Bernal, Sowing the winds

basta ya
The forces are gathering again. There is a clear majority in Panama that condemns almost the entire political caste for taking bribes, but it is divided. The Panameñistas and others are busy attacking this faction or the other — mostly under pseudonyms — in an effort to keep the majority who want to see President Varela and others investigated divided into warring factions. Photo by Eric Jackson.

Sowing the wind

by Miguel Antonio Bernal

The worst part of the multiple cases of public corruption — which haven’t ceased to appear these past few years in Panama — is the absence of the will to investigate, prosecute and punish. The Odebrecht case is just the tip of the iceberg.

It is evidence of an attitude and behavior of complicity and cover-up on the part of the Public Ministry and of the competent authorities, who go beyond the social scourge that is corruption to its inseparable partner, impunity.

The absence of a determined civic reaction to contain the damage, to take corrective action and to regenerate a government that functions in the public interest serves as the fertilizer that nourishes the power brokers who control the state institutions. They think that they can continue to sow winds which are, however, bound to end in storms of violence. “The duty of statesmen, analysts and polemicists is to be attentive to the factors that can produce it and to suggest means to prevent the vortex before it sweeps away innocent people, as happened in Panama at the beginning of the 20th century,” Carlos Guevara Mann said recently, with great reason. (See: Julio Cruento – year 32 / July / 2017.)

It has been a long time since common good, the defense of the general interest and service to the citizens have been expelled from public life. We must act in unison to reintegrate these things, to really improve our social manners. Otherwise we will find ourselves without public institutions and, it must be said, without the human resources to be a society.

The transmutation of roles between “politicians” and “civil servants” has been generating institutional cross-dressing, the confusion of the roles of politicians and functionaries. That is, politicians who in practice are more concerned with performing civil service functions and functionaries who are more concerned with taking on the role and jurisdiction of politicians. In Panama this absurd role reversal has no name, but it’s deadly.


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