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Volume 16, Number 2
February 6, 2010

opinion

Also in this section:
Editorial: Ditching the rule of law, for what?
Bernal, Predatory power
Jackson, Looking ahead --- and above
Sirias, Pacifying the gatekeepers
Leis, Neither censorship nor violence
Kim, Mom
Weisbrot, Why Washington cares about countries like Haiti and Honduras
Obama, State of the Union address
McDonnell, GOP response to the State of the Union address
Reporters Without Borders, US marines censor Haitian photojournalist
Human Rights Watch, The successors to Colombia's AUC paramilitary
Amnesty International, Recommendations to the new Honduran government
Weeks, Ecuador's trials with democracy
Haperskij, Europe and Cuba
Fillion-Robin, Harper and Canadian parliamentary democracy
Hursthouse & Ayuso, ¿Cambio? The Obama administration in Latin America
Carlsen, Isacson, Smith & Barry, Obama and the Americas
Letters to the editor

Predatory power
by Miguel Antonio Bernal

The events coming down in our country make it obligatory for citizens to resume the responsibility and commitment to participate. Without citizen participation, and clearly, without social justice, it's impossible to talk about democracy today.

To live in democracy is difficult, but it's easier if there are solid institutions that guarantee safety and justice. What are these institutions in Panama? We don't have them and we have to make haste to get them, before it's too late.

In the fight for freedom, whether as a moral demand or as a legal imperative, there's one basic premise: a legal order and political regime are unjust and tyrannical if they don't recognize, protect and stand for freedom and human rights. The Panamanian government does not comply with this task, among other reasons because, in the first place, we don't have the rule of law. On the other hand, presidential power has overflown its banks and only the power of the citizenry, if it acts, would be able to control it.

Power in our country is ever less legal and more a matter of conformance with those in power, and from there the judicial order is increasingly distancing itself from any reference to the need for the rule of law. For them, the supremacy of the constitution has been relegated to a secondary plane, ceding its place to the administration in power, which is supported by the true powers behind the scenes who are ever more lacking in democratic convictions and who have become permanent adversaries of due process, the presumption of innocence, judicial independence, transparency and above all of any possibility of real, effective and concrete citizen participation.

They all act against constitutionalism as a a method of freedom. They all turn, more and more, toward an exaggerated pseudo-constitutionalism that's accompanied by constitutional violation and circumvention.

Autocracy dresses itself in the clothing of neo-populism, political patronage and demagoguery, taking pains to make people believe that it's not what it is: a modern despotism whose real nature consists in not allowing the people to do anything for themselves.

The one in power, then, a prisoner of delirium, leaves behind every promise of change, seduced by the exercise of power itself and prepares to impose a new patch to the militarist constitution, in order to prolong itself in power.

Now it stands for the disabling of any proposal for citizen oversight, control or participation, thus promoting civic unconciousness and the feeble mindedness that facilitates confusion and fanaticism.

The tricks and tall tales of those in power, their deceits and deviousness allow them to take over key positions, particularly over the media, for their purposes. They count on the citizenry's passivity and inaction.

We have to say that only the true citizen knows that freedom and the truth, the two great conquests of the human race, come at a high price. To be a citizen implies keeping watch over their arms, and constant vigilance over their predatory power.



Also in this section:
Editorial: Ditching the rule of law, for what?
Bernal, Predatory power
Jackson, Looking ahead --- and above
Sirias, Pacifying the gatekeepers
Leis, Neither censorship nor violence
Kim, Mom
Weisbrot, Why Washington cares about countries like Haiti and Honduras
Obama, State of the Union address
McDonnell, GOP response to the State of the Union address
Reporters Without Borders, US marines censor Haitian photojournalist
Human Rights Watch, The successors to Colombia's AUC paramilitary
Amnesty International, Recommendations to the new Honduran government
Weeks, Ecuador's trials with democracy
Haperskij, Europe and Cuba
Fillion-Robin, Harper and Canadian parliamentary democracy
Hursthouse & Ayuso, ¿Cambio? The Obama administration in Latin America
Carlsen, Isacson, Smith & Barry, Obama and the Americas
Letters to the editor

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