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Not your usual Carnival travel story

Catching morning shade while watching the heavy traffic going the other way.

Not your usual travel story

story and photos by Eric Jackson

So often, “travel journalism” is about adventure possibilities for those with more money than culture. It explores the little-known rather than the familiar. All of that stuff has its place in the world. (For those of you interested in quality rather than novelty, for a standard against which to judge other work in the genre, there is no better substitute than to take the time to read the 1869 founding classic of American travel journalism, Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad.) But this is a tale about how this writer, like so many other Panamanians, travels all the time, but on one of those sort of predictable yet always different special days, a Carnival Saturday. A big differerence here was that the day’s excursion was for the most part in the opposite direction from most people’s travel for the day.

For a political party that operates in Panama, of whatever nationality, Carnival Saturday is a horrible time to meet. It’s that way for a Panamanian political party, it’s that way for any of the several parties from other Latin American countries that maintain branches here, it’s that way for Democrats Abroad Panama, the local chapter of that oldest of US major parties, the Democratic Party. This Panagringo dual citizen is an independent on the left side of the spectrum as a Panamanian, and a member of the board of directors of our country chapter of Democrats Abroad (DA) when wearing the American political hat. In order to encourage more participation from the Interior, DA now holds its board meetings online via WebX as well as in the flesh. But in THIS board member’s corner of the Inner Boonies — at the foot of the foothills that rise to the bigger hills atop which the Outer Boonies begin — men who work elsewhere during the week and a few folks with cottages in the Interior escape here from the city, such that on a weekend, especially a holiday weekend, more people are getting onto the Internet via Carlos Slim’s tower and the wireless online connection becomes unbearably slow. As in, take the two bus rides, the Metro ride and walk through Obarrio to get to this meeting at the Courtyard Marriott alongside the MultiPlaza Mall.

This being Carnival Saturday, the trip began early, allowing for a couple of hours more than usual. “The usual” would allow time for a bit of brunch at the terminal, a relaxed stroll from the Obarrio side of the Via Argentina Metro station and an early arrival. Longer than usual might entail the added expense of a cab, but that route and those calculations would be altered by the Cinta Costera’s closure for the city’s festivities.

Was it a matter of getting up in the morning and showering? Of of course not. There hasn’t been water coming to the houses in this neighborhood since New Year’s weekend, the representante is in hiding and they’ve even taken down the flags at the corregiduria and the junta comunal. Ah, but people are adaptive creatures and like everyone else I take a half-calabash, fill it from the water barrel I keep in the shower stall, and wash myself that way. (Sooner or later I expect the crisis to ease, but well after it’s over I do intend to remember this the next time that Panamanians go to the polls.)

Washed, dressed, the animals fed early, it’s a quarter mile walk on unpaved streets to the bus stop. On the way to the caseta there’s a young adult iguana sunning himself in the middle of the road. The main hazard to him is not the traffic, but ending up on someone’s dinner table. He ran off and lost himself in the sticks as I approached.

There wasn’t much of a wait at the caseta. A busito headed toward Penonome came by almost immediately. On many days I woud take that ride out to the Pan-American Highway, pay my 40¢ and get a bus coming from a point to the west and headed into the city. But this was a holiday weekend and at such times buses are likely to pass by without picking up passengers. (That phenomenon is worse going into town on any Sunday or on the last day of a holiday weekend, as the buses actually tend to be full going in that direction, but at busy times when most people are going the other way a lot of times the drivers are eager to get into the city in a hurry so won’t stop to pick up passengers for that reason.) In any event, I chose to get the next busito, which followed the Penonome van in a matter of just a couple of minutes, into Anton. There, if nothing else works, one can get on an Anton to Panama bus for sure. Better to pay 75¢ for the ride into town.

So, hardly any wait at the local caseta? I was treated to the driver’s excellent taste in cumbia music, got into Anton sooner than expected and might have taken the opportunity to do breakfast. But who knows what delays might await on a Carnival Saturday? I got off at the town’s first bus stop, just before the bomba, just after an acute corner at which the Anton to Panama buses turn onto the highway. One such turned the corner promptly — and kept on going. Did the driver not care to deal with a passenger who would get the senior citizens’ discount — $3.20 instead of $4.60? He didn’t stop for me to ask or argue.

By now the westbound traffic further into the Interior was picking up and here along the eastbound lane a Transito policewoman took advantage of the long shadow from the gas station sign to monitor the traffic going the other way in a more comfortable spot. Part of a public safety crew of some 28,000 people mobilized for Carnival, she was doing a job that didn’t look at all exciting. I don’t imagine that she wanted any breaks from the drudgery that would entail her intervention at a scene of broken vehicles, bones and so on.

Soon there came a big red bus from Aguadulce, which stopped for me. It was mostly empty, so I went toward the back to an unoccupied pair of seats, stuck my wireless modem stick into my mini-laptop and checked the email, then the latest headlines. Riding the bus into the city, there is a stretch more or less between a bit west of Rio Hato and approaching Coronado where the reception for all sorts of mobile devices ranges from spotty to horrible. If the next seat is occupied, it also becomes a bit awkward to use a laptop on the bus. More stops were made for more passengers, never enough to fill the seat next to me, but when we hit the dead zone I logged off, switched off and put my computer back into my bag.

A bag? There are extraordinary circumstances, but generally the Panamanian thing to do, whatever your gender persuasion, is to carry a bag. For men the most popular thing is a cheap Asian-made synthetic fiber knapsack. But hippies are supposed to be different, and those who care for Panama, who although kind of poor themselves are nevertheless committed to lending a hand to the poorest of the poor, who are pragmatic and also making a cultural statement will carry a chacara, one of the hand woven bags of various sizes that come from the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca. On this trip I carried a medium-large one, with other bags inside it — a water-resistant and concealing from maleantes book bag for the computer and camera, plus an even larger chacara for some possible grocery shopping on the way back.

The bus continued to fill and traffic went smoothly, until the approach to Coronado. There the westbound traffic began to get bumper to bumper, an insane rich driver attempted to argue with Transito cops to be allowed to turn directly into Coronado from the westbound lane, and even eastbound traffic began to get congested. Uh oh.

Turns out that this was one of several stretches where one of the eastbound lanes was lent to westbound traffic, but that soon ended and by Gorgona we were moving right along again.

Time to pull out the computer again? Nope. NOW that passengers who boarded at Coronado had largely filled the bus, we were provided with an onboard distraction. No, not the usual. The salsa – bolero – bachata music mix was turned down and a man stood up in the aisle to preach.

Oh NO! Romeo Santos interrupted for THIS? My mind wandered to the ghosts of sermons past.

I wasn’t there to catch Siddhartha Gautama’s sermon under the banyan tree. But once in Miami, 11 presidential election cycles ago, I was one of a band of long-haired protesters hanging out and smoking dope in a mango tree when an evangelist they called Holy Joe descended upon us:

The answer doesn’t lie within, through yoga and cult meditation. The answer lies not in public disturbances or the maze of politics. The answer is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

(From a few branches above: “I just took a hit of acid!”)

Some of you are not ready to meet The Lord, but He is patient, He is patient, the Lord of Salvation….

(“I just took another one….”)

And some of you are MISERABLE!

(The chorus: “Jesus loves me, this I know. He makes marijuana grow.”)

This bus preacher, however, was not collecting money for some youth program, nor citing chapter and verse, nor salvation from the eternal grave. This guy was talking about a better life rather than eternal life, not through the miracles of religion but through licuados and vegetable juices. He was advertising a line of blenders and juicers, and handing out free recipe pamphlets with information in case someone wanted to buy one of the appliances. Hallelujah! I had been spared a guilt trip, or a fear trip, on the way to my meeting!

Up the hill onto Campana, then down into Capira and Chorrera, the eastbound traffic occasionally clogged and then unclogged but we never lost much time. Once we hit the Autopista it was smooth driving all the way into. But looking at the lanes going the other way, THEY were clogged and occasionally unclogged, and losing substantial time.

Into the city in just under two and a half hours — excellent time. Time to grab some pastelitos de pollo and a carton of milk at the bakery on the near end of the terminal, to sit down and eat, and to see my email and Facebook activity before heading up the escalator, across the pedestrian bridge and down the escalator, through the turnstiles and and then down the escalator to the trains. I got to the platform just as a train was waiting and got in the first car, which had hardly any seats. Some instinctively rude teenagers took those, but quickly relinquished them to some mothers carrying babies and some folks older than I am.

A few minutes later I emerged on the Obarrio side of the Via Argentina exit. From there, I went on foot to Via Brasil. Living in the Interior now, every time I go into the city things have opened, closed, moved, been torn down or been built since last I walked that way. The overall impression was of a slight economic downturn, more things closed than opened, the new things a bit downscale from what was before, but only a few places — most notably a hotel — abandoned. The Via Brasil road expansion had not appreciably made pedestrian access to MultiPlaza more difficult.

EARLY to my meeting! And after that, a ride back to the terminal kindly offered and accepted.

So, a tactical decision of importance to the wonder dog and the attack cat, and about how convenient it would be for me to hole up in the village for the rest of the long weekend. Do I want to get dog food, cat food and coffee at Mr. Martinelli’s store adjacent to the terminal, or roll the dice about whether I would make it back to Anton in time to both do a bit of shopping and get a bus back to the village. The difference about getting home would be between a 75¢ bus fare and a $5 cab fare — but it could be worse, because late enough at night when the cabs no longer operate in Anton there is the option of taking the Penonome bus, getting off at the entrada and walking about an hour or so to get home from the Pan-American Highway.

I chose not to patronize criminals. If the truth is to be told, a higher moral imperative was to get something fresh and perishable in Anton, while I would not want to buy meat in the city and take it home uncooled on a several hour ride into the Interior.

The terminal was not as hellish as I expected it to be, but I still ended up in a line that was three Coaster bus loads long. People were patient and polite. There were no vendors or hustlers trying to work the crowds, nor were there any wise guys trying to cut into the lines. Did the police presence in the boarding area have anything to do with those things? Perhaps.

The bus I finally boarded — in the shotgun seat, the passenger place with the best view and probably the most dangerous spot on a Toyota Coaster — pulled out of the terminal at 4:24.

On the ride back, there were no delays until just after La Espiga in La Chorrera. The clock hit 5 p.m. at about that point. Then it went slowly, occasionally bumper to bumper, for the rest of the way. There was a heavy police presence in many places, particularly in Capira. But up on Cerro Campana — traditionally the most dangerous part of the highway — not a cop to be seen and the traffic was flowing rather smoothly. Once over the hill, it was congested again, most severely in Coronado. The clock hit 6 p.m. just past Gorgona. Somewhere around Santa Clara the traffic began to move more steadily again. The clock hit 7 p.m. just before the town of Rio Hato. It was 7:20 when we got to Anton. Nearly three hours, and the bus driver’s eclectic musical tastes were excellent all the way.

Holiday beer sales! Of course the Centro Comercial was open, and as I went in the driver of the busito out to where I was going told me that if I was just getting a few things he’d wait for me. Chorizos, pellejo, cans of fish, a bag of cat food, a bag of coffee and I was at the checkout counter, then on the bus and on my way. No need to be on the roads with the maniac drivers anymore this holiday weekend.

I don’t think that the tourism authority will subsidize this sort of travel writing. But getting from point A to point B and back is both an adventure and a set of skills. The experiences and acquired wisdom vary a great deal according to social class. This was the tale of how a working man goes about it. You don’t fully appreciate Panama without learning the joys and subtleties of how most people get around the place.

on the way back…

The lines at the bus terminal.
cops 2
Go ahead. Make our day. Behave yourself.
Heading west out of Chorrera.
cops 3
Gloved for soccer balls or inattentive drivers.
Pulling out from the culecos in Capira.
cops 4
Are your papers in order?
cars 2
Into the twilight…
cops 5
Under the light of another gas station sign, this time in Rio Hato.


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A deadly Carnival for some

Back in December, all of the public safety organizations — the various divisions of the National Police, the firefighters, the SINAPROC disaster relief agency, the food safety inspectors — coordinated their plans for Carnival safety. Photo by the Bomberos.

17 die in Carnival mishaps

Every year residential areas — especially in the Panama City and San Miguelito metro area but not only there — empty out as people head for Carnival celebrations, beaches and mountain resorts for the long Carnival weekend. People tend to die, with alcohol often playing a role, in traffic accidents, drownings or violence amidst the crowds of revelers. This year nobody was killed in Carnival scene violence but the overall death toll went up to 17, as compared to 13 in 2015. This year 13 died on the roads and four drowned.

The police changed their traffic deployments from previous years, but aggressive drivers caught on and changed the venues of their obnoxious behavior accordingly. The carnage began early on the evening of Carnival Friday when a driver tried to get ahead of the crush at El Espino in La Chorrera and a rollover accident left one dead and four injured. The initial exodus from the city was perhaps heavier than previous years because there were announced water outages in the metro area on Carnival Saturday and because the capital’s celebrations have been scaled down from the days when Ricardo Martinelli and Salo Shamah used them to skim money from the government by way of lavishly funded Carnivals in which parts of the supposed big paychecks for international artists were siphoned off. By anecdotal evidence the city was quieter and more deserted than usual, but that made the early rush to the Interior heavier. By Saturday morning’s news reports six people had died. The Transito cops made a few readjustments but by the end of the six-day break (counting Carnival Friday, which is officially not a holiday but on which a lot of people take off early from work, and Ash Wednesday, the morning of which is an official half-day off) there were 13 traffic fatalities, two more than in 2015.

The extreme El Niño year has the nation’s rivers running low, which generally makes them less dangerous. However, the dry season winds were exceptionally heavy, making ocean waters choppier and blowing out to sea on the Pacific Side. SINAPROC ordered beaches closed for swimming and bathing on Carnival Saturday, but not everybody respected the red flags and Panama’s coastlines are too extensive for a government presence on every beach. Despite the precautions four people drowned, double last year’s unusually low death toll from that cause.


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Blog links: Bill and Hillary’s friends make world corruption short list

Bil Clinton with the Martinellis. Photo by the Panamanian Presidencia.
Bill Clinton with the Martinellis. Photo by the Panamanian Presidencia.
Friends of Bill and Hillary make TI’s short list of the world’s worst sticky fingers

Experience in high places

Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli — now being harbored by the United States in self-imposed exile in Miami — and current Dominican Senator Félix Bautista have made Transparency International’s short list of those at the center of the world’s nine worst corruption scandals. Martinelli notoriously hangs with Clintons, while Bautista, who owns construction companies, pleads that his tainted contracts with the Haitian regime that Hillary defended as Secretary of State were vetted by none other than Bill Clinton himself.

Transparency International to pursue social sanctions on 9 grand corruption cases

Martinelli gana el tercer lugar en concurso de corrupción

Dominican senator makes the cut in Transparency’s ‘grand corruption’

Félix Bautista dice que licitación fue revisada por Martelly y Bill Clinton

What’s missing about Haiti in the Hillary emails?

Ricky & Hill
Ricky Martinelli and Hillary Clinton. Photo by the Panamanian Presidencia.


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¿Wappin? Música bien panameña pa’ la noche de Carnaval


Samy y Sandra en abstracto¿Wappin? Música bien panameña pa’ la noche de Carnaval

Samy y Sandra Sandoval – Como Gozo

Rubén Blades y Osvaldo Ayala – Eres Mi Canción

Nenito Vargas y Los Plumas Negras Mix

Lesly Santamaria – Un Chofer Enamorado

Free Mr. Fox Mix

Nina Campines – Ya Basta de Culparnos

Alfredo Escudero Mix

Manuel de Jesús Ábrego – La Chola

Kafu Banton – Cuando se Viene de Abajo


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Panama celebrates The Year of the Monkey

By the Chinese calendar, this is The Year of the Monkey, more particularly The Year of the Fire Monkey.

Panama celebrates The Year of the Monkey

Chinese New Year videos by Allan Hawkins and Jeremy Michael Velázquez








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¿Wappin? Atypical music for a waterless Carnival Sunday

Willie Rodríguez, of the Puerto Rican reggae band Cultura Profetica.

¿Wappin? Atypical music for a waterless Carnival Sunday

Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name

Janelle Davidson & Alejandro Lagrotta – Doble Dolor

Olga Tañón & Marco Antonio Solís – Basta Ya

Prince Royce – Te Robaré

The Lowrider Band – The World Is a Ghetto

Anónima – Chombo Pa La Tienda

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Otherside

Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville & Gregg Allman – Tell It Like It Is

Max Romeo – One Step Forward, Two Steps Backwards

Cultura Profética – Le Da Igual

Bob Marley – No Woman No Cry

Bruce Springsteen & Eddie Vedder – Darkness on the Edge of Town

Natalie Maines – Mother

Hello Seahorse! – Frontera

Stevie Wonder at the White House


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What Republicans are saying

cowgirl nazi
“From Moses who killed an Egyptian for abusing his people, to Jesus who died on a cross as a condemned criminal, many of those who operate outside the box and promote love and justice over the current form of government are treated as outcasts and many times murdered.” Nevada State Assemblywoman Shelly Shelton (R – Carson City), on the shooting by police of armed right-wing militia member LaVoy Finicum.

What Republicans are saying

Transcript of the Republican debate in New Hampshire


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Bonilla, El Pueblo juzgará a los magistrados


AyúCarta abierta a H.D. Arrocha

Panamá, 2 de febrero de 2016

Honorable Diputado
Presidente de la Comisión Permanente de Credenciales, Regla mento, Ética Parlamentaria y Asuntos Judiciales de la Asamblea Nacional
E. S. D.

Señor Presidente:

Declaraciones suyas confirman que algunas de las denuncias contra Magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicias, presentadas ante la Asamblea Nacional, han sido archivadas por lustros violán-dose el artículo 160 de la Constitución, aduciéndose supuesto incumplimiento de requisitos formales, inventados por la “Ley”.

Así las cosas, no causan sorpresa sus declaraciones equivocadas, recogidas el 11 de enero de 2016 por La Estrella de Panamá, en un excelente trabajo periodístico del profesional Ismael Gordon Guerrel:

1. “No puedo estar llamando a investigar a un magistrado de la Corte sino hay pruebas”.
2. “No puedo llamar a investigar a un magistrado sino hay elementos de prueba que realmente lo amerite”.
3. “La Constitución es clara. Contra los fallos de los magistrados no hay ningún tipo de recurso y ellos no son responsables por las decisiones que tomen en el ejercicio de sus funciones”.

Al parecer, señor Presidente, usted como otros, no se ha percatado de que lo que activa la función jurisdiccional de la Asamblea Nacional, es la sola presentación de una denuncia “contra el Presidente de la República y los Magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia”, donde el artículo 160 de la Constitución no exige al denunciante que acompañe con su denuncia prueba alguna adelantada, cuya obtención le corresponde a la Asamblea Nacional a partir del inicio de la investigación que debe hacer inmediatamente para determinar si la denuncia da lugar al correspondiente juzgamiento; siendo que la Ley no es instrumento idóneo para ponerle cortapisas a la Constitución, en un afán desmedido según parece de volver ilusorio el derecho de presentar denuncias como autoriza el artículo 160 citado.

Observe, señor Presidente que el artículo 160 de la Constitución no incluye en su texto ninguna remisión a la Ley (v.g. “La Ley reglamentará esta materia”; “dentro de los precisos términos de la ley”; “en forma que establezca la Ley” “la Ley determinará”; “de acuerdo con la Ley”; etc.); porque de su contenido se deduce con claridad que el debido proceso se inicie con la presentación de la denuncia a la que sigue inmediatamente el trámite de investigación determinante de si da lugar o no el juzgamiento de que se trate, sin necesidad de agotar etapas de informe ni de votos de mayoría; es decir, que la Asamblea Nacional no esta facultada para deshacerse de una denuncia por consenso.

Así, las únicas leyes que puede decretar la Asamblea Nacional en esta materia, son aquellas que viabilizan la voluntad del Constituyente de remover de esos altos cargos a las personas infractoras de la Constitución y la Ley de manera expedita, porque la recta conducción del País, para la realización de sus fines y la buena práctica en la administración de justicia: honesta, imparcial, transparente, expedita y confiable, no se logran en manos de posibles delincuentes de cuello blanco que, de paso, habrían faltado a su juramento prestado ante Dios y la Patria de que acatarían la Constitución y las Leyes de la República.

Como usted conoce, el Artículo 160 de la Constitución, establece lo siguiente:

“Artículo 160: Es función judicial de la Asamblea Nacional conocer de las acusaciones o denuncias que se presenten contra el Presidente de la República y los Magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia y juzgarlos, si a ello diere lugar, por actos ejecutados en el ejercicio de sus funciones en perjuicio de libre funcionamiento del poder publico o violatorios de esta Constitución o las leyes”.

Sin embargo , se observa que a pesar de la claridad de los indicadores en este Artículo 160, de cuál es la voluntad del Constituyente de mantener limpia la Corte Suprema de Justicia de infractores de la Constitución con toga de Magistrados, diversas generaciones de legisladores antes y ahora de diputados, por lustros, han pretendido burlarse de la voluntad del Constituyente por medio de veleidades legislativas, con el resultado de que tales infractores siguen impunemente en sus cargos y no obstante de que también conocen que la Ley no es instrumento idóneo para ponerle cortapisas a la Constitución (ver artículo 12 del Código Civil), como viene expresado.

EL Artículo 160 de la Constitución, sabiamente, le ordena a la Asamblea Nacional conocer de las denuncias que se presenten; es decir, de todas, porque no establece que sólo conozca de las denuncias acompañadas de prueba sumaria, de prueba del hecho o de elementos de convicción. Y, precisamente, no lo exige por cuanto la duda la resuelve el Constituyente a favor de los denunciantes, quienes actúan en defensa de la buena marcha del servicio público de administrar el Estado y la Justicia de manera eficiente, honesta, imparcial, transparente, expedita y confiable; y habido cuenta de que el País no necesita en específico a ningún “Presidente” ni “Magistrado”, menos si éste es un infractor de la Constitución y posiblemente un corrupto, cuando su actuación “judicial” conlleve la infamia de un arbitrario despojo de tierras, de dineros, de derechos, etc., como objetivo propio de la corrupción judicial.

Del mismo modo, a la presentación de la denuncia se concreta la obligación de juzgar al denunciado, “si a ello diere lugar”, para lo cual la Asamblea Nacional debe remitirla inmediatamente a la respectiva Comisión Permanente y el Pleno de aquella debe designar el Fiscal del caso, en el entendimiento de que la admisión de la denuncia es obligatoria y no potestativa, sin lo cual no podría determinar “si a ello diere lugar” para juzgarlos. (Artículos 160 y 201 de la Constitución; Artículo 12 del Código Civil), salvo en los casos en que ha cumplido su deber de investigar y así resultare.

En otras palabras, señor Presidente, las denuncias, amén de que legalmente no requieren formalidad ni solemnidad alguna y el denunciante no es parte en el proceso ni está obligado a probar su relato, no requieren tampoco exámenes previos sobre admisión o inadmisibilidad ni de informes ni de ser sometidos a votos de mayoría o consenso. Observe que la Asamblea Nacional no es una «sociedad anónima» ni sus miembros “accionistas”, que pueda decidir en votación y selectivamente cuáles denuncias admite y a cuáles no.

Simplemente, por cumplidas las etapas de presentación de la denuncia y de remisión a la Comisión Permanente que usted Preside, luego de la designación del Fiscal del caso y éste ha finalizado todas las investigaciones en las que debió recabar las pruebas favorables al imputado (v. gr. el hecho no constituye delito; el hecho no se cometió durante el ejercicio de sus funciones; cesó en el cargo; etc.) y las pruebas desfavorables (v.gr. las que sirven para acreditar el hecho punible denunciado y sus circunstancias), siendo permitidas o lícitas, es cuando se inician las votaciones; observándose que aunque las pruebas fueran concluyentes de la culpabilidad del imputado, aun así, la sentencia condenatoria dependerá del dislate de un voto mayoritario y algunas veces del voto por simple simpatía de las dos terceras partes de los miembros de la Asamblea Nacional que, de no obtenerse, el imputado será declarado no culpable. Este dislate legislativo desafía la voluntad constituyente, según el Artículo 160 de la Constitución, porque es como si no lo hubiera juzgado, habiendo dado lugar para ello, según las pruebas.

Ahora bien sus declaraciones recogidas en La Estrella de Panamá de 11 de enero de 2016, no son únicas como dislates. Por ejemplo, si consulta El Panamá América de 23 de noviembre de 2005, se encontrará con lo siguiente:

“El esperado archivo de la denuncia presentada por 18 grupos de la sociedad civil para que se investigara lo actuado por un grupo de Magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia señalados por su colega Adán Arjona como responsables del pronunciamiento de sentencias irregulares merece la repulsa del pueblo panameño.

Argumentar que los denunciantes no son parte afectada por los fallos es un tremendo disparate, habida consideración que los mismos comprometen la credibilidad del máximo tribunal y la buena fe de sus miembros en el recto cumplimiento de sus deberes.

Tampoco es valido que no hay prueba sumaria…………”

Tal como puede apreciar, señor Presidente, esa perversa creatividad para no investigar a Magistrados posiblemente corruptos por la Asamblea Nacional y el cuento de la prueba sumaria, es de antigua data, lo vuelven a usted poco original y que, ayer como hoy, se violaba impunemente el artículo 160 de la Constitución, exigiéndose requisitos constitucionalmente inexistentes e impropios a la naturaleza de una denuncia.

En cuanto a su declaración de que “no puedo llamar a investigar a un Magistrado si no hay elementos de prueba que realmente lo amerite”, no pasa de ser un simple sofisma, porque para llamarse a investigación a un magistrado sólo es necesario que se haya presentada una denuncia, ya que las pruebas las debe recabar inmediatamente después el Fiscal designado por la Asamblea Nacional, a fin de que ésta determine su juzgamiento, “si a ello diere lugar” (artículo 160 de la Constitución y 12 del Código Civil). Y, en materia de denuncias presentadas, tiene usted varias pendientes y otras mal archivadas y que las debe reactivar, para someterlas al trámite correspondiente.

En este estado, le solicito formalmente la reactivación de todas las denuncias archivadas sin la práctica de las investigaciones correspondientes, aduciéndose supuesto incumplimiento de requisitos formales, a pesar de que, como usted sabe, las denuncias al no requerir formalidad ni solemnidad alguna, se entienden admitidas desde su presentación, según lo previsto en el artículo 160 de la Constitución.

También es equívoca y desafortunada su declaración de que “la Constitución es clara contra los fallos de los magistrados no hay ningún tipo de recurso y ellos no son responsables por las decisiones que tomen en el ejercicio de sus funciones”.

Los artículos de la Constitución no se interpretan aisladamente sino uno con otros. Por ejemplo, el artículo 206 se interpreta conjuntamente con el artículo 210 de la Constitución; de modo que, cuando en su actuación los magistrados están sometidos a la Constitución, el resultado es una sentencia y no así, cuando actúan por encima de la Constitución mediante actos violatorios de ésta en que el resultado es un hecho arbitrario y punible. Así ante esa realidad, la Asamblea Nacional no ha cumplido con el deber de la República de Panamá de “desarrollar las posibilidades de recurso judicial” (vg. reconsideración), que permita impugnar la parte motiva de la actuación, siendo ésta el lugar donde se refugian para perpetrar sus malas acciones y hoy no hay manera de atacarla, porque en este supuesto los magistrados no reconocen el recurso de reconsideración. De este modo, al quedar firme la resolución que decide el recurso, entonces sí, se concluye el caso mediante una decisión final, definitiva y obligatoria.

En cuanto al resto de su declaración de que los magistrados de la Corte “no son responsables por las decisiones que tomen en el ejercicio de sus funciones”, sólo tienen el mérito de ser un disparate difícil de superar.

En diversas partes del ordenamiento jurídico se establece que los magistrados de la Corte responden penal, civil y disciplina-riamente, a pesar de la derogación del artículo 200 del Código Judicial. En cambio, usted le confiere licencia, para delinquir impunemente en el despojo de tierras, dineros y derechos que perpetren estos magistrados contra algunos de los desprevenidos usuarios que se vean necesitados a usar semejante sistema “judicial”; en donde, por lo visto usted no es de los que se empeñará en subsanar estas graves irregularidades mediante los ajustes legislativos que se requieran.

(Cfr. En el diario La Prensa de 26 de octubre de 2014, el Magistrado Harry Díaz dio a conocer en denuncia pública que en la Corte Suprema se venden fallos y se archivan expedientes, lo que nunca desmintió, ni él ni nadie y con pruebas. Desde entonces los “fallos de los últimos 10 años de alto perfil, están marcados por la sospecha de ser el producto de una compra venta”, tomándose en cuenta el testimonio de la Jueza ANA ZITA ROWE LÓPEZ, al hacer su análisis introductorio a la Ley 53 de 2015: “ha transcurrido una década desde la crisis de legitimidad de las autoridades judiciales, asociada a las serias denuncias por venta de fallos”. (Ley de Carrera Judicial, Cultural Portobelo, 2015. Pág.9)

Uno de los graves problemas en este País es el de que a los miembros de la Asamblea Nacional no les preocupa dictar leyes que contrarían la letra y el espíritu de la Constitución. Y por ello, no causa extrañeza que hayan “legislado” en el sentido de hacer depender la culpabilidad y condena de un magistrado de la Corte más del voto mayoritario que de las pruebas que lo vinculan con la comisión del hecho punible denunciado.

Es preocupante que, a nivel de la Corte Suprema, la Asamblea Nacional no haya cumplido a cabalidad con sus atribuciones constitucionales, al menos así:

1. En su función legislativa, ha dictado leyes para el fraude procesal, alentando la corrupción judicial.

a. Por ejemplo frente a la admisión o inadmisión arbitrarias, la parte afectada en la formalización de un recurso de casación no tiene defensa, pues, la “ley” establece que la resolución ilegal es irrecurrible. La orden de corrección depende del capricho de los magistrados.

b. El artículo 2568 del Código Judicial patrocina la colusión entre el Pleno de la Corte y el demandante; pues, aunque se trata de una acción pública, las demás personas afectadas o interesadas no pueden intervenir, etc.

2. En su función judicial, se esmera en “legalizar” pretextos, para no enjuiciar a magistrados señalados de ejecutar actos violatorios de la Constitución y de las Leyes de la República.

3. En su función administrativa se dejó arrebatar ciertas funciones trascendentes como las siguientes:

a. La de nombrar comisiones de investigación en cualquier asunto de interés público, como es la mora judicial, con vista a que la separación de poderes no es absoluta y la independencia judicial es sólo para el momento de la toma de decisión.

b. La de citar o requerir a un magistrado de la Corte, con fundamento en que aprobar y ratificar lo hecho por otro, son sinónimos.

Ese desgreño legislativo ha sido aprovechado por algunos magistrados para decidir arbitrariamente, por ejemplo, que un hecho inconstitucional es constitucional¸ que pueden convertir al Tribunal constitucional y antojadizamente en un Tribunal de tercera instancia de la jurisdicción penal o civil; que pueden volver bienes de uso público en bienes de propiedad de particulares; cambiar una doctrina a su conveniencia para favorecer a políticos, empresarios, jueces, etc. “constitucionalizar” partidas circuitales, dar órdenes a la jurisdicción civil, por medio de un recurso de inconstitucionalidad, etc.

Todo esto seguirá igual, señor Presidente hasta tanto el Pueblo logre establecer en la Constitución que el Pueblo juzgará a los diputados y a los magistrados de la Corte mediante el sistema de juicio por jurados; y que el Estado tiene acción imprescriptible para recuperar todos sus bienes que hayan salido indebidamente de su patrimonio; salvo claro está, que la Asamblea Nacional se decida por ejercer plenamente sus funciones constitucionales y en calidad de ser el primer Órgano del Estado, como es.


Cédula 4-64-61

El autor es abogado.


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Hillary and Bernie on issues that affect Americans living abroad


HRC BSWhere Hillary and Bernie stand on issues that uniquely affect Americans living abroad

questions posed by Democrats Abroad

FATCA: Would you support the FATCA “Same Country Safe Harbor” for Americans abroad, the regulatory reform that Democrats Abroad recommends for fixing FATCA’s problems but retaining its strength?

Hillary Clinton: I’ve heard loudly and clearly about the burdens that FATCA and other reporting places on Americans living abroad. I understand that this is an extremely important issue – and is creating disruptions in the basic, day-to-day lives of everyday Americans living abroad. I’ve heard that it can be harder to open a bank account, harder to save for retirement, and harder to get a mortgage. I share these concerns — Americans living abroad shouldn’t face excessive burdens in their lives. I know that the vast majority of Americans living abroad are paying their fair share, and we should ease burdens on law abiding Americans living abroad while focusing on the real, true offenders. This is a complex area, and we need to make sure we don’t weaken enforcements against true tax cheats, while making sure we don’t create additional unnecessary burdens. I am committed to working with Americans living abroad and members of Congress to find the right solutions.

Bernie Sanders: Yes. I support the “Same Country Safe Harbor” proposal and I commend Democrats Abroad for its leadership in working on this important initiative. In my view, banking and other financial services provided to overseas Americans should be treated as a local activity.

We need to make it easier for law-abiding Americans living overseas to manage their personal finances and buy a house, while making it harder for tax cheats to hide their money in offshore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share in taxes. I look forward to working with you to turn these goals into action.

The same country exception would ease the burden on overseas Americans — teachers, IT workers, researchers, small business owners, academics, aid workers and stay-at-home parents — and permit the US Treasury to focus on curbing tax avoidance by Americans living inside the United States who move their money to offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes.

Residence Based Taxation: Would you support the replacement of the current system of taxing overseas Americans, known as citizenship-based taxation, with a system of residence-based taxation?

Hillary Clinton: I know that most Americans living abroad are just trying to make a living and provide for their families. I believe that we need a broad discussion about reforming our tax code to cut taxes for hard-working, middle class American families living both here and abroad, and to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. That means, among other things, closing loopholes that allow many hedge fund managers to pay a lower tax rate than nurses or teachers and supporting proposals like the Buffet Rule. But it also means closing loopholes that create incentives for corporations to ship jobs and profits overseas, and making sure that the wealthiest Americans can’t move overseas to avoid paying taxes. Americans, regardless of where they live, often benefit from American education, infrastructure, legal protections, and trade policies. This is a complicated issue and I will work with Americans living abroad and members of Congress to cut taxes for hardworking, middle class Americans, but also avoid creating any adverse incentives for those looking to avoid contributing their fair share.

Bernie Sanders: This is something that deserves serious consideration. Other than Eritrea, the US is the only country that I am aware of that requires the filing of two annual tax returns to reconcile complex tax codes of different countries.

In my view, we can provide tax relief to middle-class families living overseas, while prohibiting large corporations and the wealthy from avoiding over $100 billion a year in taxes by stashing their cash in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens.

FBAR: Would you support reforms to FBAR regulations to address these concerns and inequities?

Hillary Clinton: As president, I will work with Americans living abroad and members of Congress to examine filing requirements with the aim of avoiding redundancies and minimizing unnecessary paperwork and confusion. Any reforms would also need to be scrutinized to avoid weakening government capacity for monitoring illegal activity or tax avoidance facilitated by holding foreign bank accounts.

Bernie Sanders: Yes, I look forward to working with Democrats abroad to address these concerns and make this system more equitable. As you know the FBAR reporting threshold has not been adjusted for inflation since it was first initiated in the early 1970s. We need to look at that. We also need to look at removing the unnecessary duplication in the reporting requirements between FBAR and FATCA.

I am also sympathetic to the concerns raised by older Americans living abroad with the mandatory online reporting requirements that are now in place.

At a time when this country has an $18.4 trillion national debt and so many unmet needs, I do believe that we need to do everything we can to eliminate tax evasion. I also believe that we should be rewarding, not punishing, middle-class citizens living abroad who are following the rules. In my view, we can and we must accomplish both of those goals.

Medicare portability: Would you support an amendment to the Medicare law permitting American citizens to use Medicare benefits to pay for health care in approved medical facilities located outside the USA?

Hillary Clinton: I’ve fought to protect and strengthen Medicare throughout my career and have continued to press the importance of this lifeline in this campaign. I support further examination of how Americans over 65 living abroad and eligible for Medicare could apply their benefits to care at approved medical facilities located outside the US.

Bernie Sanders: I support a Medicare-for-all single-payer health care plan to make health care a right, not a privilege, for all Americans, including Americans living and working abroad. Instead of spending federal health care dollars on the multi-million dollar salaries of insurance company CEOs, it is time to use this money to guarantee health care to every American citizen.

As you know, retired US military personnel and their dependents living overseas are reimbursed by the US government for most of their medical bills through the TriCare For Life system. In my view, there is no reason why we cannot use the Tricare program as a model for a Medicare delivery program for all Americans living overseas.

HR-3078: Would you support the establishment of a Commission on Americans Abroad to study and propose remedies to US policies that harm or unfairly burden Americans living outside the US (as provided for in House bill HR-3078)?

Hillary Clinton: As president I would support a bipartisan effort to examine how the US government’s laws and executive actions impact US citizens living abroad, like the Commission on Americans Abroad proposed in House bill HR-3078, which is sponsored by Representative Carolyn Maloney, whose endorsement I am honored to have in this campaign.

Bernie Sanders: US citizens living abroad deserve to feel that their country and the officials elected to represent them consider their interests just as they consider the interests of Americans living in the United States. I support the establishment of a Commission on Americans Abroad to examine the impact of federal financial reporting requirements, the ability to vote in US elections, and access to federal programs like Social Security and Medicare for Americans living abroad.

Windfall Eliminations Provision: Would you support the examination of the WEP and its impact on US citizens abroad to establish a remedy that preserves the social security benefits fairly earned by Americans abroad through their US working life?

Hillary Clinton: Americans living abroad, like all hardworking Americans, have a right to the Social Security benefits they have earned when they retire, and I am concerned that the WEP as now designed is not fair to many Americans who have paid into Social Security but see their benefits reduced due to the WEP. That’s why I support further examination of how the WEP impacts American citizens abroad to ensure that they are treated fairly in the Social Security system.

Further, I will fight to expand Social Security for those who need it most and who are treated unfairly today. This includes giving Social Security credit for caregiving and expanding benefits for widows who can now see their benefits fall by as much as 50 percent when a spouse dies. And I will oppose Republican efforts to reduce annual cost-of-living adjustments or raise the retirement age. Finally, to ensure these critical benefits for decades to come, I will ask the highest-income Americans to pay more, including options to tax some of their income above the current Social Security cap, and taxing some of their income not currently taken into account by the Social Security system.

Bernie Sanders: Yes. I have been a strong supporter of repealing the WEP to provide fair and equitable treatment to all workers on Social Security, including our teachers, firefighters, police and other public servants who have contributed into Social Security.

Further, at a time when senior poverty is going up, our job must be to expand benefits, not cut them. I have introduced a plan to increase Social Security benefits by over $1,300 a year for seniors who have income of less than $16,000 a year. My plan also extends the solvency of Social Security for more than 50 years by lifting the cap on taxable income so that the wealthiest 1.5 percent of Americans pays the same percentage of their income into Social Security as everyone else.

FAST Act passport revocation: Would you support, as part of the implementation of the 2015 FAST Act, these requests aimed at preserving the security of Americans abroad and their families?

Hillary Clinton: Every American should pay what they owe under our tax laws. In enforcing those laws, it is also essential to preserve the safety and security of Americans living abroad. Ensuring the security of Americans living abroad was a central part of my job when I served as Secretary of State and, as president, will continue to be of great importance to me. The State Department and any other US government agency must strive to ensure Americans living abroad are provided with timely information and open lines of communication with their government. As public servants, it is our job to look out for the safety of all Americans, including those residing overseas. That is why as president I would make sure that the 2015 FAST Act is implemented fairly and in such a way as to ensure we protect Americans. I will ensure that Americans receive timely and accurate information about their tax responsibilities and are given ample opportunity to remedy or resolve any related issues, within a reasonable timeframe, before a passport is revoked due to a tax delinquency.

Bernie Sanders: support efforts to ensure that Americans living and working abroad have access to information on tax debts and proper notice before the IRS requests that the State Department revoke or deny the renewal of the passports of US citizens. Proper due process provides procedural and legal safeguards that permits an American abroad an opportunity to satisfy tax debts prior to the denial or revocation of a citizen’s passport. I also believe that safeguards should be put in place to protect and preserve the security of Americans living abroad and their families.

Early voting for the March 1 – 8 Democrats Abroad Global Primary is now underway

To join Democrats Abroad — essentially to be registered to vote — click here
If you are a DA member, click here to download your ballot to vote by email
Once you are registered send your email ballot, completed as instructed, to PrimaryVoting@democratsabroad.org
In-person voting will be at the Theatre Guild on March 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Democrats Abroad has same-day voter registration


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Vic Brown’s Panama Jazz Festival scenes (4): the free concert finale

The main point of the Panama Jazz Festivals: talented young musicians receiving scholarships to continue their studies in sophisticated settings.

Scenes from the Panama Jazz Festival’s Saturday free concert

photos by Victor Brown
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Two piano jazz giants: elder statesman Randy Weston, to whom this year’s festival was dedicated, and festival founder and leader Danilo Pérez Jr.


PJF Sat 4

PJF Sat 5

PJF Sat 6

PJF Sat 7

PJF Sat 8


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