Editorials: Duboy, Odebrecht & Varela; and US fanatics lose one

President Juan Carlos Varela and Tocumen SA administrator Carlos Duboy. Tocumen SA photo.

Odebrecht and all who took their money must go

Carlos Duboy, the administrator of the state-owned Tocumen SA, which runs the nation’s airports, admits that through a private company he owns, Strategic Management, he was the intermediary for $150,000 in “contributions” by the hoodlum Brazilian company Odebrecht to the Panameñista Party to which he and President Juan Carlos Varela belong.

Prosecutors are investigating, which given the track record of all the Odebrecht scandals here, should not reassure anyone except perhaps criminals. What is happening, however, is that the Public Ministry is doing hardly any real investigations of Odebrecht on its own, but just relying on what foreign governments provide and then complaining about these sources being too slow for the Panamanian courts to accept their data. Adding to it are recent revelations that the Panameñistas, and perhaps other political parties here, have not kept any registry of cash contributions they received, or to whom and what this money went. It’s all a dance of corruption and impunity, leaving Panama as an international laughing stock. Do you think that this show has nothing to do with the European Union imposing sanctions on Panama? Think again.

Tocumen Airport has ongoing contracts with Odebrecht, as do the Metro commuter train system, the Panama City municipal government and the Colon city renovation project. Most of these contracts were awarded on a no-bid or rigged-bid basis.

Now Duboy says he sees no reason to step down during the investigation, Varela says that Duboy stays where he is, and the Odebrecht contracts continue.

Any concession that Duboy has to leave or that the Odebrecht contracts ought to be suspended would be an admission that there are serious questions about the president’s behavior as well. And it might just be the case that in no branch of government is there any will to admit another failed presidency, and even if more than 60 percent of Panamanians disapprove of Varela’s conduct there isn’t the public appetite for any sort of regime change before the 2019 elections.

The right thing would be for Duboy to step down and for all public works contracts in Panama with Odebrecht to be rescinded. If that would be annoyingly inconvenient and a terrible blow the the chances of Varela’s party in 2019, all those problems are of Varela’s making. When a person or institution is brought to justice it’s always inconvenient for somebody. So what?


The ungodly pedophile loses in Alabama, just barely

Most of Alabama’s white voters, particularly the men, voted for a grown man who, a witness who says she was there claims, asked a 14-year-old girl to take her clothes off for him. This candidate believes that it was a terrible constitutional error when the United States ended slavery by way of the 13th Amendment. The man was thrown off of the Alabama bench for defying the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

Those fanatics, and people like them all throughout American society, in the USA and abroad, comprise between one-quarter and one-third of the American electorate. They are not going away anytime soon, but demographic trends indicate that they are on the whole older so can be expected to die off sooner the people who are not like that.

That crowd and its allies now dominates all branches of the federal government and most state governments. But polls indicate that most Americans now find them alarmingly toxic, not just fellow citizens who disagree but truly dangerous.

In about 11 months’ time there is a referendum scheduled on that — the 2018 mid-term elections. There will probably be a lot of turmoil between now and then, especially considering that so many of the ultra-right Republicans believe in End Times religion, which holds that the world is ending soon so any damage that they do doesn’t matter.

The ballot box is the best way out of the predicament. However, the whole US electoral system is broken under the weight of unlimited campaign contributions by billionaires. These power brokers may be malicious and may be doing the bidding of foreign powers. The fanatics wave guns around and in many states have gerrymandered the congressional districts. They may not accept a democratic verdict. It’s a recipe for a constitutional crisis, one that was shoved only a little way back from unfolding by a close election in Alabama.


Bear in mind…

Some third person decides your fate: this is the whole essence of bureaucracy.
Alexandra Kollontai


Even the smallest dog can lift its leg on the tallest building.
Jim Hightower


There are two kinds of artists left: those who endorse Pepsi and those who simply won’t.
Annie Lennox


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