Editorials: White power’s forked tongue; and The Barro Blanco fiasco


he slithers

Who the cap fits, let him wear it

After promoting the Birther hoax for years in search of white supremacist votes — and getting the Republican nomination on the strength of that — NOW Donald Trump admits that its basic premise is not actually true. So where does the Klan vote go now?

They’re sticking with Trump. They won’t be persuaded otherwise. Racism is alive and well and a strong contender for the White House and through that control of the US Supreme Court for the next generation.

The only way to stop the white supremacists is a vote for an imperfect candidate, but one who strays not nearly so far from the norm of basic human decency. We do not ask sainthood from presidential candidates, nor infallible health nor 100 percent agreement on the issues. But a man who stands for the proposition that any infamous lie is acceptable if it’s about a black man, even if the man about whom that lie is told is the president of the United States, is way beyond the pale of what is acceptable.


Hapless president, acephalic comarca

It’s an old lesson from The Great White Father. Virtually all US Indian treaties were violated by Washington, the states or freelancing white people anyway. Virtually all concessions of Native American lands and resources were also made under duress. Then there was another common subterfuge — a lot of these “agreements” were made by white-selected “native representatives” or through unethical white-selected interpreters and in no way represented a consensual agreement between two parties. Juan Carlos Varela is dabbling with all of these tactics in his dealings with the Ngabe nation over the Barro Blanco Blanco Dam.

Does he say that the Honduran hoodlums and perhaps other silent partners of GENISA are out? Watch him back down on that by taking a dive on any court challenge. He certainly is not going to step on the claimed rights of Dutch and German banks that invested in theft and fraud, nor take any action at all against the Panamanian lawyers who concocted and filed the bogus “environmental impact study.” He just promised 15 percent of something or the other to go to someone not really specified, and nothing in particular to those families and individuals who have been thrown off of their lands, had their communities cut off by flood waters or lost their livelihoods.

Was it a deal with the Ngabe-Bugle General Congress? By its terms the “accord” said that it had to be ratified by that body. Set aside for a moment the Supreme Court decision that condemned the rigged election by which the Martinelli kleptocracy and the Electoral Tribunal created the present general congress to replace the traditional general congress. Set aside that the tainted general congress can’t even muster half of its purported delegates for a vote on a crucial issue like the dam. Set aside the fact that most of the puppet general congress’s officers and most of the government-recognized regional caciques — including the one representing the people of the area that’s being flooded — would not sign the document. Set aside all that, because the general congress voted to reject the proffered deal and to depose the general cacique who signed it.

Are there good legal arguments to hold that a special congressional session called to consider the Barro Blanco matter lacked the authority and failed to serve proper notice to effectively remove Silvia Carrera as general cacique? That’s probably the case, but the moment that she signed Varela’s document her status as a leader and spokeswoman became a thing of the past. Does she allude to the failure of the comarca’s elected legislators to stop the hated project? That may be a valid point but she’s now in no position to make it. The Martinelli administration ignored and insulted Carrera, but now the Varela administration has destroyed her as a political figure, even if they ignore her purported removal and continue her salary for another year.

The way forward for the Varela administration seems clear enough. Through bribery or coercion they will try to get the half of the delegates who boycotted the ratification session to attend a new gathering and vote for the lesser white father’s offer. Maybe they’ll throw some firewater into the mix. It’s ugly and unseemly. The swing voting comarca is unlikely to elect any Panameñista for a generation to come. With all the political parties in disarray things become unpredictable, but it’s probably safe to say that the post-invasion norm of the party in power losing the next elections is more firmly in place and that if there is a constitutional convention Varela is unlikely to be able to control it.

The comarca is scheduled to have new elections in a year’s time anyway. Meanwhile it has no generally accepted leadership. The nation has annoying and ineffective leadership in all branches of its government and in that same year leading up to a renewal of Ngabe and Bugle leadership, the nation ought to elect delegates to write a new constitution. Among other urgent reforms, any new constitution worthy of being ratified would give Panama’s original nations their due place in the sun and control over their lands, resources and fates. The “Great White Father makes a treaty with the Indians” political model is one of more unbecoming and inappropriate US imports that Panama has ever made.


Bear in mind…

People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

I shall be an autocrat, that’s my trade; and that good Lord will forgive me, that’s his.

Catherine the Great

That old saw about the early bird just proves that the worm should have stayed in bed.

Robert Heinlein


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