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The Panama New blog links, October 14, 2019

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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

Seatrade, New PanCanal tonnage record in FY 2019

La Estrella, Nuevos directivos de la Autoridad del Canal de Panamá toman posesión 

Seatrade: A glimpse of shipping’s zero emission, hydrogen-powered future

Sports / Deportes

Telemetro, Kristine Jiménez gana medallas para Panamá en judo

Economy / Economía

ANP, Banco Mundial confirma a Panamá como impulsor de la economía regional 

TVN, Union entre Toledano y La Estancia

Stiglitz, No more half-measures on corporate taxes

Eichengreen, Will Libra be stillborn?

El País, Diccionario urgente de timos financieros

Science & Technology / Ciencia & Tecnología

STRI, Imprinting on mothers may drive speciation in poison dart frogs

Vacas: 5G, realidades y necesidades 

Kortenhorst, The energy revolution is here

Sci-News.com, Lunar water ice may have multiple sources

News / Noticias

La Estrella, La mayoría del tercer grado tienen problemas de lectoescritura

La Prensa, Nuevos casos de violación apuntan at diputado Arquesio Arias

La Prensa, Diputados con casos en la Corte Suprema de Justicia

La Estrella, FCC reconoce delitos en Panamá y logra un acuerdo con fiscales

Radio Temblor, Concluyó el paro nacional en Ecuador

Bloomberg, Melting ice redraws the world map and starts a power struggle

Politico, Cruz denounces Trump’s call for China to probe Bidens 

Reuters, Hunter Biden’s lawyer defends Ukraine and China jobs

Opinion / Opiniones

Reich, Donald Trump: xenophobe in public, international mobster in private 

Remezcla, Three Afro-Latinas on the Super Bowl and Kaepernick

Haiti no MINUSTAH, La lucha del pueblo haitiano por la renuncia del presidente Moïse

Boff, The legacy of Chico Mendes

Singer, Greta Thunberg’s moment

Bernal, Un escandaloso escarnio

TVN, El cuestionado proceso de remoción del Defensor del Pueblo

Montezuma: No solo los ganadores han escrito la historia, también ‘los vencidos’

Sagel, La década perdida

Culture / Cultura

Wooding, Gandhi’s translator

Telemetro: Sebastián Castillo, joven pianista panameño

 

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Cinta Chocolate, Exigimos justicia no selectiva

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cc30
Cinta Chocolate 30 de abril es una organización que exige responsabilidad por mala praxis médica en Panamá. La fecha proviene de la muerte de uno de los principales intelectuales de Panamá, Raúl Leis, por un medicamento recetado por negligencia después de una cirugía ocular menor.

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World Health Organization, Northeast Syria

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flight
Civilians flee the Turkish offensive into Ras Al Ain, the Kurdish town on the Syrian side of the border. With their shelling the Turks damaged the water plant for the whole region. The area’s able-bodied Kurdish men and women have for the most part taken up arms against the Turks. Photo from Twitter, by Mohammed Hassan.

WHO gravely concerned about the humanitarian situation in northeast Syria

by the World Health Organization (WHO)

13 October, Cairo, Egypt — WHO is gravely concerned about the humanitarian health situation in northeast Syria, where up to 200,000 people have been displaced as a result of increased military operations since 9 October, and almost 1.5 million people are in need of health aid. Many of those affected by the recent hostilities have already experienced immense physical and mental stress as a result of years of conflict and repeated displacement.

People in need of essential health care services face challenges related to insecurity and limited access to health care. Already weakened health services in northeast Syria have been severely impacted by the latest security developments. The national hospital in Ras Al-Ain is currently out of service, and the national hospital and two health centers in Tel Abyad are also currently non-functional. The three field hospitals in Al-Hol camp have limited their services since 12 October as a result of the escalation of hostilities which has impeded access of health staff to the camp. All health facilities in camps hosting displaced people in Ain Issa and Ras al Ain have also been evacuated, with additional facilities under threat as the conflict rapidly escalates.

A number of health partners have already suspended services due to insecurity, further disrupting access to essential health care services. On 12 October, a trauma stabilization point located south of Ras Al Ain was evacuated after being reportedly attacked, resulting in two health staff injured and two ambulances destroyed. On the same day, the hospital in Ras Al-Ain was also reportedly attacked. There were no casualties as the facility had already been evacuated.

Across northeast Syria, shortages of health workers is widespread as they too have been among those displaced by the ongoing insecurity, aggravating an already critical situation and further depriving underserved populations of access to medical care.

Damages to the pumping station in Ras Al Ain, the main water source for most of Al Hassakeh governorate, has increased the risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases. Even before the current escalation in conflict, acute diarreah and typhoid were two of the most reported diseases among people in northeast Syria in August 2019. Ongoing displacements, overcrowded living conditions, and limited access to safe water and sanitation services, will likely lead to an increase in the number of people affected by water-borne diseases.

Amid this chaotic and fast-moving situation, WHO and health partners are working hard to respond to urgent health needs. Almost 314,000 medical treatments, vaccines, in addition to trauma medicines for 500 trauma patients have already been prepositioned in Qamishly hub. An additional shipment of more than 100,000 treatments and medicines for 640 trauma patients will be airlifted to Qamishly in the coming week. Medicines for diarrheal diseases, have also been prepositioned for delivery to health facilities as needed. Despite the challenges, many health NGOs continue to operate or shift to new locations. Some casualty cases requiring hospitalization are referred to a WHO-supported facility in Al-Hassakeh, and WHO is in the process of contracting two additional hospitals in Al-Hassakeh and Al-Raqqa to support referral services.

As the situation evolves, WHO and partners will continue to assess health needs and scale up their response as needed.

WHO calls on all parties to the conflict to preserve the right to health for hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in northeast Syria, and comply with International Humanitarian Law to protect all civilians, including health care workers and patients, as well as health facilities.

 

 

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Turks shell US observation post in Kobani, Kurdish Syria

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Noting Turkey’s claims that this was a mistake, the US peace group CodePink declared that “this is what happens when a country goes into a war of expansion so callously and rapidly.” Kurdish video from Kobani on a Yazidi Twitter feed.

‘Terrifying and totally predictable’: Pentagon confirms
US Forces in Syria came under Turkish artillery fire

by Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams

As tens of thousands of civilians flee northeast Syria amid Turkey’s ongoing offensive targeting Kurdish forces in the region—an operation enabled by US President Donald Trump—the Pentagon confirmed late Friday that “U.S. troops in the vicinity of Kobani came under artillery fire from Turkish positions.”

Newsweek initially reported Friday afternoon, citing both an Iraqi Kurdish intelligence official and a senior Pentagon official, that US Special Forces “operating on Mashtenour hill in the majority-Kurdish city of Kobani fell under artillery fire from Turkish forces conducting their so-called ‘Operation Peace Spring’ against Kurdish fighters backed by the United States but considered terrorist organizations by Turkey.”

According to the unnamed Pentagon official, “shelling by the Turkish forces was so heavy that the US personnel considered firing back in self-defense.” However, “instead of returning fire, the Special Forces withdrew once the shelling had ceased.”

 


Following Newsweek’s report, a Pentagon spokesperson, Navy Captain Brook DeWalt, said in a statement that “the explosion occurred within a few hundred meters of a location outside the Security Mechanism zone and in an area known by the Turks to have US forces present.”

Despite the artillery fire, DeWalt said that all US troops are accounted for with no injuries and have not withdrawn from Kobani.

“The United States remains opposed to the Turkish military move into Syria and especially objects to Turkish operations outside the Security Mechanism zone and in areas where the Turks know US forces are present,” he added. “The US demands that Turkey avoids actions that could result in immediate defensive action.”

The Pentagon’s official remarks contrasted with a statement from the Turkish Defense Ministry on Friday. According to Newsweek:

The ministry affirmed that “Turkish border outposts south of Suruc came under Dochka and mortar fire from the hills located approximately 1,000 meters southwest of a US observation post.”

“In self-defense, reciprocal fire was opened on the terrorist positions of the attack. Turkey did not open fire at the US observation post in any way,” the statement added. “All precautions were taken prior to opening fire in order to prevent any harm to the US base. As a precaution, we ceased fire upon receiving information from the US. We firmly reject the claim that US or coalition forces were fired upon.”

Linking to Newsweek’s report, the US peace advocacy group CodePink challenged Turkey’s statement, tweeting: “They say this was a mistake. We say this is what happens when a country goes into a war of expansion so callously and rapidly.”

pinkos

US and coalition officials cast doubt on Turkey’s claims in comments to journalists:

a report on war pigs

2d take on war pigs

“One US official told CNN the US does not believe the Turkish shelling near U.S. troops posted near Kobani was an accident and that it was likely designed to chase the US from the area,” the news outlet reported, noting that “the US has previously announced that it gave Turkey ‘explicit grid coordinate detail’ of US positions in Syria.”

CNN also highlighted comments on Twitter from Brett McGurk, the former presidential envoy to the global coalition to counter the Islamic State (ISIS) who is now a foreign affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.


Turkey launched airstrikes and ground incursions targeting Kurdish forces along the Turkey-Syria border on Wednesday after Trump announced Sunday — following a call with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — that US troops “will no longer be in the immediate area.” Trump’s announcement was widely decried by American lawmakers across the political spectrum as well as humanitarians the world over.

Critics accused Trump of abandoning the Kurdish allies of the United States, who helped defeat ISIS in the region. By standing aside and allowing Turkey’s operation to move forward, “the Americans,” said one Kurdish official, “have abandoned us to a Turkish massacre.”

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — a coalition of Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen, led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — guard about 11,000 ISIS detainees in facilities throughout northern Syria. An SDF spokesperson said Friday that five ISIS prisoners escaped a facility in Qamishli city, renewing fears about a resurgence of the terrorist group because of Turkey’s operation.

A humanitarian group in the region reported that as of Thursday, at least 11 people have been killed by the Turkish bombing campaign. Turkey’s defense officials claimed that as of Friday, their forces have killed 277 Kurdish fighters and had advanced five miles into parts of Syria.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Friday that Turkey would risk “serious consequences” if it doesn’t cease its attacks and — while announcing that Trump will sign an executive order giving his administration broad authority to hit the country with sanctions — US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed that “we can shut down the Turkish economy if we need to.” However, beyond such threats, the Trump administration has not yet taken any public and formal actions to curtail or end the Turkish offensive.

 

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Behind Portobelo’s October 21 Festival del Nazareno

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Black Christ
The life-sized wooden statue of the Black Christ in St. Philip Church in Panama.
Dan Lundberg/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Panama celebrates its Black Christ, part of
a protest against colonialism and slavery

by S. Kyle Johnson, Boston College

Panama’s “Festival del Cristo Negro,” the festival of the “Black Christ,” is an important religious holiday for local Catholics. It honors a dark, life-sized wooden statue of Jesus, “Cristo Negro” – also known as “El Nazaraeno,” or “The Nazarene.”

Throughout the year, pilgrims come to pay homage to this statue of Christ carrying a cross, in its permanent home in Iglesia de San Felipe, a Roman Catholic parish church located in Portobelo, a city along the Caribbean coast of Panama.

But it is on Oct. 21 each year that the major celebration takes place. As many as 60,000 pilgrims from Portobelo and beyond travel for the festival, in which 80 men with shaved heads carry the black Christ statue on a large float through the streets of the city.

The men use a common Spanish style for solemn parades – three steps forward and two steps backward – as they move through the city streets. The night continues with music, drinking and dancing.

In my research on the relationship between Christianity, colonialism and racism, I have discovered that such festivals play a crucial role for historically oppressed peoples.

About 9% of Panama’s population claims African descent, many of whom are concentrated in Portobelo’s surrounding province of Colón. Census data from 2010 shows that over 21% of Portobelo’s population claim African heritage or black identity.

To Portobelo’s inhabitants, especially those who claim African descent, the festival is more than a religious celebration. It is a form of protest against Spanish colonialism, which brought with it slavery and racism.

History of the statute

Portobelo’s black Christ statue is a fascinating artifact of Panama’s colonial history. While there is little certainty as to its origin, many scholars believe the statue arrived in Portobelo in the 17th century – a time when the Spanish dominated Central America and brought in enslaved people from Africa.

Cristo Negro. Adam Jones/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Various legends circulate in Panama as to how the black Christ got to Portobelo. Some maintain that the statue originated in Spain, others that it was locally made, or that it washed ashore miraculously.

One of the most common stories maintains that a storm forced a ship from Spain, which was delivering the statue to another city, to dock in Portobelo. Every time the ship attempted to leave, the storms would return.

Eventually, the story goes, the statue was thrown overboard. The ship was then able to depart with clear skies. Later, local fishermen recovered the statue from the sea.

The statue was placed in its current home, Iglesia de San Felipe, in the early 19th century.

Stories of miracles added to its mystique. Among the legends in circulation is one about how prayers to the black Christ spared the city from a plague ravaging the region in the 18th century.

Catholicism and African identity

Since its exact origins are unknown, so are the artistic intention behind the Jesus statue. However the figure’s blackness has made it an object of particular devotion for locals of African descent.

At the time of the arrival of Cristo Negro, the majority of the Portobelo’s population was of African descent. This cultural heritage is significant to the city’s identity and traditions.

The veneration of the statue represents one of many ways that the black residents of Portobelo and the surrounding Colón region of Panama have engendered a sense of resistance to racism and slavery.

Each year around the time of Lent, local men and women across Colón – where slavery was particularly widespread – dramatize the story of self-liberated black slaves known as the Cimarrones. This reenactment is one of a series of celebrations, or “carnivals,” observed around the time of Lent by those who identify with the cultural tradition known colloquially as “Congo.” The term Congo was originally used by the Spanish colonists for anyone of African descent. It is now is used for traditions that can be traced back to the Cimarrones.

During the carnival celebration, some local people dress up as the devil, meant to represent Spanish slave masters or complicit priests. Others don the dress of the Cimarrones.

Many of the participants in both the black Christ and carnival celebrations of Panama are Catholics as well. Together they participate to bring to light the Catholic Church’s complex relationship with Spanish colonization and slavery. Many Catholic leaders in the 16th to 18th centuries justified the enslavement of Africans and the colonization of the Americas, or at least did not object to it.

A revered tradition

The different colored robes that are put on the statue of Cristo Negro. Ali EminovFlickr, CC BY-NC

Many people from throughout Panama have donated robes to clothe the statue. The colors of the robes donned by the statue varies throughout the year. Purple is reserved for the October celebrations, which likely reflects the use of purple in Catholic worship to signify suffering.

These robes draped on Panama’s black Christ are meant to represent those placed on Jesus when he was mockingly dressed in royal garb by the soldiers torturing him before his crucifixion.

Evoking this scene perhaps serves to remind the viewer of the deeper theological meaning of Jesus’s suffering as it is often understood in Christianity: Although Jesus is the Son of God prophesied to save God’s people from suffering and should thus be treated like royalty, he was tortured and executed as a common criminal. His suffering is understood to save people from their sins.

Some pilgrims specifically come during the October festival to seek forgiveness for any sinful actions. Some wear their own purple robes, the color indicating a sign of their suffering – and, of course, that of the black Christ.

[ Insight, in your inbox each day. You can get it with The Conversation’s email newsletter. ]The Conversation

S. Kyle Johnson, Doctoral Student in Systematic Theology, Boston College

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

 

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¿Wappin? Parte del mundo de música latina

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Barbieri
The late Argentine saxophonist Gato Barbieri in 1987. WikiMedia photo.

Latin music tonight, not all of it in Spanish
Música latina esta noche, no toda en español

Sech – Si Te Vas
https://youtu.be/KLEQmaxuiv0

Jesse & Joy & Luis Fonsi – Tanto
https://youtu.be/ridGylKQ0WY

Kito & Empress Of – Wild Girl
https://youtu.be/4CNs5f16Vlo

Natti Natasha & Romeo Santos – La Mejor Versión De Mi
https://youtu.be/R9rVapGCf2c

Haydée & Pablo Milanés – El breve espacio en que no está
https://youtu.be/vxobr4A8pSA

Mariana Montenegro – Reprimiendo
https://youtu.be/xZtFJ5Ym-PE

Cienfue – Shining In The Dark
https://youtu.be/nWQWe_AzjHs

Señor Loop – Lo Que Hay
https://youtu.be/XQMGhLc3MPw

Becky G – Mala Santa
https://youtu.be/w2Ro8cgsmss

Tini & Sebastian Yatra – Oye
https://youtu.be/azfKhDMIrZo

Carlos Santana & Gato Barbieri – Europa
https://youtu.be/h4Mrp6wuSwk

Anjulie, Natalia Lafourcade & Phyno – Holy Water
https://youtu.be/f9SCf-GxoSY

Hello Seahorse! – Cielo Rojo
https://youtu.be/NKKezngZH3M

Jennifer Lopez & Gente de la Zona – Ni Tú Ni Yo
https://youtu.be/V5_tnpdnNz4

Marc Anthony – Full concert at Viña del Mar 2019
https://youtu.be/-WF3rbczyr8

 

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The October 11, 1968 coup

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OTH

Omar Torrijos Herrera, the son of a Veraguas school administrator of Colombian origin, speaks into the microphone that evening to announce a change of government.

October 11

by Eric Jackson

If you look at the PRD flag, the circle with the number 11 is no mere geometric pattern – it’s the letter “O” to go with the numbers, signifying October 11, 1968. On that day up-and-coming officers of the Guardia Nacional, at the time what they called Panama’s combination of military and police forces, staged an uprising that first appeared at the barracks in La Chorrera but quickly caught on and sent Dr. Arnulfo Arias, inaugurated president for the third non-consecutive time 11 days before, fleeing across the largely unmarked boundary to the Canal Zone with his young secretary and mistress, Mireya Moscoso. Then off with them to Miami and Madrid, but never quite gone from the hearts and minds of many Panamanians – for better and for worse.

At the end of the day, general and Guardia commander Bolivar Vallarino, who was on his way out anyway, was history. It was not, however, as it Vallarino had been taken entirely by surprise. He had been involved in the coup plotting from the outset, or nearly so. As were some prominent civilians like the broadcasting mogul and former foreign minister Fernando Eleta and attorney and Johnson-era canal treaties negotiator Roberto Alemán. But Vallarino’s consultations, with his scheduled successors in the Guardia present, had taken place in August, between that May’s elections and Arias’s October 1 inauguration. Those talks to prevent another Arias presidency came to naught, except that even if word got not much farther than the little group that was involved, feelers had been put out and those present must have from that process gained a sense of who would tolerate what.

The morning of the 11th, Guardia commanders learned that Arnulfo Arias intended to alter the Guardia promotion schedule an install a civilian friend as head of the Presidential Guard. At the end of the day, atop of the new military junta two men presided, Omar Torrijos and Boris Martínez. It wasn’t a sudden decision to act, but Arias’s move made time of the essence in the eyes of the officer corps.

Vallarino, with Torrijos and Martínez by his side, may have conducted his earlier consultations with notables, but the two subordinates organized the “Combo,” a conspiracy involving most of the second, third and fourth-string officers in the various security agencies, not only in the Guardia but including the Presidential Guards. Why such near unanimity among the troops? It was because the soldiers had word that Arias intended to first break up the Guardia’s promotion schedule, and rumor had it eventually the Guardia itself. Careers were on the line, there was bad blood between Arias and the Guardia from previous bad experiences – like the two prior coups in which the physician turned racist demagogue had been overthrown, and the various fingers on election scales to otherwise keep him out – and because Vallarino was the last of a breed, the Guardia commander from “a good family” from the days before Arias’s nemesis, Guardia commander and martyred president José A. Remón, broke up that snobbish barrier and opened the officer corps to bright young men of more humble origins and whatever race or complexion.

Uncle Sam might have intervened – the Americans were rather fully informed and its forces were all there to step in had that been the preference – but the US ambassador at the time, Charles Adair, had advised his superiors at Foggy Bottom that Washington should stay neutral in the brewing confrontation between Arias and the Guardia.

The US Southern Command had a liaison officer assigned to Torrijos, then a lieutenant colonel, and as the leading lights of the Combo set out with weapons ready for their agreed tasks, the American soldier asked Torrijos what was going on, he was told “A coup d’etat, stupid.” The liaison officer asked to make a phone call but not only was that denied him, they put him under guard in a room at the Comandancia with a bottle of whiskey to keep him company.

These were Cold War times, and almost all of the officer corps had been trained by, given favors by, cultivated by and vetted by US military and intelligence agencies. The School of the Americas was at Fort Gulick, not far from the Gatun Locks, and it was an ordinary part of a Guardia officer’s education.

The man who helped to save Torrijos in later power struggles and whom Torrijos described as “my gangster,” on Manuel Antonio Noriega, head of the Guardia’s / Panama Defense Forces G-2 intelligence unit in the Torrijos years, was trained at the School of the Americas in psychological warfare. He proved to be very talented as messing with people’s heads, and so much of the chess game of the 1989 US invasion and the US signals and provocations leading up to it ought to be understood as an American exercise in messing with Noriega’s head. And indeed, messing with Panama’s head, so much so that to this day one of the things missing in most Panamanian indictments of who and what Noriega was is the item that he was a soldier who deserted his post under enemy fire.

On their ways up the command structure, both Noriega and Torrijos had been CIA assets. The full extent of it is a secret guarded now at Langley, but what leaked out – and likely very selectively and perhaps grossly distorted – were about low rent favors like cartons of cigarettes and bottles of booze for Torrijos.

(VERY bad manners in many a Panamanian circle to say that Torrijos was an alcoholic, but that was the case. Once upon a time it was so with respect to wining Union General and the president who oversaw reconstruction and the consolidation of the Robber Barons, Ulysses S. Grant. It can also be truthfully said about the United Kingdom’s great wartime prime minister and Nobel-winning historian, Winston Churchill. With each man it’s a matter of some historical importance to look behind the social stigma and consider the patterns and occasions of the addiction. The guy who’s an absolutely brilliant administrator in the morning and then as the day’s refreshment takes hold has an aide to take note of drunken mental tangents and bring up the promising ones in a subsequent sober moment, that’s a classic. So is the one who stays sober when urgent duty calls but gets drunk on his ass when on private time he considers the issues of his personal life. On October 11, 1968, and later in the key moments of Panama’s decolonization process, Torrijos was very much in control of his faculties.)

Don’t fall into the dubious connection of associations’ dots and interpret the October 11th coup as a matter of American AGENTS taking over the Panamanian government. It was a matter of occasional US intelligence ASSETS doing what they thought they needed to do to protect their institution and their personal careers. It was a coup without a particular ideology or political or geopolitical alignment, let alone a program of action, in mind. Many details were left to be sorted out.

One of the details to finesse was who would lead, and what comes to us is generally from self-serving accounts and winners’ impressions, but in any case what happened was that there were various power struggles within the Guardia and in March of 1969 Martínez made his move with an economic program that alienated the junta’s civilian ministers running government departments but which several top commanders liked. But in the third and below strings of Guardia leadership Torriijos was far more popular and Martínez was put on a plane to Washington with several other officers and an appointment as Panama’s representative to the Inter-American Defense Board. Martínez got off the plane in Miami and abandoned his military career and involvement in Panamanian public affairs.

Were there really that many details to iron out with respect to the Canal Zone’s fate? Yes, Omar Torrijos and Jimmy Carter signed the treaties in 1977, but something similar had been before the Johnson and Robles administrations in 1967 before domestic issues in both the United States and Panama set that process aside for a moment. If the truth is to be told, both the Guardia and the Pentagon brass had pretty much agreed that, whatever the immediate demand for bases, that segregated enclave of Americana – about two-thirds of the civilian population mostly blacks of West Indian extraction and non-citizens of the United States and the other civilian third mostly white US citizens – was disposable. Dwight D. Eisenhower had been stationed in the Canal Zone in the 1920s, knew both Canal Zone and Panamanian society well, got along famously with general and the president of Panama Remón, and set a slow-motion process of US devolution of the Canal Zone on its course. But it was still a dicey matter on the American end – the treaties were only ratified by one vote in the US Senate, and then only after addition of the humiliating DeConcini Amendment.

Both to shore up the Panamanian consensus so that no dissident wedges might derail the treaty process and to impress the Americans with Panama’s unity, Torrijos oversaw a number of social truces. A labor code that legalized union was passed. Ordinarily business leaders would have sternly resisted, but the left wing of the labor movement that would have said it wasn’t enough was at the same time hunted down and some of its leading activists disappeared. Senior positions in the government’s civilian bureaucracy were no longer de facto reserved for white people of the “better” families. Private monopolies like the old metro area bus company were busted up or nationalized. The Colon Free Zone and the Panama City banking sector were allowed to flourish without the same old families claiming dibs on anything that makes money in Panama. The public sector expanded to the advantage of Panamanians on the lower end of the economic hierarchy. A lot of leftists were co-opted into the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) that Torrijos founded. A constitution based on political patronage perks for those civilian politicians who cooperated with the regime was jammed through and with a few patches remains with us to this day. The general called it the “Revolutionary Process” even if there were revolutionaries who called it anything but.

In 1977 the treaties were signed and in 1979 they began to take effect. The old social truces began to break down. Torrijos’s drinking and behavior seemed to be affected by that. One change was said to be the risks that he’d have his pilots take when flying around the country. One day in 1981, in a driving rain, the pilot tried to land at the rural airstrip in Coclesito, had to abort and while pulling up to circle around and make another attempt, clipped a treetop with the DeHavilland Twin Otter’s wing. When the wreckage was found there were no survivors.

Four agencies from Panama, Canada and the United States investigated the crash and came to a common conclusion. Was it a convenient cover-up for all? Surely someone would have come forward by now if that had been the case.

Yet the conspiracy theories persist because by 1981 Panama, the United States and the world were in different paradigms than those prevailing on October 11, 1968. There have been big changes on all of those fronts in the decades since Omar Torrijos’s death. The crash in Coclesito was a convenient event with which historiographers could punctuate the timeline’s continuities and disjunctions.

Today’s PRD members and factions will lay claim to or dispute the meanings and history of “Torrijismo.” Reasonable enough. Omar Torrijos and the October 11 coup are no mere figments of imagination. Complicated as the man and the event really were, they have left indelible prints on what Panama has become since. Even if the national and international substrates on which those prints were left has been stretched and cropped on multiple occasions over the years. October 11 still matters here.

 

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Cabaret Caliente: Last three shows at the Guild

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tga

Tonight, tomorrow night and Saturday night

baaaa
How to find Panama’s oldest theatrical organization.
 

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Editorials: Vile display in the legislature; and Kurds will fight alone if necessary

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Hernán
Hernán Delgado, a Cambio Democratico dissident, was the lone deputy to vote against the removal of ombudsman Alfredo Castillero Hoyos. His argument was that people were accusing Castillero of a crime, so the case should have been referred to the Supreme Court where there would be some hope of at least minimal due process. From the National Assembly’s video.

#VoteNo on constitutional proposals by the people who brought us this ugly spectacle

It was billed as some sort of human rights defense, of removing a Defensor del Pueblo (ombudsman) who had sexually harassed someone at his office. 

But where was the specific allegation? Instead there was a questionnaire asking Alfredo Castillero Hoyos whether he had ever had any sexual relationship with anyone at the office. Where was the witness, any witness? Instead we were told that to testify would make a victim become a victim again.

Sexual misconduct? We are obligated  to believe the woman? But no woman came forward.

And what about the most strident woman against Mr. Castillero Hoyos? That was in the form of vicious but unspecified personal attacks by one Corina Cano, for years a principal leader of the ultra-extreme religious right here, the Panama voice of the Madrid-based and Moscow-backed CitizenGO movement. She has been at the head of the opposition that has prevented sex education in Panama’s hools. She does her very hardest to SUPPORT naive young girls being impregnated by grown adult men.

It was all smugly orchestrated by Zulay Rodríguez, who was removed as a judge for improperly granting bail to Colombian drug smuggling suspects, who promptly disappeared, and who took $100,000 from PANDEPORTES for an alleged sports program that is not shown to exist. As in, run the ombudsman and his staff out and open up all those political patronage jobs for the legislators’ campaign staff, with a fake veneer of righteousness to cover it.

Every credible human rights organization in Panama, and President Cortizo as well, said that if Castillero had engaged in sexual harassment he should be removed, but only after proper proceedings in which he was afforded due process rights. The legislature mocked them, and us.

And the next item to which they set their totalitarian minds? A revision of Panama’s constitution. Yeah, they will put a couple of lures in among their hooks, but we know where they are coming from. #VoteNo — on ANYTHING they submit to us. 

 

 

YPF
Faces of the Kurdish resistance in northern Syria. The Islamic State tried to run themout of their homes. The jihadis were hit by US air strikes, but it was the YPF Kurdish militia that defeated Mr. Baghdadi’s fanatics on the ground. Now the Americans are leaving with Donald Trump hurling insults instead of offering thanks or apologies. Civilians have already died in the first shelling of the Turkish attack on the Kurds. The Kurds as a people will survive and some of the Turkish invaders as individuals will not. American crediblity in the world is shot and after the current US regime is gone it will have to be rebuilt from scratch. Foto by the YPF.

Trump abandons and insults America’s worthy friends

Donald Trump didn’t consult anyone before agreeing with Turkish strongman Tayyip Erdogan to not only withdraw our friendship from Syria’s Kurds, but also to back a Turkish offensive aimed at killing them. He didn’t talk to his own advisors, nor to the Israelis, nor to his vicious friend the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. So the Turks are moving in, the Iranians are moving up and issuing warnings, and the Kurds are looking for negotiations with erstwhile foes like Bashar al-Assad and the Russians.

Looking at it strictly through the lens of US interests, some of this could not be helped. These forever wars need to end and the United States has not established the ability to dictate any political outcomes on the battlefield. Maintaining US forces in the Middle East for the purpose of some day sponsoring a free, united and independent Kurdistan would be folly. Perhaps it would be folly for a noble cause, but in a forever commitment the nobility tends to wear off.

But also as a matter of strict American interests, you don’t just abandon allies who have fought for or alongside US forces and you don’t make deals to in a matter of days, with no provocation, go from friends of the Kurds to backers of a military attack on the Kurds. What you do is offer to bring those who were comrades in arms back to America, along with their families, to become Americans. What you do is make dipolomatic overtures to protect communities left behind. But the nativist and white supremacist Donald Trump won’t allow people from the Middle East to become Americans, and he has hollowed out the United States as a world diplomatic power so doesn’t even have the capable people with the talent, knowledge and authority to make representations on behalf of the Kurds.

Donald Trump will not be impeached by the House and removed by the Senate for what he’s doing to the Kurds. The voters, sitting as a grand jury of the republic, are the ones to remove this genuine and lifelong fraud and money laundering racketeer raised to the status of fake reality TV character from public life. The rest would have to be left to ordinary prosecutors.

When he’s gone, an honorable America will need to make amends for this and previous betrayals of the Kurds. The zombies in MAGA hats will never understand, but a fully developed sense of honor and a global reputation as a country whose actions are guided by such are essential to a great nation’s power in the world.

 

 

JQ Adams

America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

John Quincy Adams (1821)          

 

Bear in mind…

Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other.

Ann Landers      

A faith is a necessity to a man. Woe to him who believes in nothing.

Victor Hugo      

A ruined planet cannot sustain human lives in good health. A healthy planet and healthy people are two sides of the same coin.

Margaret Chan      

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Red de Derechos Humanos, En defensa de la Defensoría

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