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Volume 17, Number 3
March 20, 2011

news special

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Mining law repealed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


Former Vice President of Panama, iconic symbol of the victims of the dictatorship's brutality
Billy Ford dies
by Eric Jackson

Insurance executive, banker and politician Guillermo Ford Boyd, best known to Panamanians as Billy Ford, died at his home in Panama City on March 19 after a long battle with emphysema and its complications. He was 74 years old. To people outside of Panama, and to many Panamanians as well, he was best known from a photograph taken by the AFP's Ron Haviv, when after having won the second vice presidency as one of Guillermo Endara's running mates in the 1989 elections, the dictatorship's Dignity Battalions attacked a motorcade, killing Ford's bodyguard and putting both Ford and Endara in the hospital from the beatings they received.

Ford was a popular and outgoing public figure, with very conservative economic ideas but not the totalitarian social ideas that are often found on the political right --- a "liberal" in the Panamanian sense of the word. He was president of the Panamanian Business Executives Association (APEDE) from 1970 to 1972 and again from 1997 to 1998. He rose to political promimenence in the mid-1980s when Panama's business community turned against the dictatorship and formed the Civilista movement. Much of his political life, including while he was vice president, was spent in the fractious Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (MOLIRENA).

Ford and fellow Civilista leader Bobby Eisenmann managed to avoid blame for the scandal at and ultimate failure of the Miami bank of which they were co-founders, the Dadeland Bank, which was used to launder drug money for Colombia's Medellin Cartel. Another of the founders of the Dadeland Bank, Steven Samos, was a key figure in the Iran-Contra operation run by Oliver North. There has never never been any credible evidence of a personal link between Ford or Eisenmann and money laundering presented to the public, and they both categorically denied it.

By its end, most Panamanians considered the Endara administration, which was inaugurated several months late, during the US invasion that toppled Noriega, to have been a failure. With the advantage of hindsight, both Endara's and Ford's reputations improved over the years, with people considering the chaotic and dysfunctional country that they inherited and the pressures of supposed allies who thought that the end of the dictatorship meant that it was their turn to steal, and comparing their performance in office to those of the four thuggish administrations that followed.

Ford ran for vice president again in 2004, again as Endara's running mate, but this time Endara and Ford lost to the PRD, whose ticket was headed by Martín Torrijos.







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

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© 2011 by Eric Jackson
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