Considerations and history from a highly personal viewpoint

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IF you think that I am in rare stark raving mad form today, a bit of background.

I actually voted for Ricky Martinelli in 2009, given that Balbina Herrera was the alternative. Another long set of stories about Balbina if you want to hear any of that tangent. E.g., way back when and not at all the culmination of abuses:

 

 

But before any of that, when Martinelli was Mireya Moscoso’s minister of canal affairs and the ACP – of all institutions! – was running this land titling in the western canal watershed program, I noted Martinelli’s friends and reputedly family ties to land claims there, particularly the Petaquilla gold mine. Via a now deceased friend I got this warning that Martinelli would drag me into court and destroy me and The Panama News if I kept it up. Years later the gold mine swindle and his connections with it came to light via other media.

I expected Martinelli to be an ass, and that if it had been Balbina people would have started to disappear.

I definitively turned against Martinelli with the January 2011 televised burning to death of several boys at the juvenile prison in Tocumen. Only a few weeks before he had signed a law purporting to legalize any act of violence committed by an on-duty cop. As a matter of state policy, the prison was deprived of water for eight straight days, leading to a disturbance. And the boys in the cell set on fire – chosen for the TV cameras to record – had not even participated in the disturbance.

 

 

The wife of a friend was one of Martinelli’s vice ministers at the time, an occasional source of mine and one of the 150 people whose telecommunications were constantly monitored and put into a daily report that went on Martinelli’s desk. All emails between me and her thus got caught in that net.

But far more than that, and a far higher priority for Martinelli, was Miguel Antonio Bernal. I run his columns from time to time in The Panama News. He is my lawyer. He is a frequent source about legal questions in my journalism. I worked on his 2009 mayoral campaign. All of my phone calls and emails with him were in those reports that went onto Martinelli’s desk.

Did you remember a high court magistrate blubbering and the attorney general angrily accusing about fear, oppression and blackmail from the Martinelli camp a few weeks back, such that the Supreme Court would be forced to drop the charges? It was alleged that it’s not about just the files on 150 people found in a police laptop not long after Martinelli left office, but files on some 5,000 people. Northing totally clear, but see http://laestrella.com.pa/panama/nacional/querellantes-contra-martinelli-piden-juez-revele-chantaje-renuncie/24077874

That would square with Martinelli’s threat to what was left of the Cambio Democratico legislative caucus right after the 2014 election, when he said that they had better do what he told them because he had a file on every one of them. But only a few of those people were among the 150.

That also squares with the reputed Cambio Democratico “big data” strategy, in which by all appearances and non-denial denials (they would never directly answer the question but instead said that the data could be purchased anywhere) they took the files from government agencies and crossed indexed them into a political database. Familial ties and voting records from the Tribunal Electoral. Tax records from the DGI. Medical records and pension data from the Social Security Fund, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development. And so on. Their party call centers and grocery bag delivery coordinators had access to this database.

Would they have a database with that information that was available to campaign workers, but apart from that also with eavesdropping data integrated into it? I wonder.

The Panama News website suffered a series of hack attacks beginning in 2013, getting particularly heavy in the week or so before the 2014 election – along with other attacks on every other electronic news medium in Panama that Martinenelli did not control. The difference for me was no computer nerd budget like La Prensa or TVN. From December 2014 to July 2015 our wounded website was shut down, and archives particularly about Martinelli stuff were deleted. Might have just been criminal spam gangsters stripping a clunking website for email addresses.

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