Editorials: The ACP; and Hillary’s faults and fortune



Juan Francisco Guerrero, the acting director of the National Institute of Culture (INAC), has taken great umbrage at this graphic, as if such symbols of the national culture as the pollera are somehow reserved by governments that take money from the United States to pursue the failed “War on Drugs.” If he wants to be a cultural critic or to debate drug policies, that’s his and the Varela administration’s right. The assertion that the national culture is an exclusive property for one side of a debate about a public policy issue is obnoxious.

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Yes, the Panama Canal Authority and persons who are or were acting on its behalf need to be called to account, but this is about way more than a bad concrete job

The specific problem will be fixed but there’s a general framework that should be replaced

With much dismay, we see a concrete sill at the new Cocoli Locks that won’t hold water. In the larger scheme of things the slightly belated Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announcement that they don’t know what the problem is but that the already delayed April 2016 opening of the new locks won’t be again postponed ought to be of much greater concern to Panamanians — even if the prediction turns out to be accurate.

What the announcement means is that after all the scandals revolving around former Minister of Canal Affairs Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal that have come to the public’s attention, with yet another disaster flowing from acceptance of a lowball bid from a consortium that included a company owned by relatives of then ACP administrator Alberto Alemán Zubieta (a company of which that same man had been CEO), in the wake of a scandal swept under the rug wherein current Minister of Canal Affairs Roberto Roy with his Secretary of the Metro hat on accepted a bidding process in which an undisclosed former consultant for the corruption-tainted Odebrecht set up an arcane set of “technical qualifications” that steered the Metro Line 2 contract to Odebrecht — after all of that the ACP continues to act as if it were a private family company rather than a public institution in a democratic society. No doubt nobody at the ACP ever figured that an announcement such as this would be seen for the sneering and opaque informaton control game that it is. But although they seem not to be used to such ideas in the Administration Building, such information belongs in its entirety in the public domain.

The information control games that began when Martinelli was Minister of Canal Affairs must end now. The ACP board of directors that is in no way representative of the Panamanian people needs to be replaced en masse, and not according to the political patronage demands of the parties in the legislature. There needs to be a full and frank public inquiry about the entire Panama Canal expansion project, even as the thing is completed and its flaws repaired.

The goal should not be the apportionment of blame, nor the accumulation of political points. Notwithstanding all of the publicity, the Panama Canal is not as well governed as it ought to be. Proper adjustments should be included in any constitutional revision process.

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Her problem is not what Republicans are slinging at her

Hillary’s faults and fortune

The latest Des Moines Register – Bloomberg poll shows that Bernie Sanders has narrowed the gap between himself and Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses to single digits, and that Mrs. Clinton has lost about one-third of the support that she had in May. The Sanders surge, the Clinton collapse and the weaknesses of the Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb campaigns have worried corporate centrists urging Joe Biden to come into the race, and if not him there will probably be someone else.

Is Hillary’s problem a vast right-wing conspiracy? Actually, it isn’t. Yes, the rightist memes on the Internet are accusing her of treason — again. Under the US Constitution treason is when a US citizen makes war against the United States or in a time of war adheres to the enemies of the United States and gives them material assistance. It requires two eyewitnesses or a confession in open court to be proven. Clinton did not commit treason with respect to the Benghazi tragedy, nor did she do so with respect to her emails and private server. If she gets through the primaries and caucuses to win the Democratic nomination, the outlandish accusations would hurt her Republican opponent far more than they hurt her.

Clinton’s problems are at the moment with Democrats, although her intra-party critics will find plenty of independents and some Republicans who share their qualms. It is not that she’s disloyal to the United States, it’s that she’s loyal to a multinational oligarchy of millionaires and billionaires that over several decades has appropriated most of the wealth of the American people and is demanding more. It’s not that she sold out to America’s enemies as Secretary of State, but that along with a bunch of neoconservative aides and a president who has often lacked a good sense of the limits of US power in the world she did foolish things that made bad situations worse. It’s not that her private emails were criminal, but that they were careless, and that when criticized about them her response was far less than transparent. Does her husband’s old campaign adage — “It’s the economy, stupid” — apply this year? It certainly does, and Clinton seems quite tone-deaf to the cries of people who once thought themselves middle class.

Yes, Wall Street and the private prisons industry and the defense contractors — et al — love the woman and have been counting on her to keep the gravy train running on time. But that’s not most Americans, and much less so is it most Democrats.

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Bear in mind…

No society that feeds its children on tales of successful violence can expect them not to believe that violence in the end is rewarded.
Margaret Mead


Language is the laughter of the soul.
Pablo Neruda


I must try and break through the cliches about Latin America. Superpowers and other outsiders have fought over us for centuries in ways that have nothing to do with our problems. In reality we are all alone.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez


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