Panama’s crisis is bad and it can only get worse:
the way out is to call a constitutional convention
Based on raw power politics, the PRD and CD caucuses, which have the votes, are not going to let President Varela choose his people for the Supreme Court. And why should they? Three witnesses and a paper trail say that Varela took millions from Odebrecht. First he denied, then he said it was a donation to his party. In the latter case it would still be an election law violation for a party to take money from a foreign corporation, and the way it was done would probably also be money laundering. So the PRD wants to reconfigure the legislature’s Credentials Committee to reduce Varela’s Panameñistas to the two of nine seats due to them rather than the present four, making it nearly impossible for Varela to block anything or pass anything on that committee. It raises the real possibility of an impeachment.
But the price of a PRD deal with CD probably means giving in to the latter’s demands for impunity for the Martinelista crime wave. And a move to impeach the president would polarize and paralyze the country, without any clear and good alternative waiting in the wings.
The Supreme Court is running mostly on alternates and people temporarily holding their posts as they await replacement. It’s a despised and discredited institution. The National Assembly is held in similarly low esteem by most Panamanians.
A witness says that the minister of canal affairs took a bribe — which he denies. Meanwhile two members of the Panama Canal Authority board are fugitives from justice, a third hardly ever shows up anymore, and the legislature’s ex oficio board member may have a legal excuse for the millions he took from Odebrecht — they were legal fees, he says — but it’s terribly compromising under the circumstances.
Now the Blue Apple revelations indicate that almost everyone doing public works construction in Panama was playing the same sort of bribery and kickback game that Odebrecht was. All major political parties and many of the illustrious surnames are involved.
It’s time to call an election for a constitutional convention. That’s not a panacea, but it’s the most peaceful, orderly and democratic way out of the growing impasse in Panamanian public affairs.
The USA should wait and see, but keep up its guard
Does irrational mean stupid? Does it mean unconvincing?
Often enough it means neither of these things. Some of the most twisted minds are also brilliant ones. Pitches to irrational fears and hatreds have propelled many a politician to power in many a place. Devin Nunes and Donald Trump put out a press release that they say absolves the president and proves that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian attempts to affect the 2016 election. It’s a total non sequitur, but Trump did get an upward bump in the polls.
There is too much out there on Trump and his entourage that is easily proven — lies to the FBI and Congress, efforts to obstruct justice, years of money laundering for an international rogues’ gallery who bought units in Trump buildings for that purpose, various sorts of fraud in Trump businessess — quite apart from the question of whether there was direct and active collusion between the Russian propaganda mill and the Trump campaign. In any case, collusion as such might not actually be a crime.
Let’s wait and see what the special prosecutor has to say, and what of it he can prove. But Americans should be on guard against a coup, whereby the special prosecutor is fired, this year’s elections are rigged and the United States goes the way of the banana republics. It’s a clear and present danger.
Bear in mind…