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Beluche, Migración y la clase trabajadora

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UN pic
Foto por la ONU.

Apuntes para una política de la clase trabajadora panameña sobre las migraciones

por Olmedo Beluche

Una particular combinación de circunstancias ha producido en Panamá una ola de xenofobia que no tiene precedentes, salvo en las primeras décadas del siglo XX, cuando llegaron a Panamá decenas de miles de afroantillanos a la construcción del canal, muchos de los cuales se quedaron a vivir en nuestro país.

En las décadas del veinte y treinta se produjeron movimientos “nacionalistas” que parecían dirigidos contra la influencia norteamericana, pero mucho más contra la población “extraña” recién incorporada a la “nación”. Esa ola seudonacionalista, mezcla de xenofobia y racismo fascista, tomó cuerpo en la “Doctrina Panameñista” del ex presidente Arnulfo Arias M. y su Constitución Política de 1941, en la que se hablaba de “razas de inmigración prohibida” refiriéndose entre ellas a los de “raza negra cuyo idioma originario no sea el castellano” (art. 12).

La actual ola xenofóbica parece obedecer a la combinación de dos circunstancias contradictorias: un alto crecimiento económico de Panamá respecto de la región, lo que la convierte en sitio privilegiado de inmigrantes en busca de trabajo (es notable la presencia en las calles de miles de recién llegados colombianos, nicaragüenses, dominicanos, hasta españoles); con un crecimiento económico fruto de la reversión del canal, pero que no ha resuelto los graves problemas sociales que aquejan al pueblo panameño porque se han utilizado sus recursos como fuente de acumulación de la oligarquía financiera.

Contribuye de manera particular a la ola xenofóbica la circunstancia de que la oposición política de Venezuela, y la burguesía de ese país, que practica el sabotaje económico y la fuga de capitales allá, con los petrodólares que el gobierno bolivariano les da, han hecho de Panamá su plataforma de operaciones. Este sector de los inmigrantes, que llega con poder económico, ha hecho de la especulación inmobiliaria y la apertura de miles de pequeños negocios una forma de establecerse en el país, pero con una característica sicológica: son los más agresivos, soberbios y reaccionarios, gustando alardear del dinero que poseen, dinero que le falta tanto al pueblo venezolano como al panameño.

El paroxismo de la xenofobia llegó cuando la diputada Zulay Rodríguez, del “socialdemócrata” P.R.D., quien perteneció a los allegados de Ricardo Martinelli hace cinco años (grupo “PAMAGO”), hasta que intentaron “tumbarle” un cliente, lanzó un discurso en estos términos:

“Panamá no se compra, no se alquila, es de nosotros. Estos colombianos, estos nicaragüenses, estos extranjeros… Pero yo no quiero recién llegados de hace seis meses, de un año,…, que no están invirtiendo absolutamente nada. No quiero recién llegados que estén importando pobreza y nuevas modalidades de delito” (Nótese que la diputada iguala pobreza con delito y no menciona a los venezolanos). Además dejó claro contra qué clases sociales está, a las que llamó “escoria”: “Son desplazados que no tienen un centavo en su país, que no vienen a invertir, no traen dinero para hacer competitividad en Panamá para que este avance…” (La Prensa, 24 y 25 de febrero 2015).

Todo esto a cuento de que un sector de abogados se siente lacerado por una regulación especial denominada “Crisol de Razas”, que permite la regularización del estatus migratorio para trabajar a miles de personas pagando unas tasas directamente al estado. Antes, sólo se podía tramitar la residencia en Panamá a través de abogados que cobraban miles de dólares a lo largo de muchos años de gestiones.

Lo más preocupante es que la ola xenofóbica no solo alcanza a las masas influenciables por los medios de comunicación, sino a mucha gente “progresista”. Esto se debe al bajo desarrollo de la conciencia política e ideológica, en parte porque muchos sectores de la izquierda centran sus esfuerzos en luchas economicistas, pero que rehúyen oportunistamente combatir la falsa conciencia y los prejuicios que la burguesía inyecta en la clase trabajadora.

La situación obliga a la clase trabajadora panameña, y a sus dirigentes, a discutir el asunto y asumir una toma de posición que, para ser revolucionaria, tiene que ser compatible: con la moral cristiana, los derechos humanos, la lucha histórica por la integración bolivariana de Nuestra América y el internacionalismo proletario marxista. Aquí aportamos algunos puntos que pueden servir para ese objetivo:

1. El cristianismo aportó el primer criterio, que se ha transformado en conquista moral de todas las religiones y la civilización humana, cuando dice: “todos somos iguales” (ante Dios) y, por ello, debemos “amar al prójimo, como a ti mismo”. No hace falta explicarlo: todos los seres humanos somos iguales, por ello tenemos los mismos derechos, y debemos ser solidarios, en especial con los que sufren y son oprimidos. Eso incluye a los inmigrantes, en especial a los refugiados por razones políticas o económicas. No es muy cristiano decir que no te importa, que los encierren en campos de concentración o que los tiren al mar, que son “escoria” y luego ir a misa y comulgar.

2. El segundo criterio es otra conquista de la humanidad, nacida a raíz de los crímenes cometidos por el fascismo en la primera mitad del siglo XX, que se ha convertido en principio universal de obligatorio cumplimiento moral y legal, es la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas, y todos sus derivados jurídicos posteriores. Parte de esos derechos incluye el asilo, a la salud, la alimentación y el trabajo para TODOS los seres humanos. Lo que incluye a los inmigrantes, no importa de dónde vengan, ni dónde estén.

3. Una verdad histórica: todos somos inmigrantes o descendientes de inmigrantes. Porque la historia humana se ha construido a base de emigrar, poblar el planeta y movernos de un lugar a otro desde que salimos de África, la patria originaria de todos los seres humanos. Panamá, particularmente, ha sido un país de inmigrantes, desde las ancestrales culturas originarias, que llegaron hace once mil años procedentes del norte y del sur, hasta los hispanos que llegaron con la Conquista, hace 500 años, y todos los que llegaron en oleadas sucesivas para la construcción del ferrocarril y el canal. Igualmente son migrantes internos, toda nuestra población interiorana forzada a venir al área metropolitana huyendo de la agonía de nuestra agricultura.

4. Las grandes migraciones del siglo XX y XXI son un problema social, pero los que emigran no son culpables de ello, sino las principales víctimas de situaciones que los han obligado a dejar a sus familias y la tierra en que nacieron. No culpemos a las víctimas. No hagamos generalizaciones falsas e irresponsables, como la lanzada por la diputada (“cada vez que arrestan un panameño hay cinco colombianos al lado”). Porque los delincuentes que llegan con la migración son una pequeña minoría y las leyes ya establecen los mecanismos para su sanción y deportación.

5. Digamos en voz alta de quién es la culpa del problema: del sistema capitalista. La culpa de que millones de personas se tengan que desplazar de sus regiones de origen en busca de una manera de ganarse la vida y alimentar a sus familias es del sistema capitalista internacional, que impone las grandes desigualdades sociales, la explotación económica, el saqueo de los recursos naturales, el hambre, el desempleo, la pobreza y las guerras a la mayoría de la humanidad, y pone la riqueza en el otro extremo en un puñado de países y en un grupo cada vez más minoritario de gente.

6. Para evitar las consecuencias sociales de las migraciones incontroladas hay que combatir el mundo desigual que se ha construido en los últimos treinta años con la llamada “globalización” neoliberal capitalista, en el que siete potencias económicas y 200 trasnacionales saquean al mundo para su beneficio e imponen la miseria a las mayorías. Ninguna ley migratoria, ninguna frontera, ni ninguna vaya, detendrá a la masa de hambrientos que se desplazan para tratar de sobrevivir, si no se cambian las condiciones económicas y sociales impuestas por el capitalismo neoliberal, el imperialismo.

7. La exigencia de regularización para todos los inmigrantes, para que tengan iguales derechos que los nacionales, es la mejor defensa de la clase trabajadora frente a los capitalistas inescrupulosos que intentan dividirnos, sobreexplotando al trabajador inmigrante que no se atreve a reclamar sus derechos por temor a la deportación. Este criterio es válido para los 50 millones de inmigrantes “ilegales” (el concepto Ilegal es absurdo) en Estados Unidos, los árabes y africanos que emigraron a Europa y los latinoamericanos que vienen a Panamá.

8. “Los trabajadores no tienen patria”, han dicho Carlos Marx y Federico Engels en el Manifiesto Comunista de 1847, porque todos son explotados de la misma manera, por los mismos enemigos de clase, en todos los países, los capitalistas quienes son aliados entre sí. De ahí que la consigna siempre ha sido encontrar los intereses comunes que todos los asalariados y los desposeídos del mundo tenemos en común: “Proletarios del mundo, uníos!”

9. El nacionalismo en general es una ideología reaccionaria construida por la burguesía para engañar a sus trabajadores haciéndoles creer que los intereses de la clase explotadora son los mismos intereses que la de los explotados, que en la “nación” todos son iguales, sin distinciones de clase. El nacionalismo siempre ha sido usado por la burguesía para que los trabajadores sirvan de carne de cañón en las guerras donde van a morir en defensa de los intereses de los explotadores matando a sus hermanos explotados de otros países.

10. En base a lo anterior, Lenin explicaba que existen en el mundo actual dos tipos de naciones: las naciones opresoras o imperialistas, y las naciones oprimidas (“sudesarrolladas”, “atrasadas”, coloniales, semicoloniales y dependientes). El nacionalismo de las naciones oprimidas es progresivo mientras enfrente al imperialismo y, en esas circunstancias, los marxistas hacen unidad de acción con el nacionalismo de los países oprimidos que luchan por su independencia, sin renunciar a su perspectiva de clase: el internacionalismo proletario.

11. El nacionalismo progresivo de las naciones oprimidas de Nuestra América, desde el siglo XIX, se expresó como anhelo de integración y unidad latinoamericana frente a los intereses imperialistas extranjeros, principalmente los de Estados Unidos de América. En honor al Libertador de América, Simón Bolívar, se ha llamado a ese nacionalismo antiimperialista: bolivarianismo o bolivarismo. En los últimos 15 años volvió a ponerlo en la acción colectiva de millones de latinoamericanos el comandante Hugo Chávez, constructor de instituciones como el ALBA y la CELAC.

12. Una verdad que ningún panameño debe olvidar jamás: todos los pueblos de América Latina fueron solidarios con Panamá en la lucha generacional por la soberanía y el desmantelamiento del enclave colonial de la Zona del Canal y del paso de su administración a manos panameñas. Por esa razón, la pequeña prosperidad de estos años se debe no sólo al sacrificio de nuestros mártires, y a la lucha constante de las generaciones que nos precedieron desde 1903, sino también a la solidaridad de nuestros hermanos latinoamericanos a quienes les debemos reciprocidad.

13. Por los motivos señalados, una política de izquierdas, progresista y clasista en Panamá tiene que comprometerse con la lucha por la unidad latinoamericana, en la lucha por la soberanía e independencia frente a la intromisión norteamericana de cada país, y de todos juntos, y de la integración económico y social basada en la complementariedad entre nuestros pueblo, y no en la supeditación a los intereses imperialistas.

14. Los extranjeros que hay que combatir son los capitalistas que vienen a explotarnos económicamente y a saquear nuestros recursos naturales, los que se han apropiado de la industria nacional y empiezan a apropiarse de la tierra en contubernio con la oligarquía local, y que no necesitan hacer filas en el programa “Crisol de Razas” porque las leyes neoliberales y los TLC’s se lo permiten. Pero esos extranjeros no son los trabajadores migrantes, ni los pequeños propietarios, son los grandes capitalistas y banqueros. Levantemos la consigna consecuentemente nacionalista y antiimperialista de nacionalización de la banca, la gran industria y los servicios públicos.

15. El movimiento obrero panameño, clasista y revolucionario, frente al tema de la migración actúa guiado por principios básicos: no ser instrumento de clase explotadora mediante prejuicios; se guía por elementales criterios de solidaridad cristiana y derechos humanos; defiende la igualdad de todos los seres humanos; lucha por la unidad latinoamericana y el internacionalismo proletario.

 

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Presidencia, Panama joins non-binding global migration pact

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JCV
President Varela in Morocco. The non-binding agreement that he signed – via the use of distorted or out-of-context excerpts from it – has become something of a rallying point for xenophobic movements in Panama and elsewhere. (This patently false thing, by Chilean neofascists, has been used by anti-immigrant activists in Panama and across much of Latin America.) The president’s sometimes awkward or inconsistent gestures have not helped matters. Photo by the Presidencia.

Panama joins with more than 160 countries in the global commitment to a comprehensive approach to migration

by the Presidencia

Before more than 160 countries, the President of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela, was invited to open the General Debate of the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, where he reaffirmed the commitment of Panama to an integral approach to the global challenges of the present, one of them being migration.

Together with more than 260 countries and 20 heads of State present at the conference, such as the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel; the president of Spain, Pedro Sánchez; the Prime Minister of Portugal; Antonio Costa and the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Pietro Parolin; among others, the Panamanian President shared the experiences, proposals and position of Panama in this issue.

“Panama is a small country in territory, but with great responsibilities. The vocation of Panama and its natural mandate, due to its geographical location, its Canal, its ports and its airport, is to play a global role on the front line facing the global challenges of today, for which reason it must always participate in the debate by contributing to the challenges and opportunities that human connectivity presents,” said President Varela.

President Varela emphasized the need to address migratory flows in all their dimensions with greater cooperation among countries and a common approach because it is a problem that concerns all countries.

“The only way to guarantee that migratory flows are orderly and safe for all it is to share security information, intelligence and migratory alerts among all countries. This information would prevent the entry into our countries of those who represent a risk for the security of States”, said the Panamanian President.

Referring to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, adopted today in Marrakech, the President said that Panama responsibly — because it is historically a transit country — played an important role in the construction of this instrument, by promoting in different spheres the adoption of joint responses to address the global phenomenon of migration.

Before the plenary, President Varela called for the importance of continuing to work together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, under the premise that the migratory crises of which “we are witnesses in our region and in the world, are caused by the inequality, wars and violence and that therefore can only be resolved by eliminating the causes that force the citizens to leave their countries, risking their safety and that of their families.”

“That is why we are here today: to be globally responsible, share our experiences and perspectives and adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, a document that opens a necessary multilateral dialogue on how to face the challenges associated with migration, respecting the sovereignty of the countries.” President Varela concluded.

Audience with the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres

Later, President Varela held an audience with the Secretary General of the United Nations Organization, António Guterres, where he depened in the concrete actions implemented by Panama in the responsible, safe and orderly handling of recent migratory flows, such as the operation Controlled flow that has allowed the management of migratory crises of Haitian and Cuban citizens in the past, as well as the current flow of extra-continental migrants, always guaranteeing the humane treatment of the migrant.

For his part, the Secretary General of the UN thanked Panama for its commitment to address migration, reflected in the responsible participation in the construction and adoption of the Global Compact and used the meeting to send his congratulations to the country for the recent opening of the Regional Logistics Center of Humanitarian Assistance (CLRAH).

On the Global Migration Pact adopted by majority of the member countries of the UN:

  • The Global Compact creates the integral framework of non-mandatory measures to make migration safer and more dignified for all.
  • The document adopted by the countries is not legally binding and respects the sovereignty of States to manage their borders and their migration policies.
  • The document recognizes that to mitigate the risks and challenges of migration, it is necessary to improve the cooperation among countries.
  • The Pact reflects the common understanding of the Governments that migration that crosses borders is an international phenomenon, and that in order to effectively manage this global reality, cooperation is necessary to expand the positive impact for all.
  • The pact does not encourage migration, does not dictate, does not impose and totally respects the sovereignty of States. It provides a new platform for cooperation and is a resource for finding a balance between the rights of individuals and the sovereignty of the States.

 

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The Panama News blog links, December 10, 2018

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The Panama News blog links

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

Canal, Maritime & Transportation / Canal, Marítima & Transporte

gCaptain, ITF: PanCanal tug captains’ fatigue a disaster waiting to happen

Mundo Marítimo, Rodman: El anhelado hub comienza a tomar forma

Seatrade, LNG bunkering becoming a global phenomenon

gCaptain, Moody’s cuts Maersk’s credit rating

Sports / Deportes

ESPN, January USA – Panama friendly to be Berhalter’s first as US coach

La Prensa, Fin de una era en baloncesto panameño

The National (UAE), Panama’s Indigenous Games

Economy / Economía

Newsroom Panama, Your guide to property tax reform

La Estrella, Panamá: Bancos cobrarán el impuesto de inmueble en 2019

Phys.org, Panama awards $1.4 billion bridge project to Chinese group

Renewables Now: $71 million compensation in Panama wind project

Xinhua, US coal consumption may hit 39-year low

Baker: Trade disputes are about class, not country

Eichengreen, The phony US-China trade truce

Science & Technology / Ciencia & Tecnología

Boehm: Finally, another woman awarded a Nobel Prize in physics

The NextGen Scientist, The Glasswing paradox: Smithsonian research in Panama

The Conversation, Acidification increases iodine in seaweeds and people

Gizmodo, Ancient Black Plague found in Swedish gravesite

The Conversation, 100 years after the great influenza pandemic

STRI, Frog sex in the city

News / Noticias

Telemetro, Panamá adoptó el pacto global de migración

AFP, UN conference adopts migration pact despite withdrawals

TeleSur, US money laundering charges include Panamanian lawyer

Radio Panamá, Saúl Méndez y una constituyente originaria

EFE, Bernal pide mediación internacional para proteger democracia en Panamá

La Estrella, Iván Blasser reclama al TE por 500 libros del partido UNI

AFP, Peruanos votan no a la reelección de legisladores en referéndum

Xinhua, Interpol rejects Ecuador’s request to arrest ex-president Correa

Blakely, Vox boosted in Andalusia by opposition to Catalan independence

Daily Kos, Trump campaign illegally coordinated with the NRA’s PAC

The New York Times, Federal prosecutors shift focus to Trump family business

Opinion / Opiniones

Caffo, Ecology: the end of rhetoric + an invitation to reality

Nadler & Crain, Social media companies could clean up their acts

Eisner, Israel would fall out of love with Trump if it knew him like we do

Bergmann & Berger, Mueller is telling us: he’s got Trump on collusion

Gandásegui, Los retos de López Obrador

Carlsen, AMLO’s inauguration and the future of Mexico

Sagel, Desatinos legislativos

Bernal, Aniversario de los derechos humanos

Culture / Cultura

Foley, Feeling guilty about drinking? Well, ask the saints

Remezcla, The best books by Latino and Latin American authors in 2018

Huffington Post, The gay man behind the purge of gays in the US government

Metro Libre, Panamá: país invitado en el Latino Film Market de Nueva York

 

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Mujica, ¿Cual es el valor de tu libertad?

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pepe
“Aprendí que si no puedes ser feliz con pocas cosas no vas a ser feliz con muchas cosas.” Foto Wikimedia del expresidente uruguayo por Nicolas Arroyave.

Valores en la vida

 

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Editorials: Mothers Day abuse; and Trump the unindicted co-conspirator

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assholes
The magistrates’ timing was quite deliberate, quite precise.

Mothers Day abuse

It doesn’t matter that two of the seven people who did it were women. The plenum of the Supreme Court chose the afternoon when much of the Panamanian population was headed toward the Interior to issue their ruling divesting the court of jurisdiction over Ricardo Martinelli. It was a cynical, abusive act — nothing new or creative but just another insult by an institution shorn of credibility.

They may protest that they didn’t throw out the charges, that they just transferred the trial to the lowest level of criminal court. Yeah, so Martinelli’s legal hoodlums can again file motion after motion and interlocutory appeal after interlocutory appeal until comes they day when the untried Martinelli will again be before the high court arguing that the statute of limitations has run.

There is no “legal” solution to this. There is a constitutional solution. That would be a new constitution that has among its provisions not a procedure or a law, just an outright ban against any of these seven specific individuals serving as judges, holding a government post or practicing law.

Does somebody protest that there is no law against this sort of timing? These seven magistrates time their pro-corruption ruling because they knew it was wrong and sought to conceal it from the Panamanian people. That’s offense enough, whether or not there is any statute on the books.

 

memo
From Robert Mueller’s sentencing memo in the Cohen cases. The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York submitted a separate memo, which was about different crimes but just as damning.

Trump, unindicted co-conspirator

He ordered people to break the campaign finance laws. He ordered people to contact the Kremlin in search of special favors for his business, while he was running for president. People are going to jail because they lied for him. We still don’t know the extent of the offenses that the special prosecutor will cite, but what’s out now is damning.

Are Republican senators sneering that they have they have the votes, that nothing can be done about Donald J. Trump? Perhaps if the guy sinks to single-digit approval ratings and their own standings with the voters follow the trend, they will be alarmed. A problem that they created. A problem that they might go into panic mode to resolve.

For Democrats, it’s not a time for compromise solutions. It ought to be the start of two years of debate and incubation of a plan of action to take to the voters in 2020.

As money matters have to come from the House, it also should be two years of saying no to funding for Republican initiatives.

 

Bear in mind…

 

I am not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword. I will tell the truth wherever I please.
Mother Jones

 

I married beneath me. All women do.
Nancy Astor

 

Just because I might look like a skinny scientist doesn’t mean I’m not going to crack down on crime here.
Claudia Scheinbaum

 

 

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What Democrats are saying

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jd
See https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/12/john-dingell-how-restore-faith-government/577222/

What Democrats are saying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Republicans are saying

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DTs
See https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5453413-SCO-Cohen-Sentencing-Submission.html and https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/5453395/USDOJ-Cohen-20181207.pdf

What Republicans are saying

 

 

 

 

 

 

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¿Wappin? Canciones de nuestras culturas

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rs
Romeo Santos. Foto por Eduardo Cobian.

Canciones de nuestras culturas

Romeo Santos & Ne-Yo – La Canción Perfecta
https://youtu.be/ajDnsgusv98

Pablo Alborán – Lo nuestro
https://youtu.be/9BvruiqKgeY

Hiromi Uehara & Edmar Castañeda – Fire
https://youtu.be/JiBeeM0gg9g

Eneida Cedeño & Dorindo Cardenas – Camino a Tonosí
https://youtu.be/dqcRkoHhSGE

Lenín Ramírez – Rolling One
https://youtu.be/aan9vCi2oi8

León Larregui – Zombies
https://youtu.be/amO_lPKEsiY

Décimas Panameñas – El gallote, el caballo y el perro
https://youtu.be/4oUx7xZPhWo

Silvestre Dangond & Natti Natasha – Justicia
https://youtu.be/7qix3jy5QdA

Los Ángeles Azules & Denise Gutiérrez – El Listón de Tu Pelo
https://youtu.be/daL7_QWYdkk

Soda Stereo – En La Ciudad De La Furia
https://youtu.be/kuZii-vk5Xw

The Chamanas – Dulce Mal
https://youtu.be/OSNH5YCV26Y

Los Mozambiques – Los Barcos en la Bahía
https://youtu.be/A9m4FC1qytg

Adán Jodorowsky & Natalia Lafourcade – Vivir con valor
https://youtu.be/hUrlHEsmFMA

Cande Buasso & Paulo Carrizo – Barro tal vez
https://youtu.be/w-iBgr-4EfI

Enrique Bunbury – …y al Final
https://youtu.be/UP4Z1X_6Peo

 

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Do blind people have better hearing?

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File 20180904 45151 1vync4t.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Do blind people have better hearing?

Loes van Dam University of Essex

The sensation of sound occurs when the vibrations from sounds enter our ear and cause little hairlike structures — called hair cells — within our inner ear to move back and forth. The hair cells transform this movement into an electrical signal that the brain can use.

How well a person can hear largely depends on how intact these hair cells are. Once lost, they don’t grow back — and this is no different for blind people. So blind people can’t physically hear better than others.

Yet blind people often outperform sighted people in hearing tasks such as locating the source of sounds. The reason for this emerges when we look beyond the sensory organs, at what is happening with the brain, and how the sensory information is processed by it.

Perception occurs when the brain interprets signals that our sensory organs provide, and different parts of the brain respond to the information arriving from different sensory organs. There are areas that process visual information (the visual cortex) and areas that process sound information (the auditory cortex). But when a sense like vision is lost, the brain does something remarkable: it reorganizes the functions of these brain areas.

In blind people, the visual cortex gets a bit “bored” without visual input and starts to “rewire” itself, becoming more responsive to information from the other remaining senses. So blind people may have lost their vision, but this leaves a larger brain capacity for processing the information from other senses.

The visual cortex can rewire itself to respond to sounds or touch. Cliparea/Shutterstock

 
The extent of reorganization in the brain depends on when someone loses their sight. The brain can reorganize itself at any point in life, including adulthood, but during childhood the brain is more able to adapt to change. This is because during childhood the brain is still developing and the new organization of the brain does not have to compete with an existing one. As a result, people who have been blind from a very early age show a much greater level of reorganization in the brain.

People who become blind early in life tend to outperform sighted people, as well as those who became blind later in life, in hearing and touch perceptual tasks.

Echolocation

The reorganization in the brain also means that blind people are sometimes able to learn how to use their remaining senses in interesting ways. For example, some blind people learn to sense the location and size of objects around them using echolocation.

 

By producing clicks with their mouths and listening for the echoes, blind people can locate objects in their surroundings. This ability is tightly linked with the brain activity in the visual cortex. In fact, the visual cortex in blind echolocators responds to sound information in almost the same way as it does to visual information in the sighted. In other words, in blind echolocators, hearing has replaced vision in the brain to a very large extent.

But not every blind person is automatically an expert echolocator. Whether a blind person is able to develop a skill like echolocation depends on the time spent learning this task — even sighted people can learn this skill with enough training, but blind people will probably benefit from their reorganized brain being more tuned towards the remaining senses.

Blind people will also rely more on their remaining senses to do everyday tasks, which means that they train their remaining senses on a daily basis. The reorganized brain together with the greater experience in using their remaining senses are believed to be important factors in blind people having an edge over sighted people in hearing and touch.

The Conversation

Loes van Dam, Lecturer in Psychology, University of Essex

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

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Smash-and-grab peak season (3) “Independent” and independent candidates

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DF
Genuine fake, there to keep someone else off the ballot. This ruse brought to you by the Electoral Tribunal and behind-the-scenes power brokers who would never admit it. From his Twitter feed, numbers as of December 5, 2018.

The independent candidates: the
real, the fake and the excluded

by Eric Jackson

In late November, the Electoral Tribunal was by its own records caught publishing false totals about who had submitted the most petition signatures to get on the ballot as an independent presidential candidate. The magistrates who represent the political partigGes had listed legislator and former attorney general Ana Matilde Gómez in first place, the secretive Dimitri Flores in second and former legislator and Bonlac dairy scion Marco Ameglio in third. But actually third place was held by attorney and Christian anti-corruption activist Roberto Lombana. A week or so later, after a hue and cry, the tribunal corrected the figures and pleaded insufficient staff for the false press release.

The tribunal has decreed that only three independents make it to the ballot, no matter if more than that number get the required number of signatures. That leaves law professor, media personality and human rights activist Miguel Antonio Bernal off the ballot if things stay in the order stated. In a curious ruling based on an interpretation of a prior election law, the Supreme Court held that the constitutionality of the three independents only rule was “res judicata,” that is, already decided. No matter that the earlier ruling wasn’t even about the constitutionality of that provision. (Perhaps in a Common Law jurisdiction the earlier decision might be considered persuasive or controlling precedent, but Panama’s legal system is part of the Civil Code family that descends from Roman law via the Napoleonic Code, in which precedent is far less persuasive than by the history-oriented systems that derive from English law.)

Lombana? He’s an actual independent and, although he’s an Evangelical, lacks the ties to the pastors and churches behind the Alianza party or who were part of Ricardo Martinelli’s political operations past or present. Beware of applying US political standards and stereotypes to Evangelicals here. Sometimes it matches, including with US-inspired anti-gay activism by many born-agains here. But corruption has been a divisive issue among Evangelicals here, especially controversies revolving around the Templo Hosanna mega-church. Unlike that institution’s Reverend Álvarez and San Miguelito’s mayor Reverend Cumberbatch, Lombana is unencumbered by such baggage and is possessed of apparently valid anti-corruption credentials. But Lombana has never held public office, something that might be twisted into a pitch to the voters but would likely make him a highly dependent president if ever he gets to the Palacio de las Garzas.

Ameglio? He’s one of these wandering politicians who would make public office part of the family business, who wandered from the Solidaridad party and its aftermath, then in and out of the Panameñista Party long enough to be its leader and then to be ousted as such by Juan Carlos Varela. That party worships its late founder Arnulfo Arias but notoriously treats former leaders badly. The conventional wisdom is that Ameglio on the ballot would peel off votes from the Panameñista and Cambio Democratico parties. The man has to date issued no compelling reason beyond belief in himself for voters to trust him. If there is to be a general backlash against incumbent legislators, will that apply to former legislators as well?

The Electoral Tribunal is not allowing opinion polls this year — something perhaps justified by 2014’s inaccurate polls, but also something very convenient if there is fraudulent intent. Were there to be decent surveys made public, it is this writer’s estimate that they would terminally deflate any pretensions of one Dimitri Flores. He says that he’s a businessman, of which businesses he won’t say. He won’t even provide a brief biography to press and public. His campaign donors? He says that it’s all self-financed. His dodges about those things in a July interview with La Estrella’s Adelita Coriat are infamous:

Coriat: Why do you brag that you do not collect money from your sympathizers? What makes you so different from others who have money?
Flores: It’s not that one has money, it’s that one has to work.

Coriat: We all work, but we may not have the same income.
Flores: So why do they get into this?

Coriat: Do you think that the one with money becomes president?
Flores: … One who does not show that in his life he has been able to succeed, and that he has been able to save $ 100 thousand in its 40 or 50 years — hello? What message are you giving me about succeeding in what you did in your own life? What are you going to do with us?

Coriat: But how do you measure personal success? In money?
Flores: That’s how you have to prove it.

Coriat: Show it how? In money or in what?
Flores: Where are you? Did you get over it?

Coriat: I do not have money, I can’t run for president?
Flores: Has a 45-year-old person in this country not been able to save even $100,000?

Thus spake a man with no visible means of support, no record of any sort of activism in politics or other spheres of public life, no stand on any of the issues that affect this country, no discernible campaign team or base of support — just these nearly 80,000 signatures that he has submitted to the Electoral Tribunal. Flores is a placeholder, a creature of someone else, of another political force, fleetingly in public life to keep some other independent off of the ballot. It’s a corrupt position created by the political parties, via the Electoral Tribunal which represents them.

Finally, there is the current leader among independents, by numbers of signatures submitted to the Electoral Tribunal and surely, were such things allowed, at or near the top in any public opinion poll, Ana Matilde Gómez, the legislator and former attorney general (“Procuradora General,” as it is styled here in the Spanish original). The Gómez team has been out in public places gathering signatures. The refuse to be photographed doing so. Her donors and backers are in general undisclosed, in some cases denied. The popular belief is that it’s the money of Stanley Motta and a few of his wealthy but less wealthy friends, and the Independent Movment (MOVIN) that he created ahead of the 2014 campaign. Along the way, during her career as an attorney she did work for the Mottas’ bank even if she tells people that this is of no political significance. (She also worked for the US government in the post-invasion period and surely some will mention and interpret that along the campaign trail.)

Gómez has a record in public life. It might be expected that some will focus on the cases as attorney general (David Murcia Guzmán, Odebrecht) and as member of the legislature’s Credentials Committee (most complaints against Supreme Court members) that she did not touch. The actions that she did take against the looting of the Ministry of Education during the Torrijos administration and against hoodlum magistrate Alejandro Moncada Luna as a legislator will probably get more attention. The question will be whether she would err on the side of attacking corruption, or on the side of maintaining an inevitably corrupt and long-running non-aggression pact among political parties and branches of government. That, and which privileges the Motta family might derive or maintain by virtue of her presidency.

So is everything carefully engineered, from the propping up of Ricardo Martinelli’s Cambio Democratico party (including by maintaining candidate immunity for its presidential nominee Rómulo Roux) to manipulation of independent candidacies blocked or allowed through arbitrary rules or their non-application? Remember that this was the norm in Noriega times and not only did its chief practitioner not go to prison after the invasion, she became a law school dean.

It LOOKS LIKE the 2019 presidential choice Panamanians are about to be given is between two leading candidates in an eight-way race, the PRD’s Nito Cortizo and Motta-backed independent Ana Matilde Gómez. Perhaps somebody can break out of the pack

Will such foreign powers that have intervened in Panamanian elections in the past, the United States and Brazil, do so again? Is somebody in some fashion angling for Chinese participation, and would China deviate from its usual correct diplomatic aloofness from other countries’ internal affairs and swallow that bait? Figure that the allegations that someone is someone else’s agent will generally fall short of reality.

There will be a window of opportunity for alliances. The Partido Popular, successor to the center-right Christian Democrats, supports the Panameñistas and José Blandón. MOLIRENA will probably support the PRD. Alianza might go somewhere or just stay as is — they are nothing if not opportunists and their natural ally, Cambio Democratico, is likely to be crushed into minor party status.

Parties may not form alliances that put independents who remain independents on their tickets, but they may offer an independent who drops such a bid a candidacy under the party banner in exchange. Independents might take on another independent as a running mate.

Getting down to the independents seeking lesser offices, the same three candidates only rule is being applied, the Electoral Tribunal is throwing people off the ballot over bogus residency allegations and all sorts of the usual suspects are running as independents because the parties are so discredited. Perhaps the most prominent among the new “independents” is Evangelical pastor and Cambio Democratico mayor of San Miguelito, Gerald Cumberbatch.

 

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