them impressed me very much. Great thinkers. Deep thoughts. I have read many thick volumes. But in the end, they left me unsatisfied.

In the end it hit me. There is indeed one factor common to all these historical events: foolishness.

I know that this sounds incredible. Foolishness? All these thousands of wars? All these hundreds of millions of casualties? All these emperors, kings, statesmen, strategists? All fools?

Recently I was asked for an example. “Show me how it works,” an incredulous listener demanded.

I mentioned the outbreak of World War I, an event that changed the face of Europe and the world forever, and which ended just five years before I was born, My earliest childhood was spent in the shadow of this cataclysm.

It happened like this:

An Austrian archduke was killed in the town of Sarajevo by a Serbian anarchist. It happened almost by accident: the planned attempt failed, but later the terrorist happened upon the duke and killed him.

So what? The duke was a quite unimportant person. Thousands of such acts have happened before and since. But this time the Austrian statesmen thought that this was a good opportunity to teach the Serbs a lesson. It took the form of an ultimatum.

No big deal. Such things happen all the time. But the powerful Russian empire was allied with Serbia, so the Czar issued a warning: he ordered the mobilization of his army, just to make his point.

In Germany, all the red lights went on. Germany is situated in the middle of Europe and has no impregnable natural borders, no oceans, no high mountains. It was trapped between two great military powers, Russia and France. For years the German generals had been pondering how to save the Fatherland if attacked from the two sides simultaneously.

A master-plan evolved. Russia was a huge country, and it would take several weeks to mobilize the Russian army. These weeks must be used to smash France, turn the army around and stop the Russians.

It was a brilliant plan, worked out to the finest detail by brilliant military minds. But the German army was stopped at the gates of Paris. The British intervened to help France. The result was a static war of four long years, where nothing really happened except that millions upon millions of human beings were slaughtered or maimed.

In the end a peace was made, a peace so stupid that it virtually made a Second World War inevitable. This broke out a mere 21 years later, with even larger numbers of casualties.

Many books have been written about “July 1914,” the crucial month in which World War I became inevitable.

How many people were involved in decision-making in Europe? How many emperors, kings, ministers, parliamentarians, generals; not to mention academicians, journalists, poets and what not?

Were they all stupid? Were they all blind to what was happening in their countries and throughout their continent?

Impossible, one is tempted to cry out. Many of them were highly competent, intelligent people, people versed in history. They knew everything about the earlier wars that had ravaged Europe throughout the centuries.

Yet there you are. All these people played their part in causing the most terrible war (up to then) in the annals of history. An act of sheer idiocy.

The human mind cannot accept such a truth. There must be other reasons. Profound reasons. So they wrote innumerable books explaining why this was logical, why it had to happen, what were the “underlying” causes.

Most of these theories are certainly plausible. But compared to the effects, they are puny. Millions of human beings marched out to be slaughtered, singing and almost dancing, trusting their emperor, king, president, commander-in-chief. Never to return.

Could all these leaders be idiots? They certainly could. And were.

I don’t need the examples of the thousands of foreign wars and conflicts, because I live in the middle of one right now.

Never mind how it came about, the present situation is that in the land that used to be called Palestine there live two peoples of different origin, culture, history, religion, language, standard of living and much more. They are now of more or less equal size.

Between these two peoples, a conflict has now been going on for more than a century.

In theory, there are only two reasonable solutions: either the two peoples shall live together as equal citizens in one state, or they shall live side by side in two states.

The third possibility is no solution — eternal conflict, eternal war.

This is so obvious, so simple, that denying it is sheer idiocy.

Living together in one state sounds logical, but is not. It is a recipe for constant conflict and internal war. So there remains only what is called “two states for two peoples.”

When I pointed this out, right after the 1948 war, the war in which Israel was founded, I was more or less alone. Now this is a world-wide consensus, everywhere except in Israel.

What is the alternative? There is none. Just going on with the present situation: a colonial state in which 7 million Israeli Jews oppress 7 million Palestinian Arabs. Logic says that this is a situation that cannot go on forever. Sooner or later it will break down.

So what do our leaders say? Nothing. They pretend to be oblivious to this truth.

At the top of the pyramid we have a leader who looks intelligent, who speaks well, who seems competent. In fact, Binyamin Netanyahu is a mediocre politician, without vision, without depth. He does not even pretend that he has another solution. Nor do his colleagues and possible heirs.

So what is this? I am sorry to have to say it, but there is no other definition than the rule of idiocy.


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Libertad Ciudadana / TI designa Lina Vega Abad como presidenta




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Odebrecht: police say Varela took much more, much later than he admitted

Will the Varela administration survive? Most likely it will. There’s only a year and a half left to its term. But people in this administration are heading for the exits and public institutions are fracturing. If polls show a loss of confidence in the Panama Canal or the Metro — the latter implicated in a questionable Odebrecht deal — the last bastions of Varela’s favorable ratings will have fallen. Photo by Eric Jackson.

DIJ: Varela took $10.7 million from Odebrecht through 2014

Courts and prosecutors stall,
public indignation grows

by Eric Jackson

When Ramón Fonseca of Mossack Fonseca notoriety, at the beginning of the current administration the president’s minister without portfolio and day-to-day operational head of the Panameñista Party, said that Juan Carlos Varela had taken money from Odebrecht, the president flatly denied it.

When two more witnesses, an “outside” attorney hired by Odebrecth to set up its international money laundering operations to concel bribes and a former Panamanian diplomat and Panameñista bundler also said that Varela took money from Odebrecht, the president modified his position and said that when he was running for president in the run-up to the 2009 elections, before he joined a slate with Ricardo Martinelli that was brokered at the US ambassador’s residence, a person connected to Odebrecht donated $700,000 to his presidential campaign and the money was transferred to his vice presidential campaign and duly reported. Varela said that he had no idea that the money came from the rogue Brazilian corporation.

Now La Estrella’s Adelita Coriat and Marlene Testa report the police, via the Directorate of Judicial Investigations (DIJ) say that Varela took $10.7 million from Odebrecht through 2014. The ex-diplomat and bundler, Jaime Lasso, amended his declarations to confirm the timeline, but said that he did not know the amount.

As this story was unfolding, President Varela said that “Political donations are no crime, bribes are.” Then he, the vice president and several other ministers and a delegation of business leaders got on a plane to China and have been unavailable for comment in the ensuing public uproar. Lasso and his daughter Michelle have been questioned about potential money laundering offenses, and anti-corruption prosecutor Zuleika Moore says that the Public Ministry has jurisdiction over their case, but not over the president. However, Attorney General Kenia Porcell said that Jaime Lasso cannot be investigated because former prosecutor Ana Belfon already investigated him and charges were not brought in time. Belfon flatly denies that she ever investigated Lasso.

In a November 9 hearing conducted before Judge Óscar Carrasquilla, with Brazilian witness Andre Rabello testifying remotely through an online connection to São Paulo, names were named and sums were specified. The hearing was about combining the cases of various witnesses who have struck plea bargains in the Odebrecht case, and whether the court will accept those deals. It had been billed as the occasion when Panamanians would find out just who was on the take. Outside the courthouse there was a loud and colorful crowd from the militant SUNTRACS construction workers’ union — this, after all, is about their boss bribing the government — but inside the audience was limited to some of the press and almost none of the public. As it turned out, all names were not disclosed. In an interview with TVN news, former prosecutor Rosenda Miranda defended the non-disclosure, warning that since the company has agreed to cooperate with investigation, it should not be “Satanized” and that people should not presume that every transaction with the company is somehow illicit.

In previous hearings of remote witnesses who have accepted plea bargains, Judge Carrasquilla heard from Luiz Eduardo Da Rocha, who was the treasurer of Odbrecht’s “Structured Operations Department” bribery and money laundering unit, and Olivo Rodrigues Junior, also of that unit. Corroborating testimony and documents from a former executive at the Banca Privada de Andorra were the stuff of headlines in Spain and also have made their way into the hearings here. Implicated so far are former Minister of the Presidency Demetrio “Jimmy” Papadimitriu (also a US citizen and prominent Republican political operative), former Minister of Economy and Finance Frank De Lima, former Minister of Public Works Jaime Ford, the former president’s two sons Ricardo Martinelli Linares and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, former Housing Minister and Cambio Democratico presidential candidate José Domingo Arias, former Ministry of Public Works special projects chief Carlos Ho, Panameñista legislator and attorney Jorge Alberto Rosas and his law firm, and former head of the state-owned Caja de Ahorros bank and CEO of Martinelli’s NexTV channel Riccardo Francolini. Named as conduits in the movements of money in these transactions, in addition to the two Lassos, were private individuals Jorge Espino, José Saiz, Olmedo Méndez Tribaldos, Diamantis Papadimitriu and María Bagatelas, the Credicorp and Multicredit banks and individual bankers Humberto De León and Eduardo Patraos.

That’s well short of the full disclosure that the attorney general had indicated, especially in light of the DIJ findings that Varela took more than 10 times the amount he admitted and reported. But Kenia Porcell also indicates that there are revelations yet to come.

There was supposed to be a November 16 public hearing on another of the plea bargains, but Judge Carrasquilla has put this off on a defense motion. Lawyers for an undisclosed criminal who would testify in order to justify a plea bargain argued that this person’s safety would be endangered if she, he or the persons named in the expected testimony were identified.

The huge gaps in the official story, which the reported DIJ findings might begin to close, are about the relationships of Odebrecht with the current administration, which has arranged for the company to “win” no-bid or rigged-bid contracts the Metro train system’s extension, work on the Cinta Costera, a Colon renovation project that has been largely underwater in recent days as the low-lying city center is built on a landfilled mangrove swamp, and a number of Panama City municipal projects that include work along and near Via Argentina.

The Lasso inquiries, which the attorney general seeks to cut short with her allegations of a prior investigation, are but the slightest steps toward a probe into the activities of Panameñistas during the 26 months when they were junior partners in the Martinelli administration. For example, one of Panama’s richest oligarchs and a prominent Panameñista, Alberto Vallarino, was Minister of Economy and Finance in that period. He may be entirely innocent or may have known nothing — or may have known a lot and discretely shared those data with authorities under some sort of non-disclosure agreement — but given the timelines and activities described plus the position he held there would be a public interest in knowing what he knew, when he knew it and whether and how he acted upon any knowledge of Odebrecht’s activities.

Statutes of limitations might be invoked, but the probe has also not much delved into the early years of Odebrecht’s government contracts in Panama, during the 2004 to 2009 Torrijos administration. The corrupt nature of that corporation, whose bribery and bid rigging had brought down a Brazilian government in the early 1990s, was not a secret here.

Some of the other unknown to the public factors in the Odebrecht affair include the extent that former Martinelli administration officials signaled as taking bribes were mere conduits to the 2014 Cambio Democratico campaign and didn’t actually keep the money themselves, and to what extent Odebrecht helped to finance Ricardo Martinelli’s purchase of a media empire. Answers to the former question are in part hard to come by because the Electoral Prosecutor, Martinelli appointee Eduardo Peñaloza, is a sneering crook who has rather openly thwarted investigations into Martinelli’s crimes under the election laws. On the second score it’s unclear whether there is any criminal investigation underway. The cases against Riccardo Francolini and Ricardo Martinelli’s sons apparently touch upon money movements for the purchase of newspapers, a television station and radio stations. Earlier this year there were depositions taken about some of these matters, but for months the case, if there is one ongoing, has dropped out of the news.

Meanwhile, attention is being paid to Odebrecht’s largess in the private sector. Wherever it has corrupted governments, the company has tried to buy support from non-governmental people and institutions that might otherwise raise a hue and cry about corruption. Religious and civic leaders, the press (via ad buys and otherwise), labor unions, artists and intellectuals have typically been paid off by Odebrecht. These payments have almost always been perfectly legal, without any specific agreement about silence. Look at some of the outstanding public art on the Cinta Costera. Go on YouTube and see the Rómulo Castro video that Odebrecht financed. And then there is the money the company gave to the Catholic Church in Panama — something not quantified to date, but admitted by Panama metro area Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa. “We can’t deny it. The church, like other foundations, museums and other groups, received donations at a certain moment,” he told journalist Hugo Famanía. The monsignor drew a distinction between politicians and churches taking money, and between religious leaders accepting donations on behalf of their churches and those who would personally take the money.

From the Brazilian witnesses, there have been references to gifts to “churches,” plural. We know that the Templo Hosanna, a large Evangelical mega-church, was involved in financial transactions and political alliances with Ricardo Martinelli, and notice the absence of any finger-pointing about the Odebrecht contributions to the Catholics. Also notice the scant role of any of the churches in the months of anti-corruption protests. It’s an issue as old as Martin Luther’s protest against indulgences — or for that matter the assault on temple moneylenders that led to Jesus Christ’s arrest and crucifixion — but in the intervening years Protestants have managed to catch up with Catholics both in corruption and in reform movements.

By and large, in any room full of Panamanian politicians of any party, one might hear a pin drop if the subject of Odebrecht comes up. It’s a key political fact. The legislature is not going to impeach Varela or anyone else over this scandal because all of the parties are deeply compromised. But the more prominent independent presidential hopefuls are a different story. Law professor Miguel Antonio Bernal has been leading anti-corruption protests all along, independent legislator Ana Matilde Gómez has begun to make tepid references to the matter and possible idependent candidate Rubén Blades has weighed in.

“Nothing has been made known about whether there were bribes from Odebrecht related to works such as La Cinta Costera 1, 2 and 3, the Metro and those that are still being built by the deceitful company in our country,” Blades wrote on his website. “All the investigation has been concentrated on some of the millions that it paid to the previous government. Are not the works done by the company in the other governments going to be investigated?”

(Blades, of course, was the tourism minister and likely would have been at cabinet meetings where Odebrecht contracts were discussed during the Torrijos years. While he was minister he and this reporter had occasion to discuss and disagree about the Cinta Costera project but it was not about Odebrecht corruption so much as about urban planning principles. This reporter had written about Odebrecht’s history of corruption when they first started getting government work here, and was called in to be upbraided by a Mr. Bárcenas on Odebrecht’s behalf. In that session with Bárcenas then television personality and future Education Minister Lucy Molinar was present.)

While the militants picket outside the courthouse and the academic and professional “good government” types stage more sedate protests, polls indicate that most Panamanians believe the worst about Odebrecht’s corruption of the government. Absent some particularly inflammatory event, this is not leading up to revolution in the streets. It does, however, portend a great electoral massacre in 2019.


the broad masses of workers, peasants and revolutionary intellectuals
It is not appreciated when the boss bribes the government. Members of the SUNTRACS construction workers’ union protest outside the courthouse. Photo by FRENADESO Noticias.


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¿Wappin? Roy Moore, chickenhawk / Roy Moore, gavilán pollero

Moore dice que las acusaciones de conducta sexual inapropiada son “un intento desesperado por detener mi campaña” / Moore says that the accusations of inappropriate sexual conduct are “a desperate attempt to hold back my campaign.”

The Lord’s name in vain: a musical appreciation
El nombre del Señor en vano: una apreciación musical

Bobby Bare – Drop Kick Me Jesus

Aretha Franklin – Respect

Ed Sanders – The Iliad

Johnny Cash – God’s Gonna Cut You Down

Jethro Tull – Aqualung

Bob Marley – Who the Cap Fit

Janis Joplin – Mercedes Benz

Zahara & the Soweto Gospel Choir – Umthwalo

Mike Keneally – Brown Shoes Don’t Make It

Peter Tosh – Mark of the Beast

Mercedes Sosa & León Gieco – Solo Pido a Dios

Holly Near – I Ain’t Afraid

Nina Simone – Sinnerman

War – Deliver the Word

Mahalia Jackson – His Eye Is On The Sparrow


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Burch, An agenda for the people’s Internet



An agenda for the people’s Internet

by Sally Burch — ALAI

Since the Internet is now almost ubiquitous and it is we who bring it to life and give it content, does it make sense for us to remain simply as users of services that the big corporations of the sector offer us, under their own conditions? Or should we be taking part in how it is developed and have some power of decision over how our contributions are used? Finding the answers to these questions will be one of the great challenges of this century.

It is worth recalling that when the web was born, about a quarter of a century ago (1993), and the use of the Internet began to expand, many popular and citizens groups welcomed it as a chance to democratize communication, share information, ideas and knowledge and to weave horizontal networks. It coincided with the period of growth of struggles of social movements against neoliberalism, especially in the global South. Internet became an indispensable tool for linking popular and citizens’ struggles across the planet, generating people’s media, interconnecting academic research, facilitating community development initiatives and much more. The people’s Internet[1] took shape and multiplied through countless initiatives in connectivity, software, programs, platforms, content, websites, etc. One might say that Internet became the friendly face of globalization.

From the end of the twentieth century, there was a rapid increase in private investment in the sector; digital social networks appeared and access became massive. In parallel, large private platforms came to predominate, where today the majority of Internet interactions are concentrated, under the control of a handful of mega-corporations. The people’s Internet, based on the commons, is still alive, but increasingly pushed to the margins by the corporate offensive.

Now we are rapidly entering a new phase: the era of the Internet of things, of the digital economy and artificial intelligence. Mass data collection provides the main input and source of value of this economy: data are sold to advertisers, processed through algorithms that control ever more areas of our lives and fed into artificial intelligence systems. They are prey for surveillance programmes, spying and cyberwars. Those who gather and control data concentrate power and wealth. The big Internet corporations and security services take advantage of regulatory vacuums (both national and international) in order to impose their rules. Citizens are powerless to defend their rights or develop autonomous projects.

It was through awareness of this situation that the initiative behind the Internet Social Forum (ISF) took shape, as an autonomous world space of social and citizens’ organizations from diverse social sectors, to debate and seek answers to this situation. It was agreed to do so under the umbrella of the process of the World Social Forum, with its affirmation that “another world is possible” in the face of the neoliberal proposition that “there are no alternatives.”

In support of this initiative, in 2017 various Latin American organizations [1] set up a process of interchange to stimulate the formulation of proposals and initiatives from a regional perspective. With a combination of virtual and face-to-face exchanges and dissemination on these issues, this process led up to the Meeting “Dialogues for a People’s Internet: Our America towards to the Internet Social Forum” (Quito, September 27-29, 2017).

The Meeting prioritized three areas of debate: 1) knowledge; 2) WTO/ e-commerce, work and territory; 3) democracy, security and the State. The dynamic began by situating the global and regional context in these three areas, and then focused on interchange on the issues in view of establishing a regional agenda. Moreover, various experiences of the people’s Internet were shared.

Priorities: Rights and data protection

In the discussion groups, proposals were formulated [2] for the region as well as for the global Internet Social Forum (programmed to take place in India in 2018), both in the field of public policy, as well as for citizens’ action and initiatives. From there, some common lines of action and transversal themes emerged, in particular: human rights and data protection.

Consequently, several priority actions were identified for the coming months, including:

– To establish a broad communications campaign to raise awareness among social organizations, the general public and public authorities on the present tendencies in the Internet and digital technologies, since many of these issues are new and their implications are still not evident for the majority of the population, or even, in many cases, for those responsible for public policies. Among the priority issues are: data management and its impacts on democracy; artificial intelligence and algorithms and the urgency of establishing norms; security and privacy and how to differentiate the tools to be employed, whether for disseminating public information or for undertaking private interchanges (secure messaging channels); implications of the proposal to negotiate e-commerce in the WTO; the danger of cyberweapons; electronic government and its role in promoting citizens’ participation…

– As an urgent priority, to develop public debate in each country and develop criteria for legislation on questions relating to the protection and handling of data and against digital violence. As a contribution to this debate, it was agreed to share experiences and proposals among different countries, taking into account, among other criteria:

  • Guarantees for the security and privacy of persons, as a priority.
  • Creation of data protection agencies that guarantee the protection of citizens. Data should be decentralized and not concentrated in the hands of the State.
  • Guarantees for transparency in the handling and use of personal data in the public and private sectors.
  • Personal data or those that allow the identification of a person should be declared non-tradable. Precedence to the protection of personal data over consumption and services.
  • Limits and norms for the use of biometric registers.
  • Establishing that public data cannot be stored on foreign servers

In that respect, the need was also seen for public debate to re-signify the nature of data: in particular that they should not be considered as commercial goods, but rather as a social good useful for public policies. This also implies defining which data should be public or open and which should be private. The data that States produce should normally be considered public; those that are tied to individuals are those that need protection.

– To share and systematize inputs and experiences that feed into citizens’ action, such as a guide of free and open source software programmes and security tools for different needs; a compilation of good practices for the people’s Internet; inputs on legislation and public policies in different areas; training materials.

In addition, for the agenda of the coming months, it was agreed:

– To take part in the campaign to raise awareness and the mobilizations to reject the negotiation of e-commerce in the World Trade Organization –WTO– (as well as in free trade agreements) since this is an offensive from the big digital transnationals and their governments to deregulate the whole sector in their favour and guarantee that they can exploit data without any restrictions.

– To promote proposals on digital rights for the Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights, whose first session of negotiation was programmed for October 2017 in the UN Human Rights Council.

– To support the world campaign against killer robots and cyberweapons.

– To channel proposals towards regional integration bodies, in matters of technical sovereignty and digital rights.

– In preparation for the global Internet Social Forum, to further develop the debates on these themes in international spaces such as: the parallel events to the Ministerial Meeting of the WTO (Buenos Aires, December 9-14, 2017); the World Social Forum (Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, March 2018).

It was also proposed to establish the bases for a universal declaration on the access, use and development of the Internet, as a regional contribution to bring to the global Internet Social Forum.

Public policies

The discussion groups also formulated various proposals referring to public policies. Among these, there is the need to consider the Internet as a public good or essential service, with universal access, rather than a market service; and that Internet service provision be considered a public service.

Regarding security and surveillance, there is an emphasis on a conception of human security (as opposed to considering only the security of the infrastructure or the owners). This implies typifying the violation of privacy and digital violence, differentiating the juridical goods violated and the type of actors: state, company, person. There is also a call for transparency in the use of public budgets in security agencies and the evaluation of their effectiveness (e.g. surveillance cameras).

In addition, it is necessary to create a legal framework to regulate the application of artificial intelligence and to guarantee the transparency of algorithms.

With respect to technological sovereignty, emphasis was placed on peoples’ sovereignty, under a premise of the public interest. There is agreement to promote the obligation of using free software in systems of public interest, in particular in the educational system, with incentives for the local development of software. And laws should be promoted to guarantee network neutrality: that is to say, equal treatment of all sources, without favouring certain companies or control policies. It is also proposed to undertake action to remove intellectual property management from the penal area and place it under civil law.

Similarly, it is important to promote South-South cooperation, for example for intraregional connectivity infrastructure (fiber-optic ring, satellites); public and citizens’ collaborative laboratories for the creation of artificial intelligence; manufacturing of telecommunications components; the development of regional Internet platforms responding to regional interests and to reduce dependency on the large transnational platforms, among others.

The educational curriculum among other aspects should contemplate Science, Technology and Society in a transversal manner; promote critical education; promote understanding of the Internet as artefact and culture; promote the conscious use of technologies and its impacts on society and the importance of privacy and encryption.

Regarding questions of labour and the popular economy, policies are required to guarantee the rights of workers in the face of the tendency towards more precarious work resulting from automation and the mode of operation of the new digital enterprises (for example, transport companies that do not recognize their drivers as employees). And policies for promotion of e-commerce that favour the SMEs and national rural producers, instead of creating dependency on transnationals.

Towards a people’s Internet

The people’s Internet is being built through a multitude of actions developed by distinct sectors. It is important to strengthen the ties among them. Some of the ideas mentioned include:

– That citizens take back control of the digital world, by producing their own contents that respond to their identities, interests, concerns and diversity. (For example, to diversify the contents in Wikipedia). And that includes employing our power to use or abandon abusive social networks or companies.

– To generate teaching material and distribute it; to form brigades for training and raising awareness; to engage in training activities with respect to free technology and culture.

– To propose interchanges, information, analysis on the impact of technological changes in labour (precarious work), farming, the environment, cities, etc. To call attention to negative proposals in areas such as geoengineering, the green economy, genomes, that are likely to be further empowered by digital technologies.

– To seek convergence between the technology sectors, techno-politics, popular movements, citizens’ organizations and public sector entities, in order to construct an organized social force to promote this agenda.


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Gandásegui, Panama between the United States and China

The Chinese commercial fleet has been the first beneficiary of an expanded Panama Canal. Photo by Fleet Management.

Panama, between the USA and China

by Marco A. Gandásegui, hijo

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, is finishing an Asia trip that included five countries that are key to Panama’s future. In his visit to China in particular the two most powerful world leaders met. Moreover, it was a meeting of the canal’s two most important users. Between these two economic powers, more than 80 percent of all the maritime traffic through our waterway was represented. Moreover, Trump visited Japan and South Korea, the next most important users after the two previously mentioned.

President Varela should take advantage of the opportunity to add to Trump’s trip. Perhaps the agenda will have another tone, but they will discuss the same problems. Like Trump, Varela would have to put two intimately related topics on the table. In the first place, he has to as if the policies that were recently approved by the Chinese Communist Party Congress will affect that giant country’s foreign commerce, and by the way, transits through the Panama Canal. Second, China apparently decided to give another boost to the so-called “Silk Road.” It’s looking toward Central Asia and Europe, but Beijing also would give a privileged place to Latin America.

Trump has a dual agenda for his trip. On the one hand, recall that for the East Asian countries Washington has geopolitical intentions to continue as the power that dominated the region in the second half of the 20th century. On this chess board the United States plays a key role in keeping the conflict with North Korea going. On the other hand the US president attents to resolve problems related to its trade deficit, especially with China. Trump insists that China’s President Xi cooperate with his policy of generating more industrial jobs in the USA.

In Panama’s case, all indications are that the Chinese have three objectives. The first refers to the Panama Canal and the need to keep it in service for their global policy of world commerce. The second is related to investments that it plans to make in Panama for the short term: land transport, agro-industry and tourism. The third and last is perhaps the most audacious on the part of the Chinese: to turn Panama into its center of operations to consolidate trade and economic ties with the entire Latin American region.

The Chinese also have plans for the immediate future and also over the long term. Trump moved quickly and his tour of the Far East is proof of that. There is fear in the United States that China — which freed itself from Western domination in 1949 — could make a qualitative and technological leap — economic and military — in the 21st century. China has, at present, an economic potential equal to that of the United States. Its financial capacity will be equal to or greater than that of Washington in a few years. Trump’s specialists say that at some point in the 21st century they will have the same military power. The enormous cultural power of the United States is sometimes overlooked, and how this propaganda machine has prevailed over all resistance in the whole world. Could China match the US in the field of media, social networks, cinema, music and other areas that Washington dominates? Will the Chinese be thinking about this challenge for the 21st century. or will they postpone it for the 22nd century? They do not show signs of being in a hurry.

So before finishing a year in the White House, Trump went to China.

For Panama’s part, it will have to put together a working team with reference to relations with China in the short term but also with a long view. The team can’t be partisan and much less of those who try to benefit by any sort of “checkbook” policy. Panama has to propose its own investment plan for the Panama Canal area’s next 10 years. Moreover, it has to identify its priorities for national development, through about 2040, and what that implies in terms of investment in transportation infrastructure, agriculture and industry. Finally, Panama has to propose, over the long term (think 2060) a strategy to turn itself into a center of regional operations, with global projections, with maritime, air and land transport dimensions.

Trump surpassed us. He has a lot more people working on the matter in his administration. Panama has to get to work, to prevent China from taking possession of the isthmus without us realizing it.


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Grupo Anticorrupción, Declaración de Lima

Voces del “establecimiento” sobre el tema de la corrupción presentan recomendaciones para avanzar la agenda de gobernabilidad democrática en la VIII Cumbre de las Américas.

Declaración de Lima

Una nueva ola de escándalos de corrupción en las Américas erosiona la confianza ciudadana en las instituciones públicas. Por eso, se han desatado nuevas demandas para mejorar la gobernabilidad y la institucionalidad. Tenemos entonces una oportunidad sin precedentes para sembrar conciencia sobre los costos que genera la corrupción y dar pasos concretos para combatirla.

En abril de 2018, durante la VIII Cumbre de las Américas, Perú recibirá a los países del hemisferio para generar discusiones críticas sobre el tema de “Gobernabilidad Democrática Frente a la Corrupción.” Urgimos a los negociadores de la Cumbre para que produzcan compromisos concretos a los que se les pueda hacer seguimiento, a través de un plan de acción que le muestre a los ciudadanos de las Américas que sus líderes están decididos a mejorar la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas. Para aportar a ese proceso, nos hemos reunido en Lima, Perú, el 30 y 31 de octubre, para proponer recomendaciones para discusión y aprobación durante la Cumbre.

Los gobiernos de las Américas tienen una oportunidad incomparable para alcanzar cambios específicos de políticas públicas. Los negociadores de la Cumbre deberían proponerse fortalecer y expandir mecanismos ya existentes de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), explorar nuevas posibilidades para generar acuerdos multilaterales, comprometerse a estándares nuevos y verificables de transparencia y rendición de cuentas y garantizar la supervisión mutua entre los diferentes países para que se cumplan los compromisos ya adquiridos.

Nuestras recomendaciones específicas se ordenan en tres ejes principales:

• Acceso a la información, transparencia y libertad de expresión: Adoptar planes nacionales de acción en el marco de la Cumbre de las Américas que recojan los más altos estándares internacionales en temas como ética y probidad pública, presupuestos abiertos, financiamiento político, lavado de activos, beneficiario efectivo, protección de informantes (whistleblowers) y periodistas, datos abiertos (open data), digitalización de compras y contrataciones públicas.
• Autonomía, independencia y capacidad de los sistemas de justicia: o Mejorar la cooperación penal transnacional incluyendo el intercambio de evidencia jurídica a través de la colaboración directa entre los ministerios públicos sin intermediación de los poderes ejecutivos y la facilitación de delaciones premiadas en múltiples jurisdicciones.
• Fortalecer la independencia y autonomía judicial a través del cumplimiento de los estándares interamericanos y universales en la materia, así como el apoyo técnico internacional para los procesos de selección de jueces y fiscales.
• Instrumentos de cooperación: Fortalecer mecanismos existentes o desarrollar nuevos mecanismos de cooperación regional como:
• Crear dentro de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) una nueva relatoría especial sobre derechos humanos y corrupción y encomendar a la CIDH que haga un informe especial sobre el vínculo entre corrupción y derechos humanos.
• Actualizar la Convención Interamericana contra la Corrupción (CICC) para responder a las nuevas manifestaciones de la corrupción y modernizar los estándares regionales para que cumplan con los avances logrados en diversos tratados internacionales sobre corrupción.
• Reformar el mecanismo de seguimiento de la CICC (MESICIC) para que tenga un carácter más independiente, transparente y técnico, incluyendo la participación activa y efectiva de la sociedad civil.

En la implementación de todas estas recomendaciones se debe asegurar la participación efectiva de todas las ramas del Estado, incluyendo la judicial y la legislativa, y de la ciudadanía en aras de fortalecer el control político y social. Al mismo tiempo, reconocemos la importancia del sector privado en la responsabilidad conjunta de combatir la corrupción.

Aplaudimos al gobierno peruano por liderar este esfuerzo para desarrollar resultados concretos y específicos contra la corrupción en el marco de la VIII Cumbre de las Américas, y alentamos a todos los líderes del hemisferio a unirse en este esfuerzo. Creemos que los pueblos del hemisferio comparten la determinación de dejarle a futuras generaciones sociedades que sean más justas, más seguras, más democráticas y más transparentes.


Walter Albán
Director Ejecutivo

Catalina Botero
Decana, Facultad de Derecho
Universidad de los Andes

Diego Bravo
Líder Región Andina
General Electric

Michael Camilleri
Director, Programa Peter D. Bell para el Estado de Derecho
Diálogo Interamericano

Santiago Canton
Secretario de Derechos Humanos
Gobierno de la Provincia de Buenos Aires

Ana Caridad
Asociada del Programa, América Latina y el Caribe
Carter Center

Borja Díaz Rivillas
Técnico Sénior en Gobernanza Democrática
Programa de la Unión Europea EUROsociAL

Claudia Escobar
Investigadora, Escuela de Asuntos Internacionales
Universidad de Georgetown

Liliana Gamboa
Oficial de Advocacy, Iniciativa de Justicia
Open Society Foundations

Rodrigo Janot
Ex Procurador General
Gobierno de Brasil

Hernán Larraín
Senador (Chile); Presidente, Red de Parlamento Abierto

Carolina Lessa
Directora, Asuntos Gubernamentales
Grupo RELX

Jennie Lincoln
Directora, América Latina y el Caribe
Carter Center

David Lovatón
Fundación para el Debido Proceso

Jason Marczak
Director, Centro para América Latina Adrienne Arsht
Atlantic Council

Manfredo Marroquín
Acción Ciudadana

Olga de Obaldía
Directora Ejecutiva
Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Libertad Ciudadana

Daniel Pinilla
Coordinador de Proyectos, América Latina

Ben Raderstorf
Asociado del Programa, Programa Peter D. Bell para el Estado de Derecho
Diálogo Interamericano

Alana Roriz Rizzo Lobo
Consultora, Brasil
Transparencia Internacional

Samuel Rotta
Director Ejecutivo Adjunto

Andrea Saldarriaga Jiménez
Directora Adjunta, Centro para América Latina Adrienne Arsht
Atlantic Council

Pablo Secchi
Director Ejecutivo
Fundación Poder Ciudadano

Jennifer Smith
Directora, Asuntos Gubernamentales y de Ciudadanía Corporativa en América Latina

José Ugaz
Ex Presidente
Transparencia Internacional

Anabella Zavagno


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Veterans Day observance, Saturday at the Corozal American Cemetery

Many veterans will be there, and most of what will be said will be spoken by veterans. However, the solemn attendance of non-veterans is also important both as an expression of thanks and as a society’s commitment that those who served will not be abandoned.


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