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MOVADUP, Terroristas

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Paris
Cuenta vieja, otra vez.

Terroristas declarados, terroristas disfrazados

por el Movimiento de Adecentamiento de la Universidad de Panamá (MOVADUP)

En cualquiera de sus modalidades, el terrorismo implica la muerte o avasallamiento de inocentes que nada tienen que ver con los motivos de los conflictos que dan origen a este crimen. Pero el análisis no se limita a la clasificación de los “actos terroristas” según una visión convencional que distingue, por ejemplo, el asesinato, el atentado, el secuestro o el asalto. También se refiere a enfoques retorcidos que aparentemente se repelen con respecto a los que son a su vez construidos por los rivales, pero que confluyen en brutal complicidad.

En el mundo occidental, se entiende mucho de las bajas acciones que perpetran los llamados “grupos terroristas”. A ellos corresponde la clasificación convencional de los crímenes que realizan. Suelen reivindicarlos con sus nombres, sustentarlos en posiciones calculadamente fanatizadas de tipo ideológico o religioso y perpetrarlos a través de personas dispuestas a inmolarse. Es un terrorismo de la impotencia y la desesperación que es propagandeado como justicia y martirio por quienes lo llevan a efecto. Valores retorcidos, humanidad perdida…

En cambio, para la opinión pública de las naciones donde suelen estar afincados estos grupos, quienes practican el terrorismo son las potencias occidentales. Estas no solo perpetran las actuaciones de la clasificación clásica, sino que, al contar con ingentes recursos militares, económicos y políticos, van desde el chantaje y asedio económico contra países y pueblos que no comulgan con ellas a la amenaza de guerra y a acciones militares directas. Estas últimas son las más detestables, pues las bombas que lanzan desde barcos o aviones no distinguen entre quien sea “terrorista” y quien no lo sea. A los perjuicios así ocasionados los llaman “daños colaterales” y son maestros del eufemismo para dar nombres digeribles a las mismas acciones perversas: la tortura es “interrogatorio”; los asesinados, “bajas”; al chantaje económico le llaman “sanciones” y al secuestro, “captura”.

Terrorismo hay tanto de grupos irregulares como de gobiernos e incluso, si se practica continuamente por varios de estos en una misma jurisdicción nacional, sin que sus leyes y pueblos logren impedirlo, “de Estado”. Este es el caso de Israel, Francia, Gran Bretaña, Rusia y Estados Unidos y en ello no se diferencian esencialmente de Boko Haram, Al Qaeda o el ISIS. Esta coincidencia no es casual. A ambos enfoques retorcidos les conviene la zozobra internacional en donde la competencia geo-estratégica y económica de las potencias y sus Estados espoliques promueve a los grupos terroristas como instrumentos de su ambición financiados generosamente por ellos, o en elementos cuyos deleznables atentados sirven para infundir el miedo en los países occidentales que justifique acciones como derrocamientos e invasiones por petróleo (Libia, Irak), burdas venganzas con mal disimulada intención imperialista, (bombardeos franceses en Siria) o para tomar a países en conflicto como escaparates de sus armas sofisticadas (como han hecho EU y Rusia).

Se trata de una simbiosis brutal e inhumana. Ante el público proclaman hipócritamente repelerse, pero se necesitan mutuamente. Coinciden en un hecho importante: la manipulación de las mentes deseducadas, propensas a fanatizarse o a convencerse de que son enemigos los que en realidad resultan ser los mejores aliados. Duro es el trabajo para ello, pero la rebelión contra esta inhumanidad debe provenir de los pueblos del mundo entero. Estos no deben dejarse envolver, asustar ni manipular más ni por el fanatismo ni por la propaganda. El sentido crítico de una educación para la libertad debe ser el más formidable instrumento contra quienes manipulan las conciencias de los pueblos. ¡No al terrorismo! ¡Ya no más fanáticos estultos ni Estados rapaces! ¡Recordemos a las víctimas y luchemos por la paz!

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June 26, opening day for the new PanCanal locks

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PanCanal
June 26, opening day for the new locks. A month later, the Panama Canal Authority said that this is “normal.” For a larger version of this photo click here.
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Melitón Arrocha proposes Internet censorship

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Arrocha
A would-be new press gag law, but actually in concept a very old proposal to shield corruption.

Online censorship proposed — again

by Eric Jackson
                        
                         We must do something about the Internet.

It’s back. This time, the rabiblancos, politicians and crooks want the “right to be forgotten.” As in Proposed Law 11, which would be a new press gag law. Any natural or juridical person, public officials and political parties not excepted, could complain. There would be no right to a day in court, only a summary finding based on a complaint to the National Public Services Authority (ASEP). No need to claim that the item sought to be erased is false — “imprecise” or “not updated” would suffice, and no proofs would be required. The authority could summarily fine a small website $10,000, that is, shut it down in most cases.

Does The Panama News publish an analysis or opinion piece that states that the Panameñista Party’s founder was a friend of Adolf Hitler’s who stripped Panamanians of Asian, non-Hispanic West Indian and Middle Eastern ancestry of their citizenship? It’s absolutely true but the president’s political party could say that because such an utterance did not contain the party line denying all of that, a website that publishes such a thing could be forced out of business. Does The Panama News publish an article that notes that the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) was founded by a dictatorship that killed or disappeared dozens of its opponents? That’s also true, but the party could shut down this website over it. Does the La Prensa investigative team uncover a bribery and kickback scheme? An anonymously owned company that was absolutely involved in such a thing could move to get the story summarily erased from the Internet.

The law proposes extraterritorial effect, which would be enforced by blocking access from Panama to certain search engines, databases or websites. Like, for example, that bastion of online history and bane of fraud artists, The Wayback Machine Internet Archive .

Introduced nearly four years to the day after Ricardo Martinelli went before an international audience and pleaded for global legislation to erase the criminal record that he was then compiling from the Internet, Panameñista legislator Melitón Arrocha is up to the same thing. The legislators might pass it, but probably won’t. The president might sign it, but his wife is a journalist by trade and he probably won’t. If it is passed and signed, it might be upheld by Panamanian courts — in the past those sorts of questions have sometimes been decided on the basis of bribery, partisan passions or political influence rather than on law — but by treaty any decision would be subject to an appeal to the Inter-American Human Rights Court, which would be unlikely to uphold such a law.

One never knows what the politicians and courts might do here, though, and press organizations are not taking any chances. A joint communique by two corporate press organizations, the Forum de Periodistas and the Consejo Nacional de Periodismo, hits three main points. First, they note the proposal’s vague provision that allow a wide range of censorship without any judicial recourse. Next, point out the law’s purported extraterritorial reach which, among other things, would purport to erase certain infamous facts about Panama from the global record. Finally, they cite the internationally recognized right of a people to their history, their collective memory.

 

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The Central American Percussion Festival, August 19-20

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 The Danilo Pérez Foundation and friends present…

The 2016 Central American Percussion Festival
August 19 – 20 in Panama City’s Casco Viejo

 

 

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Sanders, Next steps for Our Revolution

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Next steps for Our Revolution

by Bernie Sanders

Our campaign has always been about a grassroots movement of Americans standing up and saying: “Enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.”

I just finished speaking at the Democratic National Convention, where I addressed the historic nature of our grassroots movement and what’s next for our political revolution.

I hope that I made you proud. I know that Jane and I are very proud of you.

Our work will continue in the form of a new group called Our Revolution. The goal of this organization will be no different from the goal of our campaign: we must transform American politics to make our political and economic systems once again responsive to the needs of working families.

We cannot do this alone. All of us must be a part of Our Revolution.

Join Our Revolution and help continue our critical work to create a government which represents all of us, and not just the one percent — a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice. Add your name here.

When we started this campaign a little more than a year ago, the media and the political establishment considered us to be a “fringe” campaign. Well, we’re not fringe anymore.

Thanks to your tireless work and generous contributions, we won 23 primaries and caucuses with more than 13 million votes, all of which led to the 1900 delegates we have on the floor this week at the Democratic convention.

What we have done together is absolutely unprecedented, but there is so much more to do. It starts with defeating Donald Trump in November, and then continuing to fight for every single one of our issues in order to transform America.

We are going to fight to make sure that the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party becomes law. This means working for a $15 federal minimum wage, fighting for a national fracking ban, and so many more progressive priorities.

The political revolution needs you in order to make all this happen and more.

Add your name to say that you will join Our Revolution and be part of the fight for our progressive vision for America.

Thank you for being a part of the continued political revolution.

 

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The battle over sex education in the schools rages on

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SPWSS
Hundreds of supporters of sex education in the schools march toward the legislature. Their crowd was not as big and the July 13 march against it, but then supporters of the proposed legislation did not shanghai church school students to march either. Photo by El Kolectivo.

The sex ed battle rages on

by Eric Jackson

A coalition of groups that support sex education in the schools gathered after work and marched up Via España to the legislature on July 25. First among equals were the professionals, including psychologist and secular government advocate Celia Moreno and pediatrician and La Prensa columnist Xavier Saenz Llorens. The march also included former First Lady Vivian Fernández de Torrijos, former legislator Teresita Yániz de Arias and Panama United Way president Marcela Eleta de Brenes.

The argument about sex education in the schools has been ongoing in legislative proposals since 1999, with church-led groups always managing to get any serious proposal killed in committee. (The occasional suggestion of religious-based sex education has always foundered amidst infighting among Catholics and Evangelicals against a backdrop of secular government advocates who outnumber each of those religious factions.) At the end of the last legislative session the proposed Law 61 mandating sex education in the schools was first shorn of its references to guidebooks created under the auspices of the United Nations Population Fund and then passed in committee. (The suggested literature is being separately discussed and developed in the Ministry of Education.) But since the committee approved the proposal and sent it to the plenum for consideration the legislature has been fragmented and barely functioning. Although the new session started on July 1, only on July 25 were 10 of the National Assembly’s 15 standing committees installed. During the weeks of dysfunction the Panameñista caucus announced that it would support the legislation being sent back to committee, but there has been no vote on that and it’s not certain whether that caucus or the legislature as a whole would vote to do that. If the Panameñista caucus sticks together on the issue there would probably be enough PRD and Cambio Democratico votes to send the proposal back down.

When a sex education proposal gets sent back to committee in order to reach a consensus it has tended to disappear at least for a few years, but this time the majority in favor of sex education in the schools is more pronounced, with a mid-July Dichter & Neira poll showing Panamanians supporting it by 56 to 43 percent. If it gets sent back to the committee from whence it came — the Labor, Health and Development Committee — in its new configuration that panel includes Law 61’s proponent, physician and PRD deputy Crispiano Adames, committee chair Jorge Iván Arrocha, Mario Lazarus, Fernando Carrillo, José Castillo, Iván Picota, Juan Carlos Arango and Ana Matilde Gómez. There is a reasonable chance that the committee will pass it again and send it for a showdown in the entire legislature.

While those in favor of sex education were preparing their late afternoon gathering and early evening march, the Catholic Archdiocese was hosting a press conference with the leader of the Red Vida y Familia Ecuador, Amparo Medina, a right-wing activist who has led her country’s movement against sex education, birth control, abortion, gay rights and recognition of the transgendered. She was given time on TVN to promote her argument against sex education in Panama. There and at the press conference she was misidentified as a former aide for the United Nations Population Fund, which afterward issued a statement that she never worked for them. One of her claims is that sex education would do nothing to reduce the spread of the human papiloma virus or herpes because those maladies are spread by sweat rather than sexual contact — a claim that drew sharp rebukes from Dr. Sáez-Llorens.

 

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Grayson, Weaponizing religion

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eeeew

Weaponizing religion

by Alan Grayson

A couple of weeks ago, my Communications Director asked me whether I had dual citizenship with Israel. I told him no. And I well recalled that a few months ago, Democratic Party operatives spread the same rumor about Bernie Sanders — and had it sprung on Senator Sanders, without warning, on national TV.

Your party dollars, at work. Those flaks and hacks have no clue about how to defeat Republicans, but they sure do love that blue-on-blue action. They even go so far as to weaponize religion. Like asking whether Bernie Sanders and I are dual citizens with Israel, because we are Jewish. Or planting a question to try to make it seem that Sanders is an atheist, as we found out that they did from Wikileaks yesterday.

Oy gevalt. God forbid that we should ever have a debate on what’s best for the American people.

Don’t let these scummy party flacks and hacks get away with it.

Here’s another example from Wikileaks: Democratic Party operatives tried to plant the story that the Sanders campaign was falling apart. And — lo and behold! — we had exactly the same story planted against us last year, because two campaign staffers left the campaign and one shifted to part-time — over the course of four months!

One reporter told me that he was getting five calls a day from my “Democratic” opponent’s staff, dishing dirt on me. Starting a year ago. (The word “Democratic” is in scare quotes because my primary opponent is really a Republican masquerading as a Democrat — a fact that our corrupt party Establishment actually embraces.)

Of course, the party’s brutal interference in our race isn’t limited to disseminating lies. They’re spending a cool million dollars to try to defeat us — even though we’re doing better in the November polls than the callow tool who they’re desperately trying to drag across the finish line.

It comes down to this — whose party is it? I say that it’s ours, not theirs. Are you with me?

US Representative Alan Grayson is running for the Democratic nomination for US Senator from Florida.

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Teachers win a week-long strike

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strike
Over its week-long duration, the teachers’ strike not only didn’t dwindle, but took on aspects of a broader social movement that prompted some expressions of concern from private schools and from the business sector. Photo by El Kolectivo.

A decade after a major defeat, the teachers’ unions win big

by Eric Jackson

After a six-hour July 23 negotiating session between a special government committee and representatives of the nation’s teacher unions, an agreement granting an across-the-board $300 per month raise in teachers’ base pay and a government commitment to dedicate six percent of Panama’s Gross Domestic Product to education was reached. That met the unions’ core demands and will be good enough to end the strike, although the unions’ ratification processes were still underway as this story was written. It was a big victory that followed years of defeats for the teachers’ organizations.

Back in 2006 the PRD administration of Martín Torrijos divided and ruled, using organizations dominated by members of his party to accept a “settlement” that most educators and their unions rejected and using that sweetheart deal to smash that year’s strike. By defeating and demoralizing the teachers Torrijos opened the way for his Ministry of Education apparatchiki — most notably people from Balbina Herrera’s entourage — to loot the schools with bogus contracts for work that was not needed and in many cases not done. After that Ricardo Martinelli came in and appointed a television star as minister, the looting via overpriced contracts with apparent kickbacks continued and the government wouldn’t even talk to the teachers’ unions.

On July 18, the members of 17 teachers’ unions — some 42,000 of the nation’s 45,000 public school teachers — walked off the job. The National Executive Committee of the PRD, conflicted and out of power, met and most probably fought behind closed doors, issuing a strange statement over nobody’s signature that expressed solidarity with the striking teachers and urged them to stop their strike and go back to work. Anti-union parents’ groups predictably issued their statements opposing the strike and called for stern government action to end the walkout and punish the strikers.

This time, however, there was no ruling party with the clout among teachers to play divide and rule games, nor was President Varela eager to escalate a conflict he could not be sure of winning. He said all of the usual things that management says about a strike, complaining that the walkout just hurt kids. But he sent his negotiators to the bargaining table and parents didn’t send their kids to school. On some of the buses kids rode as their fathers drove, but working parents having to stay home to watch the kids became a difficult to quantify if annoyingly real phenomenon rippling through the national economy. The national mood appeared to put settling the strike and getting about the business of improving a notoriously horrible school system far above the list of priorities than humiliating and punishing teachers. So a settlement was reached after a week-long strike, largely on the teachers’ terms.

During the course of the strike the cabinet approved the budget allocation for the teachers’ pay raises and that should have no problem in the legislative budget process. However, the commitment to dedicate six percent of GDP to education may be harder to maintain and enforce. For one thing, the economy for almost all of Latin America is hurting and Panama is slowing down because of that. The battles among people with very worthy but conflicting national budget priorities are likely to increase. Then there is the time-honored political practice of changing the definitions by which GDP is calculated to suit a government’s purposes. The unions will stay atop such developments, but the bottom line will be what the general electorate understands and is willing to tolerate.

 

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Two slates head contest for control over the PRD

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PRD lawmaker Rubén De León, president of the National Assembly and legislative ally of Pedro Miguel González, who is not running for a party leadership post. Photo by the Asamblea Nacional
PRD lawmaker Rubén De León, president of the National Assembly and legislative ally of Pedro Miguel González. De León is not running for a party leadership post. Photo by the Asamblea Nacional.

Two slates contest control over the PRD

by Eric Jackson

Is it true, as if often said, that the PRD and its factions have no ideologies, only interests? To the extent that this is true — or false — the phenomenon goes right back to the party’s foundation by Omar Torrijos, who seized power in 1968 with no particular plan for the nation but rather an objection to Arnulfo Arias’s intention to alter the schedule of promotions at the upper reaches of the old Guardia Nacional. Now there is a battle for control of Panama’s largest political party, which has lost two national elections in a row and is badly split in the legislature. There is a huge issue dividing the major contenders — do they form an alliance with Ricardo Martinelli’s Cambio Democratico loyalists or do they not? But for the two leading slates, the question is tactical and not particularly a matter of either belief systems or public policy.

The sitting party president, Bocas del Toro legislator Benicio Robinson, has enhanced the powers of that office at the expense of the secretary general, but lost control of his party’s caucus in the National Assembly. He’s running for re-election and alongside him former President Ernesto “Toro” Pérez Balladares is seeking to be secretary general, a position he used as a stepping stone for his 1994 election to the presidency. Toro and Balbina Herrera led the cast of characters who rebuilt the PRD into a strong opposition force in the wake of 1989 US invasion that ousted it along with the military dictatorship that founded it.

The current secretary general? Carlos Pérez Herrera, who is also the representante for Panama City’s corregimiento of San Francisco, is running in a three-way race for first vice president.

The major slate opposing Robinson and Pérez Balladares is former health minister Camilo Alleyne for president and legislator Pedro Miguel González for secretary general. González is one of the majority of PRD deputies that has broken with Robinson and allied with Cambio Democratico rebels and Varela’s Panameñistas to take control of the legislature. More than anything the contest is between González and Alleyne who want to exclude Ricardo Martinelli from all political influence on the one hand and on the other hand Pérez Balladares and Robinson who would like to share power with Martinelli, at least in the legislature.

Each of the main slates will have its problems with the American Embassy.

There is a US terrorism warrant out for González, carrying a potential death penalty. He is accused of the 1992 drive-by shooting that killed US Army Sergeant Zak Hernández, an attack that coincided with then US President George H. W. Bush’s visit, which was intended as an election-year victory lap after the invasion earlier in his term. While that happened in Chilibre, Bush’s public appearance in Parque Porras ran into a rowdy protest led by Balbina Herrera, at which cops fired tear gas that the wind blew back onto the stage to rout Bush. https://youtu.be/ujVVf-JQLLQ González was tried and acquitted in Panama on that murder charge, a verdict that Washington has never accepted. The key piece of evidence, an assault rifle that was found buried at the González family’s farm, was identified as the weapon used to kill Hernández by the FBI forensic witness and ruled out as the death instrument by the Panamanian forensic analyst, while the ballistics specialist from Scotland Yard said that it wasn’t possible to tell whether it was the gun with which the American soldier was shot. González presented alibi witnesses who said that he was at the University of Panama when the shooting took place, and evidence and arguments that would not be allowed in a US court — for example, about the FBI’s history of falsifying evidence in politically charged cases — were heard by the jury. In Panama jury trials are before panels of public employees, which Washington argued made them subject to pressures to conform their findings to the wishes of those in power. At the time Pérez Balladares was president, having arrived at that office with more than a little help from the defendant’s father, then a PRD legislator.

Toro had his US visa revoked shortly after he left office. The State Department never comments to the press or the public about visa denials, but Washington had two major problems with Toro. The first, which was the subject of many press reports at the time, was an allegation that he was selling Panamanian visas, and in some cases passports (including diplomatic passports) to Chinese citizens intending to migrate to the United States without following US immigration laws. There were tales — never proven in any court — of people showing up in the United States with papers showing them to be Panamanian diplomats but not speaking a word of Spanish. Later came the tale of PECC, supposedly an American company that won a contract to maintain Panama’s non-canal lighthouses and sea buoys. US prosecutors said that the company was owned behind the scenes by Toro and payoffs were shown to some of the figures in his government, though never directly to the former president himself. An American businessman went to prison under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act over that case, and apparently got a lighter sentence for pointing the finger at Pérez Balladares. Toro has always denied the PECC allegations and has steadfastly maintained that it is Panama’s sovereign right to issue a visa or a passport to whomever it wishes. In the present campaign he is claiming that he lost his visa for defending Panama in this fashion.

Alleyne and Robinson also have their embarrassing histories. Alleyne was health minister during the Martín Torrijos administration, when hundreds of people were poisoned by cough syrup mixed in the Social Security Fund’s medicine lab, using lethal dethylene glycol that was mislabled as glycerin. While Dr. Alleyne could rightly claim that his ministry did not produce that toxic brew, shared of the blame for failures to properly test that and other medicines and a coverup rather than a zealous effort to help the victims after the mass poisoning became known were properly laid on the Ministry of Health doorstep. Robinson is a rather stereotypical political patronage politician from Bocas del Toro, which has a sordid reputation for corruption compared to most other provinces. He has never been caught at the sort of thing that should get someone sent to prison, but he does advocate an opposition alliance with former President Ricardo Martinelli. Power plays against Varela and a division of the patronage spoils were among the reported details of the agreement that Robinson and Martinelli had in 2015, but in any case they both saw revolts in their respective party caucuses and thus failed to muster the votes to take over the legislature.

A living symbol of Martinelli sleaze, former Vice President Felipe “Pipo” Virzi, is running for fifth undersecretary. Virzi is under house arrest for a series of scandals and his candidacy gives him electoral immunity that has disrupted his trial for accepting some $10.2 million for a Tonosi irrigation project that never happened. Virzi and the Banco Universal that he controlled functioned as a racketeering clearing house during the administration of Ricardo Martinelli, with whom Virzi is related by intermarriage among their extended families and by business ties. The Moncada Luna bribery and inexplicable enrichment cases, kickbacks on construction contracts, the criminal activities of the Financial Pacific brokerage house and sundry alleged computer and telecommunications schemes run through that connection. Members of a couple of party factions have challenged Virzi’s right to run on the radical and never before accepted if obvious ground that it’s just ploy to block or delay criminal proceedings and also because Virzi’s Martinelli ties and activities take him outside of the universe of PRD membership. The challenges will probably be rejected, but in the meantime prosecutors will probably move get Virzi’s electoral immunity lifted.

All up and down the ballot for the many party offices at stake are well known names in search of state-financed sinecures along with the immunity that comes with such party offices.

It’s an intra-party affair, but what does the public think? Running at the head of the pack of those whom people consider the right person to lead the PRD — but not running for any position in these party elections — is former legislator and agriculture minister Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo. He represented Colon’s rural coastal district, first as a member of the old Solidaridad party that was aligned with the Lewis Galindo brothers’ interests and perspectives. The July Dichter & Neira poll showed Nito with 17 percent public support, tied with don’t know / won’t say and four points ahead of Toro. Cortizo resigned as agriculture minister during the Martín Torrijos administration in protest of the US-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, which he predicted would be a disaster for Panamanian agriculture. There are surely folks on the left who would dispute the claim, but Cortizo, who wants to be the PRD’s 2019 presidential nominee — as does Toro — would represent those party factions that oppose the neoliberal policies of globalization on corporate terms.

Public support for Robinson and González as functional leaders of the PRD is roughly tied in the low single digits, according to Dichter & Neira. Running slightly ahead of them, still very unpopular overall, is current National Assembly president Rubén De León.

So who represents the “Torrijista ideology?” Omar Torrijos was a military man with some nationalist politics that went along with his history of serving US interests, the son of a Veraguas school administrator of Colombian origin who cared about his reputation and historical legacy and a pragmatist who muddled along in the situations in which he was presented. Coming to power along with Boris Martínez, his first orders of business were to suppress those who opposed the coup and then to rid himself of Martínez. He then set his sights on a new canal treaty, a project that had been underway before he seized power. For this purpose he made several moves, bringing many intellectuals and diplomats into his entourage, convincing most labor activists and most business leaders to accept a national truce of sorts while the treaty negotiations were underway. Part of the left was brought into positions of influence and those who didn’t accept the deal were ruthlessly hunted down. The Colon Free Zone flourished and a new business class arose through the cracks of old elites that were partly displaced. A new constitution, the one we have today albeit with a few patches, was passed in 1972 and gave most power to the executive but gave the legislators and local officials access to funds to spread around in their districts and among their supporters. So is the PRD just a “political patronage party?” That would befit the arrangement of General Torrijos’s constitution. Is it a national liberation party, with a leftist tinge? That would befit the drive for the canal treaties. Is it a party aligned with national and international business interests? That would befit the growth of commercial and financial sectors during the dictatorship, and the policies of the Pérez Balladares and Martín Torrijos administrations. A struggle for the party’s “soul” would put different strains of the general’s legacy into play against one another — but the main contestants are thinking of far more worldly concepts.

 

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Gandásegui, La revista TAREAS enfoca la crisis

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Tareas

La revista TAREAS enfoca la crisis

por Marco A. Gandásegui, hijo

Panamá fue sacudida en abril de 2016 por la revelación de 11.5 millones documentos de la firma forense local Mossack Fonseca. La divulgación de los ‘papeles’

sacó a la luz pública numerosas sociedades anónimas que existían con el propósito de esconder dineros mal habidos de importantes personajes del mundo entero. La legislación panameña creó la figura de la sociedad anónima en 1927 para servirle a capitalistas, rentistas y gobernantes, tanto de EEUU como de Gran Bretaña. La legislación era copia de la existente en el estado de Delaware (en EEUU) y algunas jurisdicciones “off-shore’ de Gran Bretaña. El des-cubrimiento de los documentos fue financiado por un grupo de fundaciones de EEUU y Europa, con apoyo de la USAID, agencia gubernamental norteamericana. El grupo de ‘Think-Tanks’ creó un Consorcio mediático en Washington con una red de 150 periódicos en todo el mundo. La revelación de las sociedades anónimas creadas por abogados panameños en los paraísos fiscales de EEUU y jurisdicciones británicas, forma parte de una campaña norteamericana de atraer a su sistema bancario las fortunas más grandes del mundo.

Según fuentes del mundo financiero, se están buscando sumas de dinero escondidas que fluctúan entre 3 y 25 millones de millones de dólares. Para tener una idea del monto involucrado, el producto interno bruto de EEUU fue de 18 millones de millones de dólares en 2015. Ese mismo año, el PIB mundial estaba cerca de 80 millones de millones. (El PIB de Panamá superó los 50 mil millones de dólares en 2015).

El diario La Prensa de la capital panameña, miembro de la red del consorcio, no ha dado a conocer los nombres de los panameños ni de sus bienes en las sociedades anónimas creadas fuera de Panamá, especialmente en Europa y EEUU. En las listas dadas a conocer sólo aparecen 100 norteamericanos, cuyas fortunas son relativamente pequeñas.

En el número 153 de TAREAS, el economista colombiano Salomón Kalmanovitz publica la tercera parte de un trabajo que aborda la política fiscal de Panamá en la primera mitad del siglo XX. Es precisamente en esta época en que Panamá creó la legislación para que empresarios norteamericanos y europeos escondieran sus ‘tesoros’ mal habidos en las llamadas ‘sociedades anónimas’. Para aquel entonces fue un acierto para el fisco panameño que estaba en necesidad de más recursos. Pocos años después Panamá complementó las sociedades anónimas con legislación que convirtió la bandera nacional en una mercancía que podía ser adquirida por dueños de flotas marítimas para evadir los impuestos en sus países.

La revista trae como tema central ‘La teoría de la clase media’. Encabezan las contribuciones un trabajo del historiador panameño Enrique Avilés, quien aborda la década de 1920 y el papel de ‘Acción Comunal’, grupo opuesto a las políticas oligarcas y, sobre todo, a la presencia colonial de EEUU en la Zona del Canal.

Enseguida se presenta el artículo del sociólogo chileno, Ricardo Yocelevsky, quien ubica a las clases sociales como actores colectivos privilegiados en los procesos históricos. La entrevista de Nahuel Placanica a Natalia Milanesio es muy revelador de cómo el aumento de los ingresos de sectores de la clase obrera puede hacerlos sentirse como miembros de la clase media. Entre los temores más grandes de las clases medias es no poder distinguirse de los sectores populares. Paúl Krugman, Premio Nobel de Economía, plantea como las políticas neo-liberales están contribuyendo a la desaparición de la clase media en EEUU. Por último, una nota de Antonio Gramsci, fundador del Partido Comunista italiano, muerto en las mazmorras de Mussolini, se refiere a la clase media en una formación social capitalista.

TAREAS también publica dos artículos teóricos sobre la ‘de-colonización’. Uno de Richard Morales, politólogo panameño, quien citando a Aníbal Quijano plantea que ‘seguimos siendo lo que no somos’. El otro, del sociólogo peruano César Germaná, plantea que “el patrón de poder colonial/moderno ha entrado en una crisis estructural”.

Cierra este número los artículos de Osman López y Emilio Pantojas. El primero analiza la coyuntura hondureña que refleja el ’empate catastrófico’ de la correlación de fuerzas sociales que convierte a la oligarquía en una máquina indiscriminada de violencia, incluyendo asesinatos selectivos y golpes de Estado. El segundo anuncia una posible solución final al status colonial de Puerto Rico, como consecuencia de la bancarrota de la oligarquía de la isla y la negativa del Congreso de EEUU de encontrarle una solución a la crisis fiscal.

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