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Editorial: Petro-dinosaurs

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Russian Tu-160 bombers pay a visit to Venezuela. Venezuelan government photo.

End time petroleum age geopolitics

The age of oil economies and politics based on petroleum is approaching its end.

You can see it in the collapsing demand for bunker fuel by ships calling at the Panama Canal and switches from that to liquid natural gas, wind and solar power and other energy alternatives for maritime navigation.

You can see it in the desperate and sometimes downright nutty moves by political leaders of places with oil economies.

You can see it in global balance of power shifts, and in the denials or efforts of those trying to resist the trends.

Barack Obama, coming to office amidst a financial crisis that wiped trillions of dollars off of American ledgers – largely the equities held by middle class homeowners and the pension funds of working people – saw the USA shipping dollars out the door to Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and so on for oil imports. Mostly through fracking but also by energy savings and alternative sources, he managed to close most of the American oil intake valves. Other oil-consuming countries moved in similar directions, often more effectively than the United States.

It has been devastating to oil exporting countries, with varying effects. The almost entirely oil-dependent Venezuelan economy pretty much collapsed. The problems of Brazil’s state-owned oil company exploded into huge corruption scandals across the region. The Gulf oil sheikhs went on war footings in search of new resources and political buffers as the source of their wealth and power could be seen diminishing on the horizon. In Russia, already in a desperate way in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse, the threat to their energy export sector amplified every other real or perceived threat in the eyes of those running the show in the Kremlin.

In 2016 the US oil barons reasserted total control of all parts of the federal government and began a generalized rollback of all Obama energy initiatives. Except, their plans are incoherent and entail attacks on science, accounting, environmental laws and the standards of living of most Americans. They lost control of the House of Representatives, with aggressive rookies like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz calling for a Green New Deal and Democratic establishment types like John Lewis embracing the cause. Meaningful change will be blocked by federal government gridlock for at least a couple of years but states, cities and private industries continue to forge exits to oil dependence.

Does America need to go to war for Venezuela’s oil? Maybe in the eyes of predators attracted toward armed robbery writ large or vulture funds looking to cash out defaulted bonds. Maybe for discredited demagogues looking for distractions from their lacking responses to their constituents’ economic needs.

As the voices get more shrill, in steps Vladimir Putin to make a silly show of strength to the folks back in Russia – he sends bombers to visit Venezuela. Perhaps it served as a warning to Colombia and Brazil, but surely nobody at the Pentagon was all that impressed.

Look at it from an ancient Greek perspective. The gods intend to destroy the petroleum economy and those who depend on it, and whom they are about to destroy they first drive mad.

So let’s not have any rash reactions to the Russian Air Force’s visit to Venezuela, let’s disentangle from the Saudi-led Sunni jihads, let’s treat the political rants of fossil fuel interests as precisely those things and reject them. Let’s move ahead into a solar future. Let’s take hint from the fossils of extinct animals in California’s La Brea tar pits, and not fall into an analogous morass with the endangered oil economy people.


Despite the depths of Gilded Age robber baron despotism, Jim Crow across much of America and women having obtained suffrage in only a few jurisdictions, the struggle continued against seemingly impossible odds.

Bear in mind…

The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of  your chromosomes.

Bella Abzug

In the fight between you and the world, back the world.

Frank Zappa

Americans — indeed all free men — remember that in the final choice, a soldier’s pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner’s chains.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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The Panama News blog links, December 17, 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

[NOTE: With the new version of WordPress, we still don’t have the links working as they should — that is, automatically opening in another tab. You can manually do that, or open the thing and then jump back to The Panama News.]

Canal, Maritime & Transportation / Canal, Marítima & Transporte

Seatrade, GUPC ordered to pay back $848 million

Telemetro, Copa Airlines conecta por primera vez a Puerto Vallarta con latinoamérica

Seatrade, A vision for the future of the salvage industry

Sports / Deportes

La Estrella, Regata de cayucos Club de Yates y Pesca

La Estrella, Dely Valdés, favorito para dirigir a Panamá 

El Siglo, Johan Camargo llama la atención en las Reuniones Invernales

Economy / Economía

La Estrella, Deudas de entidades públicas ascienden a $48 mil millones

Glassdoor, 51 employee salaries in Panama

La Prensa, Grupo Wisa reclama $40,3 millones a Tocumen SA

TVN, Firman convenio para construcción de centro de visitantes en Fuerte San Lorenzo

La Estrella, Nuevas protestas en agro panameño

The Guardian, Are young farmers the new starving artists?

Xinhua, Chile unveils 100 Chinese-made electric buses

CBC, Boeing buys 80% of Embraer’s commercial aircraft operations

Science & Technology / Ciencia & Tecnología

The Guardian, Dutch bananas could help tackle worldwide fungal threat

Phys.org, Scientists design custom nanoparticles with new ‘stencil’ method

CBC, Science and indigenous wisdom seek common ground

Mongabay, Trasplantes de corales podrían restaurar las arrecifes del Caribe

Gizmodo, The new bad tick is going to take over half of the USA

Phys.org, New research shows tornados form from the ground up

News / Noticias

Prensa Latina, Encuesta favorece a Cortizo

Newsroom Panama, Court denies Martinelli son’s bid to avoid arrest 

La Prensa, Corte confirma prescripción del caso SAP para Aaron Mizrachi

Immigration Blog, How potential terrorists are screened at Paso Canoa

La Estrella, Jimmy Morales asistirá a JMJ

La Prensa, Las contradicciones del juez Loaiza en casos de alto perfil

The Wall Street Journal, Charges in Panama Papers probe shine light on ‘enablers’ 

Cubanet, Embajador de Panamá en Cuba advierte sobre estafas con visas de turismo

The Guardian, Nicaraguan police ransack journalist’s office

The Intercept, Google’s China program effectively ended

The Washington Post, Republican women sound the alarm

CBS, Russia’s sophisticated US influence efforts

USA Today: Court quotes Dr. Seuss, pulls permit for pipeline 

Opinion / Opiniones

Feffer, The fossil fuel globalists ruining our lives

Boff, 80 años de vida

Rudd, Prospects for US-China relations in 2019

Pierce, The New York Times missed the rise of rightist extremism – but not everyone

Candanedo, Carta migratoria al Niño Dios

Sagel, Legalismos

Noriega, La justicia que tenemos

Culture / Cultura

Vox Borders, How the African cumbia beat spread through Latin America

Cultura Inquieta, Una dulce galería fotográfica de niños con sus enormes perros

Smithsonian, Vonnegut’s unpublished WWII scrapbook

Remezcla, Javiera Mena’s new “Alma” video

Rome Reports, World Youth Day “virtual reality” allows visit to Jesus times

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‘Hey Dmitri, I have a contract for you…’

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Shamelessly pirated screen shot from the MSN feed.

https://youtu.be/HWqKPWO5T4o

 

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Not yet full speed ahead, but getting underway…

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Not quite full speed ahead, but MOVING!
What a mess it has been, and what a pain it will be until we get things the way that we want them to be — simple but elegant. It’s a good thing we have “Plan B” in which, as with past website outages, we continue to publish articles as notes on our Facebook page. That’s found at https://www.facebook.com/thepanamanews. We also post those things on our Twitter feed, which is at https://twitter.com/ThePanamaNews.

Bear with us…

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Bear with The Panama News website for as many moments as it may take us to update to the new version of WordPress

 

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Colegio Nacional de Abogados, El pacto de la ONU sobre migración

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Ben-Meir, A two-pronged approach to Central American migrations

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migrants
Central American migrants heading north. Wikimedia photo by Wotancito.

A two-pronged policy needed
to stem the flow of migrants

by Alon Ben-Meir

To dramatically slow the flow of illegal immigration and even end it does not rest on building walls or sending troops to the border, or by heartlessly snatching children from their mothers’ arms, or by incarceration, deportation, or prosecution. A big part of the answer lies in economic development, mainly sustainable development projects, in the migrant’s country of origin. Indeed, instead of building walls, we need to build the kind of bridges that can change the lives of other people for the better and give them hope. After all, the political destabilization in Central American countries was in part, if not to a great extent, precipitated by the United States, which makes America even more morally responsible to do something about it.

Beyond that, abject poverty and hopelessness breeds resentment and despondency and leads to gang violence and extremism, which is only the natural outcome of these subhuman conditions. Little will change unless the people, especially the youth, are given an opportunity to live a normal and productive life, develop a sense of belonging, and have vested interests in their work and self-worth.

The plight of three Central American countries tells the story behind the influx of immigrants flocking to our country from these and other countries.

Honduras is Central America’s second-poorest country. More than 60 percent of the population lives in poverty, and it has one of the highest levels of economic inequality in Latin America. Poverty in Honduras is chiefly due to rampant crime, violence, political instability, corruption, and a significant susceptibility to hurricanes and droughts.

Guatemala has the largest economy in Central America, but despite recent growth, economic inequality and poverty have increased, particularly among the rural indigenous population. Malnutrition and maternal mortality rates are among the worst in Latin America, especially in indigenous areas. More than half of the population lives below the poverty line.

El Salvador has one of the lowest economic growth rates in Central America. Since the end of the civil war in 1992, the country has made progress in terms of political and social development, but high rates of crime and violence continue to threaten these gains. El Salvador is also vulnerable to adverse natural events, which is only made worse by extreme climate change.

In these countries, rural poverty places great stress on cities and ultimately propels immigration, and as long as it does, the enormous economic and political instability that it creates will continue.

Trump’s demand of $20 billion to build a wall along the Mexican border is misguided, impractical, and a waste of precious resources that can change the lives of millions of people if invested wisely in these poverty-stricken countries. Does Trump know how cost effective it is to promote people’s projects within the country of origin?

A fraction of $20 billion would change the socio-economic conditions in these countries. One billion dollars invested in economic development projects can provide food, drinking water, jobs, self-empowerment, and hope for better life for a million poor, displaced, and despairing people.

According to Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir, President of the High Atlas Foundation in Morocco and a 20-year veteran in sustainable development, a $100,000 investment can establish a women’s co-operative of approximately 50 members benefitting approximately 300-350 people. “The outstanding investment needed ends up being a relatively small proportion of the cost the nations that receive or repel migrants incur.”

In Guatemala, for example, an organization working on family planning in 2017 alone prevented over 14,000 unwanted pregnancies, 95 child deaths, and 6 maternal deaths, all with only $880,000.

It has unequivocally been shown that would-be immigrants strongly prefer to stay in their home communities if only their basic needs are met and there exist opportunities for growth. They will work hard to ensure the sustainability of projects they choose and develop vested interests in their implementation and outcomes.

It should be noted that the principle of economic development is the same, be that in countries in South America or Africa; only the nature and the type of project differs from one country or community to another, depending on their special needs. Here is where we must invest, to give people a chance not only for their sake but ours as well, because America flourishes when other people in far lands flourish too.

Economic investments and the implementation of sustainable development projects doesn’t mean that all illegal immigration will stop. We still need a comprehensive immigration policy consistent with our tradition of receiving migrants with open arms—a sensible and compassionate policy that governs all aspects of migration to America.

We should end the painful instability for DREAMers by offering a path to citizenship to the nearly one million individuals who came to the USA when they were children. They are Americans in their hearts and souls; they are here to stay, and we have a solemn obligation to remove any cloud of uncertainty about their future.

We must resolve once and for all the problem of the over 12 million undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for years and have become an integral part of America’s social fabric. They should be assured that they will not be deported if they voluntarily register and will too be offered a path to citizenship — a one-time amnesty program.

We must enforce established procedures to deal with refugees and asylum seekers, not ignore or completely violate them as the Trump administration has cruelly done – a decent process that allows safety for those who are escaping the horror of violence and would face certain death if turned back.

And finally, existing programs for legal immigration, including the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, family reunification, and employment-based immigration, should be fully implemented. The Trump administration should be prevented from undermining these processes that have been in place for many years.

America has and must continue to welcome immigrants of all colors, denominations, and countries. Each and every new migrant, regardless of his or her background, brings with them the riches of their culture, talents, and skills, and ultimately is economically beneficial to the United States, not a drain.

There is something magical about America. It is a country that has opened its doors to immigrants from the world over, and the wider the door has been open, the better and greater America has become. But sadly, Trump’s racist, Islamophobic, and white supremacist DNA has made an even greater mess of the already unsavory, incoherent, and partisan policy and methods in addressing the problem of immigration.

The solution to illegal immigration must be based on a two-pronged policy: first, investing in economic development projects through private entities to alleviate poverty and substantially reduce violence, which would also encourage other countries to invest. Second, developing a comprehensive immigration policy consistent with our tradition and moral obligation to extend our hands to those whose only sin is escaping the horrors of war, violence, and starvation.

The simultaneous implementation of this two-tiered policy would, within a relatively short period of time, significantly reduce the influx of migrants to our borders while developing the socio-economic conditions to give substance and reason for the inhabitants of these countries to stay put and build a hopeful future in their homeland.

 

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Kennedy, Standing with the migrants

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running to Africa
Mary and Joseph fled their country to keep their child alive. We should embrace families making the same difficult choice today. Shutterstock graphic.

This holiday season, I’m standing with migrants

by Kerri Kennedy – American Friends Service Committee / OtherWords

This holiday season — a time so often associated with bringing family together — my thoughts keep turning to the families in the migrant caravans making their way to the US southern border.

I had the privilege of spending four days in Mexico last month with my organization, the American Friends Service Committee, to assess the needs of participants in the caravan and expand human rights monitoring.

As I crept into my children’s bedrooms to give them a kiss when I got back, resisting the urge to wake them up for cuddling and conversation, I thought about what would make me pick up with them and flee, with little notice and even less information about what would lie ahead.

Over and over again, our delegation heard of the need for more strollers for the migrant caravan. Could I even imagine dropping everything to walk 3,000 difficult miles with my children in my arms — without even a stroller?

Watching coverage of the US troops firing tear gas at migrants at the border, and hearing the harrowing reports from my colleague who witnessed that violent repression, I thought again about the mothers I’d met in Mexico. What could push me to take the risk of facing this violence to protect my children?

I met so many people in Mexico who joined the caravan because it was their only way out.

I think about “Maria” (not her real name), a young mother of four I met. Maria is from El Salvador, where violence and a complete lack of opportunities put her family at risk. One of her children had already been killed by gang violence.

When word spread of the caravan, Maria made a spontaneous choice to join. She told me she was in search of opportunity for her family, and the hope of seeing her children grow up in a place without constant danger.

Like Mary and Joseph, who fled to Egypt when King Herod’s government threatened their newborn child, Maria and so many other parents have picked up everything and undertaken a harrowing journey to save their children’s lives.

Caravan participants I met expressed so much faith — both in God and the idea that United States is a place that embraces those fleeing violence and poverty. What else can they do in the face of such an existential threat but hope and pray for a chance for their families to live?

In the season when many celebrate the birth of a child whose family had to flee to another country to keep him alive, what does our shared humanity demand from parents making the same difficult choice today?

In the face of our government’s cruelty, I feel called to stand up for the people of the migrant caravan. That’s why the American Friends Service Committee has called for a week of action in the US under the name Love Knows No Borders: A moral call for migrant justice.

We mobilized faith leaders to the border on December 10, and for the following week groups lined up to host actions around the country expressing love and solidarity with migrants.

We are demanding that our country open its doors to people like Maria, and thousands of others, instead of meeting them with violence.

In this season of giving, I hope people of conscience across the country will join us in standing up for families in need of aid.

 

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New property tax rules: What could possibly go wrong?

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boondoggle
A structurally unsafe and probably impossible to save real estate boondoggle on Playa Blanca. What did The Bible say about building on the sand? In any case the supposed experts at a state-owned bank accepted this failed project as collateral for a loan and lawyers have been arguing about this and the larger picture into which it fits for years now. Photo by Eric Jackson, passing by on a bus.

A new property tax scheme: not so much doomed to failure as born of failure

by Eric Jackson

First things first. In just a few weeks, at the beginning of 2019, a new property tax scheme goes into effect.

  • The old tax breaks on new construction, which have been the subjects of tinkering over the years are to be abolished but grandfathered in. If you got a 20-year, or 10-year, or five-year exoneration for new construction you will keep it. There just won’t be any more new exemptions of this type under the new plan.
  • It’s all designed for social classes that are not most Panamanians. Most people here don’t have bank accounts, let alone mortgages. But under the new scheme, banks that hold mortgages collect the property taxes by blending them into house payments. Will this morph into some requirement that a bank becomes a mandatory part of anyone owning a house over a certain value? We shall see, as both government action and the private practices of a monopolistic and politically powerful banking industry may determine that question.
  • For a “first home” — and how they intend to verify that ought to be interesting — there will be a three-year exemption up to a value of $300,000. It doesn’t matter if the home is new or used.
  • For a principal residence, there will be a property tax exemption for the first $120,000 of value.
  • For a second residence, or any other real estate holding, there is a total of $30,000 in exemptions. Let the lawyers and tax collectors argue about how that might be structured or counted.
  • The old breaks, and the one percent of the property’s value rate, might be maintained but to take advantage of the new breaks the old ones will have to be renounced and the real estate will have to be registered as “family property.” It will apparently not matter for this purpose if the asset is kept in the name of a corporation or foundation. “Family” is loosely defined — not as in the Family Code. It doesn’t matter for this purpose if the people in the household are citizens or foreigners, or if they are possessed of a marriage license. There will be lawyer and accountant work here.

Nobody is really up in arms, as has been the case with previous attempts to reform property taxes. Rather than squeezing out more money or shifting burdens, this time it seems to be a simple recognition of realities on the ground. Hard, sad realities.

As in, for example, new building permits for the first nine months of 2018 down 49 percent from the same period in 2017. As in all these empty condo towers on the beaches. As in wonderfully productive and beautiful farms along rivers through the hills, and houses near beaches with all the conveniences, just not selling no matter how low the price gets knocked down. As in an economy still growing on paper, largely on the strength of financial transactions on paper, but brutally slow if you look at the production or sale of actual things, with small partial rebounds from catastrophic drops of yesteryear counted as much of the growth. As in a government going deeper and deeper into debt for public works contracts to keep some Panamanians working and provide something for the self-entitled to skim. As in an election approaching in May, so an administration with forlorn hopes of retaining the Palacio de las Garzas and legislators staring at a ‘vote ALL the bastards out’ public mood, so politicians are unwilling to add material pain to the moral outrage of the moment.

flood
Discussing the changing physical realities of real estate investment opportunities down by the water is kind of unpatriotic, isn’t it? Photo by the Presidencia.

Construction and real estate interests are political and media powers, so certain things are left unsaid. Like investments in low-lying areas menaced by rising sea levels.

And understand that political demagoguery has left some fairly salient features of the real estate scene studiously ignored. Like how the crackdowns on immigration from Venezuela in particular, and on the “permanent tourists” and in effect also a lot of snowbirds, have dried up the market for upscale condos. Like how an international outcry that’s not just about The Panama Papers makes investments in this country’s money laundering towers more suspect here and abroad. Supply and demand don’t function in high-end Panamanian real estate, there are all these empty properties.

So the long-running phaseout of tax breaks for new upscale housing units gets more acute? No big deal. There isn’t a lot of that business lately anyway. Nor are the adjustments to how property taxes are collected and how much will be taxed going to drastically affect many people.

The likely winners? Lawyers and CPAs getting paid to interpret and navigate the changes for their clients. Banks that are likely to add a fee for their tax collection services. Perhaps the government, with a more stable collection system if not with a big windfall.

The likely losers have generally already eaten or factored in their losses.

 

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Beluche, Migración y la clase trabajadora

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UN pic
Foto por la ONU.

Apuntes para una política de la clase trabajadora panameña sobre las migraciones

por Olmedo Beluche

Una particular combinación de circunstancias ha producido en Panamá una ola de xenofobia que no tiene precedentes, salvo en las primeras décadas del siglo XX, cuando llegaron a Panamá decenas de miles de afroantillanos a la construcción del canal, muchos de los cuales se quedaron a vivir en nuestro país.

En las décadas del veinte y treinta se produjeron movimientos “nacionalistas” que parecían dirigidos contra la influencia norteamericana, pero mucho más contra la población “extraña” recién incorporada a la “nación”. Esa ola seudonacionalista, mezcla de xenofobia y racismo fascista, tomó cuerpo en la “Doctrina Panameñista” del ex presidente Arnulfo Arias M. y su Constitución Política de 1941, en la que se hablaba de “razas de inmigración prohibida” refiriéndose entre ellas a los de “raza negra cuyo idioma originario no sea el castellano” (art. 12).

La actual ola xenofóbica parece obedecer a la combinación de dos circunstancias contradictorias: un alto crecimiento económico de Panamá respecto de la región, lo que la convierte en sitio privilegiado de inmigrantes en busca de trabajo (es notable la presencia en las calles de miles de recién llegados colombianos, nicaragüenses, dominicanos, hasta españoles); con un crecimiento económico fruto de la reversión del canal, pero que no ha resuelto los graves problemas sociales que aquejan al pueblo panameño porque se han utilizado sus recursos como fuente de acumulación de la oligarquía financiera.

Contribuye de manera particular a la ola xenofóbica la circunstancia de que la oposición política de Venezuela, y la burguesía de ese país, que practica el sabotaje económico y la fuga de capitales allá, con los petrodólares que el gobierno bolivariano les da, han hecho de Panamá su plataforma de operaciones. Este sector de los inmigrantes, que llega con poder económico, ha hecho de la especulación inmobiliaria y la apertura de miles de pequeños negocios una forma de establecerse en el país, pero con una característica sicológica: son los más agresivos, soberbios y reaccionarios, gustando alardear del dinero que poseen, dinero que le falta tanto al pueblo venezolano como al panameño.

El paroxismo de la xenofobia llegó cuando la diputada Zulay Rodríguez, del “socialdemócrata” P.R.D., quien perteneció a los allegados de Ricardo Martinelli hace cinco años (grupo “PAMAGO”), hasta que intentaron “tumbarle” un cliente, lanzó un discurso en estos términos:

“Panamá no se compra, no se alquila, es de nosotros. Estos colombianos, estos nicaragüenses, estos extranjeros… Pero yo no quiero recién llegados de hace seis meses, de un año,…, que no están invirtiendo absolutamente nada. No quiero recién llegados que estén importando pobreza y nuevas modalidades de delito” (Nótese que la diputada iguala pobreza con delito y no menciona a los venezolanos). Además dejó claro contra qué clases sociales está, a las que llamó “escoria”: “Son desplazados que no tienen un centavo en su país, que no vienen a invertir, no traen dinero para hacer competitividad en Panamá para que este avance…” (La Prensa, 24 y 25 de febrero 2015).

Todo esto a cuento de que un sector de abogados se siente lacerado por una regulación especial denominada “Crisol de Razas”, que permite la regularización del estatus migratorio para trabajar a miles de personas pagando unas tasas directamente al estado. Antes, sólo se podía tramitar la residencia en Panamá a través de abogados que cobraban miles de dólares a lo largo de muchos años de gestiones.

Lo más preocupante es que la ola xenofóbica no solo alcanza a las masas influenciables por los medios de comunicación, sino a mucha gente “progresista”. Esto se debe al bajo desarrollo de la conciencia política e ideológica, en parte porque muchos sectores de la izquierda centran sus esfuerzos en luchas economicistas, pero que rehúyen oportunistamente combatir la falsa conciencia y los prejuicios que la burguesía inyecta en la clase trabajadora.

La situación obliga a la clase trabajadora panameña, y a sus dirigentes, a discutir el asunto y asumir una toma de posición que, para ser revolucionaria, tiene que ser compatible: con la moral cristiana, los derechos humanos, la lucha histórica por la integración bolivariana de Nuestra América y el internacionalismo proletario marxista. Aquí aportamos algunos puntos que pueden servir para ese objetivo:

1. El cristianismo aportó el primer criterio, que se ha transformado en conquista moral de todas las religiones y la civilización humana, cuando dice: “todos somos iguales” (ante Dios) y, por ello, debemos “amar al prójimo, como a ti mismo”. No hace falta explicarlo: todos los seres humanos somos iguales, por ello tenemos los mismos derechos, y debemos ser solidarios, en especial con los que sufren y son oprimidos. Eso incluye a los inmigrantes, en especial a los refugiados por razones políticas o económicas. No es muy cristiano decir que no te importa, que los encierren en campos de concentración o que los tiren al mar, que son “escoria” y luego ir a misa y comulgar.

2. El segundo criterio es otra conquista de la humanidad, nacida a raíz de los crímenes cometidos por el fascismo en la primera mitad del siglo XX, que se ha convertido en principio universal de obligatorio cumplimiento moral y legal, es la Declaración Universal de los Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas, y todos sus derivados jurídicos posteriores. Parte de esos derechos incluye el asilo, a la salud, la alimentación y el trabajo para TODOS los seres humanos. Lo que incluye a los inmigrantes, no importa de dónde vengan, ni dónde estén.

3. Una verdad histórica: todos somos inmigrantes o descendientes de inmigrantes. Porque la historia humana se ha construido a base de emigrar, poblar el planeta y movernos de un lugar a otro desde que salimos de África, la patria originaria de todos los seres humanos. Panamá, particularmente, ha sido un país de inmigrantes, desde las ancestrales culturas originarias, que llegaron hace once mil años procedentes del norte y del sur, hasta los hispanos que llegaron con la Conquista, hace 500 años, y todos los que llegaron en oleadas sucesivas para la construcción del ferrocarril y el canal. Igualmente son migrantes internos, toda nuestra población interiorana forzada a venir al área metropolitana huyendo de la agonía de nuestra agricultura.

4. Las grandes migraciones del siglo XX y XXI son un problema social, pero los que emigran no son culpables de ello, sino las principales víctimas de situaciones que los han obligado a dejar a sus familias y la tierra en que nacieron. No culpemos a las víctimas. No hagamos generalizaciones falsas e irresponsables, como la lanzada por la diputada (“cada vez que arrestan un panameño hay cinco colombianos al lado”). Porque los delincuentes que llegan con la migración son una pequeña minoría y las leyes ya establecen los mecanismos para su sanción y deportación.

5. Digamos en voz alta de quién es la culpa del problema: del sistema capitalista. La culpa de que millones de personas se tengan que desplazar de sus regiones de origen en busca de una manera de ganarse la vida y alimentar a sus familias es del sistema capitalista internacional, que impone las grandes desigualdades sociales, la explotación económica, el saqueo de los recursos naturales, el hambre, el desempleo, la pobreza y las guerras a la mayoría de la humanidad, y pone la riqueza en el otro extremo en un puñado de países y en un grupo cada vez más minoritario de gente.

6. Para evitar las consecuencias sociales de las migraciones incontroladas hay que combatir el mundo desigual que se ha construido en los últimos treinta años con la llamada “globalización” neoliberal capitalista, en el que siete potencias económicas y 200 trasnacionales saquean al mundo para su beneficio e imponen la miseria a las mayorías. Ninguna ley migratoria, ninguna frontera, ni ninguna vaya, detendrá a la masa de hambrientos que se desplazan para tratar de sobrevivir, si no se cambian las condiciones económicas y sociales impuestas por el capitalismo neoliberal, el imperialismo.

7. La exigencia de regularización para todos los inmigrantes, para que tengan iguales derechos que los nacionales, es la mejor defensa de la clase trabajadora frente a los capitalistas inescrupulosos que intentan dividirnos, sobreexplotando al trabajador inmigrante que no se atreve a reclamar sus derechos por temor a la deportación. Este criterio es válido para los 50 millones de inmigrantes “ilegales” (el concepto Ilegal es absurdo) en Estados Unidos, los árabes y africanos que emigraron a Europa y los latinoamericanos que vienen a Panamá.

8. “Los trabajadores no tienen patria”, han dicho Carlos Marx y Federico Engels en el Manifiesto Comunista de 1847, porque todos son explotados de la misma manera, por los mismos enemigos de clase, en todos los países, los capitalistas quienes son aliados entre sí. De ahí que la consigna siempre ha sido encontrar los intereses comunes que todos los asalariados y los desposeídos del mundo tenemos en común: “Proletarios del mundo, uníos!”

9. El nacionalismo en general es una ideología reaccionaria construida por la burguesía para engañar a sus trabajadores haciéndoles creer que los intereses de la clase explotadora son los mismos intereses que la de los explotados, que en la “nación” todos son iguales, sin distinciones de clase. El nacionalismo siempre ha sido usado por la burguesía para que los trabajadores sirvan de carne de cañón en las guerras donde van a morir en defensa de los intereses de los explotadores matando a sus hermanos explotados de otros países.

10. En base a lo anterior, Lenin explicaba que existen en el mundo actual dos tipos de naciones: las naciones opresoras o imperialistas, y las naciones oprimidas (“sudesarrolladas”, “atrasadas”, coloniales, semicoloniales y dependientes). El nacionalismo de las naciones oprimidas es progresivo mientras enfrente al imperialismo y, en esas circunstancias, los marxistas hacen unidad de acción con el nacionalismo de los países oprimidos que luchan por su independencia, sin renunciar a su perspectiva de clase: el internacionalismo proletario.

11. El nacionalismo progresivo de las naciones oprimidas de Nuestra América, desde el siglo XIX, se expresó como anhelo de integración y unidad latinoamericana frente a los intereses imperialistas extranjeros, principalmente los de Estados Unidos de América. En honor al Libertador de América, Simón Bolívar, se ha llamado a ese nacionalismo antiimperialista: bolivarianismo o bolivarismo. En los últimos 15 años volvió a ponerlo en la acción colectiva de millones de latinoamericanos el comandante Hugo Chávez, constructor de instituciones como el ALBA y la CELAC.

12. Una verdad que ningún panameño debe olvidar jamás: todos los pueblos de América Latina fueron solidarios con Panamá en la lucha generacional por la soberanía y el desmantelamiento del enclave colonial de la Zona del Canal y del paso de su administración a manos panameñas. Por esa razón, la pequeña prosperidad de estos años se debe no sólo al sacrificio de nuestros mártires, y a la lucha constante de las generaciones que nos precedieron desde 1903, sino también a la solidaridad de nuestros hermanos latinoamericanos a quienes les debemos reciprocidad.

13. Por los motivos señalados, una política de izquierdas, progresista y clasista en Panamá tiene que comprometerse con la lucha por la unidad latinoamericana, en la lucha por la soberanía e independencia frente a la intromisión norteamericana de cada país, y de todos juntos, y de la integración económico y social basada en la complementariedad entre nuestros pueblo, y no en la supeditación a los intereses imperialistas.

14. Los extranjeros que hay que combatir son los capitalistas que vienen a explotarnos económicamente y a saquear nuestros recursos naturales, los que se han apropiado de la industria nacional y empiezan a apropiarse de la tierra en contubernio con la oligarquía local, y que no necesitan hacer filas en el programa “Crisol de Razas” porque las leyes neoliberales y los TLC’s se lo permiten. Pero esos extranjeros no son los trabajadores migrantes, ni los pequeños propietarios, son los grandes capitalistas y banqueros. Levantemos la consigna consecuentemente nacionalista y antiimperialista de nacionalización de la banca, la gran industria y los servicios públicos.

15. El movimiento obrero panameño, clasista y revolucionario, frente al tema de la migración actúa guiado por principios básicos: no ser instrumento de clase explotadora mediante prejuicios; se guía por elementales criterios de solidaridad cristiana y derechos humanos; defiende la igualdad de todos los seres humanos; lucha por la unidad latinoamericana y el internacionalismo proletario.

 

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