Martinelli’s last bid to stay in the USA
by Eric Jackson
Article 421. Whoever executes an act to submit the Republic, in whole or in part, to a foreign State [or] to diminish its independence… shall be punished with imprisonment… when the described behavior was performed by a public servant… the penalty shall be twenty to thirty years.
‘Look at all I did for you….’ That was the gist of Manuel Antonio Noriega’s complaint to the United States as well.
But the classic retort to such pleas, of which there have been many over the years, is that ‘The United States has no friends it only has interests.’
Ricardo Martinelli’s jailhouse letter to the American people has caused a storm of patriotic indignation here, and the promise of Cambio Democratico primary candidate José Raúl Mulino that he, too, would do everything that the CIA tells him to do.
The former president’s letter includes an interesting set of particulars.
As it is, he stands to be extradited and tried for illegal electronic surveillance. He pleads that his electronic spying was to monitor CIA targets “through legal and ‘other means.'” But he tells the American people that “the courts are not allowed to consider all the facts.” And indeed, among the communications Martinelli intercepted were those of US citizens. For that to come out in open court would not compromise the security and integrity of the United States of America, but it might embarrass some of its former or current public officials. Thus it would be a reasonable bet that some national security claim might be made and such tales would be kept out of court and off the record.
Martinelli tells the tale of an intercepted North Korean freighter with jet fighter parts and other war materiel — some prohibited by an international embargo — hidden under a load of Cuban sugar. He alleges threats by Raúl Castro and insinuates some sort of improper relationship between current Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and the Cubans. (The alleged “full story” that this reporter heard way back when but could never verify is not in Martinelli’s account.)
The former president pleads that in the United Nations he voted with Israel “100% of the time,” which may be the Trump policy but was not exactly the Obama policy when Martinelli was in charge of Panama.
Martinelli tells of a Panamanian special operation to rescue a CIA operative running from an INTERPOL warrant stemming from an Italian torture case. He tells of Panama siding against FARC in Colombia’s late civil conflict.
“My political career is far from over,” Martinelli pleads, noting that only four of 23 criminal cases against him are still pending.
Quixotic stuff, but what if the admissions in the ex-president’s letter are taken at face value by this or the next Panamanian government, and deemed to have been the submission of Panama to a foreign power, or at least the diminishment of Panamanian independence? That could be some serious legal trouble here. Might a next round of litigation in the USA ensue to assert that it gives Martinelli the right to refugee status because he has a real fear of political persecution?
Stay tuned. We are dealing with someone who always was kind of flaky, now apparently going nuts in a Miami jail cell. He can maintain whatever delusions he likes, but his life as a viable politician is over. Very likely the party that he created is en route to either extinction or the minor party fringes.