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Volume 17, Number 13
December 29, 2011
Learn Spanish Online with Habla Ya's Skype Spanish Lessons



news

Also in this section:
Martinelli tries to weather scandals and avoid cabinet changes
Election law changes, another stab at the Mining Code in January
"Conejando" in Panama: what big ears Colombia's exiled spy chief has
Main canal expansion contractor barely staves off bankruptcy --- for now
Noriega settles in at El Renacer, legal skirmishing begins
Martinelli gets his solid Supreme Court majority
Residents and interns on strike at David hospital
Vaclav Havel’s human rights legacy
The failure of the Durban climate talks
The ECB's high wire act
The Internet and Latin America: cyber-security issues
The China - Latin America summit in Lima
South America consolidates its role as an emerging power
South America and Cold War II
When Italian waste companies come here, red flags should pop up

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


"La Coneja" --- a rodent moniker to make any fugitive criminal proud. Photo of unknown origin, of a party on Amador in November, published in the Colombian weekly Semana

A new Spanish word is coined: "conejando"
Gee, Señorita Hurtado, what big ears you have!
photo and its alteration of mysterious origin, note by Eric Jackson

María del Pilar Hurtado is wanted, by Colombia's justice system but not by INTERPOL. She was the spymaster for former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, and in that role infiltrated a spy into her country's Supreme Court, tapped the phones of judges, opposition politicians and journalists, and ordered abductions and other violent assaults against labor activists, dissidents and journalists. As the courts were closing in on her after her time in office, former President Uribe advised her to flee to Panama and apply for asylum. She did, and President Martinelli quickly granted the request.

People can and do argue about whether what Ms. Hurtado did is the sort of thing for which one may be granted political asylum under Panamanian and international law. As a practical matter, governments are generally not second-guessed on such decisions. Once Ricardo Martinelli --- who according to a former US ambassador's diplomatic cables is into Hurtado's sort of thing --- granted asylum, INTERPOL declined to issue an international arrest order.

Refuge from a foreign legal system is not all there is to political asylum, however. There are rules to the game and one of the most important of these is that the person who is taken in must maintain a low public profile and abstain from the politics of his or her host country and the country from which he or she fled.

So was Colombia's erstwhile top eavesdropper partying with big ears in a November 12 gathering at the Paxion discotheque on Amador a faux pas for someone in her position? By the looks of things, whoever took her picture caught her by surprise. She reportedly went out dancing with a male friend, which may have been the beginning and end of it. By some accounts, also at the club that night was Panama's Colombian tourism minister, Salomón Shamah, but this was apparently not an overtly political gathering.

It did cause quite a stir in Colombia when reported, along with the surreptitiously taken photos, in the weekly magazine Semana. The ears were taken as something of a taunting political statement.

So, what was she thinking? What was she doing? This reporter does not read minds.

But wouldn't you know that in the reader comments to the various stories in Spanish-language media, a new word was coined: she was "conejando."

"Conejo" means "rabbit" --- not to be confused with "conejo pintado," which is Panamanian Spanish for a different rodent, a paca --- and there is a Spanish word "conejar." Despite the ending of it, "conejar" is a noun, not a verb, meaning a place where a rabbit lives, either a domesticated animal's hutch or a wild one's warren. We will have to see if the Real Academia Española, the most definitive arbiter of the Spanish language, accepts conejar as a verb and "conejando" as a word that roughly means playing rabbit.

But the academy is in Spain. Here in Panama, we have a dialect with a lot of Anglicisms that aren't accepted in the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. Our main judgment, however, will not be linguistic but political. What do we think of a president who harbors long-eared rodents from repressive regimes?






    

Also in this section:
Martinelli tries to weather scandals and avoid cabinet changes
Election law changes, another stab at the Mining Code in January
"Conejando" in Panama: what big ears Colombia's exiled spy chief has
Main canal expansion contractor barely staves off bankruptcy --- for now
Noriega settles in at El Renacer, legal skirmishing begins
Martinelli gets his solid Supreme Court majority
Residents and interns on strike at David hospital
Vaclav Havel’s human rights legacy
The failure of the Durban climate talks
The ECB's high wire act
The Internet and Latin America: cyber-security issues
The China - Latin America summit in Lima
South America consolidates its role as an emerging power
South America and Cold War II
When Italian waste companies come here, red flags should pop up



© 2011 by Eric Jackson
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