As in eons of rituals before She waits With a blur and a shadow The union completes Wings go forth A wonder forever Forever a wonder
El macho / The male
The gartered trogon, formerly known as the northern violaceous trogon, is a near passerine bird in the trogon family, Trogonidae. It is found in forests in east-central Mexico, south through Central America, to north-western South America. It was formerly treated as a subspecies of the violaceous trogon. This is a forest edge bird, not usually found deep in a forest.
El trogon de liguero, anteriormente conocido como el trogon violáceo del norte, es un ave casi paseriforme de la familia Trogon, Trogonidae. Se encuentra en los bosques del este-centro de México, del sur a través de América Central, hasta el noroeste de América del Sur. Antiguamente se trataba como una subespecie del trogon violáceo. Este es un pájaro al borde del bosque, que generalmente no se encuentra en las profundidades de un bosque.
Manos e instrumentos de Osvaldo Jorge. Foto del archivo por Eric Jackson.
Panama Jazz Festival arranca período
de preventa con 50% de descuento
El Panamá Jazz Festival anuncia la venta de boletos en preventa para los conciertos en Teatro Ateneo, la gran Noche de Gala en Teatro Anayansi de Atlapa, clínicas musicales y el 8º Simposio Latinoamericano de Musicoterapia con importantes conferencistas internacionales como: José Pablo Valverde (Costa Rica), Karen Waks y Kathleen Howland (Estados Unidos), Diana Castillo (Colombia), Carine Ries (Inglaterra) que forman parte de la cartelera de celebración de los 17 años del Panamá Jazz Festival.
El festival celebrará su décimo séptimo aniversario y honrará al saxofonista panameño Reginald “Reggie” Johnson, uno de los principales saxofonistas de Panamá, quien ha actuado con diversos grupos y reconocidos músicos nacionales e internacionales durante más de cinco décadas y ha compartido el escenario con estrellas del jazz y la salsa como Celia Cruz, Armando Manzanero, Julio Iglesias, entre otros.
Entre los artistas principales del festival de este año se encuentran Dianne Reeves, la estrella cubana Isaac Delgado, Danilo Pérez, Ravi Coltrane, John Patitucci, Terri Lyne Carrington recientemente ganadora al fondo Doris Duke Artist, Cyrus Chesnut y David Sánchez. Otros artistas principales incluyen Detroit All-Star, una banda compuesta por los músicos de Detroit Chris Collins, Mike Dease, Wesley Reynoso, Marion Hayden y Nate Winn; la artista chilena Patricia Zárate Pérez, que presentará su última grabación Violetas con la cantante colombiana Lucía Pulido, el bajista Ben Street y el baterista Adam Cruz.
Además, realizaremos la 4ta Conferencia de Educación en el Hogar, el primer Simposio Feminista de Panamá y el 4to Simposio de las Expresiones Musicales, Artísticas y Culturales de los Afrodescendientes en Panamá, que este año lleva el lema “Bandas Independientes en el talento musical de los sectores populares”.
Colonense Joshue Ashby toca su violín. Foto del archivo por Eric Jackson.
Desde su inicio en 2003, el Festival de Jazz de Panamá ha atraído a más de 350,000 fanáticos del jazz en todo el mundo y ha anunciado más de 4.5 millones de dólares en becas nacionales e internacionales. Su componente educativo reúne a 5,000 estudiantes de música de todo el mundo cada año y en enero de 2019 el festival reunió a más de 30,000 personas de todo el mundo.
El Panama Jazz Festival es producido por Panama Jazz Productions a beneficio de la Fundación Danilo Pérez.
We might recall how the 2009 Martinelli – Varela slate was put together at a meeting in the US Ambassador’s residence. Funding in part by friendly Brazilian thugs, even if the courts here throw out all the evidence. Photo by the Presidencia.
Senator asks public to ‘imagine’ CIA interfering in foreign elections
Comments from Senator Mark Warner responding to reports that Attorney General Bill Barr asked a number of world governments for help in refuting the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 US election were met with ridicule Friday as observers mocked the suggestion that the CIA would never do such a thing.
Warner, a Virginia Democrat, made the remarks to NBC in an interview over the latest revelations in the still-unfolding whistleblower scandal that has triggered an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. News that Barr reached out to intelligence agencies in Australia, Italy and the United Kingdom for help in probing the Russian investigation has added to the fire.
“Can you imagine if the CIA was asked to provide damaging evidence on a political opponent in Australia?” Warner said. “There would be outrage in our political establishment.”
There’s just one problem with Warner’s example of the CIA becoming involved in Australian politics – as one Twitter user observed, the CIA “literally did that” in 1975, covertly taking down the pro-independence government of then-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Whitlam had proposed shutting down Pine Gap, the US satellite intelligence gathering center in central Australia, and exposing US intelligence operations in the country, a move that sent the CIA into panic mode.
In other words, as Grayzone journalist Anya Parampil tweeted, Warner’s hypothetical was “almost as outrageous as the CIA carrying out a coup against Australia’s democratically elected leftist leader who stood up to the agency, which it actually did.”
The Americans and British worked together. In 1975, Whitlam discovered that Britain’s MI6 was operating against his government. “The Brits were actually decoding secret messages coming into my foreign affairs office,” he said later. One of his ministers, Clyde Cameron, told me, “We knew MI6 was bugging cabinet meetings for the Americans.” In the 1980s, senior CIA officers revealed that the “Whitlam problem” had been discussed “with urgency” by the CIA’s director, William Colby, and the head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield. A deputy director of the CIA said: “[governor-general of Australia, Sir John Kerr] did what he was told to do.” […]
On 11 November—the day Whitlam was to inform parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia—he was summoned by Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal “reserve powers,” Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The “Whitlam problem” was solved, and Australian politics never recovered, nor the nation its true independence. Australia, of course, is not the only country whose politics the United States has meddled in since the creation of the CIA in 1947. Among the other countries are China, Albania, East Germany, Iran, Costa Rica, Egypt, Indonesia, British Guiana, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Congo, France, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Bolivia, Indonesia, Ghana, Chile, Greece, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Australia, Angola, Zaire, Portugal, Jamaica, the Seychelles, Chad, Grenada, Suriname, Fiji, Nicaragua, Panama, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia, Ecuador, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia, Libya, and Syria.
Montage by Eric Jackson. It’s a political / philosophical simile, not an allegation that she was at any Trump rally. To the best of our knowledge the deputy does not go to the United States.
The fabricated “migration crisis”
by Marco A. Gandásegui, hijo
Panama does not currently have a migration crisis. Panama has always been a country open to migration. Not because we are more or less supporters of foreigners who come to look for work. The reason must be found in social and economic factors. The investments made in the country have to be given value by the workers (preferably cheap labor). During colonial times the Spanish brought in many workers from other parts of the Americas. In the Colombian era, the construction of the trans-isthmian railroad and the French Canal brought migrations from Europe, Asia and Latin America, especially the Caribbean, to this country. Likewise, when the Americans built the Canal (1904-1914) the migrations were enormous.
These gigantic migrations from around the world did not occur again in the twentieth century, or when the third set of locks was built in this century. There is a very simple reason that explains it. The cheap labor that built the US military bases before and during World War II was ours. They were farmers displaced from their lands and who sought employment in the terminal cities of the Canal. They were expelled from their lands by large agribusiness corporations. Most of the “internal” migrants, with their families, created huge shantytowns on the outskirts of Panama City. They also settled in the old barracks built by Panamanian landlords for informal Canal workers.
Panama currently has some four million inhabitants. About 40,000 are foreigners. That is, one percent of the total. According to the government, fewer than a thousand foreigners have applied for refugee status. What is the crisis? This appearance of a crisis also has its explanation.
Panama is one of the richest countries in the region. Its economic growth rate in the last 20 years has been extraordinary. The gross domestic product (GDP) has multiplied several times in the last two decades. The United Nations agencies consider Panama a moderately rich country, so we have been excluded from the aid programs created by that international organization.
The crisis, then, is not in the population or in the migrations. The crisis is that a rich country has such deplorable social indicators. In almost all social aspects Panama is in the lowest positions: education, health, housing, employment and others. We can thus explain the migration crisis. It is a crisis made to distract the population — especially the popular sectors that suffer the consequences of these inequalities — that finds no solution to their problems.
For example, the government says that the high cost of food is not the result of laws that benefit importing companies. The mainstream media do not deny this official version. Instead, they flood us with contrived “news” of foreigner migrations, their adventures, and the heroics of SENAFRONT. The government also says that the collapse of the education system is not due to its neglect, the diversion of resources to other unnecessary activities and the lack of a minimum plan to invest our resources. Again, they distract the attention of the Panamanian people by accusing foreigners of stealing jobs from our workers.
The lack of employment in the country and the fact that 50 percent (one in two workers) are informal is not a problem created by immigrants (legal or illegal). This is the result of public policies that discourage the investment of our wealth (Canal, ports, mines, real estate) in productive activities such as industrial and agro-industrial plants. They do not take advantage of the Chinese interest in investing in Panama and creating what they call a “hub” for all of Latin America. Job opportunities would be created and — why not? — even for immigrants.
In the USA they apply the same tactic, trying to turn immigrants into the cause of all the ills currently suffered by American families without jobs, with education and health services getting worse and increasing homelessness. Trump convinced many that the problem was the Mexicans. Close the border, build a wall and criminalize immigration, he said.
In Panama, we have to put an end to policies that benefit only a few nd put the country on the path of wholesome development, with a formally employed and productive working population.
Trump and Xi at last year’s G20 summit. Who will be the last man standing? The favorite is the guy in the blue tie. But people with good sense and good will are hoping that both of their countries will live on the same planet in peace and prosperity when both men are historical figures of the past. Wikimedia photo.
In 2016, he called in Russian help for his election campaign.
Now that he’s in trouble for soliciting Ukrainian and Australian validation for some weird conspiracy theories he was spinning for the 2020 campaign, Trump has raised the ante.
He sought the assistance of the National Rifle Association, declared a Russian asset in the 2016 election cycle by US intelligence people in the know.
It’s not treason, which is narrowly defined under the US Constitution, but it’s terribly disloyal.
It violates all sorts of election laws and American customs, for sure. Let Mr. Giuliani and the rest of his entourage of discredited lawyers argue that be that as it may, it’s not an “impeachable offense.”
Leave it to “Q” and Trump’s brainwashed fanatic base to argue that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a politician soliciting foreign assistance to further his personal domestic political aspirations.
Will they get to pointing out all the Latin American tyrants and kleptocrats who have called in Uncle Sam when things got difficult? Will they point out that China, the world’s oldest civilization but more often than not with parts of it ruled by different governments at the same time, has insisted on other countries taking sides in what it considers its internal affairs by shunning Taiwan? No doubt. There goes the GOP, leading a great power to banana republic status on that count, too.
When we hear them talking about civil war, we should take it seriously – they are armed and crazy and Americans need to be prepared to die for America if need be. Let’s not get too dramatic about it, though. We take that risk every time we venture out where criminals might lurk. That’s why there are police. Nations take that risk just by their existence, which is why most of them have soldiers and spies. Threats are being made and free people should perhaps heighten our vigilance but should never cower.
The Panama News does not advise US citizens, here in Panama or anywhere, to amass arsenals for doomsday shootouts. That would be dangerous and offer little protection in return. For another thing, here on the isthmus it would be a violation of Panamanian gun laws, which are much more sensible than the ones in the USA. What we do urge is that all adults with US passports living here register and vote.
I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong, than the one comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.
Bear in mind…
Although modesty is natural to man, it is not natural to children. Modesty only begins with the knowledge of evil.
To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else.
Bernadette Devlin McAliskey
I’ve never understood why people consider youth a time of freedom and joy. It’s probably because they have forgotten their own.
The powers that be when this administration and legislature took office. Photo by the Asamblea Nacional.
Look to what’s happening, not his public pronouncements, to know where Nito is at
by Eric Jackson
He touched on all the obligatory points, in the process saying a few things that conflict with what some in his party are pushing, when he spoke to the United Nations. La Prensa called President Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo Cohen’s speech boring. Others lamented the lack of any new vision, new theme, new label. A president with little to say, because he really doesn’t stand for anything? The hushed concentration of an old military cadet concentrating as he walks through a mine field? Or is it just the natural style of a man of few words?
Minister of Public Works Rafael Sabonge assures us that there are a few details to be worked out, but the fourth bridge project, which has been contracted out to the China Construction Communication Company and China Harbor Engineering Company group will be going ahead with construction shortly. But Roberto Abrego, the PRD deputy who heads the National Assembly’s Public Infrastructure Subcommittee, says that at first glance the subcommittee considers the contract to be against Panama’s best interests.
Those companies are in many ways the Asian analog to Brazil’s Odebrecht — involved in scandal after scandal, multiply blacklisted by international financial institutions — but since when did this batch of legislators NOT like deals with companies that pay kickbacks? Cortizo says that corruption won’t be tolerated in his administration and if it is encountered complaints will be filed with the pertinent authorities and the government will move on rather than get bogged down over it. And when Odebrecht asked for a waiver of penalties for not completing the new concourse at Tocumen Airport on time? Request denied, with someone other than Cortizo making that announcement.
Do we take the president at his word when he declares that he will strictly respect constitutional separations of powers, leaving legislation to the legislators and the application and interpretation of the law to the courts? God save Panama from the honorable magistrates and deputies.
Do we take the vulgar and thuggish PRD mayor of Colon, Alex Lee, at his word when he said that he talked to the president about the huge pay raise he gave himself and that it was acceptable from on high? Or do we notice that shortly thereafter Lee backtracked and rescinded that measure? (And, in light of the mayor’s rhetoric and characterizations, do we want to spin it as the mayor getting beaten up by queers?)
It may actually be that Lee wasn’t lying, that in person Cortizo assumed a tolerant and non-judgmental attitude with him. More and more, it would seem more likely that any talking about the mayor’s scandalous conduct would have been done by Vice President José Gabriel Carrizo, the former banker who is also Minister of the Presidency. As in, when it’s a matter of drumming up public support and adulation, dealing with foreigners and powerful multinational institutions in search of business for Panama and so on, Cortizo does the public speaking, but when it’s a matter of imposing limits on other politicians Carrizo does the speaking without the press present.
Call the president what you will, but more and more it appears that his usual method of operation is to leave the talking about that which is controversial to his ministers.
It will work up to a point. That point is likely to be when he has to deal with a legislature that, if one listens to the noise, has very different priorities than those which he enunciates.
Ricky’s image. Ricardo Martinelli, out of prison on a factually absurd verdict, is running to retake control of the Cambio Democratico party that he founded but which elected corporate lawyer Rómulo Roux during the ex-president’s incarceration. Here, from a video taken by a neighbor and widely circulated among the social media, Martinelli crosses the yellow ribbon of a police crime scene cordon in Las Acasias, where former police captain and attorney Francisco Grajales was shot dead in the street, gangland-style. The slain man was forced out of the police over drugs missing from the evidence storage and made his living largely by representing drug underworld characters, actual or alleged. Grajales’s wife, attorney Jessica Canto, has a drug conviction of her own on the record and is one of the team of Martinelli’s criminal defense lawyers.
The opposition’s weakness may not be Cortizo’s strength
Are you going to import a left to right spectrum, or a government and opposition paradigm, from someplace else to characterize Panamanian politics? You may be mistaken.
Noriega times shattered the PRD and its junior partners, the latter parties which did not long survive the invasion. (Anyone remember PALA, the “Labor Party” known as “rich man’s PRD,” to which Mayín Correa once upon a time belonged?)
The post-invasion Endara administration saw the disintegration of an opposition whose unity was an unnatural confluence of domestic and external influences. The Civilista white hankies were to some extent a prototype of the CIA-orchestrated “color revolutions” at which the Russian Federation likes to point, but Panamanians largely did agree that the dictatorship had to end even if they could never unite to actually force that point. By the 1994 elections the PRD held onto its around one-third of the electorate base and that was enough to make Ernesto “Toro” Pérez Balladares president in a seven-way race.
Toro tried to discipline his party and its legislative caucus, with big spectacles like the expulsion of Bocas del Toro deputy Mario Miller from the PRD and the legislature over extortion allegations and the arrest and humiliation of a Panamanian diplomat amidst an international gathering here, on charges of dipping into the till of consular collections for ship registration fees. Uncle Sam was unimpressed, pulling Toro’s US visa for the sale of visas and passports to Chinese citizens right after he left office. Miller beat the rap on appeal, went elsewhere politically, and came back to the legislature as a Cambio Democratico (CD) deputy.
Mireya Moscoso succeeded on the Panameñista ticket and navigated through a legislature of many an veteran deputy wearing a different uniform than before. Her administration was not about building the party her late husband created, but showering goodies on a tiny circle of family and friends. When she needed that extra vote to jam her Supreme Court nominees through the legislature, she bought a PRD deputy, Carlos “Tito” Afú from Los Santos, for that occasion. The next time around Tito came back as a Panameñista deputy but has since migrated to CD.
When Martín Torrijos came back in on the PRD third plus some, it was a matter of the usual succession but by then all politics had become transactional. Yes, he put on these technocratic airs, wielded great publicity power with the ad agency cartel mostly on his side and mobilized his party to win a sparsely attended canal referendum in 2006. But it was a sell individual souls and Panama as if there would be no tomorrow time, and that effect has only deepened. Perhaps the tawdriest moment of that was when Colombian racketeer David Murcia Guzmán got diplomatic honors from the legislature and a bodyguard detail from the SPI presidential guards.
Malignant Brazilian imperialism, in the juridical person of the thug construction conglomerate Odebrecht, got its foot in Panama’s door in Martín Torrijos times and then moved in big during the Martinelli and Varela administrations. Martinelli, who has served as Seguro Social director under Torrijos and Minister of Canal Affairs under Moscoso, came in with third place legislative caucus but through bribery and extortion — but WAIT! they say it’s a crime to call it that when the courts have never ruled as such! –assembled a National Assembly majority with turncoats from other parties.
Martinelli considered himself betrayed when the nation rejected a puppet slate that would have left him effectively still at the helm of state, so he turned on the CD legislative caucus, warning that he had files on every member and would use them against those who did not do as he told them. But hey, the Panamanian sports scene was a slush fund for legislators, Odebrecht, its partners and subsidiaries and its domestic imitators were not picky on partisan lines about to whom they kicked back money from overpriced public works contracts, and Varela also came into office with his party wielding a puny minority in the legislature.
With Martinelli making his threats, first in person and later from exile and later yet from prison awaiting trial, Varela indisposed to do Martinelli-style arm twists and the PRD in shock from having lost two general elections in a row, the deputies were left to their own devices and with the president at their mercy. At first, dissident CD and PRD deputies ignored their party leaders, who wanted to impeach Varela as their first order of business. They formed a temporary “governability pact” to avoid total public sector paralysis, with a grateful Varela leaving them to their games.
(WHY would impeachment seem like such a good idea to Martinelli and the PRD heavies of the time? That would put VP Isabel de Saint Malo, an independent, in the president’s chair — and after all, didn’t her brother Raúl launder Odebrecht bribes for the Martinelli family?)
Eventually, as contemplated, the pact dissolved as the PRD and CD caucuses united to block Varela’s appointments — good ones and bad ones — in order to establish their apparent bona fides as “the opposition” ahead of the May 2019 elections. Nito and the PRD won that contest, with the party narrowly winning the presidency on the strength of its usual third of the vote, but sweeping most local offices and winning nearly a majority in the legislature and a safe majority when one counts in their MOLIRENA junior partners.
However, both in the PRD caucus and in others, you have a legislative culture in which individual deputies are now long used to thumbing their noses at party bosses. From the PRD ranks they elected the little-known and not saying things to make himself known deputy Marcos Castillero as National Assembly president, and the firebrand demagogue Zulay Rodríguez — whom Nito crushed in the PRD’s presidential primary — as the legislature’s vice president.
Since this assembly’s installation in July Zulay has been the prime mover of a bewildering agenda of legislation, with assists from deputies of other parties. It has nothing to do with what Cortizo says he’s trying to do.
There are all sorts of foreigner-bashing, most notoriously with what would in effect be a ban on foreign music on Panamanian radio and surely consequent international cultural and tourism boycott of Panama. Never mind that the president wants to revive a moribund tourism sector. All sorts of financial demagoguery favoring this or that special interest — the privatization of health care by requiring all persons aged 60 or over to get private insurance, with means-tested exceptions under rules to be set by a board of insurance company execs is the latest coming from CD and Panameñista ranks. Demands for hack jobs for PRD and MOLIRENA activists. Never mind that Cortizo’s stated policy is austerity in the face of a debt crisis. All manner of blame assignment, lots of it directed against the Motta family, lots of it downright racist, much of it spun online through an array of false persona trolls. From MOLIRENA et al, a proposal coming out of the international religious far right to create a registry of women who have miscarriages or who deliver stillborn babies. The crudest sort of gay bashing.
So what does Nito do if some of this gets to his desk for signature or veto? And what does he do if key elements of what he wants to do get rejected in the legislature?
In another opposition caucus, there is an election race, really a repeat of the last presidential primary contest, to see whether former Panama City mayor José Isabel Blandón Figueroa or former housing minister Mario Enrique Etchelecu Álvarez. Their party barely scored in double digits last May and both men have some unflattering political baggage, the former of an Odebrecht variety and the latter of a land titles scams variety. (Not that either has been charged with a crime or will be, but certain things happened on their respective watches.)
Splintering, shattering or usual but manageable fragmentation?
On September 23, 11 deputies sent a note to Marcos Castillero, requesting to form a new caucus. The deadline for this came and went in the first half of July, so officially it’s not happening. The note contained the names of CD members Sergio Gálvez, Leopoldo Benedetti, Mayín Correa, Hernán Delgado, Arnulfo Díaz, José María Herrera, Alaín Cedeño and Fátima Agrazal, all staunch Martinelli loyalists.
Named and signed were Panameñista deputies Elías Vigil and Pedro Torres, although the latter then clarified that he didn’t want to leave the Panameñista caucus. Also named in the document, but not signed, was Manolo Ruiz, a MOLIRENA deputy who migrated there from CD and currently head of the MOLIRENA delegation in the National Assembly, which is formally allied with the PRD.
Were the entire MOLIRENA caucus to desert its alliance with the PRD, then all of a sudden President Cortizo’s party would be a vote short control of the National Assembly.
Just the usual self-centered stuff from the political caste? Perhaps. It comes, however, in a time of a debt squeeze and Cortizo’s efforts to address it by way of austerity policies. Martinelli may be rich enough to provide deputies who join his caucus with the picnic hams, small children’s toys, soccer balls, domestic appliances and other goodies that politicians pass out to build and keep loyal followings.
Do not discount the effect that might have in times of weak party discipline, selfish and corrupt deputies and jaded constituencies used to being paid in more than good words for their votes.