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Volume 17, Number 3
March 10, 2011

news

Also in this section:
Scenes from this year's Carnival
Rival congresses, dual power in the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca
Burning garbage not the only complaint at the former Nikki Beach
Gómez and Chato deportations dog Panama's reputation
INMET says it has lots of options as share prices plunge after Law 8 repeal
WikiLeaks: Hillary coordinating gun control strategy for our region
WikiLeaks: Suspected drug racketeers were US "War on Drugs," Afghanistan contractors
Ministry of Social Development email used for "Nigeria letter" scam
US State Department drug policy report on Panama's money laundering scene
Mining law repealed
A wild weekend of rebellion and repression
Scenes from the anti-mining protests


Many things that used to be in a Panama News Briefs feature of the website have now migrated to our constantly updated Facebook page

One of Paco Gómez Nadal's last reports from Panama --- and an example of why Martinelli threw him out

Reporters' expulsions mar Martinelli's reputation abroad
by Eric Jackson

Without masks, the activists for the truth confront the giant contortionist for the lie, armed with honesty and commitment. It's not small thing.
Paco Gómez Nadal

The functionaries didn't know what to do with us, since there were no charges, but I heard that they were waiting for instructions from the Presidency.
Pilar Chato

[Martinelli's] central idea is that indigenous people are egged on in their struggle, that is, being poor they have no hearts to feel nor heads to think for themselves. But I think it's the reverse, that indigenous people provoke (encourage, stimulate, incite) us.
Raúl Leis

The current government has been characterized from the start by bald-faced lies, manipulation and corruption, and for attacks on the freedom of expression of journalists and their media, arriving at the point of inventing alleged conspiracies.
Bolivarian Journalists Association
Panama Chapter

Paco Gómez Nadal, as we have said before, is as Panamanian as the 9th of January 1964.
Veraguas Educators Association

Martinelli ran a television attack ad against FRENADESO, environmentalists, journalists and human rights defenders, accusing them of being infiltrators and of inciting the indigenous and farmers movement against mining that has been so strongly felt. This is a dirty and slanderous campaign (as well as a racist one) that the Martinelli administration has waged against the social activists in order to legitimize his battered position on the subject of mining in the face of 80 percent of the Panamanian people expressing their rejection of Law 8.
Genaro López

Regardless of the legal nuances, Gómez and Chato were the victims of a politically motivated expulsion because their support for the indigenous cause as journalists and their involvement in the NGO Human Rights Everywhere ran counter to the Panamanian government's interests.
Reporters Without Borders

These expulsions set an alarming precedent for journalists in Panama.
Carlos Lauria
Committee to Protect Journalists

Just a bunch of commies, non-governmental organizations and special interest groups, defending a guy who admits he's a leftist --- the dismissal will go something like that. As Paco Gómez Nadal and Pilar Chato were on their way from Panama to Spain after the Martinelli regime deported them, Hillary Clinton went to Capitol Hill and talked about Panama as if this never happened, or didn't matter. And surely to the senators and representatives whose minds are still part of the "Washington Consensus" about how Latin America ought to be run, this doesn't register --- only what those corporations that bankroll their or their opponents' campaigns want matters very much.

But the US Congress doesn't vote on a free trade pact with Panama unless Barack Obama sends it to them. The president, for his part, doesn't send such a thing to Congress without provoking a fight within his own party as he is trying to put things together to seek re-election next year.

The mainstream corporate media have downsized and dumbed down, such that few people in the United States ever hear about Panama. Editors and news directors there know that it's far more important for Americans to know about which drugs Charlie Sheen is taking and which guy Paris Hilton is seeing than anything about Latin America. Maybe a particularly gruesome mass murder in Mexico might get mentioned on the nightly news, but Panama is out of the picture.

However, the journalist defense groups, the foreign policy think tanks, the US Indian nations, the labor unions, the human rights groups and others who could give the president a hard time within the Democratic Party will have heard about Ricardo Martinelli and the expulsion of Paco Gómez Nadal and Pilar Chato, and this is now added to the litany. It increases the political damage that Obama would suffer if he is perceived to be pandering to Martinelli. It probably also enhances Obama's personal annoyance with Martinelli.

The Panamanian president can complain, or get his Republican friends or even some Blue Dog Democrats to complain for him on Capitol Hill. But these friends of Martinelli can't affect Obama's standing with the rank-and-file of his own party the way that the activists can.

Gómez and Chato, however, are not Americans. They're Spaniards and they are not happy with Madrid's quiet acceptance of their expulsion from Panama. But in Europe, to a greater extent than in the United States, Ricardo Martinelli's abusive and erratic behavior gets noticed. The man's personality reflects on the country's credibility, and those things mean a great deal to European-dominated organizations like the OECD, which can make financial transactions involving Panama harder or easier, depending on what they perceive.

The bottom line? It's only a blip in the broad sweep of history, but political careers are shorter than that. Here Martinelli must synchronize himself with a time scale in which everything ends in the middle of 2014 and a brief window of opportunity for dealing with Obama closes for a year or so beginning sometime around November. Set in those time constraints, a rash act against two journalists was an expenditure of Martinelli's scarce political capital, for which he and Panama have apparently received nothing in return.







Also in this section:
Scenes from this year's Carnival
Rival congresses, dual power in the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca
Burning garbage not the only complaint at the former Nikki Beach
Gómez and Chato deportations dog Panama's reputation
INMET says it has lots of options as share prices plunge after Law 8 repeal
WikiLeaks: Hillary coordinating gun control strategy for our region
WikiLeaks: Suspected drug racketeers were US "War on Drugs," Afghanistan contractors
Ministry of Social Development email used for "Nigeria letter" scam
US State Department drug policy report on Panama's money laundering scene
Mining law repealed
A wild weekend of rebellion and repression
Scenes from the anti-mining protests



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© 2011 by Eric Jackson
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email: editor@thepanamanews.com or

e_l_jackson_malo@yahoo.com

phone: (507) 6-632-6343

Mailing address:
Eric Jackson
att'n The Panama News
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