have come of age in the years since our December 1994 initial issue
and early 1995 start to regular publication of The Panama News.
Competitors have come and gone, and some have stayed. Over the years
we have had an all-star cast of contributors, and we still do.
has not been without conflict. Control freaks, jealous people and
those afflicted with malicious small minds have periodically made
their moves, without mobilizing much support beyond the like-minded,
let alone stopping us. We have been charged with criminal defamation
but never convicted because the charges were always unfounded. We
were briefly shut down by a carefully directed cyber-attack. We have
repeatedly been threatened for taking photos that cops or government
officials didn't want taken. This new year was greeted with a sleazy
mass email making typically scurrilous unspecified charges. We have
weathered all of that, and will continue to do so.
counting front pages, in Volume 17 we were a Panamanian-style monthly
--- a new issue about once a month, but with a 13-month year as in
this country's formal economy. However, we are not in the formal
economy. We are a ragtag micro-enterprise and community medium that
hasn't had a regular payroll in many years.
our Spanish sections, we publish opinions and cover news that the
corporate mainstream press studiously avoids because they step on the
interlocking directorate and intermarried rabiblanco family toes of
the big media businesses and the ad agency cartel to which they are
allied. Our English pages are neither day-by-day translations of the
mainstream Spanish media nor screaming sensationalism devoid of
facts. We have never reported that somebody who is living has been
slain. We respect people's right to privacy but without a very good
reason to behave otherwise we disrespect the cravings for secrecy
that those who occupy government posts have with respect to
their official acts. We don't publish dehumanizing false caricatures
of people and organizations. The Panama News is written for thinking
people rather than dumbed down to appeal to those with the lowest
intelligence and basest instincts. We will take a few weeks to get a
story in its right context, with the key facts and without including
lies as if they are some sort of "balance" for the truth.
shall continue. We get by with a little help from our friends. You
know who you are, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
by the Presidencia
Martinelli's speech before the National Assembly about the state of
the nation's affairs was truly disgusting. The manic rant by the
beet-red president included some of the most obnoxious boasts ever
made in Panamanian politics. He even claimed credit for the national
under-20 soccer team qualifying for the world championships.
he deny his personal participation in the $400 million raid on the
national treasury that was the special interest capital gains tax
break on the Banistmo sale to HSBC? No, actually he admitted it, but
wants to throw his accomplices in jail for it.
what about his attacks on the press? Did he specifically say that the
reports on the sordid radar deal with Italy, with the special side
deal with fugitive Valter Lavitola's company skimming 10 percent,
were in any way inaccurate? No. After trying to suppress disclosure
of the skimming contract that he approved, he said that the Italian
government will eventually exonerate him. Did he specifically deny
the Paitilla and Juan Hombron land grabs that his administration
engineered and then tried to conceal? No. He just called the people
who called him on it "cowards."
unspecified accusation of wrongdoing, the denial that doesn't match
the claim --- these are the tools of belligerent thugs who have
nothing honest or intelligent to say. It's going to get worse before
it gets better under Martinelli, and let the true cowards flee.
Those of us with any integrity --- even if we can't agree on
politics, economics or philosophy --- need to stand together against
the president's crude attacks.
Cooper state ceremony?
60s radical leader Floyd Britton's bones may have been found in an
unmarked Coiba Island grave. When he died of beatings and abuse in
the dictatorship's prisons, his family never got a chance to give him
a proper burial.
the bones that were found are Britton's it would be only proper if,
after all of these years, his remains were turned over to his family
and friends for proper burial or cremation, and to give people the opportunity to honor his memory in keeping with traditions.
And if the remains are identified as those of the fallen leftist leader, we’d like to see him remembered with a dignified and enlightening memorial.
Arias, who was elected president four times, but always thrown out of
office by coups or denied office by fraud, died a natural death in
exile in 1988, and was buried in Panama City in a funeral that drew
tens of thousands of mourners and was a rallying point for opponents
of the dictatorship. General Noriega, of course, declined to allow
the trappings of a state funeral for that event.
The widow, former President Mireya Moscoso, put on a state
funeral and reburial ceremony with government funding and
participation. Ricardo Martinelli, who was a beneficiary rather than
an opponent of the Norieguista regime, was to play a prominent role, but that was canceled at the last moment.
Arnulfo Arias state funeral and reburial was a macabre rite, a bizarre
spectacle put on by discredited politicians. In no way did it
compensate for the low level of teaching of history and civics in
Panama's public schools. It was also such a crude and gruesome idea
that it's unlikely that the fortunes of any politician or
political party were boosted.
Most people are
people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a
mimicry, their passions a quotation.
What is our
fear? That we will be harmed. What is our greatest threat? The
escalation of cruelty. What is our greatest need? To believe we are
worthy of the joy that is possible in this life. Time Magazine was
right to name protesters Person of the Year, for we have collectively
left our couches for the trenches and the streets, which means we are
beginning once again to believe in ourselves. There is only us to
muddle through whatever madness is thrown our way. May we muddle
steadily, happily, soulfully: may kindness be the compass. And may
all listen without hurry for consensus to be heard.
passions, whether violent or not, should never be so expressed as to
reach the point of causing disgust; and music, even in situations of
the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should
flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.