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Are we ready to respond to hantavirus?

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hanta
This transmission electron microscopic (TEM) image depicts numbers of spheroid-shaped Sin Nombre virus particles, a specie of the genus, Hantavirus. The Sin Nombre virus is the cause of hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS), also referred to as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), in humans. Photo by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Illness in Tonosi: how healthy is
Panama’s immune response?

by Eric Jackson

Was it a church or state emergency, or an Act of God? On the surface there are answers but get a bit deeper and the answer becomes a bit less clear.

The Catholic Church, with coordination and support from President Varela, is doing a big buildup for next year’s World Youth Day, a Vatican-sponsored event that will bring Pope Francis to Panama late next January. Part of the promotion is a series of religious pilgrimages and processions in most parts of the country. But earlier this week it was announced that due to a particularly severe hantavirus outbreak the tour would skip the Tonosi area.

Who made the ultimate decision? By most published reports, the Ministry of Health made the announcement on July 25 after consulting with the church and local residents. The reported main concern was about foreign pilgrims staying at homes in the Tonosi area that might not be safe.

In any case, the decision was informed by the government, the Ministry of Health in particular. So far this year the ministry has diagonosed 49 cases of hantavirus infection in Los Santos province. Of these 34 have been in the district of Tonosi, with the rest of the cases, in descending order, in the districts of Las Tablas, Los Santos, Pocri and Pedasi. Precisely locating the place where such an infection was contracted after somebody gets ill from it — not all do — requires some detailed medical history-taking. An illness from hantavirus starts showing symptoms only a week or two after the infection is contracted. Over the years there have been hantavirus cases reported at hospitals in the Panama City metro area but on closer examination it turns out that the patients had been in affected parts of the Interior, usually the Tonosi Valley, before they got sick.

Also on July 25, parents, teachers and students at the Instituto Profesional de Tonosi called for a demonstration the following day. They said that it was because four students at that high school had been diagnosed with hantavirus infections.

On the 26th the morning protest blocked the road as advised, and that afternoon the Ministry of Health came to town for a public forum about not only hantavirus, but also problems with drinking water and with agricultural chemicals. In some cases the problems are related — wells contaminated by agricultural chemicals and unsanitary conditions including with drinking water caused by flooding along the Tonosi River are the obvious ones. But might hantavirus come into the interplay there, too?

Even with the best of equipment, well qualified lab workers and state of the science knowledge, hantavirus investigations can be complicated matters. It’s about viral, not bacterial, infections. First of all, which species of virus? The Hantavirus genus has at least 11 species that are associated with animal illnesses which may cross over to human beings. Lab tests have shown one of these species, the Choclo virus, to have caused illnesses in Panama. There is no specific treatment for the particular virus, but blood tests now available can show the presence of antibodies to that microbe and help physicians with their differential diagnoses, so that some other malady that requires a particular treatment is not mistaken for hantavirus.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is the disease that people tend to get from various species of the virus in the Americas. In the Old World there is another disease, Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HRFS), caused by hantavirus species found there.

The vectors of all hantavirus infections? Those are rodents, but not any species of rodent and more than one. By and large the vectors are wild rodents, not the usual rats and mice found in human habitations. In Panama various reports say one or two vectors. A certainly a known culprit is known by several names in several languages and one taxonomic name: Oligoryzomys fulvescens, a/k/a Fulvous Pygmy Rice Rat, Long Tail Mouse, Ratón de cola larga, Rata arrocera, Ratón colilarga and so on. These are little guys who live outside and occasionally move in great numbers to where people live.

So why the periodic invasions and consequent disease outbreaks? That gets into an environmental investigation that should start with where the suspect species tends to live and what it usually eats. Do these rodents ordinarily glean the rice crop and follow trails of dropped grains from where rice is grown to where the harvest is taken? That’s documented, but what else might it eat, and which weather or climate phenomena might have something to do with mass migrations?

Years ago, a famous study of an outbreak in the arid Four Corners region of the Southwestern United States found that unusually heavy rains for the area had caused a bumper crop of wild pinyon pine nuts. Pinyon mice and perhaps other wild rodents feasted, and their populations exploded — just at a time when the popularity of that sort of country living had been increasing, bringing more people into proximity to rodents breaking out of their usual habitats looking for food. It was a medical and environmental mystery that took the experts a little while to figure out.

What about Tonosi? Is it rats flooded out of their homes moving toward human habitations? Is it rain that prompts floods also increasing supplies of things that rodents eat, leading to population explosions?

And is cause somewhat beside the point, given that preventive measures may be taken in any case? But which preventive strategies?

There is no hantavirus vaccine. The incidence is relatively rare, more than one species of virus have to be taken into account and a lot of the problem is in places where people are not rich in the global scheme of things. The bottom line for the for-profit drug companies is that it’s not worth it to develop a vaccines.

The response among the many Panamanians who are oblivious to concepts of appropriate technology and in many cases uneducated in biology or ecology would be to find a chemical to spray or spread in pellet form about the land. But what if we kill off a lot of the target rodents and lots of the predators that eat them also die of starvation or indirect poisoning? What if the rodents reproduce quickly but not so the predators? Might the next rodent population explosion then proceed with fewer hindrances?

And what about the cultural aspect of ecology? Anywhere in the Interior of Panama, if you want to keep the rodent population down it’s best to leave the snakes alone — but that policy runs into a culture where the response to any sort of snake is with a machete.

If many Panamanians demand a chemical fix, around the world biological controls are the more sophisticated trends in dealing with pests. This may be much to the chagrin of chemical companies, but the usual best approach is to introduce, encourage or protect some natural predator of the species that’s not wanted.

What if the invasions are not population booms but just displacement by floods or other phenomena? Do we then talk about another contributing factor of human culture, people in and around the Martinelli administration looting a flood control and irrigation project for the Tonosi River Valley? A lot of money disappeared but the project never happened. If the phalanxes of mafia lawyers and perhaps the judges they may buy have anything to do with it, nothing will happen to bring the embezzlers and their confederates to justice, either.

As far as the Ministry of Health is concerned, it’s back to home prevention. Especially so, knowing something of why and how the particular rodents invade human spaces and that people get infected by breathing in the dust from dried rodent feces, urine, saliva or other bodily fluids. The advice is:

  • Store grains in plastic bags, within plastic bins, all properly closed and sealed. Keep such containers on pallets and away from walls.
  • Store firewood and lumber away from the house, in a dry place, on top of pallets.
  • Keep kitchens clean and utensils enclosed in containers to keep rodents out.
  • Do not let waste waters or runoff from rains to accumulate in or near your house. Keep any patios clean and dry.
  • If you are opening a house or store room that has been unoccupied for some time, before cleaning spray it with water and let that soak for at least an hour before beginning to sweep. Use latex gloves and a dust mask when doing such cleaning.
For a useful guide to hantavirus prevention from the USA, click here.
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Beluche, Daniel Ortega y Manuel Noriega

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Danny, Rosario & Cardinal Obando
Iglesia y estado. FSLN foto.

Daniel Ortega y Manuel Noriega

por Olmedo Beluche

Todas las comparaciones son odiosas, pero son necesarias y constituyen un método legítimo de análisis sociológico e histórico que ayuda a comprender situaciones que parecen confusas. En este caso el método comparativo funciona por las razones que expondremos.

Noriega y Ortega reclaman un pasado que ya no representan

Ambos regímenes tuvieron una fase previa que se puede denominar “progresista”, “populista” o “Estado de beneficio”. En el caso de Noriega, éste fue precedido por el régimen de Omar Torrijos, el cual, pese a innegables casos de represión puntuales, se basó en el reconocimiento de importantes derechos sociales y económicos, y en la reivindicación antiimperialista de la soberanía sobre el Canal de Panamá, lo que le granjeó apoyo popular, el cual Noriega intento usar a su favor presentándose como el sucesor de Torrijos.

Daniel Ortega viene del vientre del Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), que en los años 60 y 70 luchó contra la dictadura de Anastasio Somoza. Fue uno de los 9 comandantes que dirigió el triunfo de la Revolución de 1979. Fue el presidente del gobierno revolucionario durante una década en que, pese al acoso militar y económico de Estados Unidos, hubo grandes avances democráticos, así como en derechos sociales y económicos. Retronó al poder hace 10 años, en otras condiciones y precedido de pactos con sus ex enemigos (COSEP, Arnoldo Alemán, Iglesia católica) para hacer un gobierno capitalista, pero con programas sociales que le granjearon respaldo electoral indudable.

Noriega y Ortega se proclaman representantes de una fase populista anterior, pero que ya no representan, porque su crisis se inicia con la aplicación de Planes Neoliberales dictados por el FMI y el Banco Mundial.

La crisis de los dos regímenes empieza con la aplicación de planes neoliberales

En el caso panameño, suele pasarse por alto que la crisis del régimen norieguista empezó cuando el general pactó con la embajada de Estados Unidos la imposición mediante el fraude electoral del gobierno de Nicolás Ardito Barletta, quien pretendió imponer un plan neoliberal que incluía privatizaciones, despidos, congelación salarial, etc. Ahí, en octubre de 2014, inició una ola de huelgas como nunca antes en la historia panameña, que derribó a Barletta y marcó a Noriega, hasta la invasión norteamericana de 1989.

Ortega lleva dramáticamente al final sus veleidades “progresistas”, a mediados de este año, cuando intenta imponer un duro plan de reformas al sistema de jubilaciones y pensiones (que incluía un recorte del 5% de las mismas) asesorado por el Fondo Monetario Internacional. Pero lo peor que hizo Ortega no fue este amague neoliberal a un pueblo ya deprimido por la miseria, sino que, cuando las marchas de jubilados y estudiantes universitarios salieron a las calles, como era de esperarse, su gobierno reprimió duramente, ordenando tirar a matar contra los jóvenes. Pudo utilizar otras herramientas que le acercaran a esa juventud rebelde que estaba en desacuerdo con las medidas neoliberales de su gobierno, como suspender la medida e iniciar un diálogo. Pero decidió actuar como un dictador.

En la memoria histórica de los pueblos ambos son dictadores sanguinarios

“Por sus obras los conoceréis”, dice un proverbio bíblico (San Mateo 7, 16), la cual recomienda distinguir los verdaderos de los falsos profetas por lo que hacen. En este caso, tanto Noriega como Ortega evidentemente son falsos profetas que pretenden arroparse con un pasado revolucionario que dejaron de representar y porque se convirtieron en instrumentos de las políticas neoliberales dictadas desde el imperialismo norteamericano vía FMI.

Ese es un hecho, son agentes del neoliberalismo contra sus pueblos, es decir, agentes de los intereses del gran capital imperialista, y por ello merecen el repudio de sus pueblos.

“Por sus obras los conoceréis”, pero no se quedaron en planes económicos, sino que para tratar de imponer esos planes han desatado una furia represiva contra sus pueblos que, con toda legitimidad han salido a las calles a defender sus derechos.

Noriega reprimió y se de le atribuyen algunas decenas de muertos en la larga crisis política que fue desde 1984 a 1989: varios caídos en las manifestaciones, militares que se rebelaron, el propio Hugo Spadafora cuya cabeza no aparece, y la corresponsabilidad en la invasión de 1989, cuyos centenares de muertos son culpa principal de Estados Unidos, pero en la que el general no tuvo el valor de organizar la defensa nacional y pelear en ella, optando por la cobarde entrega. En la memoria colectiva, Noriega aparece como un dictador.

Ortega, en pocos días de protesta, produjo 30 muertos, principalmente jóvenes estudiantes y de barrios populares, los cuales al cabo de 3 meses de movilización ya superan los 300 muertos y subiendo. Se habla de otros tantos desaparecidos y miles de presos. Usando francotiradores con tiros a la cabeza y al pecho han caído decenas de muchachos. Ortega ha reprimido con la misma violencia que Somoza usó contra el barrio obrero de Monimbó, bastión antidictatorial en 1978 y 2018.

“Por sus obras los conoceréis”, falsos profetas que disparan contra civiles desarmados y que luego difaman con apelativos de “terroristas” a los jóvenes que luchan por una causa legítima, igual que hace el imperialismo yanqui cuando quiere invadir un país.

Noriega, igual que Ortega, decía que todo era una conspiración imperialista

Pese a que está claro que la crisis de ambos se inicia con la sumisión de Noriega y Ortega a las políticas neoliberales ordenadas por el sistema imperialista global, los dos, para defenderse, se arropan con falsas banderas “antiimperialistas” para sostenerse en el poder. Por supuesto que el imperialismo yanqui, que “no tiene amigos, sino intereses”, juega a varias cartas a la vez, se manejó tanto con Noriega como con su oposición, la ADO-Civilista; y se maneja con Ortega y con los opositores de la derecha nicaragüense.

Un detalle, que no es menor, es que Estados Unidos apoyó a Noriega hasta mucho después del inicio de la crisis de 1984, pues era su mejor carta para la aplicación de sus medidas neoliberales y su necesaria represión. Ese apoyo duró hasta febrero de 1988, cuando se impusieron sanciones económicas y, aún, hasta las elecciones de 1989. Fue luego de mayo del 89 que se empezó a planear la invasión que se produjo en diciembre de ese año.

En el caso de Ortega, es bastante evidente que Estados Unidos no lo ha tratado igual que ha Nicolás Maduro de Venezuela. Respecto al segundo, no se había sentado en la silla y ya se exigía un golpe de estado, con dos oleadas golpistas en 2014 y 2017. En la que la mayoría de los muertos los produjo la oposición golpista y la represión gubernamental fue cautelosa. Con Maduro hay una discusión pendiente sobre sus políticas, pero esa es otra discusión para otro artículo.

La Organización de Estados Americanos, pese a la enorme sangría en Nicaragua, ha sido moderada con Ortega, hasta ahora, exigiéndole: “diálogo” y “elecciones anticipadas” en la fecha que el diálogo apruebe.

Noriega y Ortega, con todo y las contradicciones con el gobierno norteamericano, han sido aliados del imperio en la imposición del modelo económico neoliberal. Y el imperio NO los ha tratado como peligrosos revolucionarios, todo lo contrario.

La izquierda revolucionaria e izquierda acrítica, dos métodos para tratar a Noriega y Ortega

Pese a la hipócrita retórica pseudo antiimperialista del general Noriega, la izquierda revolucionaria panameña, nunca le claudicó ni apoyó, pues por sus actos, por sus hechos, única forma de discernir entre la verdad y la mentira, era evidente que representaba un gobierno capitalista neoliberal, agente del imperio y represor de los derechos democráticos.

La izquierda revolucionaria panameña de entonces (el MLN-29, el PRT y el PST), siempre mantuvimos una postura crítica, combativa e independiente frente al régimen de Noriega, y con los opositores de la ADO-Civilista, incluso en el marco de la invasión yanqui del 89.

Respecto de Ortega, se produce la misma división en la izquierda latinoamericana y mundial. La izquierda revolucionaria comprende la verdadera esencia antipopular de Ortega y su falso antiimperialismo, y no está dispuesta a ensuciarse apoyando el genocidio de la juventud nicaragüense.

Pero, igual que en los 80, hay una izquierda que apoya acríticamente a Ortega y pretende que los miles de jóvenes en las barricadas son “agentes del imperialismo”. Una izquierda que pretende que está justificado tirar a matar a la gente porque sale a la calle frente a un gobierno que se autotitula “progre” pero aplica medidas neoliberales igual que la derecha.

Quienes embarran el prestigio de la izquierda apoyando los crímenes de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo, sólo lograrán profundizar la crisis de alternativas frente al sistema capitalista putrefacto que padece la humanidad.

Los revolucionarios nicaragüenses del siglo XXI saldrán de las barricadas de Masaya o Estelí, no de la izquierda envilecida que avala cualquier injusticia y la disfraza de revolucionaria.

En esta lamentable coyuntura, el legado del Che Guevara en la carta de despedida a sus hijos cobra más fuerza: “…y sobre todo sean siempre capaces de sentir en lo más hondo cualquier injusticia cometida contra cualquiera en cualquier parte del mundo. Es la cualidad más linda de un revolucionario.”

Tony
El comandante, entonces.
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Kermit’s Birds ~ Los Aves de Kermit

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...is the word...
He’s mocking you, first thing in the morning. / Él se burla de ti, a primera hora de la mañana. © Kermit Nourse.

Tropical Mockingbird ~ Sinsonte Tropical

photo © Kermit Nourse / derechos del autor por Kermit Nourse

This is a Tropical Mockingbird, a common bird found throughout most of the country. They range from Honduras to Northern Brazil, easily spotted, singing outside your bedroom window at 6 a.m.

Este es un sinsonte tropical, un pájaro común que se encuentra en la mayor parte del país. Van desde Honduras hasta el norte de Brasil, fácilmente avistados, cantando fuera de la ventana de su dormitorio a las 6 AM.

 

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Editorials: Dangerous rumors; and Everyone is not your friend

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lynch tales
If you try to play this you will notice it is not an actual video. It is taken from a video in an inflammatory Facebook post, which video did not actually support the accusation.

Hateful rumors can kill

Did some gringo pull a gun on the mayor of Boquete, or attempt to do so? That not well documented allegation went out on Facebook, followed by a stream of commentary about how horrible foreigners are, and more than 12,000 people saw it there. The mayor’s office has not responded to questions from The Panama News about it.

A rumor that is a whole cloth lie can be as deadly as a discomforting truth. It has been that way down through history. Pogroms against the Jews in old Russia, lynchings of black people in the old US South, attacks on Americans accused of child snatching more recently in Guatemala, deadly religious riots in India — the allegation need not be true to start such things.

We need to be careful here in Panama. There are folks seeking political advantage by accusing foreigners. There are folks who are suffering who are receptive to claims about who is to blame.

When ugly rumors against foreigners spread, Panamanian authorities and the embassies of the countries whose citizens are involved should respond with the truth of the matter in question and calls for peace and order. The mass communications media should also assist in such peacekeeping roles.

 

AF
BUY NOW! Everyone you know is buying! Would your fellow expat lie to you?
 
Consider something else. You may be the innocent victim. But someone unlike you might look from the outside in and consider you a hustler just like the con artist who stole from you, just based on your membership in the same group.

If somebody says…

If some expatriate has a business proposition of whatever sort for you and says “This is what the deal is. … This is where and what my business is and you can check it out by….” then if the offer may suit you, you may want to check it out.

If such a person skips the above and says “You can trust me — I’m an expat like you” then run away as fast as you can.

There is and has been an awful lot of what the FBI calls “affinity fraud” out there. People going after segments of the community based on ethnicity, national origin, religion, “sovereign citizen” pretensions or allegedly shared politics with fraud in mind are known phenomena in Panama’s English-speaking community. They are assisted by the history of police and prosecutors here refusing to enforce laws against financial crimes in which foreigners or ethnic Panamanians perceived to be foreigners are the victims.

Meanwhile there is hatred out and about in the land, some of it organized. “They’re all a bunch of swindlers” (or pedophiles, or racists, or gun runners intent on breaking Panama’s laws, or…) is a tag to avoid. The shunning and if appropriate the reporting to authorities of such persons who actually fit such descriptions is a matter of community self-defense.

We are all imperfect. Most of us have a sense of decency. Not everybody out there is our friend. If you want to thrive in Panama it helps to keep these things in mind.

 

Bear in mind…
 

Nothing up my sleeve.
Bullwinkle J. Moose

 

Bwahahaha! Now we got that stupid Moose!
Boris Badenov

 

But Boris, what about the Squorrel?
Natasha Fatale

 

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Martinelli trial to resume amidst plea bargain rumors

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Ricky's craven lackeys
Gone are the days of Ricardo Martinelli’s Miami exile, when he could call out a small crowd in front of the courthouse in Ancon. The Cambio Democratico party is under new leadership and if they don’t come right out and say so, they consider their founder and ex-leader and embarrassment and a 2019 campaign liability. Archive photo by Eric Jackson.

Rumors of plea bargain talks (and denials)
as the next phase of Martinelli’s trial looms

by Eric Jackson

Not long after Ricardo Martinelli left office in 2014 a laptop at the National Security Council was found to contain an enemies list of some 150 people and data about their telephone and computer communications that were forwarded to the Presidencia. This damning evidence of unwarranted electronic eavesdropping during the previous administration has been on the public record since that time. In other related cases it has been supported by dozens of witnesses.  The equipment used to do this? The Israeli equipment and programs from Israel and Italy, and presumably the files compiled with these, have been missing since shortly before Martinelli left office. So far uncontroverted witnesses last place the stuff in the Martinelli’s private corporate headquarters for the Super 99 grocery store chain in Paitilla.

We knew early on during the Martinelli administration that such stuff was going on because private conversations were being recorded and made into YouTube attack videos directed against Martinelli’s critics. Perhaps the most notorious of these was made with a cell phone remotely switched on and turned into a room bug, which caught now legislator and presidential candidate Zulay Rodríguez in an argument with her then husband, who accused her of infidelity. It was quite the hit for YouTube voeyeurs.

We also know something of the circumstances thanks to Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, by way of US Embassy cables released via WikiLeaks. Those documented Martinelli’s attempts to get American assistance to bug his political foes.

That this invasion of privacy case is the first of the Martinelli crimes to make it to trial stage — and this reporter does not say “alleged” because so many of the illegal things that the former president did were sneeringly open and notorious — is probably not the mere luck of the draw, nor the date of discovery. Panamanian culture defends the privacy of prominent men in particular. While this country’s laws have never treated a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy as a matter of her right to privacy, we have had banking and corporate secrecy laws longer than almost anywhere else. There is no such thing as illegitimacy in Panamanian law and references to the marital status of a prominent person’s parents is considered obscene. The sexual affairs of some Panamanian political leaders have been more lurid than any Bill and Monica stories, but the Supreme Court here has ruled that satirical references to them are crimes and in Panamanian journalism such tales are absolutely taboo. We have a privacy culture here. That its egregious violation is the first Martinelli case to come to trial is a general reflection of how seriously such matters are taken here.

So, having cleared a slew of procedural objections to trial, the most recent and serious by a narrow vote of a high court panel, Martinelli is about to come to trial on the facts of the matter. If there is anything to be said on his behalf on that score, the public has not heard it.

The trial is set to resume on Thursday, July 26. Will more delays be interposed? Perhaps, but the court and Martinelli’s jailers are getting sick of the antics. From the defense side we have heard a complaint of the former president being placed in solitary confinement at El Renacer Penitentiary. That’s the global norm for what happens to an inmate who makes a fuss about being taken to court, who makes extravagant demands for luxury lodgings, or who malingers to delay trial proceedings.

NOW two new twists arise.

One is that Martinelli’s lawyers are bringing civil and criminal charges against Corporacion La Prensa, whose tabloid Mi Diario reported that there was an attempt to bring a Colombian woman into the prison to visit with Martinelli. It’s actually a strange set of denials, centered around the ex-president being elsewhere for medical attention when that allegedly happened. There does not appear to be a direct refutation of all points of what was written and complained of. It also seems to be not a calumnia e injuria case, but just an injuria complaint. The two words are generally used together to describe a defamation case, but they are actually two laws. Calumnia is malicious falsehood, while injuria is damage to a person’s reputation. Truth is not necessarily a defense to injuria. The published product of a gross invasion of privacy, for example, would be actionable injuria even if absolutely true. The courts will generally not entertain offers to prove the truth of the matter in such situations.

The other, more consequential matter is whether with a losing case confronting him and the prosecution asking for a 21-year prison sentence, a plea bargain is in the works. The court and prosecution are mum. From several of the private complainants there have been tales of meetings with Martinelli defense attorneys where the subject of a plea bargain has been broached. Martinelli has said that he would never plead guilty and some of his lawyers have been making less than categorical denials of any negotiations.

Ricardo Martinelli is famously bipolar and his mood swings have always been a factor in his public life. An abrupt shift in position would be in character for him, with his family and lawyers being such control factors as there may be.

We may see later this week.
 
[Full disclosure. Your reporter is one of the people whose communications Martinelli pried into, by way of the former president’s monitoring of communications with his attorney and sometimes contributor to The Panama News, Miguel Antonio Bernal.]

 

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Panama takes a different approach to refugee kids

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kids
One of these dreary official photo ops, perhaps. What’s going on here is Minister of Government Carlos Rubio and Secretariat of Childhood, Adolescence and Family (SENNIAF) director Yazmín Cárdenas signing an intra-governmental protocol. Under this policy Panamanian government agencies will allocate funds and staff to identify, count, keep track of and make references to take care of the needs of refugees who are minors. At this event representing the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was José Samaniego, and also the director of the National Office for Attention to Refugees (ONPAR), Yaribeth de Calvo. Ministry of Government photo.

Panama goes a different way with respect to migrant kids

by Eric Jackson

Diplomacy, differentiation and distancing can often involve high arts of rhetoric and things not said. Such exercises are often vulnerable to accusations of hypocrisy by those whose contrary ideas or practices are implicitly or bluntly rejected. And so it may be with Panama this past week.

With first lady Lorena Castillo de Varela as a mover and shaker behind it, Panama is embracing different approaches to children who land in Panama without the legal formalities that are required by our immigration laws. The emphasis is on protection rather than repression. It’s an apparently small set of measures but probably under the surface a broad, inter-institutional policy shift. The Panamanian government effort has United Nations agencies approving but staying out of the limelight and not having much to say. It comes amidst widespread Latin American revulsion at US policies of family separation.

After dealing with some uncomfortable refugee crises of our own and signing onto regional agreements to discourage human migrations without official stamps of approval, Panama is steering a course away from the extremes of more northerly latitudes. It’s not a matter of saying anything about the bodies of migrant children washing up on hostile Mediterranean shores, nor against Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions snatching the children of families seeking asylum, shipping them to points unknown far away and intentionally losing them. It’s along the line of demonstrating that Panama has official values and policies that are nothing like these things. It’s an implicit estrangement on this issue between the government of Panama and the prevailing official attitudes in the United States.

Recall that not long ago Panama had a policy by which any foreigner who showed up in our country without proper papers to be here was, instead of being taken into custody, given a month or so to find somewhere else to go before La Migra would move toward deportation. That brought waves of Cubans and Haitians, and people from farther afield in Africa or Asia, coming into Panama by land or sea, generally indirectly by way of South America. US policy is to create but not receive refugees by conducting wars and supporting oppressive regimes in many places, and those are not the only places from which people flee with hopes of eventually reaching North America. Things got out of hand, with Costa Rica taking a stand against Panama allowing undocumented migrants to leave here for a Tico “somewhere else.” Panama in turn consulted with Colombia and Ecuador in particular to keep them from allowing migrants to use those countries as stepping stones from which to enter Panama en route to other places. More formal regional agreements were signed.

The rushes subsided, but Nicaragua and Haiti are in turmoil and the fears of new waves of people fleeing in terror through the region without regard to any immigration formalities are palpable. Throughout the changes in policies and situations, undocumented migration ebbs and flows. People still keep showing up.

Here, like in most of Europe and in the USA, xenophobic politics are a growth industry. We shall see in short order whether the PRD primary in particular converts that putatively democratic and revolutionary member party of the Socialist International into yet another formation like the European neofascist ones or toward the Donald Trump variety of GOP politics.

The Varela administration, embattled on many fronts, is not openly criticizing any foreign government or political force. Nor are they making a Panamanian political issue of refugee kids or getting into arguments about who is a refugee or a person whose claim for that status is serious enough to go through the specified processes. But they are saying that treaties on child rights and welfare and the international law of refugees and displaced persons will be read together and applied in Panama, unlike in a number of other countries.

Lorena
Working on children’s issues is traditionally one of the main things that Panamanian first ladies do. Lorena Castillo de Varela has gone beyond that and into controversial areas as well. Her “zero discrimination” stand on behalf of LGBT communities is a noteworthy example. But a message that she is putting out now is that “zero discrimination” also applies to the rights and welfare of refugee kids in Panama. Photo by the First Lady’s Office.

 

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¿Wappin? Music for when your soul goes on trial

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Hiromi
Hiromi Uehara. Photo by Robert Drózd.

When your soul goes on trial
Cuando tu alma va a juicio

WhoMadeWho – Goodbye To All I Know
https://youtu.be/iPncXfPL6hA

Luci & The Soul Brokers – Dear Baby
https://youtu.be/kbOUG9SFkig

Totó La Momposina – El Pescador
https://youtu.be/3wN5YcDTx0Y

Johnny Lee – Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
https://youtu.be/1MnU6p3sGSw

Johnny Cash – Hurt
https://youtu.be/HjQtlAiFLuc

Hoyt Axton & Renee Armand – Bony Fingers
https://youtu.be/7MBaGjVdaIk

Randy Weston & Pharoah Sanders – Blue Moses
https://youtu.be/KeC68qpIq6s

Hiromi Uehara & Edmar Castañeda – Fire
https://youtu.be/JiBeeM0gg9g

Solomon Burke – None Of Us Are Free
https://youtu.be/eFkmRp_G2uo

Daniel Castro – I’ll Play The Blues For You
https://youtu.be/ioOzsi9aHQQ

León Larregui & Mon Laferte – Rue Vieille Du Temple
https://youtu.be/62WV4tFEh0Q

Shakira – Antologia
https://youtu.be/pWgVRK_Ggww

The Yardbirds – Mr. You’re A Better Man Than I
https://youtu.be/tgC8iz_ALik

Natalie Merchant – Motherland
https://youtu.be/A2JbLUVt0Z0

Gilberto Santa Rosa – En Vivo La Habana Cuba 2018
https://youtu.be/qV9mK6bKgjE

 

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Environmental concerns about Arctic shipping

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A humpback whale in the northern ocean. Photo by Brandon Southall/Wikimedia.

Red flags abound as a warming
Arctic opens up to shipping

by Basten Gokkon – Mongabay
  • Ship traffic through the Arctic is expected to increase dramatically as global warming renders a growing proportion of the region ice-free.
  • Conservationists warn that the higher number of vessels raises the risks of pollution, oil spills, and disturbances to marine mammals from propeller noise.
  • They propose a slate of regulatory measures that could help mitigate the anticipated impacts, which could then be extended to other vulnerable maritime regions.

KUCHING, Malaysia — Conservationists have called on governments and the private sector to do more to mitigate the impact of global shipping activities on marine ecosystems and communities in the Arctic.

Commercial shipping along the northern routes that connect North America, Europe and Asia is expected to increase by 500 percent between 2015 and 2025. In Canada, that traffic, which includes container ships, oil tankers and cruise liners, is forecast to double between 2010 and 2020, then double again from 2020 to 2030. The port of Vancouver, for one, expects to see a 33 percent increase in the number of vessels that dock there in the next 10 years. Over in Russia, the current volume of cargo transported through the Northern Sea Route is at 6.8 million tons annually; the country aims to boost that figure significantly to 100 million tons by 2030.

“That’s an enormous increase,” Andrew Dumbrille, manager of national oceans governance at WWF-Canada, said at a panel discussion at the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) in Kuching, Malaysia, on June 26.

“Much of it is due to melting ice and opening sea routes, shorter routes, less fuel being used and shorter periods of getting goods to communities,” he added.

About 90 percent of world trade is transported by sea, with ships and ports acting as the arteries and nodes of the global economy. The changes in ship traffic patterns reflect changes in the global economy, especially the rising importance of Asia, home to the world’s 10 busiest ports.

China drives most of the region’s ship traffic, and the country has a vested interest in the Arctic. Declaring itself a “Near-Arctic State,” the country earlier this year announced plans to establish what it called a “polar silk road.”

“The entire global trade industry is looking at the Arctic as a key area for developing ship routes that will be shorter to get goods faster to where they’re going,” Kendra Ulrich, senior shipping campaigner at the Canada and US-based NGO Stand Earth, said at the IMCC panel discussion.

Pollution and noise

But as shipping traffic increases, so does the risk of spills, waste discharge, vessel accidents, and underwater noise pollution, all of which impact marine life and coastal communities, the panelists said.

Many shipping vessels use heavy fuel oil, also known as bunker fuel: a cheap, low-quality fuel with high levels of contaminants left over after the more valuable components of crude oil are distilled off. In North America, bunker fuel is considered hazardous waste, but the shipping industry purchases it at rock-bottom prices.

During much of the year, waters in the Arctic — comprising the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas and the coasts off parts of Alaska, northern Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden — are dark and cold, which means that organisms there grow at a slower rate than in temperate or tropical regions. An oil spill in this environment would take much longer to recover from, impacting sea birds, marine mammals and coastal communities that depend on the ocean, Dumbrille said.

Another source of disturbance is ship propellers, which typically produce loud sounds that can affect marine mammals that are particularly sensitive to noises. Narwhals (Monodon monoceros), a whale species best known for its long spiraling tusk, are most vulnerable to such disturbances. Walruses (Odobenus rosmarus), bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) and beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) also rate high on the vulnerability scale.

Cruise liners, a key part of the global shipping sector, also have an impact on marine life. In addition to the noise from their propellers, they also discharge waste from their kitchens, showers, laundry facilities and exhaust scrubbers.

“They have an absolutely enormous impact on the environment that their clients are paying to see,” Ulrich said. “They’re visiting some of the most important cultural and environmental places, and they’re burning the dirtiest fossil fuel available, releasing enormous amounts of heavy metals.”

On top of the ecological impact, the panelists also highlighted the effect of shipping on coastal communities, including the danger of oil spills and the loss of marine life due to noise and pollution.

“You have communities that depend on the ocean for daily subsistence, and the ocean is their grocery store,” Dumbrille said.

Incident response

Because of the harsh conditions in the Arctic, collisions and other shipping-related incidents are likely to occur, the panelists said. Less likely is the prospect of a swift response, given the remoteness of the region and the lack of infrastructure for monitoring and search and rescue, the panelists added.

“There have been several shipping-related incidents in British Columbia, in Vancouver, Central Coast, in the last few years, that have shown us that we’re not ready at all to deal with these types of events,” Diana Chan, an official with the indigenous Heiltsuk Nation in British Columbia.

“So, as we’re talking about an increase in shipping, this is really the time in the Arctic to change things and make sure that we can be better prepared,” Chan said.

The panelists called for community-based response strategies to handle shipping-related incidents, saying local communities had a better understanding of the challenges in each coastal area than central governments did.

“We need to do mapping of Arctic communities, we need training for first responders, we need equipment close by so it doesn’t take days and days and days for equipment to arrive in the Arctic,” Dumbrille said.

Global impact

The panelists offered a range of regulatory proposals to establish better environmental standards in the global shipping industry.

Dumbrille said switching to lighter diesel fuel and quieter propellers would be a starting point. Such measures would not only benefit the Arctic marine environment but also reduce costs for shipping companies, he suggested. Dumbrille proposed that imposing higher taxes on shipping companies that continued to use heavily polluting fuel could also induce the industry to change.

Dumbrille also advocated for greater consumer pressure on the companies whose products are shipped by sea, highlighting the need for full transparency in the entire commercial supply chain.

“Often the shipping companies can’t decide what routes they take or what fuel they use,” he said. “It all depends on the contract that they have with their client … and there isn’t an incentive for them to change on their own because they don’t have their own brands [and] the public doesn’t know who the shipping company is, for the most part.”

Efforts to transform the shipping industry must go beyond the Arctic and take hold globally, the panelists said, as greenhouse gas emissions from ships everywhere will eventually affect areas around the world that are most vulnerable to climate change.

“That regulatory framework can happen at the local level, at the port level, it can happen at the national level, or at the international level, the IMO [International Maritime Organization]. It can have a significant impact to change practices,” Ulrich said.

“This is a global industry with global impact,” she added. “We are all a part of contributing to not just preserving the Arctic, but preserving our global climate and global oceans.”

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Avnery, The March of Folly

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BT
“War is the unfolding of miscalculations.” So said the late American journalist and historian Barbara Tuchman, shown here in between William Shirer and John Eisenhower. She wrote The March of Folly about the many times in history in which intelligent leaders, against better advice, did catastrophically stupid things. The book starts with the wise men of Troy rejecting Cassandra’s warning and taking that wooden horse into the city. It ends with the American debacle in Vietnam. US National Archives photo.

The March of Folly

by Uri Avnery — Gush Shalom

One can look at events in Gaza through the left or through the right eye. One can condemn them as inhuman, cruel and mistaken, or justify them as necessary and unavoidable.

But there is one adjective that is beyond question: They are stupid.

If the late Barbara Tuchman were still alive, she might be tempted to add another chapter to her groundbreaking opus “The March of Folly:” a chapter titled “Eyeless in Gaza.”

The latest episode in this epic started a few months ago, when independent activists in the Gaza Strip called for a march to the Israeli border, which Hamas supported. It was called “The Great March of Return,” a symbolic gesture for the more than a million Arab residents who fled or were evicted from their homes in the land that became the State of Israel.

The Israeli authorities pretended to take this seriously. A frightening picture was painted for the Israeli public: 1.8 million Arabs, men, women and children, would throw themselves on the border fence, break through in many places, and storm Israel’s cities and villages. Terrifying.

Israeli sharpshooters were posted along the border and ordered to shoot anyone who looked like a “ringleader.” On several succeeding Fridays (the weekly Muslim holy day) more than 150 unarmed protesters, including many children, were shot dead, and many hundreds more severely wounded by gunfire, apart from those hurt by tear gas.

The Israeli argument was that the victims were shot while trying to “storm the fences.” Actually, not a single such attempt was photographed, though hundreds of photographers were posted on both sides of the fence.

Facing a world-wide protest, the army changed its orders and now only rarely kills unarmed protesters. The Palestinians also changed their tactics: the main effort now is to fly children’s kites with burning tails and set Israeli fields near the Strip on fire.

Since the wind almost always blows from the West to the East, that is an easy way to hurt Israel. Children can do it, and do. Now the Minister of Education demands that the air force bomb the children. The Chief of Staff refuses, arguing that this is “against the values of the Israeli army.”

At present, half of our newspapers and TV newscasts are concerned with Gaza. Everybody seems to agree that sooner or later a full-fledged war will break out there.

The main feature of this exercise is its utter stupidity.

Every military action must have a political aim. As the German military thinker, Carl von Clausewitz, famously said: “War is but a continuation of politics by other means.”

The Strip is 41 km long and 6 to 12 km wide. It is one of the most overcrowded places on earth. Nominally it belongs to the largely theoretical State of Palestine, like the West Bank, which is Israeli occupied. The Strip is in fact governed by the radical Muslim Hamas party.

In the past, masses of Palestinian workers from Gaza streamed into Israel every day. But since Hamas assumed power in the Strip, the Israeli government has imposed an almost total blockade on land and sea. The Egyptian dictatorship, a close ally of Israel and a deadly enemy of radical Islam, cooperates with Israel.

So what does Israel want? The preferred solution is to sink the entire strip and its population into the sea. Failing that, what can be done?

The last thing Israel wants is to annex the Strip with its huge population, which cannot be driven out. Also, Israel does not want to put up settlements in the Strip (the few which were set up were withdrawn by Ariel Sharon, who thought that it was not worthwhile to keep and defend them).

The real policy is to make life in Gaza so miserable, that the Gazans themselves will rise and throw the Hamas authorities out. With this in mind, the water supply is reduced to two hours a day, electricity the same. Employment hovers around 50%, wages beneath the minimum. It is a picture of total misery.

Since everything that reaches Gaza must come through Israel (or Egypt), supplies are often cut off completely for days as “punishment.”

Alas, history shows that such methods seldom succeed. They only deepen the enmity. So what can be done?

The answer is incredibly simple: sit down, talk and come to an agreement.

Yes, but how can you sit down with a mortal enemy, whose official ideology totally rejects a Jewish State?

Islam, which (like every religion) has an answer to everything, recognizes something called a “Hudna,” which is a lasting armistice. This can go on for many decades and is (religiously) kept.

For several years now, Hamas has been almost openly hinting that it is ready for a long Hudna. Egypt has volunteered to mediate. Our government has totally ignored the offer. A Hudna with the enemy? Out of the question! God forbid! Would be terribly unpopular politically!

But it would be the sensible thing to do. Stop all hostile acts from both sides, say for 50 years. Abolish the blockade. Build a real harbor in Gaza city. Allow free trade under some kind of military inspection. Same for an airport. Allow workers to find employment in Israel, instead of importing workers from China and Romania. Turn Gaza into a second Singapore. Allow free travel between Gaza and the West Bank by a bridge or an extraterritorial highway. Help to restore unity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Why not? The very idea is rejected by an ordinary Israeli on sight.

A deal with Hamas? Impossible!!! Hamas wants to destroy Israel. Everybody knows that.

I hear this many times, and always wonder about the stupidity of people who repeat this.

How does a group of a few hundred thousand “destroy” one of the worlds most heavily armed states, a state that possesses nuclear bombs and submarines to deliver them? How? With kites?

Both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin pay us homage, the world’s fascist dictators and liberal presidents come to visit. How can Hamas pose a mortal danger?

Why doesn’t Hamas stop hostilities by itself? Hamas has competitors, which are even more radical. It does not dare to show any sign of weakness.

Some decades ago the Arab world, on the initiative of Saudi Arabia, offered Israel peace under several conditions, all of them acceptable. Successive Israel governments have not only not accepted it, they have ignored it altogether.

There was some logic in this. The Israeli government wants to annex the West Bank. It wants to get the Arab population out, and replace them with Jewish settlers. It conducts this policy slowly, cautiously, but consistently.

It is a cruel policy, a detestable policy, yet it has some logic in it. If you really want to achieve this abominable aim, the methods may be adequate. But this does not apply to the Gaza Strip, which no one wants to annex. There, the methods are sheer folly.

This does not mean that the overall Israeli policy towards the Palestinians is any more wise. It is not.

Binyamin Netanyahu and his hand-picked stupid ministers have no policy. Or so it seems. In fact they do have an undeclared one: creeping annexation of the West Bank.

This is now going on at a quicker pace than before. The daily news gives the impression that the entire government machine is now concentrating on this project.

This will lead directly to an apartheid-style state, where a large Jewish minority will dominate an Arab majority.

For how long? One generation? Two? Three?

It has been said that a clever person is able to extricate himself from a trap into which a wise person would not have fallen in the first place.

Stupid people do not extricate themselves. They are not even aware of the trap.
Uri Avnery, among the hardest-core militant Zionists in his youth, was wounded in Israel’s war of independence, served in the Knesset and is a founder and senior leader of Gush Shalom, the Israeli peace bloc.

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Beluche, Nicaragua y sandinismo

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¿Dónde está la Revolución Sandinista?

por Olmedo Beluche

El 19 de julio de 1979 un sentimiento de euforia conmovía los corazones de la juventud latinoamericana de aquél entonces. Un grupo de jóvenes revolucionarios, organizados en el Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) tomaban Managua, de donde hacía poco había huido el dictador Somoza.

La conmoción causada por el asesinato del opositor a la dictadura somocista, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, en enero de 1978, así como la insurrección popular de Masaya y Monimbó, unos meses después, despertaron un movimiento de solidaridad continental y mundial con el pueblo de Nicaragua, en especial con su juventud revolucionaria agrupada en el FSLN.

Se organizaron brigadas de solidaridad para combatir en la patria de Sandino: por un lado, en Panamá, el gobierno socialdemócrata de Omar Torrijos promovió la Brigada Victoriano Lorenzo; por otro lado, el movimiento trotskista latinoamericano organizó la Brigada Simón Bolívar. Creo que desde la Guerra Civil Española no se veía algo así.

Veinte años después del triunfo de la Revolución Cubana, que había galvanizado las conciencias de la juventud en su momento, una nueva victoria popular llenaba de esperanza a nuestra generación, que soñaba con ver la construcción de un mundo sin opresión, ni explotación, fase inicial del socialismo.

La Revolución Nicaragüense del 79, a su vez, dio impulso a los procesos revolucionarios abiertos en El Salvador y Guatemala. Todos soñábamos con una Centroamérica unida y socialista, que hiciera realidad el sueño liberador de Bolívar. Las organizaciones revolucionarias, incluso en Panamá, se llenaron de jóvenes que luchaban con ahínco por esos sueños.

Los hechos a su vez empujaban el debate político: ¿Qué tipo de revolución había que hacer? ¿Qué medidas económicas debían tomarse? ¿Revolución por etapas o Revolución Permanente? ¿Hasta adónde debían llegar los movimientos de liberación nacional, quedarse en los límites de la democracia burguesa o expropiar a los capitalistas? ¿Lucha armada o sólo política?

La revolución que se congeló y retrocedió

Las respuestas a esas preguntas llegaron en pocas semanas y quedaron simbolizadas en el arresto y la expulsión de la Brigada Simón Bolívar, que se había propuesto impulsar la organización de sindicatos y la expropiación del gran capital. Al entregar detenidos a los dirigentes de esta brigada a las fuerzas represivas del régimen militar panameño quedó sentenciado el objetivo del gobierno de “reconstrucción” de no pasar los límites del capitalismo.

Poco después, cuando los revolucionarios soñaban aún con una Nicaragua socialista siguiendo el modelo cubano, Fidel Castro les aconsejó que “no sea otra Cuba”. Frase que algunos ilusos interpretaron como que “las revoluciones no se exportan”, lo que es cierto, pero que, en el debate de entonces, tenía un claro significado en el sentido de que NO se expropiara a la burguesía, como se hizo en la isla, que Nicaragua se quedara en los límites del sistema capitalista.

Este consejo, y su cumplimiento por parte de la dirección sandinista, implicó un bumerang contra Cuba, pues a la larga la Revolución Nicaragüense se congeló y empezó a retroceder, con lo cual el aislamiento cubano se mantuvo, creció con la desaparición de la URSS y sólo se rompió con el proceso bolivariano dirigido por Hugo Chávez.

La burguesía se dio a la tarea de corromper a muchos de los comandantes sandinistas, convirtiendo a algunos, en especial a Daniel Ortega, en prósperos empresarios millonarios, con lo cual les cambió el signo de clase.

Lo demás es historia conocida: la derrota electoral de 1990; los pactos (“tácticos”, a decir de Atilio Borón) posteriores con Arnoldo Alemán y el COSEP; la reconciliación con el archi reaccionario obispo Obando y Bravo; las rupturas por derecha e izquierda del FSLN; el cuestionado tratado sobre el Canal Interoceánico, etc. Ni hablar de las denuncias de violación de su hijastra Zoilaamérica.

Además de otros “detalles”, como que fue el primer gobierno de la región en reconocer al régimen fraudulento y dictatorial de Juan Orlando Hernández de Honduras. Su afán por salvarse de la ofensiva de la derecha y sostenerse en el poder ha sido más fuerte que ningún compromiso “progresista”. Decir, “socialista” sería un chiste de mal gusto.

Pese a ello, Daniel Ortega hizo un gobierno “progresista” aparentemente equilibrado, con base al modelo de las ayudas sociales (transferencias) que sostenía uno de los países menos desiguales de Centroamérica, aunque con una pobreza generalizada. No hay duda de que hasta hace unos meses mantenía una fuerte base social.

Pero de pronto, la crisis capitalista mundial, de la que la crisis de los gobiernos progresistas latinoamericanos es una de sus manifestaciones, lo llevó a la aplicación de reformas neoliberales a las pensiones aconsejadas por el FMI.

¿Quién expresa la continuidad de la Revolución de 1979, Ortega o los jóvenes de las barricadas?

Hoy, cuarenta años después de aquella heroica Revolución Sandinista que tanto nos entusiasmó tenemos que preguntarnos qué ha pasado. ¿Dónde está la Revolución Sandinista que apoyamos entusiastas entonces? ¿Daniel Ortega y su gobierno, aparte de las siglas del FSLN, representan la continuidad de aquellos acontecimientos? ¿O Daniel Ortega es el sepulturero de aquella revolución de 1979?

¿Quién expresa mejor los ideales democráticos de aquella generación revolucionaria fundada por Carlos Fonseca a mediados de los años 50, el régimen de Ortega o los estudiantes universitarios y los jóvenes de los barrios pobres que luchan en las barricadas, como los de Masaya de 2018?

Responder estas preguntas requiere responder previamente a los siguientes criterios metodológicos: ¿Socialmente hablando quién es Ortega y quienes son los estudiantes? ¿Cuáles son los objetivos del gobierno del FSLN y cuáles los de los estudiantes y el pueblo nica?

Las respuestas son simples y evidentes: Mientras Ortega es un millonario cuyo gobierno pretendía imponer a sangre y fuego una reforma a las jubilaciones ordenada por el Fondo Monetario Internacional, incluyendo una rebaja del 5% de las jubilaciones; por otro lado, los que pelean en las barricadas son jóvenes de los barrios pauperizados de Nicaragua, la mayoría de ellos sin empleos que luchan contra un paquete neoliberal.

Una disyuntiva política pero también moral

Por más cínicos o ignorantes que sean quienes a estas alturas siguen sosteniendo que el gobierno Ortega – Murillo representa en algo a aquella heroica Revolución de 1979, seguro que sienten cierta incomodidad moral, acompañada de encogimiento de hombros, ante los crímenes atroces que está cometiendo ese gobierno contra la juventud nicaragüense de 2018.

Hay que tener una costra moral muy endurecida para no sentir repugnancia por un gobierno que saca a punta de tiros a los estudiantes de una universidad y que luego los ametralla cuando se refugian en una iglesia o ver cómo se quema viva a una familia por no prestar su casa a los francotiradores del gobierno.

Los marxistas para valorar un hecho no nos guiamos por criterios morales “eternos”, “bajados de los cielos” o que responden a una “esencia humana” inmutable. Hay una dialéctica entre los medios y los fines que es la que nos permite orientarnos en cada situación. Como decía Trotsky: “El medio solo puede ser justificado por el fin. Pero éste, a su vez, debe ser justificado” (Su moral y la nuestra, 1938).

El argumento de la dirección sandinista para “justificar” estos crímenes es que se trata de una “conspiración reaccionaria” contra un supuesto gobierno “progresista”. Pero los hechos muestran que se trata de una sublevación popular y juvenil contra las medidas neoliberales de un gobierno capitalista. Y en esto no hay nada semejante a lo del intento golpista contra Maduro en 2017, por más que Ortega intente arroparse en esa manta. Lo de Venezuela amerita otra discusión aparte, también crítica.

Hablando de la ofensiva reaccionaria imperialista en los años 1930 y los métodos criminales del stalinismo en la URSS, León Trotsky decía, algo que le encaja bien al gobierno de Ortega-Murillo: “Desde el punto de vista del marxismo, que expresa los intereses históricos del proletariado, el fin está justificado si conduce al acrecentamiento del poder del hombre sobre la naturaleza y a la abolición del hombre sobre el hombre… Está permitido -…- todo lo que conduce realmente a la liberación de la humanidad… el gran fin revolucionario rechaza, en cuanto medios, todos los procedimientos y métodos indignos que alzan a una parte de la clase obrera contra las otras…“.

Los fines del gobierno de Daniel Ortega y sus métodos criminales son repudiables no solo para cualquier marxista consecuente, sino para cualquier demócrata. El futuro revolucionario y socialista de Nicaragua no saldrá de la dirección del FSLN, envilecida por estos crímenes y que negocia a trastiendas con el COSEP, sino de los jóvenes universitarios y barriales, quienes deberán construir un partido revolucionario que recupere el programa de transformaciones por el que cayeron los mártires de la Revolución de 1979.

 

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