Por PayPal… https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=N9GEGY9C3VSH8 Si desea donar por Western Union, MoneyGram o cheque Cualquier pago enviado por cable debe ir a “Eric Lea Jackson Malo,” que es el nombre en la cédula del editor. Las empresas no van a transferir el dinero si se hace fuera de otra manera. The Panama News, no siendo incorporada, no tiene una cuenta bancaria o un buzón de correo en su nombre. Entonces si desea donar por cheque, envíenos un correo electrónico para que podemos arreglarlo. Existmos también por las donaciones de trabajo y materiales La mayoría de nuestras fotos fueron tomadas con cámaras donadas, estas palabras fueron escritas en una computadora donada y nuestro trabajo con la suficiente frecuencia implica llamadas telefónicas con tarjets prepagos de teléfonos celulares donados o trabajanado hasta la madrugada mientras bebiendo café donado. Además hay todos los artículos donados, columnas, fotografías y consejos de noticias. The Panama News puede ser una microempresa no rentable, pero ha durado todos estos años porque es un esfuerzo de la comunidad. Para donaciones en especie de trabajo o materiales, póngase en contacto con nosotros en email@example.com para hacer arreglos.
Whether there is money available to go into Panama City and back to cover a play — at the moment there isn’t — of course determines much of the quality of The Panama News. We are reader supported. To donate via PayPal, click on the graphic above.
If you want to donate by Western Union, MoneyGram or check
Money wired to us gets to us faster than PayPal donations do. Anything sent by wire via Western Union or MoneyGram must go to “Eric Lea Jackson Malo,” which is the name on the editor’s cedula. The companies won’t transfer the money if it is made out any other way. We do, of course, need to know the name of the sender and the routing number, so do send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with this information when you do send money this way. The Panama News, being unincorporated, does not have a bank account or a mailbox in its name. If you want to donate by check send us an email so that it can be arranged.
We also exist on donations of labor and materials
Most of our photos were taken with donated cameras, these words were written on donated computer and our work often enough involves phone calls on donated cell phone calls or working into the wee hours while slugging down donated coffee. That’s not to mention all of the donated articles, columns, photographs and news tips. The Panama News may be a ragtag micro-enterprise, but it has lasted all these years because it’s a community effort. For in-kind donations of labor or materials, contact us at email@example.com to make arrangements.
On March 11 Supreme Court magistrate Jerónimo Mejía, acting as the judge in the high court trial of Ricardo Martinelli on illegal electronic eavesdropping charges, made a two-pronged formal request for the former president’s extradition from the United States. The ex-president lives in self-imposed exile in Miami’s Brickell district. One referral was directly to INTERPOL. By the time you read these words it is likely that the closest thing to an international arrest warrant, an INTERPOL red note, will have been issued. The other referral was to Panama’s Ministry of Foreign Relations, which would likely start a diplomatic process by which, starting through the US Embassy here and the Panamanian Embassy in Washington, the United States would be formally asked to hand Martinelli over to Panamanian authorities.
The decisions now are for US authorities to make, and there are complicated legal and political factors involved. It may be a prolonged process, but rather quickly a decision will have to be made on whether to honor the INTERPOL red note, which will essentially ask that Martinelli be jailed pending extradition proceedings. It is rare that bail is granted in extradition cases before the US legal system. If Martinelli is locked up over many months the case is likely to change and grow in the interim, as the invasion of privacy charge is but one of about a dozen matters pending and in various stages against him. In the first instance, however, accepting or rejecting the INTERPOL request will be a political decision by the Obama administration via the State Department. It if goes along with the red note request, aspects of that decision could be reviewed by the courts.
There are three main legal routes by which the United States may extradite a foreign citizen. The main one is by treaty law, in this case based on the1904 US-Panama extradition treaty. Then there are extraditions granted without treaty authorization, based on a history of reciprocity between governments. There have also been extraditions based upon but not specifically authorized by mutual agreements to act against certain crimes. There are also possibilities of expulsions, with the United States summarily sending Martinelli back to Panama without recourse to the courts, a procedure for which there are also precedents with respect to Panama by which such action might be said to be cloaked in reciprocity.
There is a problem with this case and the 1904 treaty. That document applies to only certain specified crimes and illegal electronic spying is not one of them. An interpretation might be twisted and stretched out of that document to say that it does, but the legal histories of both countries show that in 1904 neither were too concerned about invasions of privacy. However, some of the other cases against Martinelli are about overpriced public contracts with kickbacks to Martinelli, or more often by indirect routes to the campaign coffers of Martinelli’s political party with the public officials involved in these schemes taking their percentages. Those would be matters sounding like embezzlement, larceny or fraud, which are specified in the extradition treaty.
For formal extradition based on reciprocity, there are precedents about money laundering crimes for which non-Panamanians have been extradited from Panama to the United States. There were no money laundering laws in 1904, in either country. And then, not exactly analogous, there are a number of cases in which US authorities have grabbed Panamanians without extradition proceedings of any sort to take them to the United States for trial. The most notorious of these was the removal from Panama of one Manuel Antonio Noriega. There have been less publicized US kidnappings of Panamanians for the purpose of bringing them before American courts, most often from third countries or from aircraft in transit.
There are mutual assistance treaties stemming from the “War on Drugs” that encompass money laundering crimes that are not necessarily about drugs, and one might argue a public policy reason for extradition based up on these. There is plenty of precedent for the United States using the “War on Drugs” as a pretext to pursue other policy aims. One aspect of the wiretapping case has been the concealment of financial transactions related to it, to which today’s broad interpretations of money laundering laws might be applied. Some of the other allegations against Martinelli now being processed in Panama’s high court more squarely involve money laundering as contemplated by US law, and Italian authorities allege a Panamanian government contract scheme by which kickbacks were to be diverted to Martinelli via the accounts of a company in Miami.
Money laundering through Miami? Illegal financial transactions using cables or satellites controlled by the United States? If Obama cares to get hard-nosed about it, he could have Martinelli arrested on US charges and tell Panama to wait for US justice to take its course before authorities here lay hands on the former president. Or Martinelli might be persuaded not to fight extradition in the face of such a threat.
On the other hand, given the revelations about US electronic spying on foreign governments, political leaders and companies, might the Obama administration for that reason balk at any consideration of illegal eavesdropping as an extraditable offense? Or might Washington consider that it owes Martinelli favors for this or that known or unknown action or policy, and on that basis protect him? The USA has traditionally been a refuge for some of the criminal element of Latin America’s political castes.
So there will be a US political decision about Martinelli, or one may have already been made. That gets to the legal considerations. There are relevant facts about that which are unknown. What, for example, is Ricardo Martinelli’s visa status in the United States? What sort of documents did he show when last he entered that country? Has he already filed for political asylum? Might he be treated as someone who overstayed a visa, or as someone who presented a diplomatic passport being summarily expelled as persona non grata, or as a garden variety criminal without any political complications to his case?
It has been reported, apparently based on a presumption, that Martinelli has filed for asylum, alleging that he would face political persecution if returned to Panama. Ordinarily one has to make such a request within one year of arrival in the United States and, although there are some claims to the contrary, it seems that Martinelli has been in Miami since late January of 2015. If such a request has been made, the State Department would make a political decision about it but a denial could be appealed to the courts. If a request has not been made and Martinelli is arrested pending extradition proceedings, he would be able to interpose a claim of reasonable fear of political persecution as a defense.
Figure that Ricardo Martinelli could prolong things in the USA if it suits him. However, there is likely to be a rather quick US political decision about whether he plays his delaying games while living in a jail cell or living in a luxury condo.
~ ~ ~
The announcements below are interactive. Click on them for more information
Varela shouldn’t leave all things Odebrecht to the courts
When Odebrecht got the contract for the Metro’s next line, it was not the low bidder. In May of last year a consortium led by that Brazilian group of companies won the contract on a weighted set of “technical points” that were pretty obscure. It wasn’t that the Chinese-led competition offering the lower price didn’t have vast experience in building such things, nor that it had a horrible safety record, nor that its engineers are unqualified, nor that there are terrible failures on its record, nor that the lower bid was a corrupt lowball. Some of the technical points in the Metro bidding were given numerical values but were so nebulous and subjective as to be recognized as fudge factors. The it turned out that a member of the committee that wrote the technical specifications that gave Odebrecht the contract had worked as a consultant for Odebrecht.
It was administratively held — not but the courts, but by part of the executive branch that President Varela heads and by the Comptroller General whom Varela appointed — that there was no conflict of interest and that there was no problem with Odebrecht getting that $1.857 billion contract for a higher price. By the time that the Metro Line 2 contract had been formally awarded, drafted and signed, Odebrecht’s now former president, Marcelo Odebrecht, was behind bars in Brazil on charges that he oversaw multiple bribery, kickback and money laundering schemes by which his companies rigged bids and paid off public officials in exchange. The other day Marcelo Odebrecht was sentenced to more than 19 years in prison after conviction on some of these charges.
In the days before Marcelo Odebrecht’s sentencing, a Brazilian couple, João Santana and Mônica Moura, were indicted. This power team is an internationally famous set of campaign managers who work for parties and governments of the left and right and usually win their campaigns. Brazilian prosecutors say that they were paid by Odebrecht through money laundering shells to perform services for politicians and ruling parties as a way for Odebrecht to pay bribes without any readily discernible money trail showing. The power couple came back to Brazil from the Dominican Republic, where they had been managing that country’s ruling party’s re-election campaign, and surrendered to police there. Under questioning by Brazilian prosecutors, Ms. Moura admitted that she and her husband were paid by parties other than their ostensible clients to manage political campaigns in Angola, Venezuela and Panama. In Panama, some private party other than the candidate or the Cambio Democratico party paid João Santana to run the 2014 presidential campaign of Ricardo Martinell’s front man José Dominngo Arias and the latter’s running mate, then first lady Marta Linares de Martinelli. Although the power couple say that they don’t know of any Odebrecht bribery and kickback scheme behind the financing they received Brazilian authorities say that they do have the documents and witnesses to prove the connection to Odebrecht. As in, Odebrecht, with large public works contracts in Panama, paid a major expense for the 2014 Martinelista election campaign.
Surely everyone involved in the hiring of Santana and Moura to run Martinelli’s proxy campaign will protest that it wasn’t bribery and maybe even that it amounts to criminal defamation to describe it as such because the quid pro quo can’t be definitively proven. Are we about to hear a backup argument that the hiring of Santana and Moura wasn’t a violation of Panamanian election laws barring foreign financing of our political campaigns because corporations are people too and the power couple was paid through a Panamanian subsidiary of the Brazilian construction company? No doubt. But we are not a nation of slow-witted children.
The Brazilian prosecutors have a problem with their investigation. Marcelo Odebrecht kept his emails on a server in Panama, and his company says that they are, for some dubious technical reason, “unavailable.” Also in Panama, Brazilian prosecutors say, were some of the money laundering shell companies and bank accounts used for Odebrecht financial crimes in Brazil and around the world. These corporate shell games involving multiple companies in multiple jurisdictions? By and large organized by Panamanian law firms, Brazilian authorities say. Reports from Brazil are that Panamanian authorities have not been helping out with the investigation there, and meanwhile Panamanian prosecutors appear to be less than curious to find out out what evidence their Brazilian counterparts have of crimes committed against the Panamanian people.
When asked about it, President Varela said that while people should be held accountable for their actions, that’s the job of the courts and not the executive branch that he heads. His role, he told reporters following him at a campaign event in Nata, is to see that public works contracts are in the public interest and are properly entered into.
But is it in the public interest for Panama to do business with a company with a long and notorious reputation for bribery and the purchase of influence in manycountries and locales, including acting as a clearinghouse for Brazilian public works big rigging in a scandal that brought down the administration of then President Fernando Collor de Mello in 1992? Are Panamanians protected when foreign interests are rewarded for interfering in our democratic processes?
Yes, there are roles for the courts to play, in which presidents should not interfere. Most Panamanians have not known this concept of judicial independence so will not believe it if they see it, but give Varela credit for defending the principle. However, guarding the public interest against corruption is also an administrative duty. Are there going to be “technical points” in administrative decisions about to whom public works contracts should be awarded? Right at the top of these should be a rule that a company known to engage in corrupt practices is disqualified from doing business with Panamanian government entities. In an administrative proceeding, the standard of proof about what is known is not the same as in a criminal case, in which all elements of a crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If Odebrecht paid the fee to manage the 2014 Martinelista campaign for the Panamanian presidency, forget all of the hair-splitting about specific intent and who knew what and when. As a matter of administrative policy Panama should not be doing business with those people.
Guest opinion, with a comment:
The Young Turks have been run out of the corporate mainstream but persist online. In this election year, in an era in which the norm is unlimited campaign spending to sway US elections — and to fill the coffers of television networks and other large corporate media — the financial biases of the billionaire class and the pecuniary interests of the big news organizations are being displayed in most flagrant fashion in what passes for news and expert commentary. By and large, the Cenk Uygers of the profession are being expelled from the mainstream and vilified for not going with the corporate program.
So, what to do? Unless and until net neutrality is abolished and all dissenting voices are driven off of the Internet, small online media — including The Young Turks now, and including The Panama News — need to pick up the cudgel for the public interest. Given our lack of resources to cover everything that we should cover in the first place, and given public weariness with a US campaign season that hasn’t even reached the halfway point in the nomination process, this can be downright annoying to the readers and viewers. But then, when the futures and freedoms of nations are on the line, it very often is inconvenient and annoying when people rise to their defense.
Bear in mind…
The good and honorable men should be the ones who set public opinion. Talent without probity is a scourge.
Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fantasies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child’s mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in after years relieved of them.
Hypatia of Alexandria
Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.
~ ~ ~
The announcements below are interactive. Click on them for more information
Berta Cáceres is not alone. The brutal death squad regime that was installed in 2009 — with US backing — has killed 58 journalists and at least 111 environmental activists. Its highly praised within the Washington Beltway economic program is to grant mining concessions over nearly one-third of the land, and hydroelectric dam concessions on most of the rivers, directly and indirectly displacing much of the rural population, particularly indigenous people, for the most irrisory compensation when there is any at all. Might Americans be alarmed about all of the Honduran children coming across the border? This is why.
~ ~ ~
The announcements below are interactive. Click on them for more information