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¿Wappin? A tribute to Nobel laureate Bob Dylan

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Marshall Dylan?
Bob Dylan in 2013. Photo by Xavier Badosa.

The Wappin Radio Show pays tribute to Bob Dylan, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature

it’s world culture now, but still a reflection of the best American values

 

The Rolling Stones – Like a Rolling Stone
https://youtu.be/eprd5k5Fppc

Carly Simon & James Taylor – The Times They Are A Changin’
https://youtu.be/_JUhUXp80SE

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Subterranean Homesick Blues
https://youtu.be/NhoOOOln-Fw

Patti Smith – Changing of the Guards
https://youtu.be/BWAlcb-OZTw

Luciano – Knocking on Heaven’s Door
https://youtu.be/OF4P3-APfBk

Sinéad O’Connor – I Believe in You
https://youtu.be/318ZDSy3zn4

Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower
https://youtu.be/TLV4_xaYynY

Mick Hucknall – One of Us Must Know
https://youtu.be/dddETaRE0Es

Odetta – Masters of War
https://youtu.be/38dOYW7-B0E

Hamilton Quearney – Hurricane
https://youtu.be/ondacHOPcg8

Adele – Make You Feel My Love
https://youtu.be/0put0_a–Ng

Never Shout Never – It Ain’t Me, Babe
https://youtu.be/Rv9f955WIb4

Bruce Springsteen – Chimes of Freedom
https://youtu.be/G3onnJuBS18

Norah Jones – Forever Young
https://youtu.be/7jEKY-3eNZc

Joan Baez – Blowing in the Wind
https://youtu.be/DFvkhzkS4bw

 

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The Panama News blog links, October 17, 2016

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The Panamanian community marches in Brooklyn. Starting with the October 21 Festival of the Black Christ in Portobelo, picking up for the November patriotic parades and on through Carnival, Afro-Panamanian tourism is a big business here even if the ad cartel portrays Panama as a tourist destination where there are no black people.

The Panama News blog links

a Panama-centric selection of other people’s work
una selección Panamá-céntrica de las obras de otras personas

JOC, Panama Canal struggles to boost container ship transits

Info-Europa, Car plunges into Gatun lock

The Maritime Executive, ACP moves ahead on Corozal port

La Estrella, Kourulis: El puerto de Corozal solo beneficiará al operador privado

Irish Times, Irish-built yacht sails around Arctic in seven weeks

AFP, FIDH pide desechar canal de Nicaragua por impacto humano y ambiental

Global Times, Don’t assume that Chinese private firms have government backing

Costa Rica Star, AirPanama announces new Costa Rica-Roatan route

Los Angeles Times, Ruiz comes through for the Dodgers with go-ahead RBI

ESPN FC, Mexico edges Panama in friendly

ESPN, New Year’s rematch for Jezreel Corrales and Takashi Uchiyama

PR: Ericsson takes control of Cable & Wireless Caribbean, Panama network

AFP, Comisión de expertos concluye informe sobre evasión fiscal

The Guardian, Brexit financier Arron Banks shows up in the Panama Papers

Reuters, Swiss banks in money laundering “red zone”

Huffington Post, WikiLeaks reveals corporate TISA demands of the EU

PanAm Post, Can rebounding oil prices save Venezuela?

Mirgalia, Chile’s privatized pension system fails

STRI, Monkey movements explained by Panama’s forest structure

Reuters, Cuban town avoided Hurricane Matthew’s deadly fury with preparation

CNN, Global deal to cut HFC greenhouse gases

Mongabay, Climate change could be worse for fisheries than we thought

San Angelo Standard-Times, New screwworm outbreak in Florida

La Estrella, Asesora de Kerry evite comentario sobre el caso de Martinelli

El País, Una trama corrupta implica a la petrolera ecuatoriana

The Express Tribune, Pakistan’s high court to hear Panama Papers case

Telemetro, Taiwán detiene a banquero señalado en caso Mossack Fonseca

Fusion, Trump riles up supporters to intimidate minority voters

PRI, One of the six US immigrant Nobel winners on the push to limit immigration

AI, “If I stay, I’ll be killed:” Central America’s refugee crisis

Rolling Stone, Six million adults who won’t influence the US elections

The Intercept, First direct US entry into the Yemen War

TVN, Primera dama no confía en el sistema

Transparency International, Have the BVI cleaned up after the Panama Papers?

Gandásegui, La oligarquía entierra la paz en Colombia

Tate, A dark day in Colombia

Morsolin, El reto de las alcadías

González & Dominzain, Anatomy of the new Brazilian right

Faithful, The stolen Cáceres case files

Caribean News Now!, Haitian elections reset

BBC, Aid trucks looted during UN chief’s Haiti visit

Jessop, African-Caribbean-Pacific Group shouldn’t let the EU set its fate

EFE, SIP reitera amenazas a libertad de prensa en América

Slate, Douthat: Trump isn’t entirely the Republicans’ fault

Stiglitz, How Trump happened

Keillor, Donald Trump is four centuries too late

New York Review of Books, Panama: The Hidden Trillions

Blades, ¿Puede la letra de la musica popular ser considerada como literatura?

 

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COMENENAL, La crisis en Seguro Social

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CSS
Seguro Social en el Interior. Foto por el Municipio de Barú.

La Crisis de la CSS

por COMENENAL

Cumpliendo el mandato de la Asamblea de hoy se generan 3 Comunicados a toda nuestra membresía y al país. El primero de ellos muestra nuestra postura ante la Crisis y debacle de la CSS:

  1. Hace 5 semanas dimos la alerta sobre el cálculo matemático que permitía pronosticar que de seguir el rumbo de ese momento, para después de la 2ª semana de octubre se paralizarían todas las cirugías electivas, procedimientos e incluso hospitalizaciones de la CSS en todo el país.

    1. Sin esa alerta, estaríamos hoy frente a esa tragedia.

    2. Las autoridades actuales de la CSS ni siquiera lo sabían. O sea que COMENENAL les ayudo a que lo vieran.

    3. Decían tener 85% de abastecimiento.

    4. La realidad: menos de 60% de abastecimiento de medicamentos y menos de 30% de abastecimientos en Insumos Médico-quirúrgicos.

  2. Producto de esa alerta se tomaron una serie de correctivos entre los cuales destaca el acuerdo con Contraloría de la República para Compras Directas apremiantes para paliar la crisis.

    1. Estas, en el caso de los insumos medico quirúrgicos, no fueron hechas por actos públicos, sino por invitaciones directas, lo que da margen a suspicacias sobre favoritismo. O sea, se le dio un trato incorrecto a la crisis y sus medidas de excepción.

  3. Algunos asesores del gobierno han pensado que con dichas medidas se resolvía la Crisis hasta por 6 meses. Nada más falso. Nuestros cálculos, que hasta ahora no han fallado, nos permiten predecir que la CSS no llega siquiera a finalizar el año.

    1. De hecho hasta ahora nada ha cambiado en los Depósitos centrales, regionales y de grandes Unidades Ejecutoras de la CSS: En promedio 60% de abastecimiento en medicamentos y de 30% de abastecimiento en insumos médico-quirúrgicos.

  4. Durante esta Crisis ha sido evidente la incapacidad gerencial de la actual administración de la CSS para realmente ponerse a trabajar a favor de la población y los pacientes.

    1. Incapacidad manifiesta para introducir correctivos en todos los procesos de planeación, programación, selección y compra de las Tecnologías sanitarias deficitarias (medicamentos, insumos médico-quirúrgicos, reactivos de laboratorio, reactivos de imagenología, de odontología, y otros).

    2. Incapacidad para detectar a los jefes de departamento, verdaderamente responsables de la crisis: el jefe de Abastecimiento que sigue insistiendo en mentir y hablar de 85% de abastecimiento, según hizo saber el Dr. López (sub-director general) en Debate Abierto del domingo pasado cuando declaró que esa eran laas cifras del informe oficial de este jefe de departamento. Jefe de Insumos Médico-Quirúrgicos para calcular las verdaderas cantidades necesarias para el trabajo ininterrumpido de la CSS, el de Finanzas y presupuesto, que anda metiéndose en las decisiones de que comprar. Los de Ingeniería de la CSS, que intentan aprobar a tambor batiente contratos millonarios que no cumplen los mínimos criterios técnicos, lo que significa lesión patrimonial directa para la institución.

    3. Incapacidad para mantener a los jefes de departamento que si están cumpliendo con las leyes y normas que dictan la actuación correcta de los funcionarios públicos.

  5. En medio de esta crisis se han dedicado a seguir tomando malas decisiones, de las cuales hay múltiples ejemplos a denunciar:

    1. Insisten en seguir con las Primas de Productividad que han sido co-partícipes del actual desabastecimiento.

    2. Siguen insistiendo en demoler el Hospital Regional viejo de Chiriquí para hacer otro contrato para construcción de la 4ª torre.

    3. Han retrasado, a un punto de riesgo, la construcción del puente que interconecta el Hospital nuevo con el viejo. O sea que al momento de inaugurarse el nuevo, los pacientes tendrían que ser pasados de uno a otro, a través de la calle, bajo sol o lluvia. Por supuesto con paraguas. Como no son sus familiares.

    4. Han mediatizado esta construcción, queriendo amarrarla en la adenda con un contrato para la construcción de una cocina de línea fría (una técnica moderna creada en Francia, y usada en España, que aquí en Panamá esta implementada en 4 compañías de venta de alimentos, incluida Sky Chef que provee alimentos a aerolíneas). ¿Dijimos alguna mala palabra?

    5. Hemos conocido que dicho proyecto para la CSS, no cumple los criterios técnicos y especificaciones internacionales. Por ejm., a tambor batiente y presionando a funcionarios han sido aprobadas las millonarias compras para el Hospital Nelson Collado de Chitré y para el Complejo Hospitalario Metropolitano e igual intentan hacer con Chiriquí.

    6. En el caso de Chitré el contrato sería por $4.8 millones, cuando lo ofertado realmente corresponde más a una cocina de línea caliente tradicional, que no sobrepasa el valor de $0.8 millones. O sea, un sobrecosto de $4 millones. No cumple el criterio de factibilidad económica para la inversión, que según cálculos internacionales debe ser para Hospitales de al menos 400 camas para garantizar el retorno de la inversión. El hospital de Chitré tiene sólo 150 camas.

    7. En el caso del Complejo Hospitalario metropolitano AAM (que lleva el nombre de su líder, y deberían honrar), la consultoría para intentar introducir este contrato, fue hecha por un costo de $35,000. La misma compañía consultora fue juez y parte pues recomendó este contrato, y ella misma fue la beneficiada. Hubo sesiones fallidas donde los ingenieros extranjeros, no idóneos en el tema, ofendieron y denigraron al personal técnico panameño que debía dar su aval a este proyecto, bajo el silencio cómplice de autoridades de la CSS presentes, que evidentemente deseaban pasar estas aprobaciones de contratos a tambor batiente. Finalmente, y obviando a los jefes nacionales lograr torcer brazos de subjefes. Estos también deberían remojar sus barbas o faldas. Este proyecto lo valoraron en $11.8 millones. Qué casualidad, de nuevo $0.8 millones que es lo que debe costar la cocina caliente que quieren pasar como fría. O sea, katovsky por liebresky.

    8. Para lograr que estos proyectos pasaran, trajeron ante la JD de la CSS, al mismo personaje que meses pasados fue sacado de jefe de Tecnología e innovación. ¿Qué hace un personaje de esa reputación sustentando proyectos millonarios en la CSS, siendo funcionario de la misma? ¿siendo Juez y parte? ¿o ya renunció? ¿o desea que lo renuncien?

    9. Al parecer hay algunas “pequeñas deficiencias” en las especificaciones de algunas construcciones, pero debemos investigar un poco más.

    10. En el caso de la cocina de línea fría de Chiriquí, la quieren implementar sólo para las 300 camas nuevas (o sea bajo el punto de equilibrio financiero de 400 camas), duplicando así dos cocinas: la antigua que se queda en el hospital viejo y esta, obligando a doble gasto de personal y recursos (otra lesión para la CSS). Para esta “media mitad” pretenden destinar un área de sólo 700 mts2, que no alcanzan y que ni siquiera permite la circulación de los carritos de distribución y trabajar al mismo tiempo en las mesas de producción, pues se necesitan al menos 1,500 mts2. El criterio técnico emitido recomendó adecuar un área externa de + 0 – 1,000 mts2 más, a lo cual se opuso DENISA, porque “esa área es para la 4ª torre”, cuando esa decisión habían aceptado hace cuatro meses, depende del dictamen estructural del viejo Hospital, que dará en meses la UTP. Pero evidentemente ya ellos lo dan por un hecho. Hoooo y grande las ganas de destruir ¡¡¡!!!

    11. La descripción de la compañía que licita las “cocinas de línea mixta fría-caliente (algo que acaban de inventar) pero a precios de línea fría, resulta ser que es una compañía de repuestos de autos, y además al final en letra pequeña …”de servicios hospitalarios” ¿???!!!!!!

  6. Preguntamos, ¿sabrá la Junta Directiva de todo esto y de toda la triste realidad nacional de la CSS?; ¿o seguirán engañados por las cifras de abastecimiento de arriba del 85%? ¿sabrán que fueron burlados por un funcionario destituido de su cargo de sub director nacional, que evidentemente está al servicio de los intereses de una compañía que pretende ser proveedora de la CSS.

  7. ¿Qué dice a todo esto la Contraloría de la República?

  8. ¿qué dice a todos esto el presidente de la república? Que prefirió reprimir hoy a los pacientes en la vía transistmica?

  9. Ya se supo que al final, la intención es que las cocinas no cubran la demanda para así justificar la externalización de la comida hospitalaria, como sucedería en algún hospital de la CSS donde se gastarían $25,000 diarios y unos $¾ de millón mensualmente.

  10. Igual nos han dicho que la intención al final, es externalizar (privatizar) las farmacias y los laboratorios de la CSS. Sin duda eso favorecería a alguien.

  11. Ya no preguntaremos a las autoridades si están dispuestas a hacer algo. COMENENAL, tomará su puesto de batalla, para preservar la institución y contra toda intención privatizadora de ésta, o cualquier administración.

 

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What the Democrats are saying

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her
Hillary Clinton is one of the most predictable and “on message” politicians there is, down to the forced smile when most people would be raging. There are people who dislike her for that. Her statements tend to be non-controversial. Now there is controversy swirling around her about the hacked emails of her campaign operatives. The suggestion is that Russia is behind the hacking, which is intended to affect the US elections. The belief that the Kremlin did it and the assertion that political manipulation of this sort is unprecedented draw some skepticism, but the contents of the emails reveal few surprises. They reflect what Clinton and people around her have been saying, or others have been saying about them, for quite some time.

What Democrats are saying

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What the Republicans are saying

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chump
One of the reasons for the success of the Trump campaign — and perhaps its downfall to come — is that he usually says several astounding things per day. In the second debate he broke with precedent and usual courtesy by promising to have Hillary Clinton thrown in prison if he is elected.

What Republicans are saying

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Student defender back on her job

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Anayansi
The University of Panama’s new rector, Eduardo Flores, signs the papers to give law professor Anayansi Turner her old job of student defender back. Photo by the University of Panama.

Back on the job

by Eric Jackson

Officially installed as rector a day early because the specified inauguration day fell on a weekend, Eduardo Flores has been busy at a University of Panama that’s turning the page after a generation dominated by Gustavo García de Paredes. Eleven days into his tenure, on October 10, Flores got down to a bit of business that was one of the reasons why he was elected, reinstating Anayansi Turner Yau as both a professor of labor law and as student defender.

Turner, an attorney and law professor, took her job seriously and that quickly offended García de Paredes. The confrontation came to a head as Turner was conducting an investigation of widespread sexual harassment of female students by male professors. García de Paredes demanded to know the identities of not only those who had openly complained but of confidential witnesses and what had been discovered about the allegedly offending professors. These latter were generally men who owed their positions to being García de Paredes supporters. The self-proclaimed “Rector Magnifico” seized what files he could and left Turner in an empty office. Later he fired Turner as student defender and as a faculty member. He then disobeyed court orders for her reinstatement.

Sexual harassment was an issue that affected the former rector’s last re-election campaign. It shook up the campus leftist groups that had supported García de Paredes — they found women on campus unwilling to go along with that. The overall student vote went massively against the old rector but on the weighted voting system he got one last term. Turner’s firing was one of the main incidents galvanizing the MOVADUP university reform movement.

Such long-ignored campus problems as sexual harassment, falsified academic credentials, cheating and political favoritism will be big challenges for the new administration. It took Flores a week and a half to get around to reinstating Turner because his first two orders of business were to assemble a new management team — despite the outgoing rector’s decree that all of his vice presidents and other top administrators would retain their jobs — and to confront a budget crisis. On the latter score Flores — a physics professor — has submitted an austere budget that generally holds the line on salaries but frees up a bit more money than was previously allocated for research.

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Jackson: Diasporas, Mad cartoonists and your right to vote

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voting
The different states have different deadlines and rules, and many of them have intentionally confusing rules designed to selectively suppress the votes of certain target constituencies, usually African Americans or Latinos. October 11 is the last day to register in FL, PA, OH, MI, GA, IN, IL, TX, LA, DC, NM and KY. In several other places it’s the last day to register by one method but not for another. Generally you vote in the last place you lived in the USA, and in most places you can register to vote online. Go to Vote From Abroad to find out the particulars of where you vote, and register.
Breaking Update: By court order Florida’s voter registration deadline has been extended by one day, until October 12

Diasporas, mad cartoonists
and your right to vote

by Eric Jackson

Diasporas almost always begin as an awful trauma, whether for an individual, a family or a nation. It’s especially true when the move is forced, but the sorts of forces that drive people to leave their countries often defy neat descriptions. In the Babylonian Captivity and the Middle Passage, defeated people were taken away to lives of hardship and servitude. Often, however, there is no authority telling people that as a matter of law or political edict they must leave their homes, but the ravages of war, famine, plague or drought make the old life in the old place untenable. The historic collective memories of such events echo today in those sectors of the American electorate who are descended from those who were taken by force from Africa, time and again driven from place to place for their Jewish ethnicity or religion, driven out of Ireland during potato famine, compelled to leave many a land torn by war or so on.

But along the way, diasporas tend to morph, partially reverse and feed beautiful things growing out of the sorrow. People intermarry, assimilate into new languages or cultures, maintain old ties, move back and forth, pass old ethnic wisdom on to new generations and change the societies into which they have moved. Americans have jazz and all of its offshoots, pizza, Hollywood culture, country music, urban political organizations, the US status as a great scientific power and many other thoroughly assimilated parts of the nation’s life as the direct results of how grim migrations that washed onto North America’s shores evolved into happier things.

And some of us went back, keeping our US citizenship and our various strange cultural mixes. Americans also affect the cultures, economies and lives of places where we go, or to whence we return.

It’s a big threat to some. If the Ku Klux Klan had their way back in the 1920s, Americans wouldn’t know the concept of a pepperoni pizza. If their contemporary political heirs have their way, California avocado growers would be ruined by the suppression of Cinco de Mayo festivities. There is a Panamanian demagogue or two who would kick all the gringos out, along with other foreign elements, even though there has been an American community here since the 1840s.

The other day those descended from the builders of the original Panama Canal — most of whom were black people from the West Indies — marched through one of their diaspora strongholds, Brooklyn. It was beautiful. But to some, it was a big threat. Not for any reason. Fear and hatred for no reason, or for imagined or extremely exaggerated reasons, is the basis for so much of US politics these days.

But Americans living abroad — of the “non-ethnic” polyglot unilingual middle culture, from the various spectra of dual citizens, of “ethnics abroad” now living in third cultures — we tend to have life experiences that make us know better. No census data are handy, but it is often and credibly estimated that there are at least eight million of us if you count by citizenship. We have the right to vote and our special ringside seats from which we observe world events. All Americans benefit from our input in the US national discourse.

Sometimes, however, diasporas and assimilations get deluged by new waves, distorted by international hostilities, exploited for economic or political gain or marginalized by ignorance or design. Consider, for example, America’s oldest non-indigenous ethnic community, the Cuban-Americans.

You may object. A group of 100 English settlers founded Jamestown in 1607, and the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620. But San Agustín, now St. Augustine, was founded as a Spanish-speaking town with close ties to Cuba in 1565 by the Spanish Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. A stop along the trade route between Spain and Cuba and then points beyond, people came and went and a Cuban-American community was well established before there was a United States of America, a State of Florida or a Republic of Cuba.

That great independence advocate whose legend is embraced both by the present government of Cuba and its most ardent Cuban and Cuban-American foes, José Martí? He spent much of his life in the United States. The grand-daddy of teams in the old Negro Leagues that existed before baseball was integrated in the wake of World War II? Those would be the Cuban Giants, originally of New Jersey, which had a Cuban-American following even if not so many Cuban players.

And out of New Jersey’s Cuban-American community came the man who made Mad Magazine’s publisher Bill Gaines rich, Don Martin. Many of his fans had no idea of any ethnic identity — he was the teller of weird tales involving middle class male angst and strange onomatopoeia.

Then a Cuban exile came to Mad, the great Antonio Prohías. Mr. Prohias headed the Cuban editorial cartoonists’ association before and during the revolution and at the time Fidel Castro lauded his lampoons against the old regime. Then after the revolution Castro wanted safely obedient cartoonists and Prohías wasn’t one of those. Taking very little with him, he made his way to the United States. But he didn’t become one of those mouthpieces of the Cuban exile leadership, much of which reviled him before the revolution and was looking for hardcore counter-revolutionaries, the most ultra of Cold Warriors. Actually, with his Spy vs Spy strips in Mad, Prohías was an inspiration to a generation that rebelled against the Cold War and its most outrageous failure, the Vietnam War. His depictions of morally indistinguishable operatives hatching ruthless plots against one another took root and is an enduring theme in American culture.

Back in Cuba, there is an underground that reveres the memories and works of the now departed Martin and Prohías, but the US embargo has all but paralyzed the back-and-forth cultural crossbreeding that characterizes the social relations of the United States with most of the rest of the Americas. It also means that there is a negligible absentee vote cast by US citizens and Cuban-American duals from the island of Cuba.

In this strange election year one side of the divide would make sure that there are no ballots cast from Cuba, except perhaps from military personnel ordered to torture people at Guantanamo Bay. They don’t like Cubans or Cuban-Americans but want the votes of the latter, figuring that in Little Havana they hate the Castro brothers enough to elect someone who hates everything for which Little Havana stands, and hates all of its residents as well.

Sadly, this election comes without Martin and Prohías among us to draw jokes that are obliquely about it. Let it not come without the millions of American voters who live abroad lending our wit and wisdom to the process. The deadlines are here. Register and vote now.

 

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MOVIN, The impunity judgment

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their game
“Crimes with impunity”

A judgment that translates as impunity

communique of the Independent Movement (MOVIN) on the
occasion of the September 23 judgment of the Second Tribunal

We can’t pretend to live in a civilized country and remain silent in the face of such shameful behavior on the part of those who are supposed to assure respect for the constitution and laws of the republic, for the protection of civil rights and freedoms, for peaceful coexistance and the defense of essential democratic values.

To allege that a plea bargain with one individual eliminates the crime or abolishes responsibility for the other participants in that crime is an insult to citizens’ intelligence. That this pretension comes from magistrates of an appeals court is unacceptable, as it translates as impunity.

We demand an investigation by the Supreme Court, and that the Public Ministry act with celerity under the procedures and principles appropriate to it in the face of a judgment of this nature.

 

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Alleged money launderers get off on someone else’s plea

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public enemies
Former Vice President Felipe Virzi and former presiding Supreme Court magistrate Alejandro Moncada Luna, when they were both on the gravy train. Photo by the Supreme Court.

The ACP retains one of the Moncada Luna gang on its board

A high profile criminal’s plea gets alleged accomplices off the hook

by Eric Jackson

Former Vice President and ex-banker Felipe ‘Pipo’ Virzi, current Panama Canal Authority board member Nicolás Corcione Pérez Balladares, former presidential inner circle figure Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Calvo Latorraca, prisoner spouse and former government functionary María del Pilar Fernández de Moncada Luna, Julián París Rodríguez, Jorge Espino Méndez, Alberto Ortega Maltez, Felipe Rodríguez Guardia, Humberto Juárez Barahona, María Gabriela Reyna López, Mauricio Ortiz Quesada, Claudio Poma Murialdo Sommaruga, Óscar Iván Rivera and Francisco Filiu Nigaglioni beat the rap on someone else’s plea.

All accused of laundering the ill-gotten gains for which the former presiding magistrate of the Supreme Court, Alejandro Moncada Luna, is now doing time in El Renacer Penitentiary near Gamboa, they had the charges quashed and the investigations forever barred by the Second Superior Tribunal of Justice because the money laundering investigations against them started in the files of the case that sent the former magistrate to prison. That case ended with a plea bargain that had Moncada Luna pleading guilty to forgery of documents and amassing wealth while in public office that could not be explained as coming from a legitimate source. The deal barred any other investigations or prosecutions of Moncada Luna.

The tribunal held that this frees all of Moncada Luna’s accomplices from all of his many criminal activities from legal responsibility for any of their own criminal acts. The specific case is about laundering Moncada Luna’s millions in bribe and kickback money, but those investigations led to several strings of other crimes, the investigations of which are now in danger of being similarly ended.

The three-judge panel that let the alleged members of the gang off was headed by high court magistrate Wilfredo Sáenz, sitting with the lower court. The rationale was that it was double jeopardy for the accomplices, who were not and could not have been parties to Moncada Luna’s case before the legislature, to be tried for their own related crimes. The September 23 decision, written by Sáenz with magistrate Luis Mario Carrasco dissenting and magistrate María de Lourdes Estrada Villar concurring, drew a quick rebuke from Sáenz’s high court colleague Harry Díaz, who called it “disastrous.” Díaz said that he would be looking into possible charges against Sáenz for the ruling, which would have to be taken up by the National Assembly if at all. Legislator and former attorney general Ana Matilde Gómez said that the decision is a sign that Moncada Luna still maintains his “tentacles in the system.”

Some of the criminal cases involve Panama Canal Authority board member Nicolás Corcione’s alleged role in a scheme to skim and launder proceeds from overpriced courthouse construction and renovation contracts. These cases are effectively ended by the appeals court’s decision. Precedent counts for little in the Civil Code family of legal systems to which Panama belongs, but if this ruling becomes a general practice then criminal organizations of all sorts will cover themselves by having one of their members strike a plea bargain, ending the prosecution of all of his or her accomplices, including the main intellectual authors of crimes.

Minister of Canal Affairs Roberto Roy maintains that the Panama Canal Authority does not have the power to remove a member of its board for unethical behavior. President Juan Carlos Varela maintains that the removal of an ACP board member is beyond the powers of his office. However, as the ACP moves to go into the ports business — taking jurisdiction for that away from the Panama Maritime Authority — and get into oil-fired power plants, fuel pipelines and the creation of a regional “coal hub” in Panama, the presence of Corcione on the ACP board may be cited in the arguments against the ACP’s entry into non-canal businesses.

[Editor’s note: So that readers are fully aware of biases, this reporter despises Alejandro Moncada Luna, as do many other journalists in this country. The man was General Noriega’s official in charge of shutting down opposition media in the later years of the dictatorship. Later, as a private attorney after his time heading the Judicial Technical Police and before he was placed on the Supreme Court by now fugitive ex-president Ricardo Martinelli, he was the private prosecutor in a fraudulent and failed attempt against this reporter, wherein Moncada Luna alleged that it was criminal defamation for The Panama News to note that his client, former “patriot” militia shill and expatriate financial hustler Mark Boswell (alias Rex Freeman) had been arrested in Colorado for fraud. But the state records and Boswell’s own boasts revealed that he was not only arrested, but convicted and sent to prison for a year and a half on that charge. (The Panama News only reported the arrest at the time because of uncertainty whether the case was under appeal.) So this reporter has little use for Moncada Luna or his accomplices. Whether some of those who were under investigation actually were accomplices, however, is something that was never proven in court and with this ruling will not be.]

 

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Amalia Mondragón
Singer and educator Amalia Mondragón, formerly of the cross-border Juarez – El Paso band The Chamanes, recently helped to send one of her El Paso music students, 11-year-old immigrant Helen Rincón, to Harvard for a summer leadership camp. “We want to get involved not just with the arts, but with our future,” Mondragón said. Photo of Amalia Mondragón from her Twitter feed.

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The Chamanas – Dulce Mal
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Smokey Robinson – Tracks of My Tears
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Playing for Change – Gimme Shelter
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Sin Bandera – En Ésta No
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Prince Royce – La Carretera
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Pretenders – Creep
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Warren Zevon – Hit Somebody!
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Jefferson Airplane – Have You Seen the Saucers?
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Willie Williams – Armagideon Time
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Natalia Lafourcade – Hasta la Raiz
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Diego Torres – Color Esperanza
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Alabama Shakes – Don’t Wanna Fight
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Julieta Venegas – Un Poco de Paz
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Leonard Cohen – So Long Marianne
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Los Jaivas – Señal En Vivo 2014
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