since Noriega times
qualities of President Martinelli and his obedient acting attorney
general Giuseppe Bonissi ever so clearly in the "investigation"
of the mass poisoning by way of diethylene glycol (DEG) in
government-distributed cough syrup case. Yes, we could get
sidetracked onto a "which administration was worse"
argument in which neither Martinelli's nor Bonissi's predecessors
look good. But let's look at what has just happened, the selective
removal of three members of the Social Security Fund (CSS) board of
members removed by the prosecutor's order, Guillermo Puga, Manuel
Tajú and Lastenia Canto, are not the only ones on the board who
served as the tragic chain of negligence and reckless cover-ups was
underway. They are, however, the labor unions' and retirees'
representatives. They were removed not because they were guiltier
than those not charged, but to get them out of the way for a
right-wing president to jam anti-labor and anti-retiree measures
through a board that would otherwise not accept them.
sabotaged the investigation to protect many of the guilty, and
scapegoated the medicine lab director whose repeated warnings and
requests for funds went unheeded until tragedy struck. The owners of
the company that supplied the mislabeled DEG have gone unidentified
and unscathed, and the circumstances of how they got the CSS chemical
supply contract have gone uninvestigated. The deadly cover-up of a
problem that health care professionals told management existed in
late July but upon which the government did not act upon until early
October has never been investigated. The concealment of the true
scope of the tragedy by failure to promptly provide funds for
toxicology tests and by the anti-scientific determination that if the
remains of a person who was poisoned to death were not tested in time
to certainly locate the DEG residues the poisoning never happened has
never been the subject of a criminal investigation. All inquiries
into the probable death toll from the former president and former
first lady passing out medicines at "Vote Yes on the Canal
Expansion" rallies in remote indigenous communities have been
considered taboo. Torrijos, Gómez
and a number of other officials of the previous administration, and
of the CSS and Ministry of health to this day, do need to be held
the selective criminal prosecution of people who had no
administrative functions and no direct role in the poisoning scandal,
just to get them out of the way for other political purposes ---
that's a perversion of the rule of law that Panama hasn't seen since
the days of the military dictatorship. It makes all international
agreements with Panama suspect, because it renders all treaties,
constitutional provisions, laws and executive undertakings into mere
scraps of paper without the credibility that only the systematic rule
of law can confer.
guest editorial, by Reader
decisions about WikiLeaks
Supported News has observed and chronicled the WikiLeaks information
phenomenon virtually from the day we began publishing. We have done
so fully informed of all available facts and with careful
consideration at each step.
its very nature, WikiLeaks's extraordinary information procurement
and dissemination process demands of the international journalistic
community an abrupt abandonment of status quo. There is reporting
before WikiLeaks, and reporting after WikiLeaks. The two are mutually
the core decisions regarding WikiLeaks's actions are theirs. The
subsequent decisions by the publications that report on WikiLeaks's
actions are reactive. Our decisions that have led us to participate
in the WikiLeaks information community have not been without some
reservation. How does a publication, any publication, address the
issue of state secrets? What is necessary, and what is excessive?
Given the scope, the territory is uncharted. Undoubtedly WikiLeaks's
actions create risk: for them, for those who report, and potentially,
for those whose identities and actions may be revealed.
one is to differentiate forest from trees in assessing risk related
to reporting on WikiLeaks' releases, the material now presented for
public inspection must be viewed against the backdrop of world
militarism. If lives are put at risk by WikiLeaks's data-releases ---
and it is not clear any are --- how many lives have been risked, lost
in vain to wars of dubious origin? If the ramifications of these
releases seem daunting, does the harm to social fabric in all lands
caused by capricious warfare seem less so?
safe harbor of state secrecy
is the construct of War. When the dialog and decisions both direct
and ancillary of war and peace take place in the safe harbor of state
secrecy, all is wagered on the incorruptibility of a precious few
actors with great power. If it is true that "the greater the
power the greater the corruption," then it might also be said
that "the greater the transparency the lesser the risk."
loudest critics have two main refrains: "It puts lives at risk,"
and, "It puts our interests at risk." It is not clear that
WikiLeaks' releases have resulted in any deaths at all, and "our
interests" is a term that does more to validate WikiLeaks's
actions than repudiate them.
end of Panama's banking and corporate secrecy?
tax information exchange agreement between Panama and the United States
secrecy just for those US citizens or US resident aliens who are being
investigated by the IRS. It does not appear to directly affect those
who are parking their money here to cheat ex-spouses out of property
settlements, avoid child support payments or evade private creditors.
It also does not allow Panamanians who have suffered at the hands of
Panamanian shell companies that have no insurance or apparent assets to
and collect from those individuals who profited at their expense. For
the owners of the company that sold mislabeled poison that ended up
in Panama's medicine supply retain their anonymity.
the agreement drives some of the American hustlers who infest this
country away to havens that they perceive to be safer, that is a good
thing for the American community here. To the extent that the
agreement paves the way toward passage of the US-Panama free trade
pact, that's a devastating blow to rural Panama that will send new
waves of poorly educated migrants to the metro area in search of
work, worsening every urban problem that we have; and it's an
ill-advised US embrace of a government that is fast eliminating the
vestigial remains of the rule of law.
should go all the way and eliminate most banking secrecy and all
corporate secrecy. We should change from a system of bank accounts
and corporations designed to conceal things to a banking system that
serves ordinary Panamanians and makes its money on volume ,and a
corporate system that makes it cheap and easy to open a company that
actually conducts legitimate business.
error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor
does truth become error because nobody sees it.
chances, make mistakes. That's how you grow. Pain nourishes your
courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.
embarrassing --- you try to overthrow the government and you wind up
on a Best Sellers List.