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The Martinelli Linares brothers: strange proceeding and weird defenses

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“VarelaLeaks shows us how the former attorney general and her prosecutors illegally participated in cases and moreover paid lawyers in the USA to spread their evil.” Does the legislator and former mayor and governor suggest that the money laundering charges against the former president’s sons are the product of US prosecutors being bribed?

The diplomatic passports that weren’t,
scant documentation and other wonders

by Eric Jackson

Ricardo Martinelli Linares and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, sons of the former president of Panama, are in jail in Guatemala, facing possible extradition back to the United States from which the fled. The brothers were facing a pending immigration trial about overstayed visas in the USA. They had been negotiating bail in Panama, where they face multiple corruption charges, when they took off in a private jet for El Salvador, and from there made their way to Guatemala by land, where they were arrested on a US extradition request.

A Guatemalan judge gave the US government 40 to 60 days to substantiate its case. The two extraditions will be treated as separate cases. Proceedings have been delayed by a coronavirus epidemic closure of the Guatemalan court system.

The Americans have yet to lay all cards on the table and may never do so, but it’s about alleged laundering of millions of dollars in bribes from the Brazilian company Odebrecht to influence the contracting decisions of their father’s administration. It is said that this laundering took place through a string of Caribbean shell companies and bank accounts in Panama, Switzerland and the United States. It is said that there are at least 14 co-conspirators yet to be named by US federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, where the charges against the Martinelli’s were sealed.

These events have prompted an array of odd defenses. The ex-president’s chief of staff and de facto legal coordinator for the Martinellis’ many legal imbroglios, Luis Eduardo Camacho, protested diplomatic immunity: “Their bags were checked, they were recorded at all times, this was shown on videos that were made public. All of this is in breach of the treatment to be given to a diplomat.” It turns out, however, that although the brothers are non-attending alternate deputies in the Central American Parliament, they are not Panamanian diplomats and were traveling on ordinary passports renewed earlier this year at the Panamanian consulate in Miami. If the relationship with PARLACEN confers some immunity under Panamanian law, whether that counts for anything in Guatemala remains to be seen.

History may count more. Guatemala has never denied a US extradition request.

Step back and look at contexts. It may or may not help. For one thing, there are several different theories about it. For another, there appear to be wild cards and unhinged persons playing key roles. It does help to know how things have gone.

Aggression, non-aggression and blackmail

After the 1989 invasion, there was a wave of retribution against many of those connected with the dictatorship. But not all. US forces stole Panama’s government records and those have never been returned. It has meant that some of Noriega’s culpable collaborators were never exposed as such to the public light, but on the other hand knew that if they annoyed Uncle Sam they could be. These erstwhile collaborators ended up being sprinkled into all of the present political parties, or relatives of such blackmail-prone persons were, so successive Panamanian governments have not been eager to obtain, let alone publish, the dictatorship’s archives.

On the televised face of it, there was little love lost between Guillermo Endara, who with the invasion was belatedly installed in the office to which he had been elected, and his successor Ernesto “Toro” Pérez Balladares. Notwithstanding that, Toro stomped down hard on moves toward holding Endara and members of his family accountable for alleged infractions and didn’t particularly pursue people in his predecessor’s administration. It was the beginning of an unspoken non-aggression pact in post-invasion Panamanian politics. ‘We don’t investigate you while we are in office, and you don’t investigate us when you are in office’ was the post-invasion practice.

Then along came Ricardo Martinelli, beneficiary of an alliance with Juan Carlos Varela put together at the US ambassador’s residence with the aim of keeping the PRD and a one-time member of Noriega’s inner circle, Balbina Herrera, out of the presidency. Martinelli investigated his PRD predecessor, the PRD’s Martín Torrijos. His minions removed the attorney general appointed in Martín’s time, Ana Matilde Gómez, on flagrantly pro-corruption charges of authorizing the wiretap of a man who requested it because he said that a prosecutor working under Gómez was shaking him down (as the wiretaps verified). He went after political opponents, journalists and personal rivals real or imaginary in a variety of ways.

Will Ricky Martinelli bring this reporter up on charges for writing it? No matter what any court may have ruled, he obtained and used Israeli and Italian technology — the Pegasus system — not only to wiretap but to turn people’s cell phones and computers into room bugs. There were 150 people on a list of targets that national security operatives kept. This lineup was almost certainly partial, but in any case if you consider the people on the other end of the intercepted communications there were thousands of them, essentially in all political parties. The surveillance equipment was last reportedly seen in one of Martinelli’s private company offices. It was government property never turned over to his successor. There are hints that it may have been used and may still be in use, for example to intercept the so-called VarelaLeaks, WhatsApp messages that have embarrassed former president Juan Carlos Varela and a number of other persons, most notably former attorney general Kenia Porcell.

[Editor’s opinion, as one with a legal education and one of those who communicated with persons on the Martinelli administration surveillance list: In a country with an ordinary legal system, Martinelli, at his attorneys’ first proffer of the VarelaLeaks as a reason for anything, would be ordered under penalty of imprisonment for contempt for non-compliance, to produce the missing paraphernalia of Pegasus spying for court-appointed experts to examine.]

The Martinelli alliance with Varela lasted 26 months. An early casualty from the Varela team was the mayor of Panama City, the stupidly corrupt Bosco Vallarino. A bunch of Martinelistas went rashly out of their ways to insult Varela while he was vice president and in some cases to try to drive him out of that office.

When Varela assumed the presidency in 2014, the non-aggression practices that Martinelli first broke with respect to Torrijos were not reinstated. Martinelli and members of his family and administration were pursued. There was popular public demand for this. There still is.

Alliances: tacit, explicit and extorted

Miguel Antonio Bernal alleges that what’s going on right now is a tacit political alliance between President Cortizo and Ricardo Martinelli. At a glance it might, given some presumptions about traditional presidential meddling in the legal system, explain a few things. Like how the fugitive Martinelli brothers were granted bail in absentia. Like how the health minister approved their flight, planned for Panama but ending in El Salvador, as a humanitarian repatriation flight. Like the issuance of new passports at the consulate in Miami.

But Cortizo has always said that he doesn’t intend to interfere with the work of judges or prosecutors. They all say things like that.

Meanwhile, criminal proceedings against both Juan Carlos Varela and Ricardo Martinelli over the subject of Odebrecht bribes continue. Also, as to Martinelli, a money laundering case about New Business, a company said to have been a conduit for kickbacks from government contractors that were used to amass Martinelli’s media empire. The flagship of that communications companies is EPASA, which publishes El Panama America and La Critica. NexTV and other media properties are in Martinelli’s portfolio, which was put together during his presidency.

Stripping an ally of his main political assets? Strange sort of alliance, but then Panama had its origins in some strange betrayals, too. Panama is a lot less stable than the bankers and real estate vendors will say, so you always have to look at alliances in terms of situations. Consider the current legislature with which Nito Cortizo works.

Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) – 36 deputies. Democratic Change (CD or Cambio Democratico) – 18 deputies. Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (MOLIRENA) – 5 deputies. Panameñista Party – 8 deputies. Independents – 5 deputies. The PRD is allied with MOLIRENA at the moment. Each party has internal divisions. Graphic by the Asamblea Nacional.

On its own, the PRD is a vote short of a majority in the 71-seat National Assembly. They get a legislative majority by way of an alliance with MOLIRENA. Among the populace, just over one-third of Panamanians voted PRD in the May 2019 elections.

The PRD has a xenophobic, homophobic neofascist element that might break away. Some PRD deputies ought to be in serious legal trouble and if they do get that sort of trouble may walk away because they were left unprotected. The religious far right has deputies in the MOLIRENA and CD caucuses. CD is riven between pro- and post-Martinelli factions. The Panameñistas, a traditional major party, are reduced in number and battered by scandals.

Then, the Independents — how independent are they, really, from the parties and from each other? To the extent that they are aligned with MOVIN, the Independent Movement, that’s most of all Stanley Motta but also a lot of the libertarian crows around Bobby Eisenmann. Because of the weird ways that votes for legislator are figured, the independents got more votes than the party candidates in their circuits and have far fewer members than their election votes would justify. Turn MOVIN into a political party and PRD bastions in San Miguelito and Panama City get devastated if the electoral cleavage is roughly as it was in 2019.

Does this explain the open venom spat at the independent deputies by their PRD colleagues in the National Assembly chamber, and all the PRD social media trolls and hashtags like #MOVINChantaje?

Where does Nito go if some members of his own party walk over to the opposition, or if the alliance with MOLIRENA collapses? He’d probably have to look to a faction of CD, or else try to cobble together the sort of dysfunctional “governability pact” that made life miserable and unproductive for Varela.

Like Martinelli did, Cortizo might cut off funds to legislators’ circuits to coerce them into switching sides. This, however, does not work well in the large multi-member circuits of the metro area and adjacent parts of Panama Oeste. He’s be hurting his own people too if he tried, for example, to cut off funds to San Miguelito to make one of its legislators vote with the PRD.

The carrot ordinarily works better than the stick, but Panama is deeply in debt. That there are people in his administration, in the PRD caucus of the legislature and in PRD-dominated local governments who act as if that were not the situation is likely to be the bane of Nito’s presidency.

With only 35 seats in the legislature, the PRD president can’t afford to burn too many bridges.

So these theories…

The Martinelli Linares brothers want to be sent to Panama and deal with the judicial system here. MUCH easier to buy a judge in Panama City than in Brooklyn, even if you might find jurists who go against the respective grains in both places.

One potential course of action they might take is to rush through a Panamanian extradition request to compete with the US petition. Note that Panama never petitioned the United States to extradite the brothers, although they could have done so. Plus, think about how that would look for Panamanian public consumption.

And what about US policy? Is there such a thing as a policy under Donald Trump?

It all makes fertile ground for weird conspiracy theories, and a desperate Martinelli camp is at the moment busily planting those seeds.

But maybe it’s The Illuminati after all.

 

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COVID-19 and the brain

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How coronavirus affects the brain

by Michael Zandi, UCL

Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re still learning what the disease can do. There are now detailed reports of brain illness emerging in people with relatively mild lung illness, in those who are critically ill and also in those in recovery.

One key thing we’re seeing is that severity of lung illness doesn’t always correlate with severity of neurological illness. Having only minor lung illness doesn’t protect against potentially severe complications.

When it comes to the brain and nerves, the virus appears to have four main sets of effects:

  1. A confused state (known as delirium or encephalopathy), sometimes with psychosis and memory disturbance.
  2. Inflammation of the brain (known as encephalitis). This includes a form showing inflammatory lesions – acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) – together with the effects of low oxygen in the brain.
  3. Blood clots, leading to stroke (including in younger patients).
  4. Potential damage to the nerves in the body, causing pain and numbness (for example in the form of post-infectious Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves).

To date, the patterns of these effects seem similar across the world. Some of these illnesses are fatal and, for those who survive, many will bear long-term consequences.

This raises an important question: will COVID-19 be associated with a large epidemic of brain illness, in the same manner that the 1918 influenza pandemic was linked (admittedly somewhat uncertainly) to the epidemic of encephalitis lethargica (sleeping sickness) that took hold until the 1930s? At this stage, it’s hard to say – but here’s what we know about the virus’s effects on the brain so far.

What’s happening inside people’s heads?

Firstly, some people with COVID-19 experience confused thoughts and disorientation. Thankfully, in many cases it’s short-lived. But we still don’t know the long-term effects of delirium caused by COVID-19 and whether long-term memory problems or even dementia in some people could arise. Delirium has been mostly studied in the elderly and, in this group, it’s associated with accelerated cognitive decline beyond what’s expected if patients already suffer dementia.

The virus also has the potential to infect the brain directly. However, most of the physical effects we’ve seen in survivors look like secondary impacts of the virus being present in the brain rather than the effects of direct infection. For example, our immune system can appropriately fight the virus, but may start to attack our own cells – including our brain cells and nerves. This may be through the actions of immune cells and antibodies via an inflammatory mechanism known as a cytokine storm, or through mechanisms we don’t yet understand.

There are also COVID-19 patients having ischaemic strokes, where a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Some of these patients have stroke risk factors (for example high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity), though their strokes have been particularly severe. It seems that this is because the blood rapidly becomes thickened in COVID-19 and, in these patients, there have been multiple blood clots in the arteries feeding blood to the brain, even in patients already receiving blood thinners. In others, there is brain bleeding due to weakened blood vessels, perhaps inflamed by the effects of the virus.

Where infection with the coronavirus is associated with inflammation or damage to the nerve endings themselves, individuals may develop burning and numbness and also weakness and paralysis. Often it’s difficult to know if these are the effects of a critical illness on the nerves themselves or if there’s brain and spine involvement.

Only a select group of COVID-19 patients have made it into an MRI scanner so far. NIH Image Gallery/Flickr

All of these effects on the brain and nervous system have the potential for long-term damage and can stack up in an individual. But we need to know more about what’s going on in people’s nervous systems before we can accurately predict any long-term effects.

One way of finding out more is to take a look inside patients’ heads using brain-imaging techniques, such as MRI. So far, brain imaging has revealed a pattern of previously unseen findings, but its still very early days for using it in this pandemic.

In one study, patterns found included signs of inflammation and a shower of small spots of bleeding, often in the deepest parts of the brain. Some of these findings are similar to those seen in divers or in altitude sickness. They might represent the profound lack of oxygen being delivered to the brain in some patients with COVID-19 – but we are only starting to understand the full scope of the brain’s involvement in the disease. Brain-imaging and postmortem studies for those killed by COVID-19 have been limited to date.

Parallels with the past

The 1918 influenza pandemic may have killed 50-100 million people – one in 50 of those infected, and three to six times the number killed in the first world war. Yet it has faded from our collective memory. It’s not often mentioned that this pandemic was linked to an outbreak of brain disease – the “sleeping sickness” encephalitis lethargica.

Encephalitis and sleeping sickness had been linked to previous influenza outbreaks between the 1580s to 1890s. But the 20th-century epidemic of encephalitis lethargica started in 1915, before the influenza pandemic, and continued into the 1930s, so a direct link between the two has remained difficult to prove.

In those who died, postmortems revealed a pattern of inflammation in the seat of the brain (known as the brainstem). Some patients who had damage to areas of the brain involved in movement were locked in their bodies, unable to move for decades (post-encephalitic Parkinsonism), and were only “awakened” by treatment with L-Dopa (a chemical that naturally occurs in the body) by Oliver Sacks in the 1960s. It is too early to tell if we will see a similar outbreak associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, though early reports of encephalitis in COVID-19 have shown features similar to those in encephalitis lethargica.

The aftermath of this global event has many lessons for us now in the time of COVID-19. One, of course, is that we may see widespread brain damage following this viral pandemic.

But importantly, it’s also a reminder to consider the political and societal impact of pandemics, and the need to help vulnerable people who have illness afterwards. COVID-19 has already exposed disparities in access to healthcare. Societies will remain judged on how they protect and treat those most at risk from – and sustain the health consequences of – this virus. This will include people with neurological disease arising from COVID-19.The Conversation

Michael Zandi is a Consultant Neurologist and Honorary Associate Professor in Neurology, University College London

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

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En los huesos

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Una mandíbula del Centro de Visitantes de Panamá Viejo que carece de desarrollo dental en la parte inferior, lo que es consistente con la oligodoncia y está asociada con varios síndromes genéticos.

La huella del sufrimiento, en los huesos

por STRI

Antes los restos humanos eran considerados un estorbo en las excavaciones arqueológicas. Hoy son considerados una valiosa fuente de información para entender los modos de vida de las poblaciones prehistóricas y sus padecimientos.

A poca distancia de lo que ahora se conoce como la Villa de los Santos, en la península de Azuero, abundaban los casos de una enfermedad infecciosa causada por bacterias del género Treponema, posiblemente sífilis o pian. Transmitidas de persona a persona a través del contacto, sus secuelas quedaron registradas en los huesos de los enfermos.

Así las detectaría la bioarqueóloga y paleopatóloga del Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales (STRI), Nicole Smith-Guzmán, dos milenios después. Con su formación, conoce hasta el más mínimo detalle de todos los huesos en el cuerpo humano. Y si nota algo fuera de lo común, comienza a investigar su porqué.

Su descubrimiento de la Treponema entre los huesos en cementerios indígenas del sitio arqueológico de Cerro Juan Díaz en Azuero, es solo una de varias patologías que ha encontrado entre quienes nos precedieron. Y aunque estamos acostumbrados a escuchar que los españoles plagaron a los grupos indígenas de enfermedades cuando llegaron al istmo, ¿de qué padecían estos antiguos pobladores antes de la llegada de los europeos, y qué nos dice esto de sus estilos de vida?

En los restos del yacimiento en Azuero, surgieron otras señas curiosas. Los huesos del oído interno de varios cráneos masculinos tenían un crecimiento óseo inusual. Smith-Guzmán encontró que esto ocurre frecuentemente entre los surfistas y que está asociado con las actividades marinas cuando hay corrientes de viento frío. Consciente de que estos grupos humanos valoraban mucho dos especies de conchas de Spondylus para confeccionar joyas, se logró inferir que los hombres con el crecimiento óseo solían bucear en búsqueda de este molusco en el Pacífico, donde hay corrientes muy frías en verano.

No es la primera vez que se aprende más acerca de los antiguos pobladores de Panamá por medio de sus huesos. Sin embargo, no fue hasta los años noventa que empezó a surgir este interés. Antes de eso, el campo de la arqueología se enfocaba en la cultura material. En algunos casos, hasta se consideraba un inconveniente toparse con esqueletos en una excavación. La bioarqueología y la paleopatóloga no eran campos reconocidos.

“Los arqueólogos mismos no comprendían la gran importancia de esta disciplina. Cuando yo era estudiante, los restos humanos se consideraban un gran estorbo, en vista de que perturbaban la estratigrafía cultural que se consideraba lo más importante”, admite el arqueólogo del Smithsonian Richard Cooke, asesor de Nicole.

Antes de Nicole, la estudiante colombiana Claudia Díaz había hecho un esfuerzo por estudiar los restos de Cerro Juan Díaz con una mirada bioarqueológica para su tesis de licenciatura. Era 1999 y las técnicas no eran tan avanzadas como ahora, pero de alguna forma Claudia preparó el terreno. En su tesis ya hacía inferencias sobre la dieta de estos antiguos pobladores, algo con lo que Nicole continuó cuando llegó a STRI hace pocos años.

De los dientes, por ejemplo, pudo sacar algunas conclusiones: que la dieta era rica en alimentos con alto contenido de azúcares, principalmente maíz, pero también yuca, camote y frutas. Además, pudo deducir que consumían una dieta de alimentos suaves, al encontrarse con mandíbulas que no se habían desarrollado por completo. Dientes desalineados, en otras palabras. Hoy en día esto se acomoda con la ortodoncia, pero en aquellos tiempos no había nada que hacer.

Ciertos habitantes de la comunidad también experimentaron enfermedades raras, como la de los huesos frágiles, que podrían deberse a una baja diversidad genética. Según las crónicas de la época del contacto español, cada comunidad con la que las tropas españolas se toparon en las llanuras al oeste de Chame hablaba un idioma distinto – “lengua de Chirú”, “lengua de Natá” etcétera.

“Esto podría indicar que una misma parentela indígena vivía por muchísimo tiempo en un mismo territorio por pequeño que fuera. Las parentelas vecinas llegaron a ser sus enemigos aunque siempre comerciaban entre sí en momentos de paz”, explica Cooke.

Estas patologías raras aún ocurren en la sociedad moderna. Así como también el cáncer y las enfermedades venéreas, de las que nuestros antepasados tampoco se libraron. Las señales de Treponema que halló Smith-Guzmán en los huesos de Azuero, parecen estar más ligados con la sífilis que con el pian. Esto lo dedujo tras hallar una malformación específica de la sífilis en un diente. Y entre los restos de otro yacimiento en Bocas del Toro, encontró un cáncer de hueso, el primer reporte de uno entre sitios prehispánicos de Centro América.

Se trataba de una adolescente del siglo XIV. Y su entierro era atípico: estaba en Cerro Brujo, un asentamiento abandonado desde antes de su muerte. Que la hubiesen enterrado allí apunta a sus lazos ancestrales con el sitio.

Al final de cuentas, ¿de qué nos sirve entender las enfermedades antiguas? Para empezar, nos permite comprenderlas mejor en su contexto actual. En el caso de afectaciones comunes como el cáncer, se suele suponer que no impactaron a los humanos en el pasado.

“Al señalar ejemplos en poblaciones de varios siglos atrás, podemos verificar estas nociones y ayudar al campo médico a reducir los posibles factores de riesgo que conducen a la propagación de la enfermedad”, explica Smith-Guzmán.

También brinda la oportunidad de aprender más sobre el efecto de las enfermedades en los huesos. Muchas aflicciones pueden tener un efecto silencioso en ellos. La malaria parece ser una. En su caso, paleopatólogas como Nicole se dieron a la tarea de buscar lesiones óseas típicas de la malaria en restos de humanos antiguos, mientras que médicos clínicos hicieron una labor similar en ratones infectados.

“De esta manera la paleopatología y la medicina clínica pueden basarse en los hallazgos de cada uno para avanzar en la comprensión de la fisiopatología de las enfermedades”, agrega la científica de STRI.

Para ella, un último aspecto que rara vez se toma en consideración es cómo la paleopatología contribuye a entender el rol de las enfermedades en la historia humana.

La enfermedad mucha veces ha influenciado eventos históricos, pero se descuida en la documentación de estos eventos. Por ejemplo, si un ejército de un área endémica de una enfermedad infecciosa específica invadió otro país sin experiencia previa con la enfermedad, el invasor podría haber tenido una ventaja adicional.

“Los paleopatólogos pueden encontrar evidencia de esa enfermedad en los restos humanos para comprender mejor ese evento”, detalla Smith-Guzmán. “Además, estamos cada vez más interesados​​en conocer sobre la forma en que los miembros de una comunidad cuidaban de sus enfermos”.

De alguna manera, destacar la empatía que hubo en el pasado hacia los convalecientes puede brindarnos esperanza durante momentos difíciles como la pandemia que estamos experimentando hoy.

Como bioarqueóloga y paleopatóloga, Nicole Smith-Guzmán ha podido detectar una variedad de enfermedades en los huesos de los habitantes precolombinos de Panamá.

 

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Una tibia de la excavación arqueológica de Sitio Sierra, que muestra inflamación severa e hinchazón del hueso, así como lesiones focales, lo que sugiere una infección treponémica.

 

Un cráneo del sitio arqueológico de Playa Venado, que muestra las características lesiones de “caries sicca” de la enfermedad treponémica.

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Bernal, The notorious and never fully admitted pacts

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Donld Trump, now fugitive former Panamanian President Ricrdo Martinelli and Trump'¿s shodowy Colombian partner Roger Khafif. Photo by the presidencia.
Then real estate hustler Donald Trump, Panamanian president at the time Ricardo Martinelli and Trump’s shadowy Colombian partner for the former Trump Ocean Club, Roger Khafif. That was then. Photo by the Presidencia.

From the Mami Pact to the Mani Pact

by Miguel Antonio Bernal V.

The selfless veneration given by all governments since the invasion to the 1972 statute – also known as the Political Constitution of the Republic of Panama – is a symbol and expression of authoritarianism. The Panamanian people — crying “Democracy, Justice and Freedom!” — fought against this. It makes the fundamental problem of our country to be of a constitutional nature, that is, of a political nature.

Hence the fierce opposition of the party leaders and their system’s main exponents, to even the remote possibility of starting a constitutional process. The adoption of said statute led them early to sponsor the various reforms that have been introduced to the original document imposed by the dictatorship that came to us on October 11, 1968.

Thus, in 1978, 1983, 1993-94 and 2004 the prevailing power brokers – of the misnamed political class — have done their best to collaborate among themselves to, according to them, “democratize” this odd document that still serves as a letter of presentation of legality and legitimacy for a failed social contract.

Each of the reform acts, over the past four decades, were agreed. The most notorious was the 2004 called “Pacto MaMi,” between Martin Torrijos and Mireya Moscoso. With their backs to the citizens, they agreed encourage authoritarianism and autocratic government.

Inter-party electoral pacts, and between elections legislative pacts, have become commonplace in the absence of programs and principles, Hence we should not be surprised by the inter-presidential pacts, that is, between the current president and the ex-presidents. These might be bilateral, trilateral or quadrangular pacts. This would not rule out one or another pentagonal pact. Now in this period, it could be up to hexagonal.

The udisclosed pact between former President Martinelli and the current tenant of the Palacio de las Garzas, was made last May and has been in effect for one year. It started early, on the night of the 2019 general elections, when, from prison, Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal publicly acknowledged, long before his party’s presidential candidate, Rómulo Roux, the electoral victory of Laurentino Cortizo Cohen.

(to be continued…)

 

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The National Assembly’s delay and restart

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Deputy Petita Ayarza (PRD-Guna Yala) at virtual work. Photo by the Asamblea Nacional.

Usually we’d have published it last week…

by Eric Jackson

It’s an annual rite. At the first session of a new legislative year, all of the deputies are supposed to dress in white, the holy man gives his blessing and the president gives his report. Usually everything in those parts is predictable. Sometimes parts get spiced up with some lofty or low-down rhetoric, but usually the identities of the legislature’s new officers are negotiated and publicized beforehand.

So the PRD’s Marcos Castillero Barahona was re-elected to preside over the 2020-2021 legislative year and last year’s first VP was dropped off the leadership ticket. PRD colleague Cenobia Vargas got that spot, with MOLIRENA’s Tito Rodríguez re-elected as second vice president. The Panameñistas and independents had their own nominees for the assembly’s presidency, who of course went nowhere.

The biggest political development, known in advance, is that most of Zulay Rodr’iguez’s colleagues in and out of the PRD caucus have grown sufficiently weary of the histrionics and demagoguery to remove her from the leadership. Another big development, less obvious and harder to assess in longer term importance, is that the Cambio Democratico caucus not only didn’t run any candidates of its own but split on those who were offered.

The usually most interesting thing at the start of a new legislative session is the election of the committee presidents. The worst crooks all usually want to head the budget committee. Among those with higher political ambitions, the Credentials Committee is a big prize. The identities of those assigned to the various committees, and of their leaders, are often predictors of what sorts of things will pass in the coming year.

THIS TIME, the legislators didn’t meet the next day. Nor for the rest of that week. Two PRD deputies were known to be in home quarantine after testing positive, another said he’s recovered after coming down with the virus back in April. Plenty of rumors of other ill legislators — some undoubtedly false and malicious — have flown around. And then it is known that several people who work in non-elected posts at the National Assembly are or have been sick.

In April the legislature passed a rule allowing for online sessions, but a bunch of members never bothered to learn how to operate the computers and programs for that. Some have homes where the telecommunications signals are on a continuum from unreliable to nonexistent. So, no elections of committee heads. And the usual cycle of The Panama News, reporting something about what the president said not long after he said it and then something about the legislature’s new organization for the coming year. Didn’t happen.

Nito Cortizo’s speech was a 40-pager, with its text unpublished, let alone in English translation, in any immediate sense. We did post, in Spanish, the video of the president’s report along with some remarks by a sampling of online critics and supporters, later that same day. There was little to inspire, and little to inflame, despite how long it took.

Then nothing until a July 6 announcement that plenary sessions would resume online the next day, and that a few committees had met online to approve  appointments to the boards of the Metro train system, the Banco Hipotecario and the Aquatic Resources Authority. There were also hearings on a couple of proposed free trade treaties.

Nothing yet on the most consequential business, the membership and leadership of the legislative committees. We might guess at the reasons but we really don’t know.

 

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Movimiento Democrático Popular, Nito y el Poder Ciudadano

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Foto por la Presidencia.

Un decepcionante informe a la nación

por el Movimiento Democrático Popular

Tal como señaló el presidente, Panamá atraviesa por “la más profunda crisis sanitaria, social y económica que ha vivido en su historia”. A esto habría que añadir que dicha crisis también es ambiental, política e institucional, y que se relaciona directamente con el modelo de país implantado después de la invasión de los Estados Unidos en 1989. Justamente por ello existía una gran expectativa en torno al informe que por mandato constitucional debía rendir el señor Cortizo este 1 de julio, pero ha sido grande la decepción ante un informe que no se distingue del acostumbrado listado de promesas, falsedades y ocultamientos a que se nos tiene acostumbrados.

En su informe de gestión de los ocho primeros meses, el presidente afirma que modificó la Ley de Contrataciones Públicas, “reduciendo la discrecionalidad de los funcionarios”, pero calla que esta ley sigue posibilitando que continúen licitando en el país las empresas salpicadas por escándalos de corrupción –como Odebrecht– y que han contribuido a vaciar las arcas del Estado en beneficio de políticos hasta hoy impunes. Eso sí, nos informa con mucho orgullo que hizo aprobar la Ley de Asociación Público-Privada, mediante la cual se entregarán recursos estratégicos del país a la voracidad de la empresa privada, en especial al capital financiero multinacional, continuando así con la fórmula de los cuatro últimos gobiernos: ausencia de un plan de desarrollo nacional, favorecer a los donantes de campaña y poner el gobierno a disposición de clanes económicos que a punta de contratos amañados, evasión fiscal, sobrecostos y coimas, se quedan con las riquezas del país.

También se nos informa que se aprobó la Ley de primer empleo, “Aprender Haciendo”, pero omite que la tasa de desempleo pasó de 6% en 2018 a 7.1% en 2019, lo que representó un aumento de 27,773 personas desocupadas. Además, la tasa de informalidad pasó del 43.6% al 44.9%, un porcentaje que representa a 716,113 personas. Por supuesto, tampoco mencionó que, a pesar de su ley de primer empleo, la tasa de desempleo juvenil pasó de 16% a 18.1%, y que el desempleo femenino subió de 7.6% a 8.8%. Lo anterior es un reflejo de nuestra deriva al no tener un Estado que propicie y defienda el empleo digno y los derechos laborales frente a los abusos de los empresarios, organizados en la Cámara de Comercio y en el Consejo Nacional de la Empresa Privada.

Se informó que el tope de las viviendas beneficiadas por los intereses preferenciales aumenta de $120.000 a $180.000, otorgando una ayuda adicional de 80 millones para la construcción de vivienda. Sin embargo, se omite que el PIB de dicho sector es de 11.983.1 millones, y que en la situación actual será muy difícil que los bancos estén dispuestos a ampliar su cartera hipotecaria. Si a ello añadimos que la mediana de salario en Panamá es de $721.00, y que el 50% de los asalariados gana menos que eso, la esperanza de una vivienda digna es inalcanzable para la mayoría de los panameños.

El presidente continuó afirmando que no nombró amigos ni copartidarios en la Corte Suprema de Justicia (CSJ); sin embargo, se mantiene la conducta de la institución, nada transparente y generadora de sospechas ciudadanas. En contraste, sí cambió la dirigencia investigativa de varios casos de alto perfil, cuyos fiscales fueron rotados a otros puestos por el procurador Ulloa, nombrado en este Gobierno. Igualmente olvidó las jugosas dietas ya pagadas a funcionarios y copartidarios nombrados en distintas juntas directivas de instituciones públicas.

Por otro lado, el presidente hace alarde de su gran triunfo de salir al mercado internacional y obtener 5.800 millones de deuda para pagar otra deuda por 5.300 millones. Existe una gran opacidad y sospecha ante la posible utilización de una parte importante de los dineros obtenidos para mantener la contratación clientelar del Gobierno, cuya muestra se ve en el aumento escandaloso de la planilla de la Asamblea en plena pandemia.

En cuanto al manejo gubernamental de esta crisis, se ha hablado de una dirección adecuada y responsable. No obstante, con el informe del presidente crecen las interrogantes sobre la destitución de la ex ministra de salud, quien dirigiera desde el principio al equipo que ha enfrentado a la pandemia. Lo cierto es que, si bien la tasa de letalidad en Panamá es baja, la de nuevos contagios parece dispararse descontroladamente, sin reconocer que se debe a la imposibilidad de guardar una cuarentena estricta con una población que, de recibir ayuda, era de solo 80 balboas y ahora 100, un monto ridículo que no cubre siquiera la canasta familiar, que es de casi 350 balboas.

El presidente también aseguró que el plan “Panamá Solidario” beneficia a 1.600.000 personas. Sin embargo, o el presidente nos miente, o alguien le ha mentido, pues las denuncias –incluso de miembros del PRD– sobre el manejo clientelista de los bonos y bolsas de comida, han inundado las redes sociales y los medios de comunicación tradicionales.

Las constantes protestas de quienes no han recibido nada en cuatro meses, o que solo han recibido la ayuda una o dos veces, tienen al país al borde de una explosión social. La repartición de la ayuda ha resultado un perverso fracaso que se hubiera evitado impulsando la organización ciudadana en barrios, comunidades y centros de trabajo.

También resulta falso que hubiera recortes de planillas, de viáticos y de gastos de representación en el Gobierno (para muestra, la Asamblea de Diputados). Por otro lado, si bien se sancionó la moratoria hasta el 31 de diciembre de 2020, los bancos ya habían llegado a acuerdos de este tipo con 1.036.417 clientes, pero la medida se ha utilizado para apaciguar el descontento ciudadano y una crisis social causada por el propio Gobierno.

El presidente también asegura haber convertido la crisis de educación en una oportunidad, pero ignora los problemas de conectividad que imposibilitan la educación a distancia para miles de hijos de los de los trabajadores, quienes no pueden adquirir computadoras ni internet, y aun si pudieran, existen graves debilidades en conocimientos de las TICs. Tampoco mencionó el 33% de las escuelas que carecen de luz eléctrica, el 40% que no tienen agua potable, el 80% de las escuelas sin acceso a internet, o de las 1.300 escuelas rancho, como lo muestran datos del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID, 2018).

El Plan para la Recuperación Económica y Social no deja de ser un listado similar al de las promesas incumplidas de campaña, pues ninguna de las acciones prioritarias anunciadas se está ejecutando. Más aun, según el propio presidente, el apoyo a las micro, pequeñas y medianas empresas –generadoras del 70% del empleo– no supera los 220 millones, cifra que apenas representa el 0.33% del PIB normal de la economía panameña. Por el contrario, en manos de la banca se pondrá un total de 1000 millones, una cifra 4.5 veces mayor.

Según cifras del INEC, el PIB tuvo un crecimiento de 3% en 2019, el desempeño más bajo desde la crisis financiera de 2009. No obstante, el mandato de Cortizo inició en el segundo semestre del año, de modo que posible analizar el desempeño trimestral.

Así, el tercer y cuarto trimestre de 2019 también tuvieron el peor desempeño desde 2009, con tasas de 2.7% y 3.3% respectivamente. En el primer trimestre de 2020 el crecimiento fue de 0.4%, también comparable con el de la crisis financiera.

Aun así, Cortizo hace alarde de un crecimiento del 4.2% para 2021, lo que, a juzgar por las propuestas neoliberales presentadas en su informe, sólo beneficiará a los más ricos, pues en las décadas recientes se ha observado cómo varía el crecimiento sin incidir en el bienestar de las mayorías. Es una cifra que se debe desagregar para las comarcas, los barrios y el campo, donde solo aumenta la vida sin dignidad.

No podían faltar las promesas de reducir los impuestos a los sectores empresariales importantes, lo que, junto al anuncio de una reducción en la recaudación fiscal y un elevado endeudamiento, levanta la preocupación de que se recurra al alza del ITBMS que paga la población. Pero en plena “guerra” contra el COVID-19, el Gobierno ha sido incapaz de eliminar los gastos de representación y dietas de todos los altos funcionarios del Estado y congelar sus salarios en 3.000 balboas mientras dure la crisis.

Hilando fino en las palabras del mandatario, es claro que se pretenden aplicar las mismas recetas financieras que nos han convertido en uno de los países más desiguales del mundo, aun cuando hoy enfrentamos una pandemia que agudiza los problemas ya existentes en salud, educación, alimentación y derechos humanos. El plan de recuperación ignora totalmente una transformación social, al igual que los procesos de fiscalización o control posteriores a los incentivos.

Reiteramos al jefe del Estado que las promesas de transparencia y lucha contra la corrupción son insuficientes mientras siga mostrando tolerancia hacia los funcionarios que están bajo sospecha de delitos de corrupción en medio de la pandemia. Si usted dice que los fondos públicos son sagrados, ¿qué hay de los casos del hospital modular y de los ventiladores?

Finalmente, quedamos con dudas sobre la referencia a un acuerdo nacional para un nuevo pacto social y un consenso sobre la Caja de Seguro Social, sin fecha de inicio, sin definir a los participantes y sin adelantar una metodología. Tenemos muy mala experiencia con sus iniciativas dirigidas a la falsa reforma de la vigente Constitución.

Son los hechos, y no las promesas, los que permitirán un debate amplio y sincero sobre el actual modelo de crecimiento económico sin desarrollo humano ni social. Solo así podremos construir un Panamá sin desigualdades y transformar la falsa caridad en una lucha sin descanso contra el hambre, la pobreza, la precaria educación y un sistema de salud en bancarrota.

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Martinelli Linares brothers charged in the USA, captured in Guatemala

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In Spanish. Former President Ricardo Matinelli’s two sons arrested at the Aurora International Airport in Guatemala. Although the two men face multiple charges in Panama, this was on a US warrant and extradition request. The video was taken by the Guatemalan National Civil Police.

The US Department of Justice’s statement

Two Defendants Charged for Their Role in Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme Involving Former High-Ranking Government Official in Panama

Individuals Facilitated $28 Million in Bribes from Odebrecht S.A. to the Official

A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares (Luis Martinelli Linares) and Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares (Ricardo Martinelli Linares) for their roles in a massive bribery and money laundering scheme involving Odebrecht S.A. (Odebrecht), a Brazil-based global construction conglomerate.

On Dec. 21, 2016, Odebrecht pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of New York to a criminal information charging it with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for its involvement in the bribery and money laundering scheme.

The overarching Odebrecht scheme involved the payment of more than $700 million in bribes to government officials, public servants, political parties, and others in Panama and other countries around the world to obtain and retain business for the company. The two individual defendants are alleged to have participated in the scheme by, among other things, serving as intermediaries for approximately $28 million in bribe payments made by and at the direction of Odebrecht to a then high-ranking government official in Panama (Panama Government Official), who was a close relative of the defendants. Luis Martinelli Linares and Ricardo Martinelli Linares were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Luis Martinelli Linares and Ricardo Martinelli Linares were arrested at el Aeropuerto Internacional la Aurora in Guatemala on July 6 pursuant to a provisional arrest request from the United States.

As alleged in the complaint, between approximately August 2009 and January 2014, the defendants facilitated the payment of bribes from Odebrecht to or for the benefit of the Panama Government Official by taking a number of steps that included opening and managing secret bank accounts held in the names of shell companies in foreign jurisdictions. These secret bank accounts were used to receive, transfer, and deliver the bribe payments. The defendants served as the signatories on certain of the shell company bank accounts, and personally sent and caused to be sent wire transfers through the structure of shell company bank accounts to conceal and spend bribery proceeds. Many of these financial transactions were in U.S. dollars and were made through U.S. banks, some of which were located in New York.

The charges in the complaint announced today are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The FBI’s International Corruption squad in New York investigated this case. Trial Attorney Michael Culhane Harper of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, Trial Attorneys Barbara Levy and Michael Redmann of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alixandra Smith and Julia Nestor of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York are prosecuting the case.

The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance. Law enforcement authorities in Guatemala including the Public Ministry of Guatemala and Specialized Unit for International Affairs, and law enforcement authorities in El Salvador provided significant cooperation.

The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters.

The complaint filed in a federal district court in Brooklyn (PDF)

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Aves de islas Jicarón y Jicarita

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Un viaje a la isla Jicarón durante el Bioblitz de Coiba llevó a la publicación de una lista de verificación de aves. Las guacamayas rojas probablemente vuelan entre las islas más pequeñas y la isla de Coiba, donde todavía abundan. Las guacamayas rojas se han extinguido localmente en tierra firme. Foto por Christian Ziegler.

Actualizan la verificación de aves
en islas del Parque Nacional Coiba

por STRI

La primera lista de los registros de aves publicada sobre Jicarón y Jicarita, las islas más australes de Panamá y parte del Parque Nacional Coiba, subraya la importancia de enviar biólogos para explorar nuevos territorios. Se puede acceder a ambas islas desde la más reciente estación de investigación del Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales (STRI) en la isla de Coibita.

En el 2015, el fotógrafo Christian Ziegler (junto con la Liga Internacional de Fotógrafos de Conservación) y el ecologista Omar López (entonces en INDICASAT-AIP, ahora en SENACYT) organizaron biólogos de distintas instituciones para participar en el primer BioBlitz de Coiba, un esfuerzo por documentar la mayor cantidad posible especies en el parque.

“Durante el BioBlitz solo pasamos un par de días en la isla Jicarón, pero eso fue suficiente para agregar a las listas de registros que los ornitólogos Oscar Johnson de la Universidad Estatal de Luisiana comenzaron en el 2004 y George Angehr agregó en el 2015”, explicó Claudio Monteza, ex becario de STRI, ahora estudiante de doctorado en el Instituto Max Planck para el Comportamiento Animal. “Mientras estábamos allí, también notamos que los monos capuchinos pasaban más tiempo en el suelo”.

“Más tarde, Pedro [Castillo] y yo volvimos a estudiar a los monos. Pedro se iba arroyo arriba a lavar los platos del desayuno y se quedaba allí durante media hora fregando, observando aves y agregando nuevas especies a nuestra lista de aves de Jicarón. Una vez, alzó la vista al cielo y observó un Gavilán colifajeado (Buteo albonotatus) sobrevolando sobre el dosel, -un nuevo récord para el parque-, ¡Eureka! Decidimos hacer un estudio adecuado para crear una lista de verificación publicable”.

“Como ornitólogo, hacer una lista de registros de aves en el Parque Nacional Coiba es emocionante e intimidante al mismo tiempo, porque sabes que Alexander Wetmore [sexto Secretario del Instituto Smithsonian 1945-1952] visitó muchas islas e islotes en el parque. En 1957, solo él publicó la primera lista de registros de aves para el Parque Nacional Coiba, registrando 133 especies. Sin embargo, no pudo visitar Jicarón, la segunda isla más grande del parque”, explicó Pedro Castillo, estudiante de último año de la Universidad de Panamá.

Entre el 2004 y el 2019, se registraron un total de 115 especies en la isla Jicarón y 53 en Jicarita, incluidas 23 especies de aves nunca antes reportadas desde el Parque Nacional Coiba. Diez especies son subespecies endémicas (que no se encuentran en ningún otro lugar de la Tierra), y 29 especies son aves migratorias, incluidas siete parúlidos, que dependen del parque a medida que viajan a través del área durante su migración invernal.

Las especies más comunes registradas fueron la paloma Cabeciceniza Leptotila plumbeiceps battyi (de lomo marrón), el colibrí Amazilia Colirrufa (Amazilia tzacatl) y la Reinita mielera (Coereba flaveola).

Las guacamayas rojas, probablemente volando desde la isla de Coiba, ahora están casi erradicadas en tierra firme. Es relativamente fácil ver guacamayos en Jicarón. Coiba es probablemente el refugio más importante para esta especie en Panamá. Los campaneros centroamericanos (Procnias tricarunculatus), que generalmente viven en elevaciones más altas, descienden a 400 metros en la isla de Coiba.

Monteza cree que la observación cuidadosa y ambientalmente consciente de las aves puede ser una forma de apoyar al parque y a los residentes del área en el futuro.

“No hay senderos en Jicarón ni en Jicarita y el terreno es empinado”, explicó Monteza, “pero sería un gran lugar para excursiones en barco”.

“Cientos de piqueros marrones, fragatas y otras aves marinas se reúnen en los acantilados a lo largo de la costa sur de Jicarita al atardecer, donde termina la plataforma continental y se pueden observar aves pelágicas. Es realmente espectacular”. comentó Castillo.

Hay aproximadamente 1500 islas frente a la costa de Panamá. Aunque menos especies de aves viven en las islas que en tierra firme, el hecho de que muy pocas de estas islas hayan sido estudiadas formalmente significa que algunas sorpresas esperan a los observadores de aves y otros biólogos que pueden encontrar los medios para para visitarlas.

“Mi experiencia favorita fue un encuentro cercano con un gallinazo rey (Sarcoramphus papa)”, comentó Monteza. “Pedro y yo estábamos buscando una cámara trampa y de repente estábamos frente a uno, posado en una rama baja de un árbol a solo unos 5 metros de nosotros. Tomamos algunas fotos con mi teléfono y los binoculares de Pedro. En una excursión distinta, también obtuvimos imágenes de un gallinazo rey con cámaras trampa, instaladas por el investigador postdoctoral Kevin McLean. Ambas fotos salieron en una estación de televisión local y llegaron a miles de personas”.

“A pesar de las fuertes tormentas y los aterrizajes tambaleantes, una de las motivaciones para unirse a cada excursión es la oportunidad de observar una especie de ave rara en la isla Jicarón. A veces tenemos suerte. Hay algunas especies raras en nuestra lista de verificación, pero una de las más inusuales es el tirano occidental (Tyrannus verticalis), un raro migrante para Panamá. Nuestro récord es el más austral para esta especie”, comentó Castillo.

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Aves marinas como este Piquero Marrón, anidan en gran número en los acantilados de la isla Jicarón. Foto por Christian Ziegler.

 

Un Gallinazo Rey tomada con cámara trampa. Foto por Claudio Monteza.

 

Los autores de este estudio están afiliados a STRI, a la Universidad de Panamá, la Universidad de California, Davis, la Estación Científica COIBA-AIP y la Universidad Estatal de Luisiana.

Referencia: Castillo-Caballero P.L., Monteza-Moreno C.M., Johnson O., Angehr G.R. 2020. First annotated checklist of birds of Jicarón and Jicarita: The southernmost islands of the Republic of Panama. Tecnociencia, Vol. 22, N˚2: 123-149.

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Editorial: The unwelcome mat; and La Prensa’s assets

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A typical example of this sort of discourse.

Putting out the unwelcome mat

Do you want to tell people unlike yourself – here in Panama or wherever else you are living – to “go home” on account of their race, ethnicity, beliefs or national origin? Facebook may like and permit that sort of thing, but it will not be allowed on The Panama News Facebook wall.

Looking to post your Trump talking points, to portray black people as suspects, protesters as antifa criminals, white people pulling guns on black people as inherently justified by white fear? Take it elsewhere.

Bullying abuse, wherein you come onto The Panama News wall and hurl threats, or tell the editor to shut up? Do that on your own wall

All that anti-mask stuff, all those Trump wedge issues designed to reduce the vote? You have your far-right places to run that stuff and will not be allowed to wage that campaign via The Panama News. Not that you are prohibited from publishing that stuff.

All this stuff is happening in an increasing and systematic way all over the social media. We know what’s going on. You guys will not be allowed to shout everyone down.

  

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A big part of the problem is imitation gringo cancel culture via social media trolls. It comes largely out of PRD, Cambio Democratico, the religious far right and xenophobic neofascist circles. When it’s coming from the PRD or the Martinelistas, there is a lot of money behind it.

La Prensa’s frozen assets

If a former president of Panama is defamed in the press, is a multi-million-dollar judgment ever justified?

He or she is a public figure, able to defend against the calumny in public. He or she is not a working person, thrown into penury by bogus publicity that leads to blacklisting and unemployment.

Is the claim that, but for the yellow journalism, he or she would have a political comeback? Do we really want the legal system to say or in any way imply that an elected office other than one to which a person is presently elected is a personal property with a monetary value?

Then, of course, what a judge has done in the Ernesto Pérez Balladares versus La Prensa case is not to hand down or enforce a judgment, but to sequester assets pending a possible judgment. A pompous rabiblanco medium that newspaper might be, but it’s also an endangered species because of the failing advertiser supported business model of the mainstream news corporations. That business collapse is a complicated and international phenomenon. The pre-verdict sequestration of assets, however, might push La Prensa right over the edge.

The feelings of so many of us are bound to be mixed. La Prensa is obnoxious in many ways. They, and the ad agencies with which they are embedded, and some of their most important clients, are notoriously dedicated to monopolistic practices and have been for years. Theirs is the voice of oligarchic privilege and denigration of organized labor. They are absent when the time comes to support anybody’s freedom of the press other than their own.

Set aside the legitimate disgust for the hypocrisy, however. The possibility of multi-million-dollar libel verdicts in favor of prominent political figures, and of pretrial sequestration of assets predicated on that possibility, needs to be banished from Panamanian law. It’s reason infinity plus one why we need a new constitution.

  

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Bear in mind…

 

Oh peace! How many wars were waged in thy name?

Alexander Pope

 

I’m going to give the politicians a big surprise. I’m designing a system – a political party – in order to get out. They think I am designing a system to stay in.

Omar Torrijos
to Graham Greene, on plans to create the PRD

 

Age is wisdom, if one has lived one’s life properly.

Miriam Makeba

 

Contact us by email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

 

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