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¿Wappin? Musical language lesson / Lección de lenguaje musical

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IGGY
Iggy really wants to be your dog. He’ll even let you beat on him with a rolled-up newspaper. / Iggy realmente quiere ser tu perro. Incluso te dejará golpearlo con un periódico enrollado. Photo by / foto por Eddy Berthier.

Songs by which to become bilingual
Canciones para hacerse bilingüe

Mon Laferte – Tu Falta De Querer
https://youtu.be/BZ9rnrIH2lk

Crosby, Stills & Nash – Wooden Ships
https://youtu.be/kgASc21WINk

Natalie Merchant – Noah’s Dove
https://youtu.be/n2yC1f2CaYs

Cafe Tacvba – Eres
https://youtu.be/0AtsoFxe96M

Hozier – Take Me To Church
https://youtu.be/YCCcmFIXYJA

Rubén Blades & Roby Draco Rosa – Patria
https://youtu.be/ql0G312R2IQ

Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode
https://youtu.be/yYvFYPKlkkI

Peter Tosh – Till Your Well Runs Dry
https://youtu.be/jlB6UJmpybs

Sin Bandera – Mientes Tan Bien
https://youtu.be/CZpOf5M5Ky0

Prince Royce & Marc Anthony – Adicto
https://youtu.be/LogQq9_-Y3I

Of Monsters And Men – Wolves Without Teeth
https://youtu.be/qC2iNAhcm98

Iggy Pop – I Wanna Be Your Dog
https://youtu.be/p4eHQUll_Oo

Denise Gutiérrez & Zoé – Luna
https://youtu.be/6UC7U3AeADU

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
https://youtu.be/K22qJ-VikTo

Enrique Bunbury – Parecemos tontos
https://youtu.be/R59REuaYfpE

 

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Alianza Ciudadana Pro Justicia, Un nuevo irrespeto

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Alianza

 

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Mueller & Cohen: Trump sought Russian favors while running for president

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Cohen
Michael Cohen, for many years Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. His guilty plea is an admission that he lied to the US Senate about he and Trump negotiating with Russian authorities about a project in Moscow well into the 2016 campaign season. Not the most severe offense for Cohen and perhaps not a Trump crime, but it highlights a conflict of interest a US president should not have and lays bare years of Trump’s lies about his dealings with the Russians. IowaPolitics photo.

The new charge to which Trump’s ex-lawyer has pleaded guilty

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Gandásegui, New land grabs in the old Canal Zone

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road
The destruction of part of the Camino de Cruces National Park. This has been done without any meaningful public hearing and as such has been denounced by acting mayor Raisa Banfield, as the municipal government generally has a veto power by way of permit requirements for such things. More than 14 hectares of the park are being bulldozed. In the way are the City of Knowledge, residential areas, the Corozal Cemetery and the Crossroads Church and Christian Academy. Photo from the Aida Torres / ANCON Twitter feed.

Speculators on the offensive in the Reverted Areas

by Marco A. Gandásegi, hijo

The communities of the reverted areas of the Panama Canal are on a war footing. The government has decided to open vast lands to real estate speculation as Avenida Omar Torrijos expands. Since the 1977 Canal Treaties were was signed with the United States, the country has seen a permanent confrontation with speculators who want to make a business of what in the 20th century was called the Canal Zone. The speculators are in collusion with the highest level public officials, promoting ventures of all kinds. It does not matter if they are legal or illegal. Nor if they ruin communities, cultures or landscapes. Moreover, they do not care if they destroy the sources of water that the Panama Canal needs to function.

Now the City of Knowledge, which will suffer the consequences of the arbitrary actions of the Ministry of Public Works that has sent in its bulldozers to knock down everything in its path, join the community protests. The president of the City of Knowledge, Jorge Arosemena, told the government of the need to start a dialogue in order to reach an understanding. The City of Knowledge says that the avenue expansion project began and is unfolding in a “non-transparent” manner. It adds that it has already “produced a massive deforestation in forested areas adjacent to the Panama Canal.”

The government insists on continuing these speculative projects without addressing the needs of the country and, specifically, of the canal areas. Arosemena says that for two years he has been trying unsuccessfully to establish a dialogue with the Ministry of Public Works to find solutions that minimize the negative impacts of the project.

The City of Knowledge has interposed two legal measures to disrupt the government’s project. On the one hand, it filed a writ of habeas data in August. On the other, in October, it file an action in the Supreme Court for the protection of constitutional guarantees. The City of Knowledge calls on the country to show solidarity with its attempt to safeguard its facilities. The communities of the reverted areas are in the same situation — they lack protection when they see how the plans of the government and its ministry of public works are progressing.

Everything indicates that those who come to the government — from whatever political party — come in with a point in invisible ink in their program, which refers to the looting of the country. On the one hand, they plunder the treasury through contracts, addenda and surcharges. On the other, they plunder natural resources such as forests, including those that surround the interoceanic waterway, basins and mineral wealth. Minera Panama, a South African-Canadian company, will start extracting copper from Petaquilla and will receive a multi-billion dollar grant. It has already built a port on the Caribbean from whence it will export copper. The Panamanian treasury will receive only $20 million a year.

The islands and beaches are being sold to foreigners who cheat the fishermen and peasants without the government enforcing the laws or the Constitution. The latter clearly states that islands and beaches can not be sold. The government speculates with the development of a road that links the city of Colon with Bocas del Toro. Likewise with the islands of the Las Perlas archipelago. All without a plan that has in mind the development of the country. All government initiatives are reduced to business deals with the country’s assets.

What seems to be an even more serious problem is the negotiation of a free trade agreement with the Peoples Republic of China. Will the current rulers get legal protection, as did their predecessors in previous situations, to take personal profits from multi-billion-dollar investments by the Chinese?

The residents of the Reverted Areas communities are getting ready to fight. They believe they can successfully confront the government. The old Interoceanic Regional Authority (ARI) enacted a Reverted Areas development plan 20 years ago. It contemplated all the angles for growth that’s harmonious with nature. It also gave the business sector opportunities to invest with land obtained at prices well below market value. The neighbors now demand that the ARI plan be respected. They do not want another plan for the benefit of looters, who would take advantage of it to dispossess communities, bulldoze forests and divert water from the Panama Canal. All for a few more dollars.

 

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This day in 1821…

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Fábrega
José de Fábrega. Not so much a bold revolutionary as a prudent public servant who wanted to keep the peace.

When Panama went its separate way from Spain

by Eric Jackson

The basic outlines we know, and in the mix of history and legend there are some undisputed facts. However, there is a lot still to know about the people who ended Spanish rule and threw Panama’s lot in with Bolívar’s Gran Colombia project on November 28, 1821. Perhaps in the archives of the Catholic Church, this or that Masonic lodge, some old private letters and Spanish military records we might get extra light.

The basic thing about Panamanians, though, is that with rare exceptions we are not very warlike and in 1821 there were strong antiwar sentiments behind the action that was taken.

The Spanish crown, which by treaty ruled most of the Americas as a collaborative project with the Catholic Church, had seen its arrangements broken by a Napoleonic interregnum in Spain. The French strongman’s alcoholic brother had been put in charge of Spain, Latin Americans had gone to Europe in those years and absorbed a heady mix of The Englightmente and some key activists from various parts of the vast region had cultivated Masonic connections. After some fits and starts, anti-monarchist free thinkers like Simón Bolivar were leading intredid armies against church and state. Except, in many situations they just left the Catholic Church alone. The hierarchy tended to maintain the doctrine that freemasonry was heresy, but down through the ranks of the clergy there was also the opinion that there were far worse sins than that. For example, all-out warfare between members of Catholic societies, over ties with a remote and discredited successor to the old order on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Spanish loyalists had kicked Bolívar’s ass in Venezuela — again — but instead of dying or fleeing the war zone he retreated into the wilderness, took Bogota by surprise and proceeded to conquer the old Spanish Viceroyalty of New Granada. The viceroy, Juan de la Cruz Mourgeón, fled to Panama. In a hasty and temporary reorganizaion he was demoted to governor of Panama and told to prepare for the Spanish counter-offensive.

Ecuador declared independence and joined forces with Bolívar, and the governor prepared to set out for Ecuador to rally the royalist forces. During those weeks of his preparations people in the Interior, including Spanish soldiers stationed there, rebelled at the cost and horror that such a war would entail for Panama. Were there some people more afraid that Bolívar might have to use military force to bring Panama into his political project? Were there some people who were more afraid of Panama being turned into a Spanish military bastion for a long war with dubious prospects of success? Surely there was a mix of things. Panamanians did not want war.

Governor de la Cruz Mourgeón took off, and left his lieutenant governor, José de Fábrega, in charge. How important was it for the governor to prove that he was not a wimp, after the humiliation in Bogota? Or was he just a loyal Spanish public servant who followed orders from above, no matter how daft?

In any case, Fábrega made the political rounds, in particular taking up the situation with the city council on November 20. Surely Catholic leaders were consulted as well. A town meeting — cabildo abierto — was called for November 28. Sometimes diplomat, sometimes teacher Manuel José Hurtado was put in charge of drafting a declaration. At that meeting business leaders joined with the highest ranking church and state authorities and proclaimed an Act of Independence with 12 points. The most important parts, other than saying goodbye to the Spanish Empire, were adhesion to Bolívar’s Gran Colombia and generous measures to keep the peace, allowing Spanish solders who did not want to stay on the isthmus a peaceful escape by sea to Cuba. Along with Fábrega the bishop of Panama, José Hijinio, was among the signers.

The marriage with Colombia was an unhappy one, with Panama breaking away in 1903. But we still celebrate this day.

acta
A copy of the original Acta de Independencia.

 

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Editorial, The Panama Canal as shift changes approach

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Portobelo
The Patio de Mulas, an old Spanish cemetery in Portobelo. Before this became a graveyard, it was a depot for mules that carried goods between ships and warehouses, and overland from the port that thrived in the 17th century to the old Panama City. Portobelo was the venue for trade fairs from 1606 until 1739. Before that, the fairs took place a few miles to the east at Nombre de Dios, from the middle to the late 16th century. The trade fairs ended because of changes in shipping routes, revised Spanish colonial administrative boundaries and European exhaustion from first the Wars of the Reformation and later from the piracy of all sorts that had made ship convoys and trade fairs necessary for security reasons. Wikimedia photo by Maria Maarbes.

The Panama Canal on the eve of changes

This is an auspicious time for reflection about Panama’s past and future. This time next year, Panama will have a new president and the Panama Canal Authority will have a new administrator.

An important field trip for any Panamanian is to the ruins of Portobelo, and beyond, looking for ruins at Nombre de Dios. It ought to be taken with a good guide, who goes beyond trivial chatter to history. REAL history, not just about the details of how the cannons were fired but into the serious economic matters of bygone times. Military might follows social, economic and technological forces. Without that knowledge there is no understanding of the forces that drove the past, nor can a small nation make intelligent plans for its future.

Why did the era of the great trade fairs end? Why did Nombre de Dios, then Portobelo, fail as commercial and transportation centers? Why was Panama marginalized, reduced to an impoverished backwater status, for more than 100 years? Why is the period between the trade fairs and the railroad a black hole in accounts of Panamanian economic history? The answers are complex. They are not primarily about military power, even if Spain’s weakness against the British did play a role.

A comprehension of those things is a good start when pondering Panama’s present prospects and predicament. We are about to get a new Panama Canal administrator. Not to many months afterward we are about to get a new president of Panama. We have a criminal element to remove from the ACP board of directors. We have a criminal element to remove from the Panamanian government. Those are important matters.

However, as a nation Panama should look well beyond the personalities and do a bit of soul searching. The advantages Panama has enjoyed from its geographical position are not eternal and immutable gifts of God. They are raw materials on which we might build, wisely or foolishly.

Consider, then, the niche industry that the Panama Canal has been in recent times, and the ups and downs of our associated duty-free import and export zones.

The “old” equation if not the original one was that for fragile things like electronic goods, each time that a container was picked up and put down with a crane and then sent on any coast to coast travel on the bumpy US railroad tracks or by truck over potholed US roads there was a certain amount of breakage. Get it to the East Coast from Asia entirely by sea and there would be far less breakage. Asian cars — before the trend to build them nearer where they would be sold — were better sent to a West coast port and taken by land to US showrooms. (Unless, due to problems with the ports or rail / highway connections, there was too much of a West Coast bottleneck.) For bulk stuff like grain, it was and is cheaper to ship all the way on the water if possible.

Less fragile electronic gizmoes? Changes in the materials from which things are made and the places to and from which they need to be shipped? Manufacturing operations that move around for a variety of reasons? A faster and gentler US seaport and land transport network? Climate change affecting where produce is grown and where it is shipped? Coal as a building and manufacturing material (the base for graphites and graphenes) rather than fuel to burn? Ships that are driven by new or modified old propulsion systems, revising the fuel cost calculations about the costs and benefits of using the Panama Canal? Rising seas and inland water issues changing where Americans — or Asians — live? All that on top of new Arctic shipping routes and new transcontinental railways in Eurasia, South America, Africa, and so on? The people at the ACP have pretended that they can predict the relevant changes and plan for them many decades in advance. There are, however, too many variables for that to be true.

The ACP strategic planning has not been about world commerce, it has been about construction contracts and finances, dictated by construction and banking people who dominate the PanCanal board and the Panamanian government. Moreover, in the canal expansion the lion’s share of construction money was in the USA: ports renovated, ship channels deepened and so on, citing the enlarged Panama Canal as the reason.

The outgoing ACP administrator is telling us about the water needs to run yet another new set of PanCanal locks. We know the construction companies’ interest — that would be eternal — but any commercial demand for a fourth set of locks would be a matter of conjecture.

There is more building on the PanCanal wish list. An unlikely ACP bet is a new seaport at Corozal / Diablo. It’s the promise of a navigation hazard and a new bottleneck, at a time when demand is weak.

Instead we should be thinking of expanding the Vacamonte seaport and getting a rail tunnel under the canal to connect that, Howard and Rodman to the container freight rail system on the east side of the canal. THINKING ABOUT. Doing the serious homework. Avoiding facile assumptions. If it gets that far, making backup plans just in case.

Canal and port considerations come at a time of great uncertainty for the Colon Free Zone. Panana places its hope upon China’s intentions to locate distribution centers and manufacture things there. The desires of ountries in northern South America, Central America and the Caribbean for wholesaling and warehousing centers of their own might cut Panama out of many equations. So might policies to manufacture things for domestic consumption in this region instead of in Asia.

On top of the uncertainties the Varela administration is steering us toward a foreseeable disaster by pretending that rising seas are not an issue in Colon. The climate change issue for Colon city and the Free Zone is real and we are seeing its first manifestations. Ultimately it means dikes and levees around Colon or abandoning the place for higher ground.

Like the almost entirely unused airport at Rio Hato, from the point of view of construction companies and of the politicians who take their bribes, almost any big project dreamed up by anyone would be a wonderfully profitable investment. As a nation we shouldn’t think like that. We need to think twice, then think again, about any serious investment that Panama makes, lest it fail or lest we pass up a far more useful investment. Just because we have a Chinese line of credit does not change this basic math.

The limits to failed projects and misguided priorities are measured as the national debt. Yes, we have new lines of credit. But Beijing is not a sugar daddy. It is the capital of a great nation with its own interests and imperatives. One of China’s interests will be an expectation that any loans it makes to Panama will be repaid.

 

leprechaun logic
An Irish proverb.

Bear in mind…

 

One half of the world can not understand the pleasures of the other.
Jane Austen

 

The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it.
Abbie Hoffman

 

We do our best that we know how at the moment, and if it doesn’t turn out, we modify it.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 

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The Panama News blog links, November 26, 2018

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The Panama News blog links

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

Canal, Maritime & Transportation / Canal, Marítima & Transporte

Reuters, Italy accuses Aquarius of dumping toxic waste

TVN, Aerolíneas canadienses incrementan vuelos chárter hacia el Interior

Seatrade, Lim Ki-tack wins second term as IMO secretary-general

Splash, EU set to join Japan’s WTO complaint against Korean yards

Sports / Deportes

Telemetro, Kariuki y Agudelo se imponen en Maratón Internacional de Panamá

La Prensa, Carstens: ‘Voy a volver’

El Siglo, ¡Cada fecha enamora más!

Economy / Economía

International Cement Review, Panama’s cement market expected to shrink

La Estrella, Odebrecht adjudica nuevos contratos en Miami

Salon, How the Panama Papers crimes affect us all

The Guardian, UK Parliament seizes cache of Facebook internal papers

DW, Mid-sized manufacturing firms bringing operations back to Germany

ACLU, Edward Snowden explains blockchain

Science & Technology / Ciencia & Tecnología

Discover Wildlife, Panama’s marine wildlife in pictures

EFE, Abejas nativas son desplazadas por las mieleras en Panamá

ICIJ, The implant files

AP, First gene-edited babies claimed in China

Gizmodo, Musk denies that SpaceX’s Mars colony will be a ticket out for the rich

CBC, Pot growers and tech companies becoming close friends

Chicago Tribune, Climate change report paints grim picture for US Midwest

News / Noticias

South China Morning Post, Xi’s Panama visit tells Washington two can play

La Estrella, Gobierno no tiene los votos para los proyectos enviados

Newsroom Panama, Black Monday for Odebrecht bribery suspects

La Prensa, Independientes podrían recurrir a la CIDH tras fallo

TVN, Juez separado Felipe Fuentes culpable

EFE, Colectivo de mujeres denuncia ineficacia de Varela en protegerlas

El Nuevo Diario, Más de 800 nicas han sido deportado desde Panamá

The Hill, Trump threatens to permanently close the US-Mexican border

CBS, Chief Justice Roberts rebukes Trump

Vice, The Base: a US neo-nazi paramilitary and social media network

Opinion / Opiniones

Baker, The US political scene after the mid-term election

Scahill & Harcourt, How US politics have become paramilitarized

Sanders, Coping with OECD reality

Acosta & Gudynes, Brazil’s extreme right and lessons for Latin America’s left

Yao, Agenda para luchar por la independencia

Cohen, Una estrategia para los servicios financieros

Sagel, Abatimiento político

Culture / Cultura

EFE, El legado de Leonard Cohen

Remezcla, Latin America’s deep African roots

CBC, France asks if ex-colonizers should return African art

La Prensa de Nicaragua, Suspenden el Festival de Poesía de Granada

La Estrella, Las memorias perdidas de Bocas

 

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Partido Popular goes with Blandón

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PP backs PP
Unity pose. Graphic from the Partido Popular Twitter feed.

A divided Partido Popular goes
with the Panameñistas again

by Eric Jackson

By a 261-180 vote, delegates to a Partido Popular special convention voted to ally their party with President Varela’s Panameñista Party in the 2019 elections. That party has nominated Panama City’s mayor, José Isabel Blandón Figueroa, as its presidential standard bearer.

By the post-invasion rotation of parties in the presidency the conventional wisdom is that the Panameñistas will be ousted from the Palacio de las Garzas, but there are legislative and local offices up for grabs in the general election as well. Political parties are prohibited from making alliances with independents, although they may nominate someone who has been running as an independent for some office or another. The Electoral Tribunal has more or less banned public opinion polls but the most common expectation is that the Cambio Democratico Party will be much reduced and that this election is for the Democratic Revolutionary Party and its presidential candidate Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo to lose. But with corruption scandals plaguing all major political parties a strong independent might win, and so far the leading independent is legislator and former attorney general Ana Matilde Gómez.

The split at the convention was in part between people with political patronage jobs in the Varela administration and those hoping for such posts in a PRD government. The leadership had recommended the alliance with the Panameñistas but convention delegates forced a vote.

Theoretically one might call the Partido Popular, originally the Christian Democrats, as a center-right formation. This alliance, however, is much more in the nature of a business deal than an ideological stance.

 

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History, politics and math: Varela’s new high court nominees

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OA
“I am a believer in the rule of law. It allows us social order. With thanks I receive this nomination by the Cabinet Council, with the commitment to build a better public service of justice for my country. With humility I ask for the confidence to earn the citizens’ respect.” From his Twitter feed.

A rerun of the last failed nominations, or have arrangements been made this time?

by Eric Jackson

Deja vu? After failing to fill high court vacancies earlier this year, the president is making another stab at the process. The partisan lineup in a legislature in which his party’s caucus is only third-largest, however, as not on the face of it changed. If the two opposition parties, the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and Cambio Democratico (CD) gang up again, there will be no replacements and the two magistrates with now expired terms will continue in office until someone else is nominated and ratified.

Recall that about this time last year President Juan Carlos Varela had three high court vacancies to fill, and nominated two while letting one slide. For the civil bench vacancy of the outgoing Martín Torrijos nominee Olmedo Arrocha — a former legislator and veteran PRD activist — he appointed Ana Lucrecia Tovar de Zarak, an undistinguished lawyer who had worked in government regulatory agencies but had the distinctions of having been an active Panameñista Party campaigner and being married to a vice minister in Varela’s cabinet. For the vacancy to be created by the outgoing penal bench magistrate Jerónimo Mejía — also a Torrijos appointee — the president named veteran prosecutor Zuleyka Moore, then working in the Public Ministry’s anti-corruption office on some high-profile cases.

There was already an existing vacancy left by the impeachment of Alejandro Moncada Luna, which has been filled ever since by his suplente Abel Zamorano — if you count him as a de facto magistrate it leaves a de facto suplente missing from the administrative law bench. Were Varela to appoint a nominee to replace Moncada Luna, if approve that person would replace Zamorano. But the president decided to leave what appeared to be well enough alone and leave Zamorano in his acting magistrate status. Moncada Luna’s term will expire in 2020.

Some folks expressed doubts about Moore, wondering whether her appointment amounted to a manipulation or at least worked a disruption to ongoing investigations of crime in high places. Hardly anybody expressed the opinion that she wasn’t well qualified for the high court. Tovar de Zarak, however, was derided as an unqualified partisan figure meant to twist the court into a political stand more to Varela’s liking. There was a public uproar about her appointment.

But also at that time, the PRD and CD were both working hard to distinguish themselves from Varela’s party and each “prove” that they were “the real opposition.” Moore and Tovar were rejected earlier this year, in a process that the president had scheduled to be done in late 2017 special legislative sessions. Moore had excellent credentials but Tovar provided an excuse for a party line vote to reject both nominees. Ortega and Mejía stayed on for lack of replacements.

Now Mejía is acting as judge in the Supreme Court trial of former president Ricardo Martinelli, such that his replacement at the moment would be quite disruptive. Plus Mejía has never been considered the partisan figure that Ortega has been and there is sentiment to give him another 10-year term, an opinion that crosses party lines.

So this time, Varela nominated Zamorano to finish the rest of the Moncada Luna as a magistrate in every sense rather than an alternate temporarily filling a void; and named Olmedo Arrocha to fill Ortega’s spot. Arrocha is considered a capable enough lawyer. These days he works with the Ministry of Economy and Finance. He has been lawyer for the Panameñista Party and for the president himself. He’s an active Panameñista and the brother of Melitón Arrocha, a Panamenista legislator who is now Panama’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Arrocha isn’t as easily discreditable a nominee as Tovar was, but he was not on the list of possibilities submitted to Varela by a citizens’ commission representing important social sectors and he is being widely criticized as a partisan figure.

Has the PRD cut a deal with Varela to go along with Arrocha and Zamorano, in exchange for either a new decade on the high court bench for Mejía, or at least leaving him in place for a new president to determine his future as a jurist? Could be. Ricardo Martinelli’s media and the CD president of the legislature’s Credentials Committee, Sergio Gálvez, speak scornfully about Arrocha such that a deal with CD and the Panameñistas looks quite unlikely. Especially so, as Mejía has taken charge of CD founder Martinelli’s trial for eavesdropping and theft of that spy equipment notwithstanding the ex-president’s constant repetitive frivolous motions. The Martinelistas might just reject Zamorano (a Martinelli pick) and Arrocha to show their annoyance with Mejía.

Before the end of the year we are likely to get decisions on the Zamorano and Arrocha appointments, plus a verdict on the first of Ricardo Martinelli’s criminal trials.

Panama’s Supreme Court of Justice

  • Nine members, staggered 10-year terms
  • Three benches of three magistrates each: Penal, Civil and Administrative
  • On many matters a nine-member plenum decides cases
  • Ordinarily each magistrate has an alternate (suplente)
  • Suplentes may fill in for magistrates for various reasons
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Alianza Estratégica Nacional, Desalojo en Barú

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