The first lady joins the anti-corruption campaign in a most strident way
by Eric Jackson
Lorena Castillo de Varela is a journalist by profession and is much less cautious in her public pronouncements than is her husband, President Juan Carlos Varela. Every individual is different and we should not presume that she speaks for her husband or the he’s annoyed when she expresses an opinion different from his own. Without trying to pry into their marriage or other aspects of their private lives or personal opinions, however, let us first recognize the different roles: he is president of Panama and she is not. While he has kept a low profile in the issue, for example, she has campaigned for the rights of lesbians, gay men, the transgendered and bisexuals. In Panama that’s still a controversial position, even to the point that perhaps her husband is president because the PRD candidate was queer-baited.
This time, with much of the wealthy establishment now having joined in the protests against impunity in the Odebrecht case, Doña Lorena has weighed in with some Instagram posts. It started with a long one, in which she weighed in on the situation in general and the presiding magistrate of the Supreme Court, José Ayú Prado, in particular:
After this first message, the first lady received some criticism that this is a pretty intemperate thing for someone in her position to say, and advice that she erase it. Which led to the retort at the top of this page, in which she escalated her attack.
So does her husband pick up several points in the polls? And does this lay to rest the word of two well-placed witnesses that Odebrecht gave money to his campaign too? Those are separate questions.
At the moment, however, Panama is an international laughing stock, Lorena Castillo de Varela’s news judgment about the importance of the Odebrecht case for Panama and in the opinions of Panamanians is quite astute. The country edges toward a possible constitutional impasse over corruption and Doña Lorena spins no fake news.
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