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Volume 15, Number 11   June 29, 2009

letters

Also in this section:
Editorials: Another example why we need a new constitution; and Iran
Leis, Indigenous rights and national development
Amnesty International, Massacre in the Peruvian Amazon
Grody & Wheeler, Corporate interests vs. indigenous rights lead to murder in Peru
Jackson, Remembering Dr. Alan Berkman
Baker, Barack Obama vs. Harriet and Louise
CARICOM, Toward a regional climate change agreement
Fesler, Cuba's oil
Reporters Without Borders, Cuban photojournalist jailed
Thompson, Chávez vs. Globovision
Committee to Protect Journalists, North Korea sentences US journalists to 12 years
Lerner, Netanyahu's speech on the Palestinians
Castro, Obama's speech in Cairo
Weisbrot, Washington showdown over IMF money
Knoth, the US-Colombia free trade pact
Stimson, Today we are all proud Iranians
Center for Biological Diversity, Ngobe victory in an international forum
Endara, Panama's new pirates and conquistadors
Bernal, The Procrustean mayor's office
Letters to the editor

Comments, complaints and so on

Bosco Vallarino's swamp of lies

I wish the press would do a better job at cornering the bastard with his lies. It would be so easy since his lies don't even add up.

He claims it could be in a box in Loudon County, where is mom lives. It is inconceivable that he would leave his passport in the United States at any time since '96. He does business in the USA (Miami). This would deprive him of the ability to come into the United States. Being a US citizen he could not then "pretend" to be Panamanian and ask for an entry visa --- unless he had renounced his citizenship. I think when you renounce your citizenship, entry visas are very difficult to get.

Marcos


Honduran military coup

CISPES joins the Alliance for Global Justice, SOA Watch, and other members of the Latin America Solidarity Coalition in denouncing the coup in Honduras. CISPES committees are joining rallies at consulates around the country to demand the reinstatement of the democratically elected Honduran president.

Call the State Department and the White House! Demand that they call for the immediate reinstatement of Honduran President Zelaya.

State Department: 202-647-4000 or 1-800-877-8339

White House: Comments: 202-456-1111, Switchboard: 202-456-1414


Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)

Washington, DC


Quick question, longer answer

Quick question, what effect do you think a change in Cuban policy (especially if US opens up the market to everyone to visit) will have on Panama?

Lawrence

Editor's note: Cuba has cheap labor, a famous and carefully cultivated cultural scene and some fine beaches. Moreover, it's much closer to the USA than is Panama. Figure that they may beat us a few times in the competition for tourists, especially those who are primarily interested in lying around on a beach. The bigger hit to Panama from an end to the US embargo would be that some things that Cuba now buys in the Colon Free Zone they will buy from the USA. However, part of the US economic malaise has been the export of most of its manufacturing sector, and Colon will still probably be a better place than Miami for Cuba to shop for Asian-made goods. Overall, I don't expect much of an economic difference. Politically, Panama would lose its traditional role as an intermediary between Washington and Havana, a role that Ricardo Martinelli doesn't seem very well suited to play in any case. These are my expectations, but alas, I do not have the gift --- or curse --- of prophecy.


Killed in Afghanistan

See http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/06/dance_around_the_world.html.

The web site was received from a friend who noted the beautiful wedding pollera. This is picture 24 of the series --- I suspect the solider was Panamanian, or that his family was originally from here, but have seen nothing in the news. That's definitely a pollera, but I never heard of a "traditional Praise Dance" --- maybe West Indian custom? It's a beautiful photograph, in any case.

Only 21.

Nina


Hmmmm...

Hello Mr. Jackson,

I'm Daysi G..., I'm studying in the University of Panama, I'm a future bachelor in business and public administration with emphasis in customs. I'm 20 years old.

So, I'm really worried with this information about Damani Beach that you put on the Internet. I remembered that I read news in a national newspaper maybe two years ago about this project and this guy Mark Henderson, and for this newspaper this project was really a big opportunity for the poor people in Bocas del Toro, now you have other information. I'm very interested in that, because I love my Panama, and it's an injustice for our country.

daysi_damani@...

Editor's note: I wonder about this email. In any case, most of the indigenous leaders objected to this project and the Torrijos administration wouldn't approve it, despite a public relations campaign extolling the virtues of a lot of indigenous land being conceded to an American developer in exchange for very little. We shall see if this comes up again during the Martinelli administration.


Hercules, the crane

Just wondering if you knew what happened on the sale of the Hercules crane this past May. Such an historical machine should belong in a museum.

Peter

P.S. Keep up the good articles

Editor's note: It's so big that maybe it should BE a museum. If the Panama Canal Authority sold the Hercules, I have not been able to find any notice of that on their website where such things are usually announced.


Demands from the porn industry (1 & 2)

In light of what you have just written about me (under the pseudonym William Smartlee, and I can prove that it is really you), I have decided to go ahead and proceed via my lawyer considering you have published "facts" that are untrue.

I have been living in Panama for 4 years, and it's not very difficult for me to get to the bottom of issues either.

You make grave mistakes talking about people you know nothing about via your pathetic excuse of a C-rate online newspaper.

My lawyer will be in touch soon.

Mona M. Sutherland

an update:

When did I lie to you?

Why didn't you attempt to call me to verify the facts prior to printing? i.e. I do not work for Don Winner? How does moderating a forum "prove" anything?

Why didn't you speak to me when I attempted to call you a number of times?

Slander is NOT okay, nor has it ever been, nor has it ever been part of responsible journalism.

As I mentioned in the email I just left, numerous people in adult use pseudonyms, many times because it's FUN.

The adult industry is a multi billion dollar per year business, and I'm proud of my marketing and writing skills. My parents know what I do, as do all my friends and loved ones. Therefore, you did not "out me," but rather wasted hours of time looking through adult webmasters boards, social networks, and articles desperately searching for a connection. If you would have just called and asked me, I would have GLADLY provided you with the information.

Why would I erase webpages? What webpages? Again, I am FAR from ashamed.

Again, I find it beyond pathetic that a 60+ year old man would write and/or print slanderous material about anybody. Your aim is not to report or educate, but rather to "out" and "ruin" people.... That honestly makes me sad and am grateful that I am not so spiteful nor close-minded.

Mona M. Sutherland

Editor's note: You have to show a false statement, made orally, to prove "slander." If it's written, false and defamatory, it's libel. In your shrieking phone call, you denied things that are readily verifiable and threatened legal action about them. What I did was publish a letter written by somebody else, which I did not solicit, after verifying the allegations contained within it and within its attachment.

You run the Young Expats in Panama email group, whose owner notoriously throws around allegations of "slander" left and right, and who has never won such a case. Four years of hanging in those circles and you STILL can't figure things out, either about me or about the people with whom you hang and the perceptions of others about them.


Demands from the porn industry (3 & 4)

You have been used by Steven Rich posting/emailing under the name "William Smartlee."

His primairy goal was to link my full name to the article in the Estrella (which is also based on false information email by Steven Rich/Willam Smartlee).

Rich worked for one of my conventions 2 years ago for 3 days and actually was fired because he stole goods from me. The fact he was fired is the reason he is so upset.

He "resigned" from his job this morning and is without work. Over the weekend we got access to 9 of his email accounts, all accessed during working hours!

Feel free to verify this information.

Again I have nothing against you, I don't even know you. Fact is you're being used here by Rich.

I have a family to protect and as such I want my last name removed from the letter. His primary goal was to link my full name to a false claim about child pornography.

Enjoy the research.

All info will be online on Don Winner's website today as well.

Fabian Buys

an update:

At this stage you're not cooperating, not answering your phone and not responding to my email.

This does not make you look good.

I am father of 3 children. My duty is to protect my family no matter what and that's what I am doing.

Having the attitude you're reflecting to me I think is one of the worst things I've seen in Panama in the last year.

Posting false information, especially after being warned this is false and after I have given you enough information to rectify is pure slander.

Don't argue with me on technicalities, at this stage you know you're wrong.

If I don't hear back from you within the next couple of hours I have to assume you and Steven Rich are working on this together and that you actually have a secondary agenda one which is not reporting but focusing on destroying peoples' names.

Fabian Buys

Editor's note: Yeah, yeah. I always figured that "William Smartlee" was a pseudonym used by a guy with a grudge. But I checked the contents of that letter and the attachment that went with it, and they were all verified. Even were it an oral communication, there is no "slander" there and on the telephone you couldn't identify one single false statement, other than the use of a pseudonym. But once the phone calls get to threats or an ultimatum, that's when I stop answering them. So now you can get someone who doesn't like me to publish a series of articles wherein he shrieks gibberish like a wounded bird? That's his problem, and maybe yours.


Objects to mention of his business

I wish I could understand what it is you have against our business or us personally because you did it again to us. There was another time that it didn’t matter all that much. The time we invited you to an EDUCACIONPRIMERO event and instead of interviewing the personnel involved you decided to speak with one of the teachers and printed that if you want to get involved call this number. You printed the teachers cell number and EDUCACIONPRIMERO, of course got nothing out of your “help.”

But this time I just can’t understand what your motive was. Either you have something against us or our business or you just weren’t thinking when you wrote your Networking story in the Economy section, at http://www.thepanamanews.com/pn/v_15/issue_10/economy_01.html and you decided that the ONLY business name to include was our business name. First of all, WHY? And second the person you mentioned:

She became a central figure in an expat social clique in and around Playa Blanca in Farallon and frequented XS Memories, a Santa Clara bar, restaurant and recreational vehicle park that's popular with many expats.”

... has been here probably four times in the last three years. By mentioning OUR business in the same article (paragraph) as someone you believe to be crooked it has brought me approximately 15 emails and phone calls from people asking if WE were involved with this alleged scam! Thanks to the way you wrote this people are ASSUMING that WE are guilty by association.

Examples (names withheld):

Are you guys running a scam office up there in Santa Clara????

I guess any free advertising helps!! “

Say it ain’t so there Sports Bar”

Burgers & Burglary”

As well the many that have written asking if we saw the article. Unless you want to write some kind of clarification, no wait, just please do us a favor and forget our name, delete any reference to us and just go away!

(A lot milder than I wanted to write!)

Dennis

Editor's note: I stand by that story. If somebody sees fit to draw an irrational conclusion --- or more likely to the point, if Mary Sloane's backers seek to make things appear other than as reported --- that's something wrong with them, not me.

If I am invited to an event about kids being taught something about astronomy, I reserve the right to cover it the way I see it, independent of the desires of any organization, any school administrator or any person in the community. And yes, I often do think that what teachers have to say is newsworthy.


Fan mail

Hi Eric

Keep up the good work mate!

John


Opposed to US-Colombia FTA

The Colombia Support Network (CSN) delivered through a reliable friend of the President’s several documents and a set of observations and recommendations about the policies of the United States toward Colombia.

Most of these spring from the review of Colombia policy undertaken at our CSN annual national meeting on May 29-31 in Madison. The recommendations we made include the following:

1. The US government should oppose the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia until the following issues have been addressed:

a) The current draft will promote chaos in the Colombian countryside. In a country where 4.5 million people are internally displaced (nearly 10% of Colombia’s population and more than any other country except Sudan/Darfur) ,the proposed duty-free entry of subsidized food crops from the United States will undermine small-scale agriculture in Colombia, resulting in still more people being displaced from their lands. The FTA would promote large-scale African palm cultivation, benefiting large landowners and paramilitaries linked to drug-trafficking, who are the only ones with the extensive lands and monetary resources needed to undertake African palm production, which requires heavy capital investment and several years’ wait to have producing palm trees. The displacement of tens of thousands more persons would result in instability, itself contrary to the goal of United States foreign policy to promote “stability” in other countries.

b) Contrary to what President Uribe has said, labor union leaders and organizers in Colombia continue to be killed and threatened on a broad scale, greater than in any other country in the world. Before the United States government approves a bilateral trade agreement with Colombia these murders and threats need to be addressed and the Colombian government needs to take effective measures to end these assaults on unions.

c) President Uribe and his cabinet ministers have shown indifference to ecological concerns. The FTA should not be approved without incorporating substantial commitments by both countries to establish strong environmental protections in areas threatened by development projects, particularly the Amazon rainforest areas of Colombia. An end to the spraying of coca crops (and farmers’ food crops) with strengthened glyphosate (Round-up Ultra), or fumigation, should be a United States commitment. This relic of the failed “War on Drugs” has destroyed much of campesino agriculture, as food crops have been decimated by the fumigation.

d) The intellectual property provisions of the FTA must recognize Colombian indigenous peoples’ right to use their traditional medicinal remedies, without having to pay royalties to United States pharmaceutical companies for patents issued in the United States for these processes and the plants they involve. This protection from US patents infringing upon these historical practices should be a fundamental part of any FTA between the United States and Colombia.

2. President Obama should consider carefully the effects of United States military assistance to Colombia, which has exceeded 5 billion dollars over the last decade. We submitted for President Obama’s consideration the CSN report detailing Colombian military forces’ abuses of the civilian population since September of 2005, which details hundreds of incidents of abuse, including murders, disappearances, collaboration with illegal paramilitaries, and the “false positives” kidnapping and killing of youths falsely presented later as “guerrillas killed in combat” --- with information concerning the rewards for these atrocities established by Colombia’s Ministry of National Defense. Military assistance to Colombia should be halted unless and until these abuses, including military threats to local community organizations such as the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado, end.

3. The United States government should take into account the political corruption surrounding President Uribe and his government. As Colombian newspapers have revealed in the past two days, the bribing of members of the Colombian Congress to vote for a Constitutional change to allow President Uribe a second term, carried out by close associates of Mr. Uribe, involved more than 30 Congressmen who accepted nominations to notary public posts and to diplomatic posts in return for, or as a reward for, their promise to vote for the change Uribe sought. This on top of the warrantless wiretapping of phone conversations and email communications of members of the Colombian Supreme Court and of leaders of opposition political parties which the Uribe Administration carried out. Our United States government should maintain high ethical standards, not reward those who, like Alvaro Uribe Velez, use their political office for personal gain and use the perquisites of their office illegally to consolidate and extend their own power.

4. Finally, we believe President Obama should take into account the manner in which President Uribe’s government has opened the door to foreign investment in a way which undermines the sovereignty and prosperity of the Colombian people. As journalist Garry Leech pointed out in an eye-opening presentation at the CSN national meeting, President Uribe has, in league with International Monetary Fund (IMF) directives, made access to his country’s natural resources very cheap and has welcomed foreign investment on extremely preferential terms. This will lead to a perception of inequality and resentment, sowing the seeds for a reaction which will give rise to the “instability” which United States foreign policy supposedly seeks to avoid.

We hope these concerns will be reflected in the policies President Obama and the United States Congress adopt toward Colombia in the days and months to come.

John I. Laun
President of CSN
on behalf of the CSN Board of Directors and Membership


Needs help locating relatives

I think probably you can help me. I am Dudley Ian Hugh McFarlane from Kingston, Jamaica W.I. I am trying to locate my paternal grandfather Gersham McFarlane, (possibly dead now) whose son (my father) is Dudley George McFarlane residing in St. Mary, Jamaica. Gersham left Jamaica for Panama in about 1926 and resided in Colon city and was carpenter and mason by trade. They had brief contact by letters years ago but after awhile stopped corresponding. My father and rest of family are quite OK, but we would love to know our other family members before my father, who is 87, passes away. Is there some way you could make a link with any operative in Colon City for me to locate relatives. My telephone numbers are 876-541-7699 or 876-369-0255 and my email is dudsjnr@hotmail.com.

I would be most thankful.

Dudley Ian Hugh McFarlane

Also in this section:
Editorials: Another example why we need a new constitution; and Iran
Leis, Indigenous rights and national development
Amnesty International, Massacre in the Peruvian Amazon
Grody & Wheeler, Corporate interests vs. indigenous rights lead to murder in Peru
Jackson, Remembering Dr. Alan Berkman
Baker, Barack Obama vs. Harriet and Louise
CARICOM, Toward a regional climate change agreement
Fesler, Cuba's oil
Reporters Without Borders, Cuban photojournalist jailed
Thompson, Chávez vs. Globovision
Committee to Protect Journalists, North Korea sentences US journalists to 12 years
Lerner, Netanyahu's speech on the Palestinians
Castro, Obama's speech in Cairo
Weisbrot, Washington showdown over IMF money
Knoth, the US-Colombia free trade pact
Stimson, Today we are all proud Iranians
Center for Biological Diversity, Ngobe victory in an international forum
Endara, Panama's new pirates and conquistadors
Bernal, The Procrustean mayor's office
Letters to the editor

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