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Archives: An unauthorized look at US military activity in Panama, late 2010

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From the archives:

https://web.archive.org/web/20110205022832/http://www.thepanamanews.com/pn/v_17/issue_01/news_02.html

US military activity in Panama (2010):

Drones, bases and the Tropical Test Center

TTC, since privatized and classified

Antiwar activist John Lindsay-Poland tracks down US military activity in Panama via ads and budget reports

Drones, bases and the Tropical Test Center
by Eric Jackson

Recently the government of Panama said it is going to reopen the territory of Panama to Yankee bases.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez

 

I strongly deny that Panama is going to set up military bases of any kind in partnership with the United States or any nation in the region.

Panamanian Minister of Security José Raúl Mulino
Last September, the Venezuelan government complained that US spy drones had been spotted flying over its territory. Earlier, Hugo Chávez had claimed in strident terms that a series of agreements to allow a US military presence at bases in Colombia and Panama were acts aimed at his country.

The Colombian Supreme Court struck down the agreement that would have allowed US military operations out of bases in Colombia, but the US military and US “civilian contractors” — the favored euphemism for mercenaries these days — have been busily setting up “aeronaval bases” here, according to the Martinelli administration only for the use of Panamanian forces, mainly to fight drug trafficking.But John Lindsay-Poland, program director for the US-based pacifist group Fellowship of Reconciliation and most probably the top non-governmental expert on US military activity in Panama, has been digging into US government budget reports and the advertisements of US mercenary corporations to get closer to the truth of the matter. Part of the problem with mercenaries, however, is that by the terms of their contracts with the US government and the “private company” status that is used as a shield against the Freedom of Information Act and scrutiny by the US Congress, the things that mercenaries do are well hidden from the American people and the citizens of the countries in which US mercenary corporations operate. Moreover, in these days of globalization jobs that used to be performed by US soldiers, including combat, are now often outsourced to companies that are not even based in the United States. What Lindsay-Poland is doing, then, is piercing the corporate veil of privatized warfare, at least to the extent that he can.

Hugo Chávez has a reputation for making erratic and exaggerated statements, but so does Ricardo Martinelli, who boasted in the Italian press that he’s the “anti-Chávez” and has done much to distinguish himself as something of a right-wing mirror image of the impulsive Venezuelan leader. So who’s telling the truth about those bases in Panama, and are Venezuelan tales of drones over their territory necessarily a case of paranoiac ideation in high places?

And what about the suggestions, coming mainly out of Colombia and making their rounds in the Latin American left, that the string of setbacks suffered by the FARC guerrillas are not and could not have been as the government in Bogota describes them? Among the suggestions are that US surveillance or attack drones have played major unacknowledged roles in some of the high-profile assaults on FARC.

The jungle camp where FARC military leader Jorge “Mono Jojoy” Briceño was killed. Was it merely a precision operation by Colombian paratroopers, or was one or more US drones involved? Photo by the Colombian Army

The drone question becomes relevant because among the many US Department of Defense contracts that were peformed, are underway or are to be carried out in Panama that are listed on the Excel spreadsheet obtained by Lindsay-Poland, highlighted in red on lines 359 and 585, are US Navy contracts with Stark Aerospace Inc., including for “mission support” and “persistent support.”

Who is Stark Aerospace? They are a US subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, and the makers of UAVs — Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones — including the Hunter, a short-range (about 144 nautical miles) surveillance and attack vehicle that the United States has used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Among the parent company’s other military drones is the Eitan, which has a range of more than 4,600 miles. Whether or not the reports or rumors are accurate, then, it does seem that the United States has drones based in Panama that are capable of hitting FARC camps in Colombia, and may well have UAVs capable of patrolling the skies over Venezuela from here. The drones that the US Navy and Stark Aerospace have deployed or will deploy to Panama — the contracts about which we know were only recently signed, in September of 2010 — might also be used to patrol Panamanian territorial waters for law enforcement purposes.

We can be reasonably sure, from US Southern Command practices over the years, from the probable technological limitations of Panama’s police forces, from traditional US reticence about sharing advanced military technologies and from the Obama administration’s known suspicions that the Martinelli inner circle is infiltrated by the drug cartels, that no Panamanian hands will be at the controls of any drones that the United States deploys in Panama. The question is whether the Panamanian government will have any say whatsoever about, or even any knowledge of, the purposes to which the drones are used.

The Tropical Test Center, again

If the United States military is going to play the role of imperial cop, it needs to know how its boots, rifles, boxes of ammunition, herbicides and other products will stand up to the jungle elements. For decades in the old Canal Zone the US Army ran the old Tropical Test Center for this purpose. Mostly it was non-controversial, but they probably did test Agent Orange here during the Vietnam era and later they tested depleted uranium shells and had to fire a few rounds, inevitably leaving behind a bit of toxic metal dust.

The Tropic Test Center was supposed to go along with the rest of the US military presence at the end of 1999, pursuant to the 1977 Panama Canal Treaties. But it seems that this never happened, that the facility moved from its previous locations in Panama to other places on the isthmus and was devolved from the US Army to mercenary contractors. Lindsay-Poland has traced the continued operation of the Tropic Test Center back to at least 2006, via the Houston-based Kvaerner Process Services back then and currently under the aegis of Las Vegas-based Trax International. Trax has historically done defense work at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona.

Trax, whose CEO Craig Wilson is a major Republican contributor, describes its work and capabilities in Panama as follows:

Our experienced test personnel conduct tests in the humid tropic environment of Panama. Available test areas are within lush vegetation in the central portion of the Isthmus, and along the northern coast of Panama. All test sites are within close range of Panama City.

Existing capabilities include:
* A standard 700-m range

* A 3-km rugged jungle course

* Areas for prolonged tropic exposure tests in the open and under jungle canopy

* Engineering, information technology and logistics support services on site

* Coastal sites for various levels of salt spray exposure

Humanitarian missions, plus…

The US Armed Forces from time to time send medical and construction missions down to Panama and several of the other countries in the region. They rapidly set up temporary bases of operation with all of the facilities needed to support members of the work teams, then head out to provide medical, dental and veterinary services to people in remote areas who usually don’t get these, and to build or improve schools, health care facilities, bridges and other civilian infrastructures. It’s a good way to make friends for the United States.

On the construction end of it, it’s an opportunity for military engineering units to get some practice that, due to business and labor pressures, is not allowed in the United States. On the health care end, it’s an opportunity for guard and reserve doctors and nurses to see tropical diseases that they won’t encounter in the USA.

And what else does a US Army Corps of Engineers publication that Lindsay-Poland uncovered say to describe its humanitarian missions? Something bound to annoy nationalists in the countries where it goes:

Every Soldier a Sensor

  • USACE DA Civilians/Soldiers can collect information and/or provide intelligence

 

  • Provide entry point into country

A return to the firing ranges controversy?

One of the sore points about how the Panama Canal Treaty was implemented was about the several firing ranges that the United States had used over the years here. Some were outside of the old Canal Zone and thus not covered by the treaty, but some were not only in the old Canal Zone, but adjacent to communities whose residents sometimes came onto the ranges to hunt, gather jungle fruits or look for metal object to sell to recyclers. Unexploded ordnance on those ranges was and is dangerous, and over the years more than two dozen people have been killed by old munitions encountered on those places. Yes, there are signs warning people to keep out, but to a boy who has little concept of death, or to a man who lacks a job but has a family to feed, the temptations to ignore the signs and run the risks can be great. The treaty provided that the United States would remove all hazards insofar as practicable, and Washington took the position that because it did not want to spend the money to clean the firing ranges it was not practicable to do so.

Panama ignored the issue the last few years before the final US military withdrawal, but then the Pérez Balladares and Moscoso administrations, which had no real interest in cleaning the ranges, attempted without success to shake down the US government for cash payments in lieu of range cleanings. Panama has cleaned part of the Empire and Balboa ranges as part of the Centennial Bridge construction and Panama Canal expansion projects, but for the most part the old ranges remain uncleaned.

Now it turns out that among the more than 700 US Department of Defense contracts carried out in Panama since the bases closed at the end of 1999, we find a September 29, 2010 contract with Austin, Texas-based J&J Maintenance, to “upgrade ranges.” Which ranges? We only have the spread sheet that refers to the contract, rather than the contract itself, so we really don’t know. Lindsay-Poland points out that “this could be linked to the bases and collaboration with SENAN [Panama’s National Aeronaval Service], or to the Tropical Test Center, or both. It’s a concern.”

Those aeronaval bases

Certainly the assurances that the Martinelli administration gave with respect to a foreign military presence in Panama were false. But are these bases strictly for interdicting drug traffic, or for something else as well? On the contracting spreadsheet that Lindsay-Poland obtained, the base projects bore the code “CNT,” for “Counter-Narco-Terrorism.” In standard US military usage, that means the fight against FARC but not against garden variety criminal gangs or Colombia’s drug-funded right-wing paramilitary groups. Sociologist and political analyst Marco Gandásegui pointed out that:

Late last year the Defense Department signed a contract for a total of $4 million to build military barracks and a dock with military capabilities in “Puerto” Piña [on Piñas Bay in the Darien]. The place where the investment in the military barracks will be made (or is already being made) coincides with the area in which the Panamanian government denounced the existence of a FARC camp.

The spread sheet on the contract also provides a few more details on a situation that contributes to the Martinelli administration’s poor standing with the country’s indigenous communities, as it refers to bases in El Porvenir and Puerto Obaldia, which are in Kuna Yala. Puerto Obaldia is a predominantly Afro-Panamanian (and Afro-Colombian) enclave in the quasi autonomous Kuna commonwealth, but El Porvenir is in the heart of Kuna country, where the local authorities have made it abundantly clear that police or military bases are not welcome.

For his part, Lindsay-Poland has found some interesting things, but wants to learn more:

CNT refers to Counter-NarcoTerrorism. There are other projects that are funded by CNTPO, which is the Counter Narcotics Technology Program Office of the Pentagon.

These could imply either US or Panamanian use. That’s why I think pushing for disclosure of access agreements with the United States is key, as these would shape the terms of US use.

A blast from the past — and when you think about it, perhaps a predicate act for a RICO case

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Volume 13, Number 16
August 19 – September 8, 2007

business & economy

Months ago, they said that full financing was lined up and almost all of the units were pre-sold…

Trump Tower project tries to sell bonds

by Eric Jackson

The most heralded symbol of Panama City’s upscale construction boom, the Trump Ocean Club, International Hotel & Tower Panama, appears to be in serious trouble. The $404 million project, which bears Trump’s name but whose main promoter is Colombian developer Roger Khafif, was according to rosy press releases issued last year fully financed and almost entirely pre-sold. Now the Newland International Properties Corporation, the consortium created for the project, has applied to Panama’s Comision Nacional de Valores (National Securities Commission) for permission to sell $220 million in private bonds to complete the sail-shaped luxury condo and hotel tower.

When the project was first announced, $220 million was the cost figure that Khafif and Trump first cited. That figure has in less than two years risen to $404, which can’t be entirely explained by rising materials and labor costs. Pre-construction buyers of units in the project had to put 20 percent of the price down, with further payments coming due well before the properties they bought are ever ready for occupancy. Notwithstanding that, a lot of the units have been “flipped” by speculators for even higher prices than would be owed to the developers. Work began on the project in May but is not at a very advanced stage.

That Khafif and Trump have had to go the private bond issue route is an indication that the promoters can’t get ordinary bank financing. Speculation among people in the real estate and construction industries is that with the US housing market in trouble and thus the anticipated trend of baby boomers exchanging their homes in the states for new places in Panama likely to slow as a result, and with the collapse of several other high-profile construction projects, it’s going to be hard to sell those bonds to private investors as well.

However, another current of murmurs from among a section of the real estate industry and its acolytes has it that if the Trump project collapses it will take the rest of Panama City’s upscale housing construction boom with it, and thus everyone who has Panama’s best interests in mind will support whatever it takes to rescue the development. It can be reasonably anticipated that, with the privatizations of several public pension funds, these murmurs may mutate into an insistence that public employees’ retirement funds or the Social Security Fund buy these bonds. In the latter case the 2005 privatization law requires that bonds be rated at least AA for Seguro Social to buy them and in any case that would put Colombian and American interests in competition with Panama’s oligarchy for control of a major portion of the country’s retirement savings. There will be no public bailout of the Khafif/Trump project without a huge controversy that will not only reignite the 2005 brawl over pension fund privatizations but most likely also divide the nation’s business sectors.

A real estate analyst for the Dallas Morning News concluded that “It’s hard to find evidence that white-haired North Americans from Florida, California, New York, Texas and Canada are mounting an invasion of retirees, and you can almost hear the air escaping from this bubble.” One of the local developers who has long been skeptical of the speculation in high-end real estate in Panama City added that “They certainly will have difficulties selling the bonds and yes it shows that Khafif was full of BS when he said all financing was lined up.”

 

“Patriot” militia radio personality to expat investment hustler

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“Patriot” militia radio personality to offshore investment hustler

Note that the guy charged the author with criminal defamation and lost. This article was erased when The Panama News website was destroyed by hackers in 2013-2015, and later the copy was wiped from the Wayback Machine Internet Archive. But this was retrieved from a friend whose site was used as a “mirror” so that the public record could not be erased.

Changes name, still a scamster

by Eric Jackson

Remember the US “patriot” militia movement from which Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh came? That confluence of racist, neo-fascist, survivalist, tax resistance, weapons obsessed, “Christian identity” and apocalyptic strains was shoved farther out into the margins of the political wilderness when McVeigh lived out one of their favorite fantasies and then the Bush administration carried out some of their other ones.
But for the most part, the people involved didn’t just go away. Some of them are grabbing headlines today in the guise of anti-immigrant militias.

However, for some people the patriot movement was good business. Take one Mark Boswell, for example. A law school dropout, he formed the “American Law Club” and hosted Denver meetings at which followers of the right-wing militia movement were instructed that they could become rich by filing “non-commercial judicial liens” against their least-favorite prosecutors, judges, elected officials or companies. In addition to a series of pricey “law seminars,” Boswell would sell his “Civil Rights Task Force” jackets, deliberately made to look like the FBI and ATF apparel, and genuine-looking fake law enforcement badges. Boswell urged his customers to buy the things, wear them to court when their favorite tax resister or weapons law violator was in the defendant’s dock, and warn judges and prosecutors that they were being watched.

Boswell’s legal expertise only went so far. In 1995 he was one of the stars — along with other militia types and a couple of far-right Colorado Republican legislators — at a Canon City, Colorado “common law grand jury.” (This was not a judicial entity but rather a political gathering convened to discuss such theories as how the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t really have any legal basis for its existence.) When the assembly broke for lunch, police arrested Boswell on a fugitive warrant stemming from charges that he used fake ID when stopped for a traffic violation and that he used a bogus money order to buy a Mercedes. Colorado State Senator Charles Duke (R-Monument) lauded Boswell as a political prisoner.

The patriot movement paraphernalia and seminar business was greatly assisted by Boswell’s weekly talk show on KHNC radio, a Denver station that was rebroadcast in other US locales and by shortwave all around the world.

But then on April 19, 1995 one Timothy McVeigh, a messed up former soldier with a reputation for killing surrendering Iraqi soldiers during the first Gulf War but who left the US Army after washing out in his attempt to join the Delta Force, lived out a neo-Nazi fantasy woven in a novel that was popular in right-wing militia circles and blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Ten days after the deadly blast Boswell went on the air with the tale of how a former CIA guy and another “witness” had heard and obtained affidavits from — the latter conveniently not produced — two unspecified Justice Department officials that a shadowy “Committee of 10” involving the Clinton White House, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Secret Service (the latter both part of the Treasury Department rather than the Justice Department) were actually the ones who did the deed.

The general outlines and most salient details of the truth about the Oklahoma City bombing did, however, come to public attention. It was a big disaster for Mark Boswell’s radio career and patriot paraphernalia business. So what’s a more patriotic than thou American huckster to do after an embarrassment like that?

First, Mark Boswell assumed the name “Rex Freeman.” Then, as he described it on Roger Gallo’s Escape Artist website, he

…left the USA probably for many of the same reasons most do; the erosion of rights, the lawlessness of the courts, the intrusions of privacy, the omnipresence of big brother and the general mental decay of society. What once made America great, is now gone, or at best is quickly disappearing and I’d had enough. It was time to go.

My wife and I packed our things, put our little dog under the seat of the plane and headed south. Not being too sure of where we’d end up, our original idea was Panama. However, we made a stop over along the way in Costa Rica five years ago, and have never gone any further.

We are not wealthy retirees. I’m 46 and she’s, well, she still won’t say, but we had a very limited nestegg and the clock was ticking for us to find something to do to support ourselves. Neither of us spoke any Spanish (still don’t very well) and we’ve been living on tourist visas for 5 years. Not a very stable situation.

I have always been enamored by the idea of living the ‘PT’ lifestyle (Permanent Tourist – Previous Taxpayer – Perpetual Traveler) and now was my chance. It was very clear under this philosophy, that in order to sustain this without a substantial trust fund, that you must have a ‘portable business’ which allows you to operate from anywhere in the world.

I threw up a website and started offering financial privacy consulting services helping other ‘escapees’ protect their financial affairs….

Freeman (Boswell) wove a web of offshore Internet businesses, which, unfortunately for Panama, did get farther than Costa Rica. These include:

InterGlobal Finance SA, which is registered in Panama but lists its “administrative office” in Costa Rica, and whose website contains a revealing detail for a Panamanian company owned by an American citizen that operates out of Costa Rica: it says that it doesn’t serve clients in Costa Rica, Panama or the USA.

A “business club” known as the Venture Resources Group, which held a seminar this past May at the Playa Bonita Beach Resort, and whose website includes banking as one of the services it offers and lists InterGlobal Finance as the page’s copyright holder;

PCI Investment Club, another business registered in Panama but apparently operated out of Costa Rica; and

Gold Palace, an online gambling operation that apparently went under in 2004. The www.sportsbookreview.com website has issued a “scam alert” for this company and warns that Freeman may have reopened it under the name WinBig.Biz.

One of the salient features of the InterGlobal Finance website, and a common theme in most of Freeman’s promotions, is name dropping. Listed as “partners” are the Panamanian law firm Cajigas & Co., Credicorp Bank, Banco Cuscatlan, JPMorganChase in New York and UBS in Switzerland. For the Play Bonita “Power PT” seminar, Venture Resources Group and InterGlobal Finance named attorney Enrique Cajigas as a panelist and dropped the names of The Financial Times, BBC, Fox News, Canadian Broadcasting Company, Reuters, Asahi Shimbun, UBS, Jyske Bank (Denmark), Harvard University, the University of Houston Law School, the European Tax Institute, Deloitte & Touche, Costa Rica’s Bolsa de Commercio commodities exchange, Denver University and the Colorado Supreme Court.

When contacted by The Panama News, Enrique Cajigas told us that “I did not know of this conference or that my name appeared.” He said that he did incorporate some companies for Freeman but knew nothing of his alter ego Mark Boswell or his militia past, and knew nothing about Venture Resources Group.

So what do you get when you buy into the Rex Freeman network?

For a modest $15,000 “one time investment” in Venture Resources Group, you will be promised a half-dozen “profit centers.” “The beef,” as the website puts it, is “an entry level to Privacy Club Internacional (PCI). PCI has the Prime Rib and choice cut Tenderloin.” As in “having active, operating, foreign companies or trusts working in low tax environments to manage business, investments and other revenue enhancing activity.”

As in:

As a Managing Director in PCI your bonuses in the one level pay plan will be $750, $750 and $1000 on each of three different products which all your members will participate in. That’s $2,500 per member and with our ‘viral marketing ‘2 Up’ system, you can start multiplying those figures times 10, X 20? X 50? Work out your own figures !! Are you prepared to make $250,000 this year?

This describes what in some jurisdictions is considered an illegal pyramid sales scheme, but which might more charitably be compared to an Amway pitch. At least Amway sells soap and stuff with their greed and right-wing ideology. The Venture Resources Group sells deceptively promoted seminars and cranky literature along with their greed and right-wing ideology.

For example, PCI members get the WG Hill Privacy and PT book collection on CD. The titles include

  • “The ‘PT’ (Perpetual Traveler, Previous Taxpayer, Permanent Tourist)”
  • “How to Become an Honorary Consul”
  • “The Passport Report”
  • “Portable Trades & Occupations” and
  • “The Invisible Investor”

The latter work has been hawked in Panama before, by its co-author and publisher, one Marc M. Harris, now and for the next several years a resident of a US federal prison. Harris, the so-called “offshore asset protection guru,” also started out in right-wing US political circles — he was the Florida manager of Alexander Haig’s ill-fated primary campaign for the 1988 GOP presidential nomination. But then Harris got his Florida CPA license yanked for doing an audit of a company he owned without disclosing the conflict of interest and subsequently fled to Panama. Here he put a Che Guevara poster on his wall and affected a revolutionary posture, attracted such admirers in the PRD as now Housing Minister Balbina Herrera, obtained the protection of the thuggish former Attorney General José Antonio Sossa, tooled around town in a Jaguar and had a great time until the pyramid collapsed and the Comision Nacional de Valores held that his operations were unlicensed and thus illegal securities businesses. A flight from creditors to Nicaragua was cut short when Harris was arrested and handed over to American law enforcement, who wanted him for money laundering.

All of the foregoing raised many questions in this reporter’s mind, these of which were put to Freeman (Boswell) by email:

Is Venture Resources Group registered with Panama’s Comision Nacional de Valores or its Superintendencia de Bancos?

Is InterGlobal Finance registered with Panama’s Comision Nacional de Valores or its Superintendencia de Bancos?

In your Escape Artist article you said that you were headed to Panama but stopped in Costa Rica along the way and decided to stay. Have you decided to move to Panama?

At www.privacyclub.org/short_tour/benefits_main.htm you promote a book, “How to Become an Honorary Consul,” and allege a 100 percent success rate. How many honorary consuls in Panama have become such due to information you have provided?

Why should people not presume, on the face of it from your own promotions, that Venture Resources Group is a pyramid scheme?

Two of the emails provided on Freeman’s websites didn’t work — one was apparently lapsed and the other had this “spam protection” feature that wouldn’t let this reporter’s queries through. The third address was the charm, and within a few hours it elicited the following response:

Re: Your Questions
From: “Strategic Management” <businessfinance@hushmail.com>
Date: Wed, August 2, 2006 6:01 pm
To: editor@thepanamanews.com
Hi Eric,

I’m in receipt of your email and your questions.

By the slant of your questioning, it appears to me that you are not looking to write an objective article based on the facts.

Rather than ask about our legal registration with regulatory authorities, why don’t you ask about the nature of our activities to understand us enough in order to know if that is even appropriate? Maybe you don’t care about that.

Rather than ask if we are an (illegal) pyramid ‘scheme’ why don’t you define that for us first with specificity as the law defines it and then compare the actual characteristics of our program to such a scheme? Maybe you don’t care about those facts.

Rather than create an adversarial environment with pointed questions coming from ‘left field’ and without introduction or establishing any premise for a dialog, why don’t you ask for an interview with full disclosure of your purposes and intentions from the beginning? Maybe that’s not important to your ‘objective’.

It is clear to me that with your clumsy and unprofessional approach that you are not interested in the facts, but rather are looking for justification to go on a witch hunt.

I have plenty of experience with editors like you and under those circumstances you will write what you like to suit your agenda, regardless of the facts.

Therefore, there is no need for any interaction with me.

If you wish to have a meaningful and honest dialog and operate in good faith with clean hands, I am happy to accommodate. That’s the only way I operate.

However, that is not what I see from you so far and thus, I’m not interested in what The Panama News has to say. Our market is not in Panama.

Be careful to stand on the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Your activities are very public and anything less than the truth always causes problems.
Best Wishes,

Rex

Now, now. Just because this reporter who did graduate from law school and pass the bar just had a few questions and didn’t care to argue the intricacies of law with the champion of a third-hand hearsay fantasy about how the feds set off the Oklahoma City explosion….

And hey, now’s the time to buy! If the president, first lady and agriculture minister can get on the Internet to pump mafia-linked teak swindles, and the vice president and the administrator of the Panama Canal Authority can meet with the likes of jailed political fixer Tongsun Park, everything’s for sale in Panama. That includes the venture that Freeman a/k/a Boswell promotes as follows:

At this stage of the game, we have developed the perfect’PT’ business. We generate significant profits from our computer using online, internet based trading platforms in the Fx markets. We can also trade stocks, precious metals, indexes and commodities if we like and we do play with that to a limited degree.

I can do this anywhere! The Fx markets trade 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. We recently took a trip to Europe. I could hook up my laptop in the hotel room to a broadband connection which is now readily available in most’name’ hotels. No matter the time of day, or wherever I am, I can make money in the market. I was conducting my business in between tours in Paris, Vienna, Zurich, Lucern, Copenhagen and London !

What freedom! Being able to enjoy the best that the world has to offer, and my trading along the way paid for the trip, and then some!! How else can you do that?

In our training and development stages in the Fx markets we sorted through the bad and kept the good and have put all of this together now, into a complete training and support system for the benefit of others. We now wish to share the best of what we have learned and help others take shortcuts that we did not have available other than through our own trial and error. Through all of this experience we have developed a winning system and portfolio of resources that allows us to generate profits from our computer, from anywhere in the world, anytime of the day! I believe now, I am a true’PT’!

We have now put together a private investment club with an internet delivery system which allows access to the training and support materials we feel are needed for success. So, for those who seek the types of results in their lives that we have shared here, we are pleased to help and get you on the right track.

It was written as such on EscapeArtist.com, so it has to be true. Doesn’t it?

 

 

blast from the past: a charming extortion note

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letters

A charming extortion note from Tom McMurrain…

I hope you wake up one day

You met me and my wife at the Bristol. In the beginning we tried to prevent from laughing until we learned that you were actually somewhat human, so we thought. After all, you come to a five star hotel in the equivalent of a Mickey Mouse t-shirt. You were sincere in your conversation in that you are willing to look seriously at the real facts of San Cristobal, BUT you failed to make any effort! You are obviously one of the yellow journalists of Panama and I am going to put you in jail because you are a liar hiding behind a self-proclaimed disease and corrupt business practices. (Any reporter or editor that does not check his facts is not a real editor) What is wrong Eric; did your dad not respect you, did your mother touch you the wrong way? Is that why you try and tear down people who are doing good for Panama? I create jobs and you hide like a rat. Show up for court you coward. You are a city RAT just like Okke — What is your address?

You printed false information about my company and you stand by it and that’s why you are sucking wind and begging for money (The law of retribution). You have NO morals! Instead of making a living being an editor of a reputable business you beg! You are not a journalist. You are an Internet beggar! That is why you and Okke are butt buddies I guess. He is broke too by the way, (have you seen the shack he houses his wife and child in, it is depressing — but he is your friend) oh yea so is your convicted buddy Michele Lescure. Are you sleeping on her floor like you do your sisters? What’s wrong; did the lack of your anti-depression medicine set in? You have got to be the biggest loser I have ever met in my life because you are a paid liar and I have no respect for you. Are you being paid? Is Okke subsidizing your medication? Wake up and smell the coffee and realize that I am generating foreign direct investment for Panama and creating jobs that’s why people like me and not you.

You have chosen the low road and you have attempted to drag me into your miserable gutter. Guess what Eric? It won’t work because I am focused on bringing wealth to people through the incredible timing of this beautiful country. It is not my fault that people don’t take you seriously — you are negatively focused — you are a self-proclaimed begga… I AM GLAD I AM NOT YOU! You have had a chance to do good for this country and you have been nothing but a road block in its forward movement. You criticize Mireya…. Let us look at the facts; in the last five years she has dealt with 9/11, a 90% drop in foreign direct investment, a global recession, 7,000 properties coming up for sale and she lost 10% of her country’s revenue — but I am sure you can do a better job… (in your Mickey mouse t-shirt) you are nothing but a depressed fat loser hiding behind a keyboard and a computer screen. I hope this great country sticks it to you; you deserve it!

You are nothing better than a street-internet beggar and you do nothing good for Panama. I hope Sossa puts your life in a vise. God knows he has a tough job to do Öbut I am sure you can do it better, what an ego you have to be critical. (Can you even pay your water bill?) You can’t even support yourself you loser (I would vote for you to run a country… loser HAHAHAHA). You are doing nothing positive for Panama but tearing it down. If you don’t like Panama why don’t you leave? Crawl back under a rock… nobody will miss you not even Okke! (He has his own newspaper if you haven’t heard.)

If you need money for a plane ticket and the money to pay Sossa for your overdue debt to Social Seguro I will gladly pay it if you check into a place where you can get the necessary treatment you need. If it is any consolation I will be glad to buy you sorry website for $10K. Consider this firm offer until March 24th! After the 24th you are screwed!

 

Best Regards,

Tom McMurrain
Managing Director
tom@sancristobalsa.net

Editor’s note: I would NEVER wear Mickey Mouse, to a five-star hotel or anywhere else. It was Charlie the Tuna.

~~

Update: Tom (and his lawyer Michael Pierce) desisted in these efforts when Tom was arrested, extradited, tried, convicted and imprisoned in the USA for one of the scams that was accurately described in The Panama News. Panamanian justice never prosecuted his string of frauds here. Now out of prison, McMurrain styles himself as the Dalitomma, as in a minor league guru of greed. I stand by what I published.

Meanwhile, a series of hacker attacks that probably began in 2013 and peaked in 2015 has largely scattered The Panama News archives, which can largely be rescued from other places — cached online archives, old discs and so on. But it would take a monumental amount of labor to fully restore the archives. This bit of them we have recovered.

 

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Our Revolution on NAFTA renegotiation

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NAFTA has hollowed out the middle class

Thanks to your efforts we helped defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now we need your help again as the Trump administration seeks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

NAFTA and trade deals like it have been disastrous for workers and the environment. In the last several decades, American manufacturing has plummeted, and good paying jobs have been outsourced. Working families in our trading partners have similarly been displaced and disadvantaged by the same multi national corporations. We need fair trade that works for citizens and the environment!

This Tuesday, I will join other labor, environmental and trade activists as we rally in DC calling for fair renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Deal (NAFTA). Add your name to the petition we will deliver to the US Trade Representative calling for a transparent process that benefits workers, not corporations.

Rather than defending our manufacturing jobs and raising living standards for working families, NAFTA made it easier for large multinational corporations to move jobs out, and avoid regulations that protect workers and the environment.

Our trade deals have favored Wall Street and the largest corporations for far too long. We need a radical reimagining of what our trade policies are set to accomplish, and that begins with NAFTA. Please sign our petition calling for a renegotiation that benefits American workers, not Wall Street and multinational corporations.

Trade deals can be good for our economy, our workers, and the workers in our trading partners. Together, we can fight to make NAFTA the trade deal it should be: one where workers are treated fairly, the environment is treated with respect, and corporations play by our rules, not their own.

Thank you for taking this bold stand for workers everywhere.

In Solidarity,

Larry Cohen
Board Chair
Our Revolution

Democrats: vote at Saturday’s meeting — or by email now — Eric Jackson for chair

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EJ for chair

Eric Jackson for Chair

of Democrats Abroad Panama

you must be a US citizen living in Panama and at least 18 years old to join DA Panama
you must join Democrats Abroad to vote, but you can do so when you vote

 

VOTE
For the mailing about the meeting from Democrats Abroad Panama, click here.

 

history
We Democrats have a long history. A history major, Eric Jackson has worked to preserve historical sites and markers in both Panama and the United States. Know and live up to the best of our traditions!

 

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As communications director of Democrats Abroad Panama, Eric Jackson also reached out to US citizens in Panama who speak Spanish as their first language.

 

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Time spent to campaign — I’m running for chair of Democrats Abroad Panama

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Announcing the candidacy
Click on these graphics to see texts that amplify the discussion in each.

A point of personal privilege: the editor is campaigning this week

Eric Jackson for chair of Democrats Abroad Panama
vote Saturday, April 8 at 1 pm at the Balboa Union church
or send your proxy to thepanamanews@gmail.com

 

Free Okke!
Click on the graphic to read the text that goes with it.

 

transparency
Click on the graphic to read the text that goes with it.

 

music that a guy with two JDs likes
To get a start on understanding my cultural horizons, click on the graphic to go to a relevant selection of music. If education is to mean culture, I didn’t graduate from high school but then managed to get a bachelor’s degree with a double major in history and political science and a juris doctor degree in law.

 

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The political views of an online journalist whose other job is as a Third World peasant — click on the graphic to read the text that goes with it.

 

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Considerations and history from a highly personal viewpoint

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IF you think that I am in rare stark raving mad form today, a bit of background.

I actually voted for Ricky Martinelli in 2009, given that Balbina Herrera was the alternative. Another long set of stories about Balbina if you want to hear any of that tangent. E.g., way back when and not at all the culmination of abuses:

 

 

But before any of that, when Martinelli was Mireya Moscoso’s minister of canal affairs and the ACP – of all institutions! – was running this land titling in the western canal watershed program, I noted Martinelli’s friends and reputedly family ties to land claims there, particularly the Petaquilla gold mine. Via a now deceased friend I got this warning that Martinelli would drag me into court and destroy me and The Panama News if I kept it up. Years later the gold mine swindle and his connections with it came to light via other media.

I expected Martinelli to be an ass, and that if it had been Balbina people would have started to disappear.

I definitively turned against Martinelli with the January 2011 televised burning to death of several boys at the juvenile prison in Tocumen. Only a few weeks before he had signed a law purporting to legalize any act of violence committed by an on-duty cop. As a matter of state policy, the prison was deprived of water for eight straight days, leading to a disturbance. And the boys in the cell set on fire – chosen for the TV cameras to record – had not even participated in the disturbance.

 

 

The wife of a friend was one of Martinelli’s vice ministers at the time, an occasional source of mine and one of the 150 people whose telecommunications were constantly monitored and put into a daily report that went on Martinelli’s desk. All emails between me and her thus got caught in that net.

But far more than that, and a far higher priority for Martinelli, was Miguel Antonio Bernal. I run his columns from time to time in The Panama News. He is my lawyer. He is a frequent source about legal questions in my journalism. I worked on his 2009 mayoral campaign. All of my phone calls and emails with him were in those reports that went onto Martinelli’s desk.

Did you remember a high court magistrate blubbering and the attorney general angrily accusing about fear, oppression and blackmail from the Martinelli camp a few weeks back, such that the Supreme Court would be forced to drop the charges? It was alleged that it’s not about just the files on 150 people found in a police laptop not long after Martinelli left office, but files on some 5,000 people. Northing totally clear, but see http://laestrella.com.pa/panama/nacional/querellantes-contra-martinelli-piden-juez-revele-chantaje-renuncie/24077874

That would square with Martinelli’s threat to what was left of the Cambio Democratico legislative caucus right after the 2014 election, when he said that they had better do what he told them because he had a file on every one of them. But only a few of those people were among the 150.

That also squares with the reputed Cambio Democratico “big data” strategy, in which by all appearances and non-denial denials (they would never directly answer the question but instead said that the data could be purchased anywhere) they took the files from government agencies and crossed indexed them into a political database. Familial ties and voting records from the Tribunal Electoral. Tax records from the DGI. Medical records and pension data from the Social Security Fund, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development. And so on. Their party call centers and grocery bag delivery coordinators had access to this database.

Would they have a database with that information that was available to campaign workers, but apart from that also with eavesdropping data integrated into it? I wonder.

The Panama News website suffered a series of hack attacks beginning in 2013, getting particularly heavy in the week or so before the 2014 election – along with other attacks on every other electronic news medium in Panama that Martinenelli did not control. The difference for me was no computer nerd budget like La Prensa or TVN. From December 2014 to July 2015 our wounded website was shut down, and archives particularly about Martinelli stuff were deleted. Might have just been criminal spam gangsters stripping a clunking website for email addresses.

For immediate release, July 18, 2016 by Democrats Abroad Panama

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Trump, the Chump on the stump, flooded out
The flooding at the opening of the Trump Ocean Club in Panama City, a sure sign that even as an investor Donald J. Trump is incapable of defending his own interests — let alone those of a great nation — against elemental natural forces. Photo by Maydee Romero Sprang from La Prensa.
A Trump presidency: what it would mean for the USA and for Panama, part 1

Climate change

chump tweet

In Cleveland this week, mostly wealthy Republicans will gather for their national convention in air-conditioned splendor while in the poor neighborhoods people will sweat out a severe heat wave. Inside the convention hall a bizarre discourse will unfold, one part of which is an argument promoted by oil and coal companies that climate change is a politically motivated hoax. It’s an argument that permeates US society and the social media and even makes its way into high places in Panamanian public institutions.

Think of the enhanced climate change disaster that a Trump presidency would be for the United States. The national embarrassment of having the only leader of an industrialized country who denies that the climate is changing would be the smaller part of it. The US status as a leading scientific power, nurtured by the polymath geniuses Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson from the time that the republic was founded, developed since 1846 by the Smithsonian Institution, popularized among the middle class by the middle and late 19th century legislation that established free public schools and the land grant universities, mobilized for US industry in times of war and peace, bolstered by generations of noteworthy scientists immigrating from other lands, shared with the rest of the world via the Fulbright grants — all of that would be diminished and endangered. The nation’s public infrastructure defenses against rising seas, devastating storms and severe droughts would be compromised. Weird religion and greedy business practices would appear together in US courts when liability for foreseeable environmental damage that could have been reduced or prevented is attributed to God. All of the social dislocations, wars and mass migrations that climate change is already causing and which will get worse would be explained by crude ethnic and religious stereotypes, and the world would see Washington engaged in immigrant-bashing instead of joining in a well informed and well coordinated international response.

Also, think of what climate change denial in a Republican White House that’s supported by a Republican Congress would mean for Panama. Surely there would be less funding and more political interference for that leading outpost of international academia on the isthmus, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. When people are forced by rising seas to abandon their homes on low-lying islands in Guna Yala or Bocas del Toro, or when traditional agricultural uses of parts of Panama become untenable, or when Panamanian water systems become even more dysfunctional, Panamanians could expect lots of derision rather than much in the way of US technical help. A US government that deserts the front lines of climate change response means US citizens living in Panama being blamed by some of their neighbors for policies coming from Washington.

The American people, including those of us living in Panama, don’t need this nonsense.

 

For more information on Democrats Abroad Panama — the local branch here of the Democratic Party in the USA — including about our stands on issues and our efforts to register and mobilize US citizens (including Panamanian-US dual nationals) to vote in November’s US elections, contact our interim acting chair, Phil Edmonston, by email at lemonaid@earthlink.net.

Democrats Abroad international officer nominations

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DA

Dear Democrats Abroad,

It is time for our bi-annual election of international Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) officers.  Note that these are global positions, not at the country level. The Elections Committee is pleased to be calling for nominations of candidates for the following positions:

International Chair

International Vice-Chair

International Treasurer

International Secretary

International Counsel

Each international officer is to serve a term of two years, and none may serve for more than two consecutive terms in the same office. The Chair and Vice Chair must be of opposite sex and from different Country Committees, and no more than two of the officers may be from the same Country Committee at the time of the election. The International Counsel must be a qualified legal practitioner. As called for in the DPCA Charter, the Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC) is required to forward to the International Chair and other members of the DPCA, in writing (electronic submissions accepted), names of the qualifying individuals nominated by the Elections Committee, at least forty-five (45) days in advance (March 29, 2017) of the scheduled election meeting of the DPCA (May 13, 2017; Arlington, Virginia).

Nominations for office may also be made from the floor at the election meeting.

The newly elected officers assume their duties after the election, at the Arlington, Virginia, meeting.

Please submit nominations in writing (electronic mail accepted)  with the name, resident country, and office(s) no later than 9:00 a.m., EST, March 19, 2017, to the Nominations and Elections Committee at nominations@democratsabroad.org.

The 2017 Nominations and Elections Committee is comprised of Ruth South McCreery (Japan) as chair along with Shari Temple (Germany), Adrianne George (UK), and Meredith Wheeler (France).

At present, the international officers are:

Chair –  Katie Solon (Germany)

Vice-Chair – Art Schankler (Serbia)*

Secretary – Julia Bryan (Czech Republic)*

Treasurer – Tom Schmidt (Japan)*

Counsel – Orlando Vidal (United Arab Emirates)

*Asterisks indicate officers who are in their first term and are eligible to run again.

Each nomination should contain an affirmation that the nominee is qualified to run for the office in question. That requires a confirmation of the following requirements:

(1) the nominee must be a U.S. citizen (copy of passport will be required);

(2) the nominee must be living abroad;

(3) the nominee must adhere to the principles of the Democratic Party of the United States;

(4) the nominee must be a member of Democrats Abroad.

Each nominee will be asked to complete a questionnaire to provide a detailed candidate profile that will be available on the DA website.

Please direct any questions to nominations@democratsabroad.org.

Respectfully submitted, on behalf of the DPCA Nominations and Elections Committee (2017),

Ruth South McCreery (Chair)

Democrats Abroad

 

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