Home Blog Page 127

Harrington, ¿Y si no es El Niño?

0
suelo del verano
Tierra dura del verano. Foto por Eric Jackson.

¿Y si no es El Niño?

por Kevin Harrington-Shelton

 

No oponerse a un error es aprobarlo; no defender la Verdad es encubrirla; dejar de contradecir en todo lo que se pueda a hombres negativos, no es peor pecado que el darles cuerda.
Papa Felix III (446-495)

 

El panameño promedio prefiere no pensar y –lamentablemente– demasiados periodistas no reconocen como deber estimular su pensamiento sobre el futuro del país. Ejemplo. Las lluvias tan inusuales que aquí se atribuyen a El Niño pudieran presagiar cambios mas permanentes del cambio climático que bien pudieran afectar las operaciones del Canal que, como tantos productores campesinos –depende de un régimen de aguas predecible.

Aún no se ha divulgado a qué se nos comprometió como país en la Conferencia de París. El presidente Juan Carlos Varela –que viene insertando la palabra “transparencia” en cada una de sus intervenciones públicas, pero no la practica– y todavía tiene miedo de ordenarle a su ministro del Canal Roberto Roy que cumpla con su obligación legal de comparecer personalmente ante la Asamblea, a rendir cuentas sobre el caos en el Canal (hasta que se lo exijan desde Washington.) Esto pese a que Varela anunció a los jubilados que resolvería la crisis de las pensiones de la Caja de Seguro Social “después de la Ampliación”, sin que nadie cuestionara tan inquietante perspectiva. Porque, en su estrategia mediática, (al igual que el contralor Federico Humbert Arias y su ministra de Ambiente Mirei Endara), el Presidente también pone pie en polvorosa, tras formulársele alguna pregunta lícita pero incómoda.

No obstante tal falta de liderazgo oficial, en fuentes internacionales ya hay suficiente información para poner en perspectiva el tema. París no ha sido un éxito, como se ha querido proyectar. Ejemplo. Las reiteradas y repetidas declaraciones de sus firmantes que lo acordado “manda un mensaje al mercado” encubre una realidad: mientras los precios del petróleo sigan bajos, poco aliciente habrá para que se utilicen alternativas más costosas, ya que no se les obligue a ello. Particularmente en vista de que esta semana la OPEP indicó que no prevén –al menos en los próximos cinco años– que el barril regrese a $70, precio de equilibrio de ciertas energías-alternativas. La acumulación de carbono pareciera no tener cuando acabar: París no limitó los $500 mil millones anuales en que el Fondo Monetario Internacional estima el gran total de subsidios a diversas etapas de la industria petrolera internacional.

El día a día de la energía es netamente politiquero –no científico– como podemos comprobar en Panamá. A inicios de 2015 el Mandatario mandó a tres voceros a sondear la posibilidad de mantener los impuestos de la gasolina, a efectos de ahorrar al Estado una cantidad no-especificada de ingresos. La negativa fue clara. Pero desde entonces los precios en Panamá no han seguido al mercado internacional, porque no se viene cumpliendo la voluntad popular.

También en la generación eléctrica se encubren ciertas otras cusucas, que tenemos derecho a saber, pero que nuestros periodistas rehusan dar seguimiento a declaraciones absurdas. La ministra de Ambiente huyó de una conferencia de prensa sobre la planta térmica en La Chorrera. Parecido a la exhibida dada en la hidroeléctrica de Barro Blanco. Por parecida razón: ambas concesiones fueron otorgadas en los primeros 26 meses “del gobierno anterior”, con idéntica metodología: se autorizaron inicialmente por un cuantía, la que posteriormente se aumentó. Y, a juzgar por lo trapense de los medios, a estas alturas los concesionarios ya se habrán encontrado un más válido matreaqueador.

Mejor ni hablar de la minería-salvaje propuesta para Coclesito (Donoso), porque el Presidente tampoco lo hizo en París –pese a ser pívote en su Plan.

 

~ ~ ~
Estos anuncios son interactivos. Toque en ellos para seguir a las páginas de web

Spanish PayPal button

FB esp

Boquete jazz es

Tweet

A birthday report from the editor

0
sunset from my work station
From the outer edge of the Inner Boonies of the Interior. Photo by Eric Jackson.

A birthday report from the editor

It’s a couple of days away from the 21st birthday of The Panama News and it has been a rough year. So much has changed, so many coincidences, so many things about which I wonder but don’t really know. Tough times will continue into at least the start of this coming year. There are pivotal things to be decided for better or worse in 2016, especially in the United States but also in Panama and the Latin American and Caribbean regions.

This time last year The Panama News was knocked offline by hackers and a reader had offered to hire some folks to get it back up but after a month of doing nothing they quit. (In retrospect it was blessing not to be in any sort of relationship with those would-be defenders and web hosts.) I fought off-and-on battles with the hackers, which culminated in March when the knocked us offline and destroyed many of our archives going back to 2000. The website didn’t get back up until the latter part of July, but in the meantime we went into “exile,” publishing articles as Facebook notes. Our email list shrank and our Twitter following grew during this exile. Both are slowly growing now.

I think that the hacker problem may have been plural, dating back to early 2014 at least but then getting very disruptive in mid-December of that year. It may be that one operation crippled the website in a way that I hardly noticed and then later other opportunist criminals saw a weakness and moved in. I don’t know. The attacks that started in December of last year, unlike the previous problems, were about someone taking over the website and sending spam. I got a taunting perverted Facebook message at the time but did not recognize it for what it was until I got the same thing again when somebody was trying to take over The Panama News Facebook page and email accounts. Mark Zuckerberg, by the way, APPROVES of these sorts of taunts, or at least his employees said that they don’t violate community standards.

What else was happening last December? Prosecutors were starting to ask questions about the Petaquilla gold mining stock swindle. One of that scam’s protectors, Alejandro Moncada Luna, was put under house arrest. The local gringo community’s resident online fascist, Don Winner — who was a shill for that stock swindle — fled the country. Winner also used Moncada Luna as a prized source in calling me a liar and a criminal — although the now imprisoned ex-magistrate lost that case against me, very badly. This is a long-running annoyance from the past, not much worth mentioning except that it fits into a pattern that’s well-nigh ubiquitous on the US far right, which dominates the Republican Party. I’ll get to that again in a bit.

So how bad of a hit to The Panama News readership was the website outage? It certainly was a hit, but how bad is hard to say. Before the email spam / shutdown attacks started, people coming to the website were often getting an error message, which they could overcome simply enough by refreshing the link. Some did, some didn’t and both sorts of people registered as unique visitors. From time to time, people had also been getting messages that The Panama News was a bogus website that would infect their computer with viruses.

Anyway, reconstruction of The Panama News website began in July and is still far from over. I want to create a front page with a graphic slider that highlights the newest stories, and links to sections, a front page on which I can put some prominent ads and a few RSS feeds for other websites. (Really, I’d like to have a common portal to most of Panama’s English-language and alternative online media, through which we could mutually boost each others’ readership and generate some revenue to share.) There is much content from the past that can be rescued and saved in a new archive, but that’s a lot of work, maybe something that can be done by a lot of volunteers doing a little work each. The thing is, we are and really long have been a ragtag, mostly volunteer and mostly reader-supported news and cultural medium. All of that still comes short but by doing the occasional outside work and growing some of my food the publication and I scrape by.

Marching through the wilderness of virtual exile, the news kept on coming in life’s full spectrum and with help from a relatively few readers — you know who you are — we kept up the battle, reported some important stories, celebrated life in Panama and plotted our return.

With our woes, Winner’s exit, Okke Ornstein mostly working in Europe and the Middle East and paying less attention to the Panama beat, the death of Lee Zeltzer who was covering Boquete online and some of the English-language media having production ups and downs according to the lives of the senior citizens who run them, that has left some spaces and there have been some newcomers, most of whom are just copyright pirates or fronts for some other business. And let me not be overly dismissive: there are publications that are mostly advertising like The Visitor and Playa Community, media that do not try to seriously cover the news of Panama in general, let alone the world outside the isthmus, but nevertheless feature some fine, informative and serious writing amidst all the “advertorials.” There are all of these tiny operations, none of which is big enough to be a comprehensive “newspaper of record” and at which Google and the rabiblanco media might sneer, but here as around the world we have the few ailing and corrupted media giants that used to dominate but are now being eaten alive by the piranha attacks of a plethora of much smaller independent media. (That’s what “net neutrality” is about — big corporations want to control the Internet so as to control the news and public discourse, and they can’t easily do this with net neutrality rules that keep them from just blocking access to the little guys.) In this environment much of The Panama News readership now connects to us via a Facebook page that features far more content than the website. There are ways to measure and compare things — and also puffery games that get played in the social media — but for us, for the others and for potential advertisers it adds up to a somewhat bewildering set of calculations about who reads what.

One of the important facts of this scene is social fragmentation and media as echo chambers. It’s really not a good thing for democracy when people only read one point of view, but everybody does have a perspective whether it’s admitted or not, readers pick up on it and very often stop reading stuff with which they don’t already agree. When you are a medium with largely volunteer contributors, a lot of people won’t send serious work if the publication does not entirely reflect their beliefs. In this atmosphere the “big lie” tactic — endlessly repeated lies which people tend to accept as truth after a while — thrives. The worst liars invoke this purported “Godwin’s Law” that says that mentioning those who perfected this tactic — the German National Socialist Working Man’s Party, which did not invent it but applied it to criminal ends in a major way for the first time — discredits all discussion about it. But rise up and take notice, all you Americans. Fascism is out and about in society, including among Americans living abroad. After years of repeated lies there are people here who wrongly believe that Don Winner got me fired from a job I never had and escorted by security guards out of a workplace where I never worked. Donald Trump is leading the race for the GOP nomination with stump speeches that are largely malicious fiction. In both Donalds’ discourse the prominent use of vulgarity provides that tone of “anti-establishment rebellion” for mobs of pathetic and frightened losers whose youthful revolt never got to asking any serious questions about the world but was confined to smoking cigarettes or drinking beer. To them, Trump’s reference to female candidates getting “schlonged” and Winner’s f-bombs are daring. Behind all that the message is all about greed, hatred and violence.

And then there are those of us who see a terrible, hydra-headed crisis of economics, politics and moral values and are not going to readily let a mobbed-up candidate, a candidate who hangs with every Wall Street hustler there ever was or a minor league pump and dump shill speak for us. Is everything a foregone conclusion for America and Americans? I don’t think so.

As one born a dual citizen — born to American parents in the city of Colon — I put on my Panamanian hat and I see a society that’s walking wounded. We just survived a five-year reign of a guy who invented no new form of corruption, but took virtually every known scam and carried it to new extremes. We might suspect that President Varela is willing to let it all slide and to change none of the basic underlying conditions that allowed his predecessor’s abuses to happen. People are impatient with that, the nation’s credit is close to maxed out and the regional economy on which ours largely depends is in a bad way. Panamanians ought to think long and hard about who we are, what we are and how we want to run our affairs. However, there are people with vested interests who would like to get all such thoughts out of our heads.

Meanwhile, as the website is mostly in English but has significant Spanish content, the Facebook page is far more bilingual. Consider that of Panama’s three broadsheet dailies, two of them — La Estrella and El Panama America — started out in English as The Star & Herald and the Panama American respectively. While there are some who see something in Spanish on the Facebook page and run away forever, we serve an English-speaking community that is largely bilingual and we urge newcomers from the anglophone world to learn Spanish if they don’t know it already. This is Panama.

It makes for a lot of fun stuff, and plenty of scary stuff, for a Panagringo journalist to cover. As The Panama News turns 21, let me not disappoint you.

Eric Jackson
the editor

 

~ ~ ~
The announcements below are interactive. Click on them for more information

little donor button

OVF2

FB2

Boquete Jazz

Tweet

The Panama News blog links, December 27, 2015

0

The Panama News blog links, December 27, 2015

CM, ACP claims expanded Panama Canal will open no later than June

Xinhua, Inician trabajos de remoción de tapón norte del canal

gCaptain, Cruise ship runs aground off of Coiba

Video, Wingsuit diver over Panama

Boxing Scene, Corrales and Arboleda win by KO in Panama

Video, Concepción vs. Márquez III

MITRADEL, La nueva tasa del salario mínimo (PDF)

El País, Carlos Slim perdió el equivalente a la economía de Honduras en 2015

Reuters, The IRS can now take your US passport

Miller, “Maximum economic freedom” doesn’t cure economic woes

Chavkin, World Bank rolls out reforms to address resettlement failures

VOA, Panama’s supreme court orders ex-president’s arrest

Telemetro, Pleno de la Asamblea ratifica a Cedalise y Russo para magistrados

Chiriquí Natural, Demanda contra termoelectrica en Chorrera

STRI, Three-dimensional forest carbon map of Panama

thejournal.ie, Glow in the dark shark

Goldstein, CDC finds record number of Americans drinking themselves to death

The Guardian, Hyde Park visitors covertly tracked via mobile phone data

UCLA Newsroom, Researchers create strong and lightweight new metal

Quartz, NASA tested a 3D-printed rocket engine and it worked

The Japan Times, Central America tests drought-resistant beans

Boff, La COP 21 pavimenta el camino hacia el desastre

Democrats Abroad, March 1-8 Global Presidential Primary

Boeglin, El fallo de la CIJ entre Costa Rica y Nicaragua: breves apuntes

Castañeda, The tides of Latin American populism

Vatican Radio, Pope Francis’s Urbi et Orbi message

Video, A century after the Armenian Genocide

Hersh, Military to military

Chellaney, Saudi Arabia’s phony war on terror

Amnesty International, Syria’s refugee crisis in numbers

Castro, Migrantes: de un pájaro dos alas

EFE, Stranded Cuban migrants celebrate Christmas in Panama

EFE, Cardenal panameño pide solución política a crisis de los migrantes cubanos

TVN, Carnaval tableño dividido entre tres reinas

Video, Fashion Week Panama 2015

La Estrella, El sacrificio del muñeco

 

~ ~ ~
The announcements below are interactive. Click on them for more information

 

little donor button

OVF2

FB2

Boquete Jazz

Tweet

 

~ ~ ~
Estos anuncios son interactivos. Toque en ellos para seguir a las páginas de web

Spanish PayPal button

FB esp

Boquete jazz es

Tweet

Jackson, Citizen Manfredo

0
Manfredo
Fernando Manfredo Jr. facing an ACP triple-team and stream of insults during the 2006 canal expansion referndum campaign. History has demonstrated the wisdom of what he said and will continue to do so. Archive photo by Eric Jackson.

Citizen Manfredo

by Eric Jackson

On December 16 Fernando Manfredo Jr. died at the age of 88, after a long and debilitating illness. He was quite the public citizen, but never saw fit to manufacture and project a public persona. He was an administrator at a time and in a situation where a big part of his job was cutting short the career plans of many and dashing the ambitions of others. He was a good man who served in bad governments and who held a vital part of Panama together in turbulent and infamous times. He was a derided and ignored bearer of prophetic warnings and promoter of a dream that too few of his fellow Panamanians even understood, let alone embraced. No wonder his passing drew such sparse comment from this country’s political parties. In the wake of his passing it has mostly been the nobodies, or ex-nobodies, who have sung his praises.

Manfredo was part of the brain trust that General Omar Torrijos — himself a towering national figure with feet of clay — assembled for a great national project that made Panama whole, a single Spanish-speaking country without the two parallel borders of a bisecting foreign enclave. Is it said that the dictatorship used a lot of good people? Those who say that and sincerely know probably have Fernando Manfredo in mind. He was a graduate of the Instituto Nacional in the days when that flagship of the public school system as one of the prime movers of Panamanian nationalism, then educated as a business administrator. As an old friend of Omar Torrijos at the time of the 1968 coup, Manfredo was asked to take a civilian post in the military-led regime and took over as magistrate of the Electoral Tribunal at a time of no meaningful elections but when that institution still performed, as it does today, the vital task of registering and issuing cedulas to Panamanian citizens and legal residents. He went on to be Minister of Commerce and Industry, Minister of the Presidency and a key member of the team that from 1975 to 1977 sat down with the Americans to hammer out the final details of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties.

Come treaty implementation time in the fall of 1979, by binational agreement but formally as a Jimmy Carter appointee, Manfredo became deputy administrator of the Panama Canal Commission. US Army Lieutenant General Dennis P. McAuliffe was the administrator and for a decade the two of them, re-appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, oversaw the transition of the canal work force from predominantly American to predominantly Panamanian. The elder Bush decided to invade Panama without bothering to inform McAuliffe beforehand, which led the latter to resign and leave Panama in a huff. That left Manfredo as acting canal administrator. He served both as deputy administrator in the worst of Noriega times and as acting administrator when a personally decent President Guillermo Endara came to power along with a crowd that included too many who thought that the hand of God had intervened to bring about their turn to steal. At or near the top of a canal administration in which the Panamanian percentage of a work force that shrank overall went from 10 to 70 percent, a lot of Zonian resentment was directed at Manfredo. Some Panamanians who felt entitled to pick newly available plums were also deeply disappointed. Less than a year after the invasion Manfredo handed the acting administrator post off to an Endara appointee.

Not the fiery orator or popular culture icon, Manfredo was the running mate of Rubén Blades in the 1994 Papa Egoro campaign. He was called back into public service by President Ernesto Pérez Balladares to run the 1998 Universal Congress on the Panama Canal, rendered a bit less than universal due to Toro’s invitation to Taiwan’s president and an ensuing Chinese-led boycott.

Also in this period Manfredo became the first prominent Panamanian to warn of the probable consequences of climate change for the Panama Canal and for the nation as a whole. Although as the years have gone by it has become ever harder to deny, climate change denial is still a presence in Panamanian government circles.

In 1999 Mireya Moscoso came to the presidency and made Ricardo Martinelli the minister of canal affairs in time for the complete US turnover of the canal administration to Panama. Martinelli quickly instituted an extensive propaganda and information control regime, with the collaboration of the canal administrator of that time, Alberto Alemán Zubieta. While from the earliest days of the Panama Canal Commission successive Panamanian governments had placed many a political operative on the canal’s board of directors, under the Moscoso, Torrijos and Martinelli administrations the board’s population shifted from partisan apparatchiki to representatives of powerful families and business interests, above all the financial sector, construction industry and corporate law firms.

In the midst of this unfolding trend came the 2006 canal expansion referendum. This was held under the aegis of the Martín Torrijos administration and the information control regime established by Ricardo Martinelli, who was then out of office. Business administrator Manfredo went for the heart of the proponents’ argument, economic projections that had the United States over a generation exporting virtually all of its industrial production to China yet still having the money to buy an ever more rapidly growing flood of imported things from Asia. Manfredo argued that it was fraudulent to pretend that it’s possible to predict world economic trends over many years in this fashion. He was treated as an old crank. The “no” campaign was all but criminalized. With the connivance of electoral magistrate, tax cheat and later wannabe president Gerardo Solís it was declared “legal” for the government to pour millions of dollars into one side of a referendum campaign. The proposal passed on the strength of the PRD turning out to vote for it, the left voting against it and the great majority of Panamanians staying home. The “yes” campaign’s bogus economic projections were almost immediately shown by events to be such. To compensate tolls were jacked up in a way that drove some of the canal’s customers to other routes. Now the expansion project is behind schedule and en route to the acceptance of substandard work by a consortium that got the locks contracts on a lowball bid aided by then administrator Alberto Alemán Zubieta’s familial conflict of interest. None of the rabiblanco media that took the “yes” campaign’s plentiful money have ever acknowledged the truth of what Manfredo said in 2006.

And this reporter? My most memorable experience with Manfredo had him playing a brief but decisive role in a maddening and unnecessary drama at the 1998 Universal Congress on the Panama Canal.

The Panama News is a mostly English-language newspaper but it’s published in Panama and is primarily the work of Panamanian citizens. Registration to get credentials for foreign media took place earlier, but the national press was allowed to register on the day the congress opened. Handling that process was this PRD press operative, one Ibeth Vega, who was wont to let her mere University of Panama grad colleagues that she had her journalism degree from Loyola University in New Orleans. Our conversation was in Spanish. She said that I couldn’t get credentials because registration for the foreign press was over. I showed her my Panamanian cedula and told her that The Panama News is a Panamanian publication. It went around and around, one of these classic “no se puede” situations. She tried to brush me off by saying that she doesn’t speak English. This Panagringo is just culturally gringo enough to be imbued with the indelible trait of irrespeto, and knew quite well who Vega is and where she went to school. So I let loose with a torrent of vulgarity — in English. Two colleagues of hers, behind her where she couldn’t see, were doubled over laughing. One of these told me to have a seat and wait, then left the press center. A few minutes later Manfredo came through the door, to be greeted by Vega’s protest about horribly disrespectful I was to her. Manfredo ordered her out of the room. I got my credentials.

We can play pointless “what if” games about recent Panamanian history, but what actually happened is that many a Panamanian patriot who stepped forward to honorably serve the nation under not very admirable circumstances was marginalized by a parasitic and arrogant political caste. But the honor roll — and the dishonor roll — live on in the hearts of Panamanians. Like the others on the honor roll, Fernando Manfredo Jr. was neither a superhero nor a saint. But he served our nation well and ought to be spoken of well in histories yet to be published.

 

~ ~ ~
The announcements below are interactive. Click on them for more information

little donor button

OVF2

FB2

Boquete Jazz

Tweet

¿Wappin? Christmas draws nigh…

0
nativity
Scene from the Langston Hughes play “Black Nativity.” Photo by The Black Rep.

¿Wappin? Our Christmas concert
Nuestro concierto de Navidad

It’s not universal, not even in Christian lands. But the message of peace, forgiveness and a rule of law tempered by mercy is far more widespread than the confession of one of the many versions of Christianity. Peace to all of you from The Panama News, brothers and sisters.

No es universal, ni siquiera en los países cristianos. Pero el mensaje de la paz, el perdón y un estado de derecho atemperada por la misericordia es mucho más difuso de lo que la confesión de una de las muchas versiones del cristianismo. Paz a todos de ustedes desde The Panama News, hermanos y hermanas.

 

 

 

 

 

~ ~ ~
The announcements below are interactive. Click on them for more information

little donor button

OVF2

FB2

Boquete Jazz

Tweet

 

~ ~ ~
Estos anuncios son interactivos. Toque en ellos para seguir a las páginas de web

Spanish PayPal button

FB esp

Boquete jazz es

Tweet

Arrest order for Martinelli headlines his political project’s slow implosion

0
CD
Self-centered and fictitious — in keeping with the Martinelli legacy. Photo by Eric Jackson.

Martinelli’s bad day is topped off by a high court order for his arrest

by Eric Jackson

That a nine-member panel of the Supreme Court that met on the afternoon of December 21 would issue an arrest warrant for Ricardo Martinelli was more or less a foregone conclusion. The ex-president’s Cambio Democratico party was obliged by the circumstances to put on more of a show than they had at past hearings, especially the December 16 one that had denied Martinelli’s habeas corpus motion and scheduled the hearing about a preventive detention order. The proceeding got underway at a little after 3 p.m., at which time the magistrates heard motions and arguments. The hearing adjourned after about two hours of open court proceedings, which were followed by five hours of deliberation among Hernán De León, Nelly Cedeño, Harley Mitchell, Oydén Ortega, Abel Zamorano, Wilfredo Sáenz, Luis Mario Carrasco, Secundino Mendieta and Luis Ramón Fábrega, the four magistrates, two acting magistrates and three suplentes who comprised the panel. At about 10:30 p.m. they announced the decision to order the arrest and preventive detention of Ricardo Martinelli and to seek his extradition from the United States.

Martinelli’s lawyers’ motion to declare the proceeding unconstitutional as summarily rejected on the grounds that this hand had already been played and found wanting. A proposal to order Martinelli’s arrest for contempt of courst was discounted because the business at hand was not about the contempt per se, but about the underlying charge that Ricardo Martinelli had ordered and conducted illegal electronic surveillance on a massive scale. His contempt of court was merely evidence that should Panamanian justice lay its hands on Martinelli, he should be arrested and locked up pending trial. A defense motion to set back the process to the point of naming Martinelli as the subject of an investigation rather than bring him to court as a formally accused defendant was rejected, while suggestions by lawyers for some of the victims that the court order Martinelli’s passport cancelled and that the court make an extradition request directly to the US government rather than through INTERPOL were ducked in the court’s decision. (There would be separation of powers questions involved in the latter suggested procedures. The executive branch has the power to void Martinelli’s passport but it’s not clear that the courts do, particularly in a proceeding in which the passport office is not represented. Extradition requests may start in the courts, but typically they then go through the executive branch, either via the Ministry of Security to INTERPOL or via the Ministry of Foreign Relations to the government of place to which the suspect has fled. Whether President Varela moves to cancel his predecessor’s passport would probably be a good indication on whether Varela truly wants Martinelli back in Panama to stand trial.)

Perhaps the most telling parts of the drama were the thing that happened or did not happen outside of the courtroom that day. If the high court’s decision was a defeat, it was expected. The day’s surprises, and some of the other expectations that were confirmed, all went badly for Martinelli.

The protest outside the hearing? Where was the top of the 2014 Cambio Democratico ticket? Neither José Domingo Arias nor Marta Linares de Martinelli were there. Nor was the party’s secretary general, Rómulo Roux. Nor did many of those who were elected on the Cambio Democratico ticket show up to defend the party’s founder. Most of the crowd was brought in by bus from Colon, a mobilization of low-paid actors rather than party activists.

Earlier in the day, from his Miami self-exile Martinelli announced a party purge. Former labor minister Alma Cortés was deputized to act as party president in Martinelli’s absence, and that half of the party’s legislative caucus that is openly defying Martinelli’s orders would be removed from the National Assembly. Cortés said that files were already being compiled on the errant deputies. “In their time, they played the necessary role,” she told La Estrella, but now Martinelli is ready to spit them out. However, to do that they would need the approval of the Electoral Tribunal and it’s in some doubt whether that body will even accept Martinelli’s designation of Cortés to act on his behalf to the extent that it would accept any papers from her that purport to remove an elected official from office.

Meanwhile, in another Supreme Court case, magistrate and acting prosecutor Oydén Ortega asked for a hearing in the case against Martinelli arising from the overpriced purchase with kickbacks of dehydrated foods for public school lunch programs. That case stalled this past July 2, when the statutory time for investigating that matter had nearly run and Ortega challenged the constitutionality of that Martinelli-era special protection for criminal suspects with legislators’ credentials. The court upheld Ortega’s challenge on November 19, but there was a time window to move for reconsideration, which has now closed. After an ultimate conviction and full national appeals process Martinelli might again challenge that ruling in an appeal to the Inter-American Human Rights Court. However, that body has taken a generally dim view of politician impunity devices. Five other people who are not legislators face trial in that case next May, before an ordinary criminal court. Whether anything new is to be taken up at the hearing that Ortega requests has not been specified. He made his July 2 challenge to the criminal procedure rule that was overturned — thus suspending all proceedings while that motion was pending — at a hearing requesting an extension of time for an investigation. Any investigation on Ortega’s part during that interim would also have been barred, but meanwhile investigations in other cases arising from the same scheme went on. If the hearing will merely be about reviving the case at the point where it was suspended, then it would be in the nature of a scheduling conference. The norm, however, is that at any hearing at any stage of any case against Martinelli, the former president’s battery of lawyers will take the opportunity to file dilatory motions.

 

~ ~ ~
The announcements below are interactive. Click on them for more information

little donor button

OVF2

FB2

Boquete Jazz

Tweet

Jackson, Maleantes colonenses y sus jefes

0
gusana
Mariela Jiménez y sus maleantes colonenses. Foto por Eric Jackson.

“El que no brinca es sapo”

por Eric Jackson, cédula 3-721-1318

“El que no brinca es sapo” –un lema de un grupo de manifestantes importados desde Colón para apoyar a Ricardo Martinell durante la audiencia sobre la detención de Ricardo Martinelli. Los supervisores de este grupo de empleados eran los transfugas multiples Eduardo Camacho y Mariela Jiménez. Sus otros gritos fueron por la majoría robados de otras fuerzas: “el pueblo unido jamás será vencido” robado de la Unidad Popular de Salvador Allende; “la pelea es peleando” robado del general guerrillero liberal Victoriano Lorenzo; “sin lucha no hay victoria” del FRENADESO.

Pero la surgencia por Mariela Jiménez, la ex-Papa Egoró que traicionó al pueblo por su desempeño perverso y desleal como directora de carrera administrativa en el régimen de Martinelli, que cualquier otra persona es un sapo –un traidor, un soplón– es bastante irónico.

¿Y estas colonenses? Son peores. Son sinvergúenzas. Ellos vendieron a todos los otros colonenses, todos de nosotros quienes portamos la cédula tres. Vendieron a los asaltadores de Colón. Pero la traición del pueblo, los delitos en contra del pueblo — ¿no son estas las características de maleantería?

 

"El Sapo"
“El sapo”. Foto por Eric Jackson.

 

gusana 2
“El que no brinca es sapo”. Foto por Eric Jackson.

 

sapo 3
“El sapo” después. Foto por Eric Jackson.

 

Los hechos de maleantería martinelsta en Colón.
Los hechos de maleantería martinelsta en Colón.

 

 

~ ~ ~
Estos anuncios son interactivos. Toque en ellos para seguir a las páginas de web

Spanish PayPal button

FB esp

Boquete jazz es

Tweet

December 21, 3 p.m. high court hearing on an arrest warrant for Martinelli

0

 

Il Duce
Take him away! Photo by the Presidencia.

Martinelli loses a second round in court, setting up a hearing on an arrest warrant

by Eric Jackson

In a curt two-sentence announcement by the Supreme Court, the magistrates announced that in a December 16 session the court, via a decision written by suplente Gisela Agurto, found that Ricardo Martinelli’s habeas corpus motion to challenge a request for “a measure to restrict bodily freedom” aimed at the former president was “not viable.” The court will meet again in plenary session on Monday, December 21 to consider magistrate and acting judge Harry Díaz’s request for such a measure — an arrest warrant. Martinelli is in self-imposed exile in Miami, so any attempt to take him into custody would have to pass through INTERPOL and US legal or political systems. The process could be blocked in the United State or stall there for years, or could unfold with blinding speed, if a warrant is issued.

In the December 21 hearing the court, having dispensed with months of assertions of immunity and procedural motions, is expected to rule on whether the underlying evidence and law justify the arrest of Ricardo Martinelli for an electronic eavesdropping program that followed at least 150 people. The equipment that was used and the two men who operated it have been missing for more than one year. However, computer files and the testimony of multiple witnesses indicate that this spying did happen and that it was done at Martinelli’s behest. The most damning piece of evidence is a file, which someone tried unsuccessfully to erase from a National Security Council computer, with surveillance reports on some 150 people. The ex-president’s operatives could and did remotely and surreptitiously turn on programs like Skype or telephone connections in people’s computers and mobile devices, converting them into bugs that could pick up nearby activities or conversations even when it appeared that the things were turned off. Some of the intercepted conversations were used to make crude political attack videos that the Martinelli regime circulated in collaboration with Google on YouTube.

 

~ ~ ~
The announcements below are interactive. Click on them for more information

little donor button

OVF2

FB2

Boquete Jazz

Tweet

Harrington, El invernadero del tráfico de influencias

0

cane toad
¿Sal sosa ó salsosa?

por Kevin Harrington-Shelton
Let the people know the truth, and the country will be safe.
Abraham Lincoln

 

El Día del periodista encuentra a Panamá en un imbroglio sobre la administración de justicia –tolerado por el Cuarto Estado desde hace décadas. En abstracción de las plumas privilegiadas de iconos del periodismo panameño (Gaspar Octavio Hernández, Víctor Florencio Goytía, Gil Blas Tejeira, Ernesto de la Guardia, Carlos Iván Zúñiga, Guillermo Sánchez Borbón, Bolívar Pedreschi, Miguel Antonio Bernal, Julio Miller, Sabrina Bacal, “entre otros”) la llegada de tantísimas otros medios de comunicación para educar a la población hacia una democracia sustentable, no ha sido más inspiradora nuestra historia reciente. Particularmente en la televisión, donde los controles corporativos que (además) tienen intereses que dominan otros sectores económicos, matizan la calidad e independencia de sus periodistas profesionales y los convierten más en poder hacia un fin (de por sí y ante sí), que en medios hacia el fin de una ciudadanía suficientemente informada para participar en una verdadera democracia.

Estamos frente al invernadero del tráfico de influencias –¡y peor!

La ética vigente en nuestros medios refuerza lo enunciado por un director, que “lo que se deja de decir es lo más valioso de tener un medio”. La ilustración más a mano toca sobre la Ampliación. Pese a que nuestro periodismo SABE que la ley obliga a la Autoridad del Canal a comparecer ante el Pleno de la Asamblea a rendir cuentas, no cuestionan cuando ellos ripostan “hábilmente” con la treintena de informes escritos que efectivamente sí entregan y dejan así de contestar lo específicamente preguntado por uno de los mejores comunicadores en nuestros medios — sin que estos últimos insistan… La diferencia entre las dos cosas es abismal: un informe escrito no estaría sujeto a las re-preguntas, implícitas en una comparecencia personal. De haberse ejercido esta fiscalización legislativa otro gallo cantaría. Y mientras tanto –desde 2006– “mi Cristo padeciendo” con una Ampliación que hoy hace aguas (literalmente).

En materia del propio Órgano Judicial, los ejemplos de esta corrupción sobran. Tiene 17 años de estar pendiente en la Corte Suprema un recurso de inconstitucionalidad –quizás el más decidor respecto de cómo una sociedad percibe su cuerpo legal– que cuestiona algo tan delicado como la Superintendencia de Bancos duerme sin que le encuentren manera de resolver, aunque sea “salomónicamente”. Más recientemente, ha desaparecido del panorama noticioso el escándalo destapado en USA sobre una empresa alemana confesa de sobornos a entidades gubernamentales panameñas para vender sistemas de computación. A la luz de la actual cacería de brujas –selectiva– desatada en nuestros medios, brilla por su ausencia seguimiento alguno a esta venalidad que habría sido apetecible por tratarse de un caso DURANTE “el gobierno anterior” (plausiblemente porque involucra a uno de los anunciantes más grandes de Panamá). Se recordará también que hace rato VARIOS magistrados actuales denunciaron el mismo tipo de travesuras que hoy adornan titulares, sin que entonces sus propios confidentes en los medios les dieran seguimiento a tales infidentes. Porque no fue sino una habituada llamarada de capullo, que se engaveta hasta que convenga. Tal es el inventario de chantajistas y de la contabilización de favores.

No es cuestión de opinión. Hay documentación de lo que en el fondo (demasiados) periodistas (y abogados) realmente piensan sobre el espíritu de nuestras leyes. Aparece en 2013 “Una vida póstuma”, autobiográfica del Dr. Fernando Berguido, a la sazón director de nuestro diario de referencia y hoy representante personal del presidente Juan Carlos Varela en Roma, coordinando esfuerzos en el Caso Lavitola. Inicialmente recoge palabras del entrante presidente don Ricardo Martinelli ante el colectivo de La Prensa en conmemoración de su 30 aniversario: “Quiero salir con la frente en alto; si he cometido un error, háganmelo saber.” Mirando muy sinceramente a los ojos de don Roberto Eisenmann –sentado a primera fila– le pidió una cita para poder “escuchar sus consejos” y le pidió que continuara escribiendo.” (p.336). No obstante, a pocos días, también recoge lo que Martinelli le dijera a Berguidoi en reunión privada respecto del manejo de los Wikileaks. “Me dijo que él había decidido “no tener en su gobierno ningún problema con los gringos” y que desde el principio, “lo que los gringos piden, yo se lo doy”. Así me contó que por esos días, los estadounidenses andaban buscando a un capo colombiano que estaba en Panamá. “Acaba de entrar a Tocumen y lo habían identificado, y yo les dije, llévenselo así mismo; nada de recursos formales ni órdenes judiciales.” (p. 370). No aclara por qué tan patente intención de violar la ley panameña no fue reportada anteriormente en páginas de La Prensa por dicho letrado.

Al igual que en la (continuada) omisión en cuanto a rendir cuentas personalmente ante la Asamblea sobre la Ampliación, tan sólo se podría especularse, cuánta perdida de confianza y pérdidas materiales hoy en primera plana nos habríamos ahorrado, si el entonces mandatario no tuviera certeza que en sus primeros 100 días sería beneficiado (ilegalmente) con esa “suspension of disbelief” (carta-blanca) que demasiados dueños de medios otorgan a todo gobierno, en la esperanza de primicias y favores para sus otros intereses económicos que, en un país pequeño, siempre penden sobre la benevolencia presidencial.

Quienes comemos tres veces al día tenemos una obligación hacia quienes no comen, y la mejor forma de cumplirla es perseverando en en una vocación profética en promoción de un Estado de derecho que funcione –con los CUATRO poderes del Estado contribuyendo al bien-común.

 

~ ~ ~
Estos anuncios son interactivos. Toque en ellos para seguir a las páginas de web

Spanish PayPal button

FB esp

Boquete jazz es

Tweet

What Democrats are saying — the December 19 debate

0

Dems
What Democrats are saying

We’ve got to go after everything from North Africa to South Asia and beyond.
Hillary Clinton

 

Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.
Bernie Sanders

 

I am the very first post-9/11 mayor and the very first post-9/11 governor.
Martin O’Malley

The debate transcript

 

 

~ ~ ~
The announcements below are interactive. Click on them for more information

Join DA

little donor button

OVF2

FB2

Boquete Jazz

Tweet