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The G20 finance ministers’ genteel threat


PP queryThe G20’s genteel threat

excerpt from the G-20 finance ministers’ April 15 communiqué

8. The G20 reiterates the high priority it attaches to financial transparency and effective implementation of the standards on transparency by all,

in particular with regard to the beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements. Improving the transparency of the beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements is vital to protect the integrity of the international financial system, and to prevent misuse of these entities and arrangements for corruption, tax evasion, terrorist financing and money laundering. The G20 reiterates that it is essential that all countries and jurisdictions fully implement the FATF standards on transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements and we express our determination to lead by example in this regard. We particularly stress the importance of countries and jurisdictions improving the availability of beneficial ownership information to, and its international exchange between, competent authorities for the purposes of tackling tax evasion, terrorist financing and money laundering. We ask the FATF and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes to make initial proposals by our October meeting on ways to improve the implementation of the international standards on transparency, including on the availability of beneficial ownership information, and its international exchange.

[Editor’s note: Translated into plain English and political reality, the world’s dominant economic powers are threatening to create a new blacklist of countries with banking and corporate secrecy — not including their own aspects of these — and including Panama on it.]


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¿Wappin? Música latina en vivo

Julieta Venegas en Cuba, 2011.

¿Wappin? Música latina en vivo

Gato Barbieri Live from the Latin Quarter 2001

Julieta Venegas – Paris 2012

Carlos Vives – Festival de Viña 2014

Santana – Sacred Fire Live in Mexico


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Editorials: The water crisis; and It all sounds so reasonable

The ponds from which cattle drink are disappearing. Photo by MIDA.

The water crisis

We have a water crisis caused by a drought that’s worse than any other on record, but also caused by water systems and water policies that are woefully inadequate. However, we also have many fine civil engineers and a lot of people without so much formal education who have built and maintained inexpensive and usually functional local water systems.

We need to have a national dialogue about water — about what we need and how we are going to pay for it. In any discussion that is truly national in scope wrong ideas and impractical dogmas will be advanced. There will be those who can’t conceive of situations or solutions that are different from those which they have seen. But because the water supply is not too advanced a subject for most people to learn, we can make informed democratic choices rather than completely turning our decisions over to supposed technocrats who are likely to have undisclosed interests.

It should be hoped and expected that by the time a national water dialogue gets underway, the rains will have begun and the crisis will be less acute. However, the problems will be back. We need new water sources, some reconfigurations of our delivery systems and some changes in political and economic arrangements to go along with the physical changes.

So to whom should we listen? President Varela campaigned on bringing running water to every household and we should look to him for leadership, but not give up if he disappoints us. The technical people at IDAAN and for the local water systems ought to get a careful hearing, even as we take into account weaknesses in these institutions. Panamanians and foreign residents from all walks of life should be encouraged to weigh in. It’s everybody’s problem.

On the other hand, climate change is driving a lot of the crisis and individuals, companies and public institutions with histories of climate change denial should be identified as such and paid little heed. Those with economic interests which they would conceal should be outed and shamed, even as we listen to those with honestly admitted stakes in the decisions to be made.

Panama’s system of education is and has been abysmal, but Panamanians are not stupid. The water crisis challenges us to educate ourselves and act intelligently. We should do these things for ourselves.


It all sounds so reasonable

Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado tells us that:

Panama’s path to financial transparency is irreversible. To that end, we willingly and actively support diplomatic dialogue and domestic reform to address this global challenge.

As Panama has reiterated on multiple occasions to members of the OECD, we are fully and immediately committed to the implementation of bilateral automatic exchange of information consistent with the goals of the Common Reporting Standards.

Further, we are open and willing to engage in ongoing international dialogue with relevant technical teams to evaluate the specific multilateral mechanisms needed to implement these standards.

President Juan Carlos Varela points out that our corporate secrecy laws date back to 1927 and were copied from those of the US state of Delaware. He and many others complain that Panama is unfairly singled out, and faces unreasonable demands that our little country become the tax enforcer for big and rich industrialized countries.

But we have a regional Red Cross disaster relief center here, and a law firm that is deeply embedded in Varela’s party and administration fraudulently used the name of the Red Cross as a purported beneficial owner of shell companies in order to conceal the activities of wealthy interests that have nothing to do with the Red Cross. Yes, it can be argued that Panamanian “mirror companies” with the same or similar names as those of well-known companies elsewhere in the world but with no other connection to the reputable firms are legal here, and that identity theft is not a crime here. So does that make everything proper?

Everything is not right. Even if Panama is being disproportionately singled out because the leak came from one of our “offshore asset protection” law firms, that’s still not an excuse to pretend that nothing is wrong. Yes, there is a lot of money involved, but no, shell games and fraud are not sustainable bases for the Panamanian economy.


Bear in mind…

Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty.
Simone Weil


Poverty and ignorance are the two great allies of the totalitarian enemies of freedom.
Ricardo J. Alfaro


Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.
Thomas Jefferson


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Ben-Meir, Saudi Arabia in retreat


chopSaudi Arabia, a kingdom in retreat

by Alon Ben-Meir

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which was once at the front and center of the Arab world and a significant player on the global stage due to its oil riches, has been steadily losing its regional influence and prominent role. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has been confronted with multiple challenges simultaneously, including its domestic, social, political, economic and religious trials, its conflict with Iran, its bilateral relations with the United States, the rise of extremism, and the intra-Arab crisis. Saudi Arabia failed to catch up with the rapidly changing developments that engulfed the region, and now it finds itself squeezed from all angles, with little prospect of relief unless the kingdom undertakes sweeping changes.

The challenge for Saudi Arabia is that given its culture, socio-political make up, and the dominant role of religion, it will be extraordinarily difficult for the Saudis to change direction without experiencing great turmoil that could destabilize the country for many years to come. That said, the Saudis have little choice but to begin serious domestic and foreign policy reforms consistent with the changing regional geopolitical environment, and do so gradually to preserve the integrity and stability of the kingdom.

The growing domestic challenges:Since the 2003 Iraq war and especially in the wake of the Arab Spring, the country is going through an identity crisis. There is growing unrest among many youth who no longer tolerate living in servitude and oppression — they want more freedom and civil rights, and refuse to settle for handouts to keep them quiet.

With the eruption of the Arab Spring, the government spent $130 billion to silence the opposition. These top-to-bottom handouts failed to satisfy the nearly 60 percent of the population under the age of twenty-one.

They are unwilling to live in a country where criticism of the government is considered a threat to national security, live fire is used against protesters, secret police are everywhere, freedom of speech is completely stifled, and women are confined to the home.

Any political opposition is quelled by force, and punishments for crimes such as blasphemy, sorcery, and apostasy, are gruesome and carried out publicly. In 2015 alone, 157 people were beheaded, and more than 82 have been executed thus far in 2016, which is twice as many as have been beheaded by ISIS in the same time period.

Moreover, political activists serve long-term sentences and administrative detention is rampant. The opportunities for upward mobility and personal growth are limited, leaving little for which to aspire. This has led many young men to join various terrorist organizations in the search for a new identity.

Although there are women activists struggling for reform, violence against women is symptomatic in Saudi culture and is accepted as a means of controlling their behavior. The state-sanctioned execution of women convicted of adultery (whom are often in reality the victims of rape), and killing of women by male relatives (honor killing) for sexual offences, perceived or otherwise, is acceptable.

Religious oppression: Given that Saudi Arabia is the custodian of Sunni Islam and is the seat of the holiest Muslim shrines in Mecca (the birthplace of Muhammad) and Medina, the Saudis have carved for themselves a special role in the Sunni Muslim world.

The annual Hajj to Mecca further enshrines the Saudis’ religious role and enhances their strict form of Sunni Islam (Wahhabism), which they have been exporting to every Muslim state by building thousands of schools (madrassas) at an exorbitant cost.

The country is run by sharia law, music is not allowed, religious police are given extended authority to use extreme violence, and the religious Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice enforces Islamic law. All Saudis are expected to attend mosque every Friday, and Wahhabism is taught from an early age.

Saudi Arabia uses religion to control the population and teaches to hate those who do not share their Islamic values. The clergy exercises extraordinary power and are free to issue edicts (fatwas) at their pleasure.

The religious system is often run contrary to the social, political, and economic aspirations of the young, and is leading to a growing resentment which is becoming increasingly troublesome for the government.

The looming economic crisis: With estimated oil reserves of 270 billion barrels, the fall of oil prices has had an unprecedented effect on the Saudi economy. The oil crisis has inflicted major economic disruption, forced the government to cut subsidies and curtail many development projects, and reduced its international stature and ability to exert influence over other Arab states.

Although the Saudis have nearly $660 billion in cash reserves, the government has withdrawn roughly $70 billion to make up for shortages in the fiscal 2015 national budget. If the price of oil decreases further in the next few years, the Saudi economy could go bankrupt.

There is massive inequality between the various classes. Nearly one fifth of the population lives in poverty, especially in the predominantly Shiite south where, ironically, much of the oil reservoirs are located. In these areas, sewage runs in the streets, and only crumbs are spent to alleviate the plight of the poor.

While the poor are getting poorer, thousands of princes and princesses live lavishly (mostly in Europe), spending hundreds of millions of dollars and occupying opulent villas, which further drains economic resources.

Being that Saudi Arabia has and continues to be almost completely dependent for revenue on oil exports, which has more than covered its national budget, it had no compelling reason to develop diversified industries.

Moreover, the Saudis became increasingly dependent on millions of foreign laborers, who are subjected to abusive, slave-like conditions, to do the ‘dirty work’ that Saudi citizens are unwilling to undertake.

The hostile rivalry with Iran: The relationship between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran has always been characterized by tension and mistrust. The quiet enmity came to the fore in the wake of the 2003 Iraq war and the growing influence of Tehran over the Shiite Iraqi government.

This was further aggravated with the eruption of the civil war in Syria, where Iran supported the Assad regime with money, military equipment, training, and subsequently foot soldiers, while the Saudis provided similar aid to the rebels opposed to Assad, short of dispatching ground troops.

The enmity between the two countries took another turn for the worse when it was suspected that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons program, which Riyadh viewed as a direct threat to its national security. Despite the Iran deal, the Saudis remain deeply skeptical about Tehran’s ultimate intentions.

The Iraq war also ignited the dormant millennium-old religious conflict between Sunnis and Shiites, and Syria and Iraq became the battleground between the two sects, where the bloodshed continues unabated, claiming the lives of thousands each year.

The execution of the Saudi Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al Nimr — an icon who called for addressing human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, was charged with incitement and treason, and sentenced to death along with 46 others — further deepened the animosity between the two countries. This caused unrest among Shiites in the country, sparked protests in Tehran, and was condemned by the international community.

To be sure, although Tehran recently called for reconciliation with the Saudis, the latter rejected the Iranian gesture as the Saudis view the conflict with Iran as irreconcilable, mainly due to religious and geopolitical reasons, as both seek to exercise regional hegemony.

Due to the size of the population, its natural resources, and industrial advancement, the Saudis believe that Iran will inevitably become the regional powerhouse, with the ability and resources to intimidate the entire Gulf region (especially once it acquires nuclear weapons), which the Saudis consider their own domain.

The unsettling relations with the United States: athough Saudi Arabia and the Americans have enjoyed decades of close bilateral relations, the relationship has soured over changing US geostrategic interests and its ‘pivot’ to the East, and the manner in which it has tackled the Syrian civil war and the Iran deal.

While the United States continues to support Saudi Arabia militarily and remains the de facto guarantor of its national security, the Saudis remain unconvinced of the US commitment to that end.

Indeed, from the vantage point of regional security, the Obama administration chose to draw a balance between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In a recent interview with the Atlantic, President Obama said that they “need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood.” Moreover, Obama believes that bringing Iran out of its isolation will lead to greater regional stability, from which the Saudis will also benefit.

Another point of contention between the two countries is Obama’s failure to make good on his vow to punish Assad if he crossed the “red line” of using chemical weapons against civilians, which created serious doubts in the minds of the Saudis that the US won’t come to their aid, even if their security is threatened.

Despite repeated efforts by the United States to assure the Saudis of America’s unwavering commitment to their national security, the strained relationship is likely to persist. The Saudis still believe that the nuclear deal will only delay rather than end Iran’s ambition to acquire nuclear weapons, which may lead to regional nuclear proliferation.

The dangerous intra-Arab crisis: due to its riches and ability to provide financial support to several Arab countries including Jordan and Egypt, the Saudis have been able to exert significant influence throughout the region and essentially assume the leadership role of the Arab world, which was traditionally held by Egypt.

With the rise of Egyptian President Sisi to power, however, the pendulum swung back and Egypt reassumed its leadership role, even though the country remains in need of Saudi financial aid. The recent visit of the Saudi monarch attests to the Kingdom’s need of Egypt’s support in confronting Iran, the turmoil in Iraq and Syria, and in its fight against the Houthis in Yemen.

The prognosis for the future does not bode well for Saudi Arabia as the Sunni-Shiite conflict is simply unwinnable, and regardless of how the civil war in Syria comes to an end, Iran will continue to exercise considerable influence in the country. The same can be said about Iraq, which has, in any case, a Shiite majority.

In conclusion, Saudi Arabia must face these challenges head on and avoid what might become an albatross that would choke off its potential to be a significant player in and outside the region.

In dealing with human rights, the current state of affairs is bound to come back and haunt the Saudi government as it would be impossible to silence such a huge segment of the population, even with the use of brutal force.

Young men should be given greater opportunities for growth, and women deserve basic civil rights and freedom from servitude; the Kingdom can accomplish this while still maintaining Islamic tradition along the lines of what other Gulf states have successfully done.

The Saudi government must wake up to this ominous development because it is now only a matter of time when the young will rise and be prepared to die, like many of their brethren in Egypt, Libya, and Syria, for a cause they believe in.

In relation to the practice of religion, the survival of the kingdom may well depend on its ability to ease religious pressure and decisively limit the internal religious police’s prerogatives to use force at their whims without any accountability.

It is about time to modify the criminal justice system and end the public display of beheadings, which does nothing but further alienate the public—instead of spreading fear and awe, it breeds hatred and resentment of the government, which only increases defiance.

The government must heed the public outcry without necessarily compromising the religious principles that guide the county. Being a devout Muslim is one thing, but using religion arbitrarily and as a tool to subjugate the people will no longer be tolerated.

In addition, the government must end draconian legislation in the name of religion. In fact, the more religious laws and edicts are imposed, the greater the youth’s rejection will be.

Economically, the country must now focus on industrial development on a large scale and gradually reduce its dependence on revenue generated from the energy sector. This will provide over time millions of jobs and create a self-sustaining middle class.

In addition, the government should also invest in sustainable development projects that would allow communities to choose their own projects, develop a sense of empowerment while supporting themselves without handouts, and regain their self-respect.

Regarding the Saudi-Iranian conflict, both sides ought to begin a process of reconciliation and restore diplomatic relations, which could also potentially help facilitate a mutually-accepted solution to Syria’s civil war.

With the best of intentions, the bilateral relations between the two countries will continue to experience ups and downs, and hence accepting the inescapable reality of where each stands religiously and geopolitically could ease tensions and lead to improved relations, recognizing that neither of them can win the religious war or dominate the entire region.

In respect to the United States, the Saudis have little choice but to trust the Americans to stand by it, not only because of the US commitment to shield the kingdom from outside threats, but also because the United States continues to have major strategic interests in the region.

The Saudis, however, must also understand that in being a global power, the United States must balance its overall strategic interests with its bilateral relations with countries who are hostile to one another; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iran deal offer good cases in point.

And finally, in connection with intra-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia can still play a leading role, but it must adjust to unfolding events throughout the region while maintaining its leadership role in the Gulf.

Moreover, the Saudis, who have genuine concerns over the security of the entire Arabian Peninsula, should work toward ending the violence between the Houthis and the internationally-recognized government of Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is facing a pivotal crossroad; the kingdom must take a hard look at its internal and external affairs and chart a new course to stave off the otherwise inevitable violent eruption by the country’s youth who are no longer willing to live with the status quo.

The above challenges cannot be overcome unless Saudi Arabia faces reality, as none will be mitigated by wishful thinking or by the use of excessive force and brutal acts in the name of a higher authority, which has long since been universally rejected with revulsion.

Saudi Arabia has the human and natural resources to reclaim its leadership role in the Gulf, and together with other regional powers must embark on a process of reconciliation, which is the only recipe for stability and peace.


Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU.


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Bernie Sanders at the Vatican

Bernie Sanders addresses the Vatican conference on economic justice. Photo from the Bernie website.

Bernie Sanders in the Vatican

A moral economy: text of remarks at the Vatican conference

Bernie Sanders press conference just outside The Vatican.


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Gandásegui, América Latina y el colapso de Europa

José Martí, retrato en el EEUU en 1885.

América Latina y el colapso de Europa

por Marco A. Gandásegui, hijo

Europa occidental experimentó un resurgimiento espectacular después de la II Guerra Mundial. Económicamente pasó de las ruinas para convertirse en una aparente ‘sociedad del bienestar’ en 25 años. En parte se debió a la locomotora alemana, a la austeridad de los escandinavos y al trabajo de los países mediterráneos. El crecimiento económico alcanzó su máximo esplendor en la década de 1970, momento en que el mercado comenzó a sufrir quebrantos que las inversiones públicas no podían subsanar.

Fue en esa coyuntura que el eje franco-alemán decidió darle al proyecto de una sola Europa un golpe de timón. Crearon el Euro como moneda única, suprimieron fronteras (incluso para la fuerza de trabajo) y montaron un Consejo europeo. El experimento coincidió con el colapso soviético (1991) y el fin del campo socialista europeo. Las ex-repúblicas soviéticas y los países del centro europeo se movieron hacia el proyecto de Comunidad Europea y se embarcaron en el pacto militar norteamericano de la OTAN.

En la década de 1990 la reunificación de Alemania la convirtió en una de las economías más grandes del mundo. La Europa con 28 países miembros superó a EEUU en producción y competía en riqueza. El talón de Aquiles de Europa es su dependencia frente al poderío militar de EEUU y la disminución de su participación en el mercado mundial. Otra de las debilidades del ‘viejo continente’ es su población envejecida, cada vez menos productiva.

En la segunda década del siglo XXI Europa se enfrenta a un mundo que no conoce. Hace apenas un siglo dominaba todos los continentes con sus exportaciones y plazas financieras. Era la potencia militar por excelencia y poseía colonias en los cuatro puntos cardenales. Su competitividad, sin embargo, fue reducida por EEUU y, en el presente, por la China emergente. La rica cultura europea ha sido secuestrada y desfigurada por el populismo mercantil que promueve EEUU.

Políticamente, la Europa del sur se ha rebelado y el centro se ha manifestado partidaria de políticas neo-fascistas que cuestionan las versiones, hasta hace poco hegemónicas, de un orden social-demócrata y demócrata cristiano. Más encima, la política europea que pretendía ‘rejuvenecer’ su población con migrantes del Medio Oriente se convirtió en una bomba que reventó en el corazón del ‘viejo continente’.

La promesa europea se está convirtiendo en una caricatura. América latina podría haber sido su salvación. No aprovechó las oportunidades que se le abrieron al comercio y a la transferencia de tecnología que se pudo lograr con los países de la región. La Comunidad Europea delegó en España las relaciones con sus antiguas colonias y Brasil. Los resultados fueron catastróficos. Madrid regresó a América con sus velas desplegadas con la idea de reeditar la conquista.

En el lugar de los europeos aparecieron los chinos, estableciendo campamentos mineros a lo largo de los Andes, haciendas agrícolas sobre las costas del Atlántico así como nuevas relaciones comerciales en la América meridional. Europa fue expulsada de su posición privilegiada en la región.

Europa está económica y políticamente en quiebra. La crisis griega puso fin al proyecto alemán de convertirse en potencia hegemónica. Los ingleses están poniendo a prueba el liderazgo teutón amenazando con su retirada. El proyecto europeo aparentemente sólo tiene una carta que puede jugar en esta coyuntura: China.

La carta china, sin embargo, pasa por Rusia y una región asiática convulsionada por las guerras interminables por el control de los yacimientos petrolíferos de Medio Oriente. La creación de un eje euro-asiático entre Pekín y Berlín que pase por Moscú puede devolverle a Europa el oxígeno que necesita la economía alemana y de paso a los demás países de esa región.

Un eje de este tipo dejaría por fuera a EEUU y, de paso, a América latina. EEUU dejaría de ser el centro del mundo moderno y de las enormes ganancias que generan las inversiones que se realizan a escala global. Sería el vuelco más significativo de la historia después de la emergencia del capitalismo mercantil en Europa occidental hace 250 años.

América latina regresa al dilema planteado por Bolívar hace dos siglos: ‘Somos uno o no somos’. A pesar de que hemos logrado levantar una identidad propia — América Latina — pareciera ser que es insuficiente. Lo entendieron Martí y Hugo Chávez. La crítica a la dependencia y las teorías de la ‘decolonialidad’ son caminos que pueden representar nuevas oportunidades. Hay que romper con ‘nuestro eurocentrismo’ y construir una nueva identidad.


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The Panama News blog links, April 14, 2016


The Panama News blog links, April 14, 2016

Seatrade Maritime News, Second PanCanal draft restriction

Video, Transit in the new PanCanal locks

Hellenic Shipping News, Iran can now use Panama’s canal and ship registry

The Guardian, Nicaragua rejects bill to block the canal project

International Cry, Ngabe communities facing eviction

Reuters, Inside a Panamanian prison: a flawed legal system

The Intercept, Lawsuit over system that put a baby on the US no-fly list

BBC, Why Rousseff faces impeachment calls

Página 12, Cristina se presenta en el juzgado

AFP, Cristina: puede encarcelarme pero no voy a callar

Washington Post, Trump threatened to sue AP over Panama condo story

Forbes, Brazil charges world’s richest banker with bribery

Tico Times, Cuban migrants storm Costa Rica-Panama border demanding to pass

EFE, Costa Rica devolverá a Panamá a cubanos ilegales

Miami Herald, Costa Rica closes its doors to Cubans

Xinhua, Panamá pedirá a vecinos no impedir la migración cubana

Prensa Latina, Tico minister says US laws behind Cuban migration

Tico Times, Costa Rica seeks regional accord on illegal migrants

Sentinel-Tribune, US wind industry record

La Estrella, Potabilizadora de Penonomé está fuera de servicio

27east.com, Sag Harbor surfers to distrubute water filters in Bocas

Mongabay, Climate change is drying up small islands

Playa Community, Yellow bellied sea snakes coming onto Pedasi beaches

Christian Science Monitor, Red crabs swarm off Panama

STRI, What were Caribbean coral reefs like before humans?

Science Friday, The search for Peru’s “Boiling River”

Ancel, The lethal arms of the US drug war in Honduras

Zibechi, Building new worlds in Brazil’s favelas

Boff, What kind of Brazil do we want?

María & Romero, Chavismo from below

Bolton, Venezuela’s power outages and western press bias

Sánchez, Colombian civil society is the best bet for peace

Levy, Taking sides in the war within Islam

Stiglitz, What’s wrong with negative rates?

Varoufakis, Interview with The Economist

Springsteen, About North Carolina

US State Department, Annual human rights report on countries other than the USA

Variety, Latin American film distribution issues discussed at Panama film festival

Hollywood Reporter, Salsipuedes review

Variety, Guido Bilbao’s “El Bosque de las Paradoxas”

Variety, Panama International Film Festival kicks off with “Viva”

IFF Panama, People’s Choice Awards 2016 (Spanish & English)


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Mossack Fonseca blog links


Mossack Fonseca blog links

And nobody says anything about the multiple breaches of the Lawyers’ Code of Ethics perpetrated by M&F.
law professor Miguel Antonio Bernal


ICIJ, The Panama Papers

AP, Panama firm usurped name of Red Cross to hide money

de la Serna, Macri y los Panama Papers

Blades, “Mossack-Fonseca Papers”

EFE, Parlamento ecuatoriano llamará a funcionarios por caso Mossack Fonseca

Sader, Tax havens: the brothels of capitalism

Corrado, ¿Qué hay detrás de Panamá Papers y las offshore?

Yao, Los Papeles Mossack-Fonseca y más allá

Beluche, Los papeles de Panamá y el capitalismo putrefacto

Cassidy, Panama Papers: why aren’t there more American names?

USA Today, Mossack Fonseca linked to more than 1,000 US companies

Ha’aretz, Hundreds of Israeli companies used Mossack Fonseca

El Confidencial, La infanta Pilar mantuvo una SA opaca en Panamá

Winship, Panama Papers offer more evidence that free trade isn’t really free

Blades, Sobre “The Panama Papers”

The Raw Story, CIA and other spies used Mossack Fonseca

Daily Mail, UBS whistleblower thinks CIA is behind Panama Papers leak

Reuters, Societe Generale headquarters searched

Radio New Zealand, Mossack Fonseca had NZ investment application

CNBC, Did “smart” people avoid the Panama Papers?

Reuters, Colombia y Panamá hablan sobre el intercambio de datos financieros”

Silber, Panama Papers lob “atomic bomb” on Brazil’s political class

Wilson, Why you can’t Google “Panama Papers” in China

La Estrella, Cinco países piden ayuda judicial a Panamá


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Harrington, Los Papeles Panamá


MoFo t-shirt
The Panama Papers

por Kevin Harrington Shelton
De la rosa de ayer, solo perdura el nombre;
nos atenemos a palabras huecas de significado

Umberto Eco (“El Nombre de la Rosa”)


Cuando finalmente se escriba la (verdadera) historia de Panamá, se hará en términos de oportunidades-perdidas. Los grandes cambios en Panamá provienen desde el exterior. Después de la Invasión, perdimos la oportunidad de hacer borrón y cuenta nueva del cesarismo de 1968. Hoy vamos por igual camino. La oportunidad presentada por los “Papeles de Panamá” para diagnosticar nuestros problemas de impunidad, no la aprovechamos. Se pierde tiempo en minucias (el nombre del esfuerzo, billones de megabytes, colaboración de un montón de medios, sensacionalismo sobre personalidades de relieve internacional, etc), pero no se enfoca sobre el fallo de raíz que tiene esta campaña que ha indignado artificialmente a demasiados patriotas panameños. Para que las bases no se sobrepongan a la dirigencia, al conocer la raíz del problema.

En la legalidad tributaria territorial panameña los impuestos se pagan donde se generan las utilidades. Lo demás son maromas contables. Lo recalca el profesor Thomas Piketty, especialista en la distribución de riquezas tanto en la École des hautes etudes en sciences sociales de París, como en el London School of Economics. La inclusión de Panamá en la lista negra francesa sin duda obedece a su lógica expuesta en The Guardian.

No hay riesgo de oposición masiva, puesto que generacionalmente en el panameño se le viene cultivando lo opuesto a la democracia, mediante lo que el sicólogo Martín Seligman tildó de “indefensión aprendida“. Apatía colectiva que Demetrio Herrera Sevillano inmortalizó así: “Paisano mío panameño, tú siempre respondes “sí”, Pero no para luchar, Que no para protestar, Cuando te ultrajan a tí.”

El gobierno actual intentó inocularse contra respuestas a esta realidad cuando afecte a sus allegados, sacando de los medios masivos a comprobados forjadores de opinión como Miguel Antonio Bernal, Julio Miller, Candelario Santana, José Blandón Castillo, entre otros.

Pero el talón de Aquiles de la organización que fijará la agenda de tantos medios mundiales fue al seleccionar a La Prensa como participante en Panamá, en el en el ojo de la tormenta, donde está ubicada la caja de Pandora que constituye su piedra angular. Ahora que transita por dificultades económicas. Porque más que un periódico, La Prensa es un partido político. Su profesionalismo (e independencia) ha sido muy cuestionado. Con razón. Muchos de su entorno están hoy emplanillados en el gobierno. Al inicio de cualquier gestión de gobierno le brinda un cheque en blanco de 6-12 meses, aunque se trate de un asunto sumamente grave como el que consignó en su autobiografía su ex-director. Al renunciar un subdirector hace algunos años, informó de la existencia de un listado de temas y personalidades que tenía vedados mencionar. Tampoco da seguimiento a primicias que involucren a accionistas, bonohabientes y/o anunciantes. Su derecho a réplica es selectivo. Hasta pagado un emitido no lo publican; sin embargo sí publican a diario anuncios de protitutos(as). Sin mencionar el lapidario caso del soborno atribuido por La Prensa a un ex-Procurador General de la República, que ilustra el grado de impunidad otorgado a nuestro periódico de referencia.

No ha rectificado rumbo, a juzgar por recientes declaraciones del ministro de Gobierno que parecieran echarle kerosene al fuego. E indicar un poco importa de Panamá a la raíz del problema, que es tan sólo una manifestación más de lo inepto del gobierno actual. Tituló así El Mundo: “Milton Henríquez: ‘No entiendo por qué la evasión fiscal tiene que ser delito en mi país'”. Se observará que dentro del artículo el Premier dice de viva voz: “No entiendo por que Panamá tiene que convertir en delito todo aquello que los demás países quieren o no hacer delito”. El hecho de que el principal aliado del gobierno en el poder haya dicho semejante burrada de por sí es noticioso (aunque fuera tan sólo para negar lo dicho….). Esa entrevista presumiblemente tuvo lugar en nuestra sede diplomática en Madrid, por lo que le habría sido (extraordinariamente ) fácil para La Prensa corroborar lo que constituye un hecho noticioso relevante (que inclusive La Estrella de Panamá pasó por alto).

Mañana ese mismo diario español publicará otro elemento de alto valor noticioso: “El Gobierno español firmó en 2013 con Panamá un convenio para la lucha contra la delincuencia cuyo listado de delitos a perseguir ‘en particular’ omite la delincuencia económica y en especial el de blanqueo….”. Cabrá ver cómo trata La Prensa esta faceta relevante: a saber cuantos de los demás convenios atribuidos como triunfos en las salidas de diversas listas adolecen de similares “omisiones”….

Además de la falta de voluntad de demasiados panameños (incluida toda la clase politica) de someterse a la ley, el meollo del problema involucra una falta generalizada de transparencia. Pese a que el gobierno cimenta la defensa de sus aliados en la transparencia, en Panamá esta es más lírica que real. En parte atribuible a La Prensa. Ejemplo. Existen documentos que comprueban cómo, en dos habeas data identicos, contra dos ministros por separado, nuestra Corte Suprema ha concedido uno y negado el otro. Pero ese hecho noticioso no lo ha difundido.

Tenemos la obligación de dar a comer a cuatro millones de panameños. Y para eso, como un pequeño país en un mundo de rápidos cambios, debemos asegurarnos que Panamá funcione transparentemente y con la mejor información posible — para “desfazer entuertos”. En esto, todos sí debemos poner nuestro granito de arena.

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