Will most Panamanians forget? The victims won’t.

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Ngabe
Some came into the city from the comarca to protest. Photo by Ricardo A. Miranda G.

A small protest against corruption and impunity gathers Martinelli’s victims

photos by Eric Jackson except as noted

The March 1 demonstration called by Miguel Antonio Bernal and others didn’t attract a lot of people and at first glance the mix might have seemed surprising. As expected, communist factions that don’t participate in anything that they don’t control were not there. And what do La Prensa founder Bobby Eisenmann, PRD legislator Zulay Rodríguez, struggling little labor unions, the people who have led the defense of the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca against strip mining and hydroelectric dam land and water grabs and those who organized the protests against Ricardo Martinelli’s attempt to force the sale of the Colon Free Zone’s land all have in common? Ricardo Martinelli had their phones and computers tapped and turned into bugging devices, or sent tax auditors after them over bogus claims, or sent police to arrest them or beat them up or shoot them, or recorded their most intimate conversations and made crass YouTube attack videos out of them. A high percentage of the 150 people known to have had their electronic conversations monitored by Ricardo Martinelli showed up at the protest.

Th small crowd was easily 10 times the size of those that Martinelli supporters have mustered to object to his multiple prosecutions. But if the truth is to be told, most Panamanians are annoyed by the impunity enjoyed by the political caste but don’t think that they can do much about it and are far more concerned about whether there will be clean water coming out of their tap on any given day. According to the Dichter & Neira polling firm, the backdrop for this protest was a decline in President Varela’s support that for the first time shows more Panamanians disapproving than approving of the job that he’s doing. Nobody is in a mood to riot in the streets about it, but on a number of fronts the public’s patience is starting to wear thin.

 

Bernal
The main instigator, law professor Miguel Antonio Bernal.

 

The Panama Canal Authority, for some odd reason, still gets high approval ratings. Some folks, however, are starting to call them out about the canal expansion debacle and the plans to expand the authority into the ports business.
The Panama Canal Authority still gets high approval ratings. Some folks, however, are calling them out about the canal expansion debacle and the plans to expand the authority into the ports business.

 

Ayú Prado
They want Supreme Court president José Ayú Prado — and all of the other magistrates — kicked out of office now.

 

speaker at the rally
Panama can be a very cruel and dismissive society to anyone with any sort of disability, which is a terribly expensive waste of part of the nation’s talent. But the protests of people in wheelchairs are among the voices for social justice that are being heard.

 

panagringos
Panagringos — they’re EVERYWHERE! Some of them were in Martinelli’s cabinet, and some of them are in the movement to bring the Martinelli gang to justice.

 

Z & B
Zulay and Bobby, the PRD legislator and the independent businessman who was exiled by Noriega.

 

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