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Rich soil, starting from zero

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soil comparisons
Poor soil (left), rich soil (right)

Rich soil, starting from zero

by John Douglas

Our great friend Carla mentioned that some folks do not know where to start when they want to make compost or just compost in place.

First, Lazy and Free are the main starting points.

Then chop and drop.

Do not worry about compost except in a vegetable garden.

Take a walk on the wild side. What do you see in the jungle? I saw Mother Nature dropping leaves, branches and giant trunks. Then she went to the hammock and opened a cold one.

Think about it.

Holes are your friends. Throw your scraps into little ones, big ones, round ones, long ones. If the material, such as kitchen scraps, might attract black hat types, cover it.

Moving on to the bigger and better.

Cleaning up and trimming your bushes is more fun when your fruit trees smile at you and you hear them purring.

Where there is smoke, there probably is fertilizer.

It is waiting to be hauled to your place to be put around trees, at the drip line, or dumped in holes.

Mother Nature told me….

When you burn your leaves, you burn your money.

All those living fences you drive by are just waiting to give you rich and black soil. Balo not only fixes nitrogen but it repels and, when foliar fed, kills bugs.

We chopped and dropped the leaves, branches and trunks of the almacigo. The peeling red bark over a green trunk reminded me of a tourist in the Panama sun. Sunburned or not, it grew us a 63-pound yuca and a bunch of 20-pounders.

WOW Y GUAU! CHOP AND DROP!

Most importantly, do NOT think about it, DO IT.

Go thee out and grow thee rich black soil.

We are looking for a variety of papaya seeds for a park project in Panama City.

Don Perezoso = The Lazy Farmer … THE SECRET IS IN THE GARBAGE

Visit the website: http://www.organicpanamapermaculture.com/

Vanguardia Torrijista, Una salida democrática a la crisis

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OmarEl torrijismo vive!

por Vanguardia Torrijista

En el marco del 34 aniversario de la desaparición física del Comandante Omar Torrijos, con el país en un alucinante crecimiento económico sin equidad social, hombres y mujeres que aportamos al proceso revolucionario, nos hemos auto convocado, de acuerdo a las nuevas realidades, a fin de impulsar los cambios necesarios para resolver las reivindicaciones sociales que han sido aplazadas, abandonadas después de culminar el objetivo anticolonial que unificó al pueblo panameño.

Surgimos de la madurez de condiciones sociales y la lucha que alimentaron la recuperación de nuestra integridad territorial, nuestro derecho a la autodeterminación y por el acceso a nuestras riquezas para la solución de nuestros problemas como nación independiente y soberana.

Pero hoy, desaparecido el enclave colonial, nuestro pueblo ha sido asaltado por el voraz apetito de las elites económicas que más allá de hacer el uso más colectivo posible de los bienes y recursos recuperados, hacen el uso más privado posible sobre los bienes e ingresos del Canal y a nivel nacional, han impuesto un modelo económico basado en el despojo y en la entrega al capital transnacional, al cual se asocian mercantilmente.

Nuestro propósito como Torrijistas es contribuir unidos a las fuerzas progresistas, los movimientos sociales, los jóvenes, las mujeres, la diversidad humana, los trabajadores del campo y la ciudad, los empresarios comprometidos con una economía humanista y con todo aquel ciudadano o ciudadana, a forjar un proyecto de nación por encima de las ambiciones político electorales, que ha de servir para lograr bienestar en toda la sociedad sin exclusión alguna con una institucionalidad consecuente.

Crecimiento económico sin rostro humano

La incorporación de los recursos de la antigua “Zona del Canal” a la economía, valorados en decenas de miles de millones de dólares, las reformas económicas neoliberales y las inversiones en megaproyectos, han consolidado un modelo económico cuya lógica privilegia el amasamiento y concentración de enormes excedentes en manos de pocos y la exclusión de la mayoría de la población del disfrute de los beneficios.

El orden político post-invasión, carente del contrapeso de organizaciones de los sectores populares y de políticas de arraigo social, ha permitido que las fuerzas económicas regentes desaten sus energías en la concentración del poder político. El control del Estado se usa para garantizar la apropiación de la renta de la posición geográfica o como facilitador de los grandes negocios. El rescate de la democracia no es suficiente ante la instauración de la plutocracia.

La crisis

El distanciamiento del legado político de Omar Torrijos y la cruenta invasión militar norteamericana, sirvió a un pacto entre los grupos económicos que, al amparo del capital transnacional, aplican un modelo político supuestamente democrático, con un número plural de partidos, y un solo proyecto económico, el neoliberal.

La actual coyuntura política se caracteriza por la falta de representación social de los partidos políticos, la persistencia y afianzamiento del presidencialismo y el total sometimiento al modelo de dominación conservador, impuesto a escala global.

Construyamos una nueva república

La nación necesita un nuevo pacto que le permita construir una nueva república con equidad social. El eje de ese pacto deberá ser la inclusión de los sectores marginados del desarrollo, la edificación del poder social y el ejercicio de una democracia participativa, deliberativa, protagónica y de contenido humanista sobre la base de la participación y la organización de las comunidades y del movimiento social (gremios, sindicatos, grupos estudiantiles, los pueblos originarios, Afrodescendientes, los campesinos, entre otros).

Salida democrática a la crisis

Hemos analizado los acontecimientos internacionales y nacionales en el ámbito económico, social y político. Como demócratas revolucionarios y leales al pensamiento político del Torrijismo, consideramos que a todas las fuerzas y corrientes progresistas del país, nos toca construir el poder social capaz de superar las deformaciones de la partidocracia, en especial el caso del PRD, a través de la movilización e impulsar la transformación del Estado.

Es la hora de ponernos de acuerdo y de articular nuestras luchas para hacer realidad un proyecto alternativo, solidario, equitativo, ambientalmente sostenible y participativo, que derrote de una vez por todas, el modelo económico y político de las élites de apropiarse de los recursos de la nación y de los beneficios de nuestro principal recurso, por fin recuperado. Alcanzar la transformación democrática de la sociedad no sólo es necesaria, sino también posible dentro de la diversidad de nuestras especificidades.

Nos proponemos vencer al clientelismo, retomamos los principios, postulados y método Torrijistas, no demagógicamente para hacer negocios, sino para devolver el propósito de la política como un bien común ciudadano, adecuándolos a las nuevas y complejas realidades nacionales e internacionales.

La sobrevivencia del Torrijismo radica en su vinculación entrañable con las causas del movimiento popular y social, en el debate reflexivo para encontrar nuestra propia aspirina, así como la militancia en el seno de nuestro pueblo a lo largo y ancho del país.

Como tarea, inmediata asumimos el compromiso de que BAYANO circulará nuevamente como medio de orientación al servicio del Torrijismo y de las nuevas generaciones.

Nuestra membresía, que así lo decida, se mantendrá y militará en el PRD para recuperar el Partido de Omar y ponerlo al servicio de la nueva república.

Además, nos integraremos al tejido de las organizaciones que luchan por las reivindicaciones sociales con el objetivo de convertirnos en una fuerza política alternativa capaz de conducir al pueblo a la victoria del desarrollo.

Instamos a todos los patriotas del país a trabajar en la construcción de un poder social permanente, basado en la búsqueda de soluciones a los problemas y reivindicaciones de nuestras comunidades, gremios, organizaciones populares y de la sociedad civil.

¡VIVA OMAR TORRIJOS HERRERA!

Panamá, 1 de agosto de 2015

Editorial: No criminal convictions isn’t a high enough PanCanal standard

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Casamar
Does being the developer of projects like this one — on land obtained from the Social Security Fund during the Martinelli administration, and in which Ricardo Martinelli has some sort of interest — truly qualify someone to be on the Panama Canal Authority board of directors?

Is scandal fatigue setting in just as the investigations reach the Panama Canal Authority’s board of directors?

Innocent unless proven guilty is the standard of justice but not of good government

It is reported that both testimony and a paper trail indicate that construction company owner and Panama Canal Authority board of directors member Nicolás Corcione Pérez Balladares facilitated, coordinated and was a beneficiary of a scheme for overcharges and kickbacks in the construction and renovation of court facilities. That scheme, so it seems, was one of the ways that Alejandro Moncada Luna got rich by means that he could not legitimately explain while he was the presiding magistrate of the Supreme Court.

“Innocent until proven guillty.” It’s an important cornerstone of criminal justice and Corcione is due his day in court. Whether the process that is due to him and other members of Ricardo Martinelli’s inner circle is the courts entertaining motions by lawyers on their behalf while they are out of the country is another issue. And while conviction on any serious charge gets Corcione kicked off of the ACP board, the question of whether there are criminals involved shouldn’t be the beginning and end of a long overdue public review of the Panama Canal’s governance.

Any public review that’s of a grandstanding “gotcha” nature would detract from its most important public purpose. There are genuine forward-looking policy questions that ought to be answered and to properly do that we have to look clearly through and beyond the hype to see where canal governance has been. We need to sort out the myths from the realities and take account of both the triumphs and the tragedies. With the canal expansion mega-project nearing completion the ACP management is moving to expand the scope of the institution’s economic activities and thus regulatory authority and Panama is not well served by a Varela administration and fragmented National Assembly acting as uncritical rubber stamps in such a process.

Back in the days when the old Canal Zone was by and large a US government company town, the Panama Canal Company was a widespread and not always so efficient conglomerate. The first limits on that came years before the Torrijos-Carter Treaties as Panamanian merchants pressed for controls that reduced the competition that they faced from the Canal Zone commissaries. In the treaties and in the decisions made after the treaties, the scope of PanCanal activity was greatly narrowed, often in ways detrimental to the nation. Assets and activities were abandoned or sold when they should not have been. Some decisions seem to have been a matter of a new set of masters asserting their authority for no other reason than calling dibs on political turf.

Might it be wise for the Panama Canal Authority to go back in the direction of the old Panama Canal Company, running ports, pipelines, fossil fuel power plants and a plethora of other businesses? Perhaps. But first of all, it should not be presumed that the ACP has the talent pool to do those things well, and second the nation should consider the implications of expanding the scope of an authority that for practical matters has not been answerable to outside public scrutiny and decision making.

Then we should consider Mr. Corcione, regardless of the facts of these criminal allegations, as a symbol of who has been running the Panama Canal. The aristocratic rabiblanco families play a dominant role on the ACP board. There are no labor representatives or PanCanal retirees on that board. Panama’s small white minority has a large majority on the board. One of the most obnoxious of the board members is in the ship waste disposal business but in effect a representative of certain port interests. The financial sector, the corporate law firms and the construction industry have all been well represented. In the canal expansion there have been abundant and flagrant conflicts of interest, as there have been all along, for example with the early decision of the Panamanian canal administration to discard the apprenticeship program and effectively privatize the training of new talent via an undistinguished for-profit university in which a person in the canal administration had a prominent role. The whole scheme of canal governance, including but not limited to its cast of characters, needs to be reviewed and subjected to public scrutiny, comment and debate.

Now is not the time for people to tire of all the scandals and allow parts of the Panamanian government — which the ACP is, notwithstanding its posturing as a private corporation — to go unexamined. As the Panama Canal expansion process approaches its completion we actually come to an appropriate moment to review canal governance and the role that the ACP plays in our society. This should be done before the authority gets into a port venture that in the present structure of things is more appropriately the bailiwick of the Panama Maritime Authority, energy projects that more properly belong under other jurisdictions or so on. For one example, if there are reasonable arguments to merge the canal and maritime authorities, those ought to be made and heard, if that is done then we should then all understand that the current directors and management of the canal authority are insufficient for the new role.

Spare us the propaganda and information control. Open the books, scrap the rules and customs against candor by people working for the ACP and get outside audits and opinions. “Not guilty of an infamous crime” is not a suitable standard for the governance of Panama’s principal public asset.

 

Bear in mind…

 

Centralism, the army and absolute authority have been related ideas, sisters like the Furies, destined to bring about the people’s ruin and humiliation.
Justo Arosemena

 

I drank to drown my sorrows, but the damned things learned how to swim.
Frida Kahlo

 

Calling Bush the devil offends the devil. Bush is a tremendously dimwitted president who has done great damage to the world.
Rafael Correa

 

Editor’s note: You, the reader, should know of the editor’s bias here. Mr. Corcione’s alleged partner in crime, El Renacer Penitentiary inmate Alejandro Moncada Luna, once between his stints in government that included being fellow inmate Manuel Antonio Noriega’s man in charge of closing the opposition press and his last public sector post as a Supreme Court magistrate, was the unsuccessful private prosecutor of the editor for this story about convicted felon Mark Boswell (alias Rex Freeman) who now runs a “Panama Christian Foundation” (sic) scheme in the Coronado area. The editor won the case because the story is true.

Barro Blanco impasse deteriorates on at least two levels

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July 25 confrontation in which 20 people were briefly detained for blocking the Pan-American Highway near Tole. Several people were injured and along with the National Police riot squad there were members of the militarized SENAFRONT border force. Photo by Oscar Sogandares
July 25 confrontation in which 20 people were briefly detained for blocking the Pan-American Highway near Tole. Several people were injured and along with the National Police riot squad there were members of the militarized SENAFRONT border force. Photo by Oscar Sogandares

Government adamant about an agreement to dam the Tabasara River that no credible indigneous representative would countenance, rival Ngabe factions spar over how best to resist the company and authorities

Varela can’t get Ngabe acceptance of GENISA’s European-financed fraud

by Eric Jackson

The cancellation of the work is not an option.
Chamber of Commerce

We will not move from here until the president of the republic, Juan Carlos  Varela, comes to this place.
Clementina Pérez Jaramillo
Mama Tata leader and deputy regional cacique

The Honduran-owned GENISA company that’s building the Barro Blanco Dam? Their permits were obtained by fraud, and a member of their board of directors is in prison in Honduras for another fraud. The Dutch and German banks that backed GENISA? They didn’t do their due diligence, which would have exposed the fraudulent misrepresentation by the company and its Panamanian lawyers that no cultural sites were affected, when in fact the plan to flood the Tabasara River would destroy ancient petroglyphs that are protected by UN conventions and considered holy by the 60,000-member Mama Tata denomination that accounts for about one-third of the Ngabe indigenous nation.

The Varela administration is offering jobs and development projects, but the destruction or removal of the petroglyphs is a nonstarter for anyone who wants to endure in the fractious world of Ngabe politics. A coup d’etat to replace the current general cacique of the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca, Silvia Carrera, who insists on the dam project’s cancellation and demolition? The company already tried that once. But Carrera and her allies in the April 10th Movement (M-10) do have ever stronger competition from the September 22 Movement (M-22) — which should be no comfort to those who want the dam project to proceed.

So are Dutch and German bankers, and Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, insistent? None of them live in the area to be affected by the dam. None of them are indigenous, speak Ngabere or stand to be directly affected by a religious conflict that would be sparked if Carrera signed off on a deal to destroy a place that’s sacred to a large part of her constituency. Ever the defender of its members’ property rights, the chamber routinely supports the dispossession of impoverished rural communities. The fraud artists — those who commissioned, concocted and filed the dishonest environmental impact statements — are letting other people do their bidding and have not been called in to be interrogated by prosecutors. Polls show that by about a two-to-one margin Panamanian believe that they know exactly what is going on and support the indigenous side in the dispute.

That leaves the GENISA supporters with the usual rabiblanco divide and rule tactics in the face of a strong majority. Might there be major national power outages for which Silvia Carrera is blamed? The Martinelli administration already played that card. But the main problem is that the division which is there to play is between rival factions that claim to be more militantly opposed to the dam than the other.

In the last elections for the Ngabe-Bugle General Congress, the Electoral Tribunal took a census in a season when migrant farm workers were away picking crops and eliminated much of the electorate from the poll list. Ricardo Martinelli’s people poured significant government resources into the campaigns of those with whom they intended to take over the comarca’s government — and lost to the PRD, with many people who were not on the poll lists boycotting. Martnielli then bribed enough of the PRD-aligned delegates who were elected go get one of his followers elected as president of the congress — but nobody respected that man and the notion that he and those who voted for him would choose a general cacique was a nonstarter. Instead they called an election for general cacique. The Electoral Tribunal restored the voting rights of most of those who had been disenfranchised in the previous voting, but there was also a widespread boycott of that election. Lo and behold, farmer and craftswoman Silvia Carrera, an activist in the movements against dams and strip mines in the comarca, walked from village to village and won the election.

Carrera had the support of a lot of the teachers, who are mostly members of the Veraguas Educators Association (AEVE), a militant union whose leaders are aligned with Juan Jované’s faction of the left. But the election she won was boycotted by traditional leaders who object to any role for such outsiders as the Electoral Tribunal in indigenous self-government and by those aligned with Genaro López’s faction of the left. Among the most insistent opponents of elections run by non-indigenous authorities were the members of the Mama Tata denomination, a syncretist religion with both Christian and traditional indigenous roots that was preached by their late prophet Mama Atencio in the 1960s. The traditionalists called a Traditional Ngabe-Bugle General Congress to conflict with the government-sponsored elections and chose its own general cacique and officers who claim to be the legitimate authorities in the comarca. The local Buko Day police force takes directions from Carrera rather than the traditionalists or Martinelli’s discredited congress. Carrera avoided a major power struggle with the traditionalists and soundly thrashed the Martinelli people when they tried to remove her.

But as the impasse over the Barro Blanco Dam has dragged on, a new alliance that includes the Mama Tata faith, the Traditional Ngabe-Bugle General Congress and FRENADESO supporters has been camped out near the dam construction site, carrying out protests and participating in the talks with the government as the September 22nd Movement. While M-10 and M-22 trade insults and pursue separate tactics, there is no division between the about whether to accept the dam.

The resumption of work on the dam was accompanied by police moving into the M-22 campsite. The talks dragged on with neither side budging and new leadership emerging in Silvia Carrera’s part of the indigenous side, with Rolando Carpintero, the mayor of the Muna district of the comarca of which the places to be flooded are a part, taking a high profile. On the M-22 side Mama Tata leader Clementina Pérez Jaramillo has emerged as the principal spokeswoman.

On July 25 a small group of M-10 supporters blocked the Pan-American Highway near Tole and the police moved in to clear the road. There were 20 arrests and some rough play that caused some injuries that were not life threatening. Although those who were arrested were quickly released M-10 has taken the occasion to withdraw from the talks and La Prensa reports that people have been walking down from the largely roadless hills of the comarca to reinforce the protesters near Tole. M-22 has not formally withdrawn from the talks, remains encamped near the dam and has filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Human Rights Court to enjoin further work on the dam.

The government and M-10 have called for United Nations mediation. During the Martinelli administration there had been UN mediation but when the mediators found justice in the indigenous cause the government just ignored them.

The impasse continues, but the situation is far from static.

Bendib, The post-subtlety GOP

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Trump
Not so subtle anymore…

MOVADUP, ¡El pueblo panameño recuperará su universidad!

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MOVADUP“Realizaremos todos los esfuerzos que la Constitución y las leyes nos permiten para lograr la renuncia o salida anticipada del profesor Gustavo García de Paredes…”

Declaración de Santiago

por el Movimiento de Adecentamiento de la Universidad de Panamá (MOVADUP)

Nosotros, los delegados del Movimiento de Adecentamiento de la Universidad de Panamá, provenientes de las provincias de Chiriquí, Colón, Herrera, Los Santos, Veraguas y Panamá, hemos deliberado ampliamente sobre la desastrosa realidad que padece la institución bajo sus actuales administradores, realidad que refleja una política conscientemente orientada hacia el deterioro de la educación superior pública con el fin de favorecer un proyecto de deseducación que abandona la integralidad académica y la integridad administrativa, desconoce la educación superior como un derecho y estimula su privatización al mismo tiempo que favorece a una burocracia cuya corrupción es imposible de ocultar, perjudica los intereses de la academia y hace grave daño a los estudiantes, siembra el terror entre los profesores y administrativos y deprime, de forma sistemática y dolosa, la presencia y proyección de la Universidad de Panamá en la vida nacional.

Tras haber concluido las deliberaciones, hemos resuelto firmemente no cejar en nuestros esfuerzos para revertir esta aciaga situación, totalmente injusta e inmerecida para la Universidad de Panamá. Por lo tanto, declaramos solemnemente lo siguiente:

1. Fomentaremos la conciencia ciudadana en el sentido de que esta reivindique, como natural, su derecho soberano, supremo e indiscutible a participar en los procesos de la Universidad de Panamá.

2. Realizaremos todos los esfuerzos que la Constitución y las leyes nos permiten para lograr la renuncia o salida anticipada del profesor Gustavo García de Paredes del cargo de rector de la Universidad de Panamá, no solo por su responsabilidad en la triste situación que se ha descrito, sino porque su permanencia en el cargo ha demostrado ser perjudicial para las investigaciones que se adelantan contra la corrupción campante en esta institución.

3. No claudicaremos en el impulso y seguimiento, por todos los medios a nuestro alcance, de los evidentes casos de corrupción en los que está involucrada la actual administración de la Universidad de Panamá.

4. Apoyaremos, con todas nuestras fuerzas, a los miembros del MOVADUP que son víctimas de los atropellos de la administración universitaria actual, especialmente a quienes adelantan casos en los tribunales contra los abusos perpetrados por ella.

5. Acogeremos y ayudaremos, con todos los recursos legales y políticos de que disponemos, a quienes recurran al MOVADUP por estar siendo acosados, perseguidos y vejados por orden de las autoridades de la Universidad de Panamá.

6. Nos esforzaremos al máximo para lograr el sufragio efectivo y que sea aprobada la ley que reinstaura la NO REELECCIÓN del rector, decanos y directores de Centros Regionales, pues más de veinte años de asociación de los mismos individuos han creado un impresionante edificio de corrupción que da primacía a intereses particulares y promueve un sistema delincuencial que se ha adueñado de la Universidad de Panamá.

7. Procuraremos alcanzar que, mediante ley, se disminuyan los poderes casi omnímodos de los que goza el rector, que lo convierten en juez y parte en los órganos de cogobierno y han propiciado que deje impunes a personas que han cometido delitos en la Universidad de Panamá mientras castiga a los que denuncian las irregularidades, manipule el otorgamiento de descargas horarias y de cátedras incluso sin concurso, insulte sin consecuencias para él a los estudiantes, desacate órdenes judiciales, negocie opinión favorable a instituciones de educación superior privada que no soportan acreditación y un largo etcétera.

8. Lograremos que se reforme el sistema de ponderación electoral de manera que ningún estamento alcance, por sí solo, una mayoría absoluta y concluyente, dado que el desequilibrio del sistema actual promueve el comercio abierto y encubierto de las conciencias y es el origen estructural del clientelismo. Esta reforma deberá incluir el voto de los egresados de la Universidad de Panamá, puesto que su capacidad académica es indiscutible y son el vínculo natural e inmediato de esta institución con la comunidad que la sostiene.

9. Aseguraremos que el Organismo Electoral Universitario sea independiente, que sus miembros no se deban al influjo pernicioso del rector de turno para ocupar sus puestos y que el trabajo de este organismo sea debidamente supervisado por el Tribunal Electoral de la República.

10. Propondremos elevar rigurosamente, mediante ley, el perfil académico y personal de cualesquiera aspirantes a los cargos de rector, decanos y directores de centros regionales, de forma que sean elegidos a estos puestos panameños con realizaciones académicas de la más alta calidad y de integridad fuera de toda duda.

11. Efectuaremos todos los esfuerzos posibles para lograr la descentralización de la Universidad de Panamá, dado que su actual administración desatiende dolosamente las necesidades de las regiones, les impide su crecimiento y el desarrollo de su oferta académica y favorece de este modo que la educación universitaria privada se expanda a costa del estudiantado, sobre todo del más humilde, que debe realizar un esfuerzo económico tremendo si desea estudiar una carrera que, debido a lo antedicho, no ofrece la Universidad de Panamá.

12. Apoyaremos decididamente la creación, mediante ley, de una Universidad Pedagógica sobre la base del Instituto Pedagógico Juan Demóstenes Arosemena, que funciona en la Escuela Normal Juan Demóstenes Arosemena, proyecto que fue truncado por la mezquindad y compromisos políticos espurios de la administración de la Universidad de Panamá en contubernio con el gobierno corrupto de Ricardo Martinelli y su ministra de Educación, Lucy Molinar.

13. Nos constituiremos en plataforma permanente que sirva a la ciudadanía como observatorio y punto de apoyo de sus iniciativas respecto de la Universidad de Panamá que promuevan una educación superior popular, de alta calidad y de elevada conciencia social y solidaria.

¡El pueblo panameño recuperará su universidad!

¡Por la excelencia académica, adecentamiento universitario!

Santiago de Veraguas, 25 de julio de 2015.

Obama names Feeley as the next US ambassador to Panama

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John D. Feeley testifying before the US House of Representatives Western Hemisphere Subcommittee in defense of US policies in Mexico. Photo by the US House of Rerpresentatives
John D. Feeley testifying at a May 2013 hearing of the US House of Representatives Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, for the most part in defense of US drug war policies in Mexico. Click this link to read the transcript of what he said. Photo by the US House of Rerpresentatives

Panama gets another careeer diplomat as US ambassador at a time when many of the policies he has implemented and defended are increasingly questioned in the hemisphere

Drug War veteran to head the American embassy here

by Eric Jackson

On July 28 US President Barack Obama named John D. Feeley as he next American ambassador in Panama. He will have to be approved by the US Senate to take up the post, and while these days in Washington the Republicans who control the senate would grab at most excuses to block an Obama appointment they would probably have to contrive some excuse if they intend to block Feeley. The man is identified with the “War on Drugs” and free trade on the NAFTA template as the centerpieces of US policy toward Latin America and there are few Republican senators who oppose those basic premises of American foreign policy in the region. US critics of these policies, mostly on the left but also including libertarians like Rand Paul on the right are likely to be less impressed, but those who are not grandstanding will understand that their argument is with presidential policies rather than the diplomats appointed to carry them out.

On the Panamanian left the tendency is to ignore the intricacies and subtleties of US policy and presume that any American ambassador is the representative of a hostile imperial power and any man or woman of this country’s left who meets with such a person is a traitor. Much of the Panamanian left also doesn’t openly question militarized anti-drug policies advocated and financed by Washington. Were Panamanians on that end of the spectrum to pay attention they might find Feeley’s characterization of Mexican concerns about national sovereignty as “tired shibboleths” to be an issue for Panama. But as the US State Department’s luck would have it, such matters tend to be treated as deviations from the more important struggle over which faction is the vanguard of a Panamanian revolution that doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment.

Feeley came to the US Foreign Service after service with the US Marine Corps as a helicopter pilot and graduate of Georgetown University and later — as a diplomat rather than as an active duty military man — of the National War College. He was an aide to Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice. He has served in two assignments in Mexico, one as chargé d’affaires n 2011 and 2012. He has also been posted to Colombia and the Dominican Republic and in Washington has run the El Salvador desk, been Deputy Director of Caribbean Affairs and Director of Central American Affairs and worked with the State Department’s Operations Center. Since 2012 he has been Foggy Bottom’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Feeley is married to another diplomat, Cherie Feeley, with whom he has two sons. We may be getting another power couple at the American Embassy.

Are the diplomatic issues of the day between Panama and the United States readily apparent? Perhaps not. There is discretion in the business and perhaps the most important thing that could be learned from the WikiLeaks cables from Panama was the difference between what was said in public and the actual concerns at the time. For example, at the moment we might surmise that Ricardo Martinelli’s presence in the United States would be an issue, given that the State Department could pull his visa at any moment for just about any reason or for no reason with very little legal recourse — but we don’t know if President Varela has told the Americans that he’s just as soon have Martinelli somewhere other than in Panama. Colombia’s civil conflict and law enforcement concerns with international criminals whose businesses include but go beyond drugs would seem to be parts of the beat to which Feeley is being assigned. Increasingly, American ambassadors are also functional advocates for US-based multinational corporations and there are a number of those with significant operations here.

Beer and Coca-Cola workers suspend strike, file for arbitration

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Striking Coca-Cola workers march and with their partners from the beer industry union showed remarkable unity. But SABMiller never responded to the unions' proposals nor submitted any of their own. The South African based multinational's only position was to object to dealing with two unions representing of the company's workers in Panama in one contract. The unions has public support, but neither that nor the strike funds they had were enough to pay their members' rent and electric bills throughout a  prolonged struggle.  Photo from the SITRAFCOREBGASCELIS Facebook page
Striking Coca-Cola workers march and with their partners from the beer industry union showed remarkable unity. However, during a month of negotiations and then n 18-day strike SABMiller never responded to the unions’ proposals nor submitted any of their own. The South African based multinational’s only position was to object to dealing with two unions representing of the company’s workers in Panama in one contract. The unions has public support, but neither that nor the strike funds they had were enough to pay their members’ rent and electric bills throughout a prolonged struggle. Photo from the SITRAFCOREBGASCELIS Facebook page

A setback for Panama’s labor movement, but it may be a matter of intact unions retreating to buy time for their next moves rather than fighting on and suffering a crushing defeat

18-day beer and Coca-Cola strike suspended for arbitration

by Eric Jackson

On July 28 unionized workers at the Cerveceria Nacional and its related FEMSA Coca-Cola company went back to work without a contract after an 18-day strike. The companies, subsidiaries of the South Africa based SABMiller, had met with union representatives some 30 times over more than a month and a half but had never responded to union proposals nor submitted any proposals of their own. By all appearances the global giant — the world’s second-largest beer brewing combine and holder of many countries’ Coca-Cola bottling concessions — seemed intent on destroying the Beer Industry Workers Union (STICP) and the Coca-Cola workers’ union with the long acronym (SITRAFCOREBGASCELIS). However, when the unions filed with he Ministry of Labor Development for arbitration the companies agreed and no reprisals against strikers is ordinarily one of the requirements for such government intervention. The outcome of a government arbitration process, however, won’t be binding on a party that thinks that it has lost.

On the US campaign trail: Six Republican presidential hopefuls, at length

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Republicans
Declared or possible GOP presidential contenders.
You may want to bookmark this and take it in several sittings, as it will take about five hours to get through it all — or you may only be interested in what one or some of the candidates have to say. An extra problem on the GOP side is that there are so many candidates that it is not practical to include even most of them on one page. The editor has his opinion, but The Panama News is going to try very hard to give the primary candidates of both major parties — and along the way the most noteworthy of the minor candidates — time and space to state their cases.

What Republicans are saying

Donald Trump

Jeb Bush

Scott Walker

Marco Rubio

Ted Cruz

Rand Paul

On the US campaign trail: The Democratic presidential hopefuls, at length

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da dems
The five Democratic presdential candidates in Iowa
You may want to bookmark this and take it in several sittings, as it will take about four hours to get through it all — or you may only be interested in what one or some of the candidates have to say. The editor has his opinion, but The Panama News is going to try very hard to give the primary candidates of both major parties — and along the way the most noteworthy of the minor candidates — time and space to state their cases

What Democrats are saying

Hillary Clinton

Bernie Sanders

Jim Webb

Martin O’Malley

Lincoln Chafee