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A censorship “request” from the extended Varela family

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None of this is to say that the man actually did it. “Innocent unless proven guilty” is, after all, a presumption that exists in Panamanian law. It’s respected by The Panama News now, and was back in 2017 in the article that an “agent” wants censored.

This censorhip request:

And the editor quotes:

Dear PANAMA NEWS Team:

A pleasure to greet you,

With the utmost respect we formulate this request where until today personal information has been published on its website, where my image, my name, etc. are displayed.

In the following URL of your property / administration and / or edition:

https://www.thepanamanews.com/2017/02/is-panama-insulated-from-odebrechts-implosion/

This information threatens my privacy and intimacy, in addition to seriously damaging my honor, my company and my family. Today, it is not acceptable that my full name to continue to be associated with this URL, as I have not given my consent. In addition, it prevents me from a decent life and the possibility of expanding my business on the internet.


Here are the reasons that contribute to corroborate the request:

– The articles in question are seriously damaging the personal and professional scope of Mr. Niño, due to the permanence and easy access of said information on the web.
– The information shared in question is not supported by any decision of a judge declaring the veracity of the facts referring to Mr. Niño.
– Mr. Niño is not the protagonist of the information and his name and surname do not add more to the information presented and nevertheless it harms him.

REQUEST:

For this reason, I require based on the recent Law 81 of March 26, 2019, was published in Official Gazette 28743-A of March 29, 2019, and that according to art. 15.3 and 17 allow me to exercise the right of cancellation, requesting the person in charge of the web page where my personal data is published so negative its cancellation or limitation of treatment (which is, in short, that they are not displayed directly in international search engines such as Google or Yahoo ). Likewise, this new law justifies that, at the request of those affected, those responsible for the web pages must adopt technological measures, such as the use of robots.txt codes or no index instructions, etc. so that the URL in which my obsolete and seriously harmful information appears cannot be indexed by internet search engines and consequently,

That the cancellation of the personal data on which the right is exercised is agreed to within a period of ten days, as established in art. 16 of said Law starting from the collection of this request, and that I am notified in writing of the result of the cancellation practiced, or another respectful solution with the personal data of the injured party such as the cancellation of the link or the replacement of the name and surnames by initials or a technological dissociation or anonymization procedure.

If you have any questions about this process, please contact the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information of the Government of Panama, on the following website: (http://www.antai.gob.pa/)

Please accept this request and please do not hesitate to contact if you need any supplementary or complementary documentation or information,

At your service,

Amelia Bianchi

Gestor

Everything in this e-mail and any attachments to it is confidential, legally privileged and protected by relevant laws. The person or persons addressed in this e-mail are the sole authorized recipient. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail and delete it from your system. You are notified that disclosing, copying, forwarding, distributing and taking any action in reliance on the contents of this message and its attachments is strictly prohibited. Please note that Internet communication cannot be guaranteed to be secure, timely, error- or virus- free. The sender therefore does not accept liability for any errors or omissions in the contents of this message and its attachments which arise as a result of e-mail transmission.

~ ~

This probably offends me more as a Panamanian and as a history major than as a journalist, although I would expect that most of the world’s press freedom organizations would also be concerned about what is being attempted here. It’s about the retroactive twisting of a 2019 privacy law to go back into history and censor the record of where Panama has been.

The extended families of former presidents, via scantily disclosed agents like Amelia Bianchi, get to bowdlerize the history of Panama? Wasn’t another avenue by which they did such things the now repealed law wherein criminal defamation cases could be brought allegedly on behalf of dead people, an infamous rule against which journalists for both big and small fought long and hard?

From time to time I get these requests to delete old stories. If there is an error I will run a correction or make a deletion. But failing the showing of probable error, I don’t delete things to please the high and mighty, nor those who perceive themselves to be, nor agents of such.

Eric Jackson
the editor

 

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¿Wappin? Endurance music / Música de resistencia

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virgil

Come what may, all bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance.

Virgil

Songs by which to hold out in hard times
Canciones con las que aguantar en tiempos difíciles

Natalia Lafourcade & Jorge Drexler — Para Qué Sufrir
https://youtu.be/-WxT4uByG8A

Los Mozambiques – El Niño y el Perro
https://youtu.be/C5DjpTtGSX0

Tracy Chapman – Baby Can I Hold You
https://youtu.be/Y9944f3jbwY

Townes Van Zandt – Pancho and Lefty
https://youtu.be/0vyBY_6SUDI

Churupaca — Luna Nueva
https://youtu.be/mdCxpVDwuhw

Kinky Friedman — Ride ‘Em Jewboy
https://youtu.be/iamk3cZI1ec

Miley Cyrus — Fade Into You
https://youtu.be/-5y9J7TqbKQ

Peter Tosh – Lessons in My Life
https://youtu.be/i167f85hSuk

Bad Bunny – Yonaguni
https://youtu.be/doLMt10ytHY

Yomira John – Mala Paga
https://youtu.be/oLLoAicSnSI

Baby Huey — Hard Times
https://youtu.be/zMIzTh0Lafg

Erykah Badu — Didn’t Cha Know
https://youtu.be/Np21rH7Ldto

The Intruders — I’ll Always Love My Mama
https://youtu.be/gAUeWTkbpkg

Sabrina Claudio – Frozen
https://youtu.be/IezlWijcdQk

Tedeschi Trucks Band — Whipping Post
https://youtu.be/UtNIdyzdJ9Y

Joan Osborne – What Becomes of the Broken Hearted
https://youtu.be/kC24fdGFpfI

Daniel Castro — I’ll Play The Blues For You
https://youtu.be/ioOzsi9aHQQ

 

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COVID leads to dramatic drop in US life expectancy

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Brazil
The United States typically has its vital statistics in better order than most of the rest of the Americas. However, like in Latin America lies and concealment by various government officials, and in some jurisdictions as official policies, leave figures imprecise. The imprecision gets to be the stuff of which conspiracy theories are spread, particularly by far right types who also deny that the Nazi Holocaust ever happened. Overall vital statistics, and scenes like bodies left in the streets of Guayaquil and overflowed cemeteries in Brazil, give the lie to politicians in denial. This is a scene from a cemetery in Brazil as deaths spiked there. Unidentified photographer, distributed via the European Press Agency. It can be dangerous to admit taking politically inconvenient pictures in places like Brazil.

Pandemic fuels steepest decline
in US life expectancy since WWII

by Jake Johnson — Common Dreams

New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data out Wednesday shows that life expectancy in the USA fell by one and a half years in 2020, a decline fueled in large part by the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

“US life expectancy at birth for 2020, based on nearly final data, was 77.3 years, the lowest it has been since 2003,” reads a new report (pdf) from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “Mortality due to Covid-19 had, by far, the single greatest effect on the decline in life expectancy at birth between 2019 and 2020, overall.”

The new CDC figures indicate that 2020 saw the steepest single-year decline in life expectancy in the United States — from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.3 last year — since World War II.

“I myself had never seen a change this big except in the history books,” Elizabeth Arias, a CDC demographer and lead author of the new report, told the Wall Street Journal.

2

Given that they are more likely to work jobs with a high risk of coronavirus exposure and lack adequate health care, Black and Hispanic people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the resulting fall in life expectancy.

“Between 2019 and 2020, life expectancy decreased by 3 years for the Hispanic population (81.8 to 78.8),” the CDC found. “It decreased by 2.9 years for the non-Hispanic black population (74.7 to 71.8) and by 1.2 years for the non-Hispanic white population (78.8 to 77.6).”

Other factors contributing to the decline in life expectancy last year, according to the CDC, were drug overdoses, homicide, diabetes, and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.

“It’s horrific,” Anne Case, a professor emeritus of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, told the Washington Post. “It’s not entirely unexpected given what we have already seen about mortality rates as the year went on, but that still doesn’t stop it from being just horrific, especially for non-Hispanic Blacks and for Hispanics.”

 

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Kermit’s birds / Las aves de Kermit

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CHOIP!
The Long-tailed silky flycatcher / Capulinero colilargo / Ptiliogonys caudatus. Photographed in Cerro Punta, Chiriqui. ©Kermit Nourse.

Long-tailed silky flycatcher ~ Capulinero colilargo

photo by Kermit Nourse

Found in montane forest, the silky flycatcher is a striking bird with its yellow crest and long tail. It appears to have a limited range, occurring only in western Panama and Costa Rica. The term flycatcher may be misleading because I observed one eating berries, making it frugivorous. Nowadays taxonomists consider the English name misleading because the silky flycatchers aren’t related to the more common tyrant flycatchers.

 

Encontrado en el bosque montano, el capulinero coloilargo es un ave llamativa con su cresta amarilla y su larga cola. Parece tener un rango limitado, y ocurre solo en el oeste de Panamá y Costa Rica. El término en inglés “flycatcher” puede ser engañoso porque observé a uno comiendo bayas, lo que lo hace frugívoro. Hoy en día, los taxónomos consideran que el nombre en inglés es engañoso porque los Capulineros no están relacionados con los Tyrannidae, los últimos más comunes.

 

 

 

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Editorials: Aligned against Panamanians’ freedom; and A lost war

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Bro?
Bro?

The unfolding worldwide Pegasus scandal is nothing new for Panama

Pegasus is an Israeli electronic weapons system that allows its users to break into people’s cell phones and computers, to turn phones into room bugs, to rummage through and steal information from public or private databases, to vandalize websites. It’s on the international news again, as the specific activities of at least 11 of its users – generally thuggish regimes – have come to light in the form of more than 50,000 phone numbers of victims against which it was deployed. Public officials high and low, ragtag dissidents and serious opposition leaders, the families of people killed by government death squads and especially journalists populate that list.

It’s the same sorts of people against whom Ricardo Martinelli used the Pegasus system when he was president. As he never turned the equipment, programs and data over to his elected successor, he may be using Pegasus to this very day.

As to Panama, Israel may have close government-to-government relations and there are also long-standing people-to-people ties, but it’s an enemy of Panamanians’ freedoms. It was back in Noriega times when they had a Mossad guy attached to the dictatorship’s UESAT death squad. When Shin Bet guys trained SPÏ presidential guards and used photos of Arab characters – and those were published – it drew a target on Panama and our supposed-to-be neutral canal as enemies of the Arab world. And it wasn’t just 150 people on Martinelli’s enemies list whose communications were intercepted, it was thousands of people, at the very least everybody to talked with any of the specified targets on the phone or exchanged email or WhatsApp messages with them.

Despite historic ties, and despite Israel’s attraction to Panama as another small country without many raw materials that lives by its wits, the deployment of the Pegasus weapons system against Panamanians ought to affect Panama’s economic, political and diplomatic relations with Israel. No foreign country should be able to pull that stuff on Panama without accountability.

Martinelli will go on trial before our defective court system about the use of Pegasus. Some people have actually been jailed over it. Perhaps, however, in the great hue and cry that’s just beginning, there will be an international treaty against the trafficking and use of such surveillance systems. If the world can agree on that, it would be better than the expected circular finger-pointing.

  

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Muster out of the drug wars

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that more than 93,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020 in the United States. That’s the most ever. That’s 52 years after Richard Nixon declared the “War On Drugs,” with the United States having drafted more than two generations of Latin American police and military forces into Tricky Dicky’s jihad.

Let’s not hear any stuff about how the drugs are different and those in the business are different and run different sorts of organizations. It has been an expensive loss all across the Americas, and was a “war” undertaken in bad faith all along. In Panama and in the United States and in many other places, it has corrupted public officials from the cops on the beat to the magistrates on the bench to the top circles of governmental power, with all sorts of people in between. It’s time to end this ignominious defeat.

Which is not to say that substance addiction and abuse do not present problems. They are major health problems that sap society of a lot of its productivity. They break up families. They shorten lives. But like with two other addictive substances that are part of the US and Panamanian cultures and economy, alcohol and tobacco, there are betters ways to address the problems than by using the criminal law, up to and including military force, to impose prohibition. Or really, to tell the truth about it, to try in vain to impose prohibition.

It would be proper international etiquette to prevent Panama’s use as a platform for smuggling substances legal here to places where they are illegal. So, although we can’t relate to their values, a certain amount of cooperation to stop the smuggling of rum to Saudi Arabia, pork to Iran or cocaine to the European Union might be in order. But it is and has been way out of order to concentrate or police forces and legal system on the US anti-drug crusade. Washington may pay for a lot of the training and toys, but despite the loss of those things, Panama can do a better job of protecting the Panamanian people by allocating law enforcement resources in much different ways.

 

 

Bear in mind…

 

We’ve brought into being a couple of generations of Americans who believe there is a chemical answer to everything, from acne to cancer. So how dare we pillory kids for thinking pills and acid and smack are chemical answers to the worries and pressures that assail them? You can’t stock drugstore after drugstore with pharmaceutical goodies guaranteed to ease tension, straighten heads, and improve one’s complexion, without suckering kids into believing they’re entitled to the same benefits by the use of Mother’s Little Helpers.

Harlan Ellison

 

If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.

Mario Andretti

 

Never be seen in the same outfit twice. Sure, this may require some creative wardrobe changes on the move, but any diva worth her diamonds has four different looks on hand at all times.

Miss Piggy

 

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Bernal, Insecurity and authoritarianism

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police
Amidst all the of the police trophy pictures of drug busts, you more often see somebody under arrest for a property crime. That’s because robbery and theft are skyrocketing out of Panama’s economic misery and in-everybody’s-face inequalities. Photo by the Policia Nacional.

Insecurity and authoritarianism

by Miguel Antonio Bernal V.

Blind to the everyday challenges faced by the great majority, our rulers have chosen to ignore the harsh social reality that prevails today. Day by day the malaise grows in all social sectors of the country. However the power brokers who control the branches of the national government, the municipalities and the autonomous or semi-autonomous public institutions are each day more bureaucratic and authoritarian. They are unable to allow any true citizen participation in public affairs.

Hunger and misery have entered many Panamanian homes, at the same time that throughout our national territory, insecurity grows in the shadow of an authoritarian pseudo-constitutionalism that no longer only seeks to be the image of power, but the power that corrupts, threatens and represses.

We are not dealing with a government that conceives of citizen security as a public policy with specific reference to human rights, through the strengthening of citizen participation, the democratization of power and the actions of entities. Instead it’s power imposed by pressure and punitive repression, which erodes fundamental guarantees – for example decrees under the pretext of the pandemic. It’s the power of intolerant attitudes.

In their unbridled desire to criminalize poverty, they will practice “social cleansing,” while favoring and sponsoring the destruction of the environment (note the contracts with mining companies.) They would curtail acquired labor rights and violate international standards. That’s not to mention the nefarious intentions for pensions and social security.

The decisions that the Panamanian government has been making in matters of security are totally contrary to international human rights standards. They represent a direct threat to due process and recourse to the law. They’re against the right to privacy and the protection of honor and dignity. Theu’re against freedom of expression, assembly and association. The’re also against social and labor rights, as well as the right to participate in matters of public interest.

It is vital that citizens read the report on Citizen Security and Human Rights, which serves to demonstrate how imperative it is to modify public policies on citizen security, shifting the focus of attention from repression to prevention of crime and violence. Otherwise this government, with its repressive laws, will only bring us more insecurity, militarism and authoritarianism.

 

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¿Wappin? Conflicted world / Mundo en conflicto

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Sanaa
A little boy looks out at what’s left after a US-backed Saudi bombing raid on his neighborhood in Sanaa, Yemen. Photo by Yahya Arhab, via Shutterstock.

This, too, shall pass / Esto también pasará

Santana – Toussaint L’Overture
https://youtu.be/Jli1gW37fqk

Pussy Riot – Panic Attack
https://youtu.be/Bdw0xjjVFpI

Johnny Cash – God’s Gonna Cut You Down
https://youtu.be/eJlN9jdQFSc

Yotuel et al – Patria y Vida
https://youtu.be/pP9Bto5lOEQ

Roger Waters – Bravery of being out of range
https://youtu.be/XjXBUjQxSC8

Sinéad O’Connor — The Emperor’s New Clothes
https://youtu.be/yhfATC9baPo

Hip Hop Caucus – Stand Up / Stand N Rock
https://youtu.be/Onyk7guvHK8

Four Tops – Are You Man Enough?
https://youtu.be/faaxsHyyIzY

Natalia Lafourcade – Hasta la Raíz
https://youtu.be/IKmPci5VXz0

Jefferson Starship – Hijack
https://youtu.be/hUT1xvdrlDA

Suku Castro – Vacunate
https://youtu.be/25RfNLB3HG8

Frank Zappa – Trouble Every Day
https://youtu.be/girnJH7tvpM

Rómulo Castro – La Rosa de Los Vientos
https://youtu.be/QUoV65mVgss

Coven – One Tin Soldier
https://youtu.be/mASbP3Eq1VE

Peter, Paul & Mary – Stewball
https://youtu.be/hXdQB-mR4tg

Mon Laferte – Tormenta
https://youtu.be/PyDalu6vWtE

The Internationale, conducted by Arturo Toscanini
https://youtu.be/2OPvWFDzDlA

The Selected Few – Selection Train
https://youtu.be/gW1gICRVGIw

 

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Lord & Anderson, Sports teams and the (mostly inapplicable) US tax collector

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Warriors
A perverse loophole allows owners of profitable teams — and their heirs — to lower their tax bills by claiming huge paper losses. Shutterstock graphic.

The “everlasting tax shelter” for billionaires

by Bob Lord & Sarah Anderson – OtherWords

Remember the Everlasting Gobstopper from Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory? Designed for children “with very little pocket money,” it lasted forever, never got smaller, and was perpetually flavorful.

There’s a non-fiction equivalent, except it’s only for billionaires. We call it the Everlasting Tax Shelter, but it’s more commonly known as a sports team.

ProPublica recently reported how it works: A billionaire buys a sports team (or an interest in one) and is allowed to claim income tax deductions for about 90 percent of the cost over the subsequent 15 years.

Using what’s called an “amortization deduction,” these owners get tax breaks for intangible assets like “goodwill” — such as a loyal fan base, good employee relations, and strong brand recognition.

Our tax code assumes these intangible assets decline in value in the same way that factory equipment depreciates, so owners can claim deductions for them for years.

But this isn’t how sports teams work at all. In almost all cases, assets like the goodwill of fans get more valuable over time, not less, which drives the values of sports teams ever higher.

So, as teams are generating profits and growing more valuable, billionaire owners are claiming losses on their tax returns. This tax-dodging game works as long as they hold on to the investment, which most billionaire sports team owners do until death.

So it was with the late Save Mart Supermarkets mogul Robert Piccinini.

He was a member of a group that purchased the Golden State Warriors in 2010 for a reported $450 million. Over the following four years, ProPublica reports, he claimed losses of $16 million — despite the fact that the team’s total value ballooned to $1.3 billion during that period.

In 2015, Piccinini died, leaving his ownership interest to his children. Because he never sold his share in the team, Piccinini never had to pay income taxes on those paper losses.

His heirs didn’t have to either. Under a tax rule known as “stepped-up basis,” the heirs are treated as if they bought Piccinini’s interest in the limited liability company that owns the Warriors for its 2015 value, which had nearly tripled since Piccini bought his stake in 2010.

It’s highly likely these heirs have also been enjoying huge tax breaks by claiming paper losses on their Warriors investment, even though the team is now reported to be worth $4.7 billion — over 10 times the 2010 purchase price.

No wonder Robert Piccinini’s son Dominic was in a jubilant mood when ESPN cameras caught him sipping from a golden chalice at a Warriors game in 2019.

Contacted by ProPublica, Dominic Piccinini acknowledged that he and his siblings had inherited equal shares of his father’s stake in the team, but he said he’s left the tax details to the family’s lawyers .

“It’s just the darndest thing,” the younger Piccinini said in a phone call from a vacation in Mexico. “I’m a lucky son of a b—-, there’s no way around it.”

Hard to disagree there.

President Biden’s tax plan would close the “stepped-up basis” loophole that allows the wealthy and their children to escape taxes on their investment gains. Congress should pass the Biden plan — and also the amortization deduction loophole.

Demolish the Everlasting Tax Shelter.


Bob Lord, an Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow, is tax counsel to Americans for Tax Fairness. Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-edits Inequality.org.

 

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Nito goes to Texas, without critical reporting from here

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LCC
President Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo, on the right, doing photo ops and announcements with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Irving, Texas. Photo by the Presidencia.

Business explorations, advances — and a Big Oil paramilitary import?

by Eric Jackson

Who has access, what quality of access is it, and what tough questions get avoided? These are major issues for Panamanian journalism during the Cortizo administration, the most insulated one since dictatorship times.

So, with the Panamanian economy in shards and no hiding that fact, we got economic policy statements from abroad, where the local reporters tend to know zip about Panama and the serious Panamanian reporters aren’t along for the ride. Just in time to avoid answering questions about a Venezuelan-owned and Florida-based mercenary firm hiring mostly Colombian paramilitary terrorists who assassinated the president of Haiti, and routed some of the apparent coordinators of the attack through Panama before the deed. Where was Migracion? How come the Vene and Colombian baiting legislators had nothing to say?

Ah, well. This was a five-day business trip to Dallas, Austin and Houston. If the speculation about a major purpose of it all was to attend Panama’s opening Gold Gup game against Qatar — in which the Marea Roja came from behind to rescue a 3-all tie — there were no photos or published reports of Panama’s president or members of his entourage attending, although they were in Houston for the storm-delayed event.

There were the usual mundane things. Cattleman Nito plugging Panamanian beef exports to the USA (in TEXAS?). Promotions for new airline routes — freight between Panama and Dallas and cheap passenger service by Southwest Airlines, which efforts seem to be undercut by the Biden State Department’s advice not to travel to Panama, due to a couple of places with a lot of drug smuggling and the ongoing COVID epidemic. Building shipping ties, at least symbolically, with a visit to the Port of Houston. Advocating for Panamanian farm produce in US grocery stores.

From Texas, there were two important business stories, plus while the president was away a couple more announcements here.

On the domestic front, there was the announcement of a 20-member squad that includes a couple of key PRD veterans of the negotiations for the Panama Canal Treaties — Adolfo Ahumada and Nils Castro — to renegotiate the copper mining concession with Canada-based multinational First Quantum. There was also a low key backtracking on plans to cut people off of food assistance. (There are still cuts in effect or about to come down, but not as drastic as those that were described earlier.)

From Texas, there was an announcement of a plan to invest $250 million in Millicom’s Tigo cellular communications network. Some remote areas, including in some of the indigenous comarcas, will get hooked up, it was announced. Which will and which won’t? That they don’t say. The plan is to create a “Hub Fintech” mainly oriented toward financial transactions on computer and cell phones, not only in Panama but throughout the region.

When the old state-owned INTEL phone company was privatized, one of the provisions in the cell phone concessions was for full national coverage. That has never happened and the Panamanian government has never insisted. Meanwhile those concessions were sold and resold several times. The breached full coverage promise caused significant damage to Panamanian tourism seven years back when two Dutchwomen, lost in a national park, tried to call for help and could not connect. Pieces of their remains — and their cell phones — were found sometime later.

Millicom, based in Luxembourg for tax avoidance purposes, concentrates on Latin American telecom markets. When it bought out Spanish-based Telefonica’s operations in Panama — you might more popularly state that as Tigo buying out Movistar — the press releases talked about plans to expand the network here. Thus we really don’t know how new the news announced in Texas actually was.

The Big Announcement — a memorandum of understanding with Energy Transfer for a “Trans-Panama Gateway Pipeline”

2016: Energy Transfer Partners’ hired paramilitary goons attack protesters against the Dakota Access pipeline with dogs and pepper spray.

The memorandum announced on the first day of Nito’s visit to Texas was to “study the viability of a joint Trans-Panama Gateway oil pipeline project.” The Presidencia described its partner in the “non-binding” transaction as “one of the largest and most diversified fuel transportation companies in the United States with more than 90,000 miles of pipelines and associated infrastructure in 38 states and Canada.” They didn’t mention that Energy Transfer Partners, a limited partnership whose members include Sunoco, is a company that hires its own private army and espionage apparatus, Nor that the company routinely evades providing information to government regulators, as recently shown by a lawsuit against the State of Pennsylvania alleging that providing details of the project would allow “criminals or terrorists” to rupture the pipe and cause spills. In their press releases and in reports obtained by anti-pipeline activists, Energy Transfer’s agents use words like “jihadists” to describe those opposed to their projects, and make spurious claims that they are dealing with the Black Panther Party, Black Lives Matter and other vilified groups. The company’s paramlitaries have infiltrated protester camps, churches, environmentalist groups and antiwar organizations.

Panama has a long, off-and-on and steadfastly denied relationship with paramilitary groups from other countries, particularly Colombia. It may be why the coordinators for the Colombian hit squad that killed Haitian president Jovenel Moïse had no problem passing through Panama en route to the assassination. So, with an Energy Transfer pipeline here, would be get the private army, too?

Those may be the more lurid but less fundamental questions.

First of all, what is the real long-term outlook for the use of petroleum as fuel? Its replacement by electric cars and renewable power generation would surely end neither oil nor fuel production, as those are raw materials for strong and light materials like graphite that would be come mainstays in such products as more energy efficient cars. But there would be little use for fuel pipelines for that. More likely, the places where manufacturing would move closer to where the raw materials are. The bottom line appears to be yet another Panamanian administration making plans based on the denial of climate change and the economic transformations that will come in its wake.

Then we might ask about prior oil pipelines across Panama, and why those have become dead letters rather than critical and constantly used infrastructures. The old pipeline alongside the canal did give up the Pipeline Road that’s prized by birders, but for its intended purpose was expensive to maintain and a constant hazard to Gatun Lake, its wildlife and those who drink from it. The Chiriqui – Bocas pipeline exists and is 40 percent owned by the Panamanian government but as a practical matter was an ephemeral product of of US public policy and law, wherein Alaska oil was reserved for the United States instead being more cheaply exported to Asia. That US legislation was amended in 1996 and caused a seven-year shutdown of the pipeline here. It was revived and expanded, but because of maintenance and environmental problems — think of the road from Chiriqui to Chiriqui Grande and imagine it being a pipeline and you would not be very far off — it has never been a very important factor in international oil transportation. The bottom line there is that pipelines have not proven to be compellingly profitable businesses here.

 

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44 organizations, Repression against protesters in Cuba

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Statement about Cuba from 44
independent organizations and media

click here to read it in PDF format

 

Contact us by email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

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