Editorials: Show the kids our best; and A dangerous tolerance for election fraud

Pope Francis meets with a small, young, international group. © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

Let’s behave well for our young visitors

 The kinds of ugliness that might happen are predictable in our times and place. Young Catholic pilgrims from all over the world, coming to Panama for World Youth Day. The kids getting gouged on taxi and even bus fares. Businesses raising their prices for the occasion, mostly at the expense of people who live here but with this, that or the other excuse. Vile xenophobes venting against the young foreigners.

Mostly these young people will not have much money. But if they are treated will and enjoy their stay they may come back in a few years as more ordinary tourists with more money to spend.

 World Youth Day will be a fleeting event. It will not be a sufficient show of piety to maintain Juan Carlos Varela’s Panameñista Party in control of the presidential palace. It may, if things turn out right, be a worthwhile investment in that intangible but quite valuable asset, Panama’s reputation.

Be courteous, be helpful, be protective.  It’s not only the decent thing to do, it’s a necessary defense of Panama.


Eduardo Peñaloza failed to investigate the theft of government data for partisan election uses in the 2014 cycle. Now that malfeasance has returned to haunt us. Photo by the Fiscalía General Electoral.

Continuing crimes against privacy and election integrity

In the run-up to the 2014 elections we learned that the Martinelli team was using a sophisticated computerized campaign list that contained data that could have only come from the government, which by law had a duty to keep that stuff confidential. Who was on the government payroll, who received which public benefits, who is related to whom, those sorts of things from the Electoral Tribunal and from the various ministries.

At the time the response was that Martinelli did not abuse the public trust in the way that it appeared, that such lists can be privately bought. But then, that would just mean the receipt of stolen property, if one wanted to look at it that way. Buying a list of stolen government data is still the illegal use of confidential information.

Ricardo Martinelli’s Electoral Prosecutor Eduardo Peñaloza could not be bothered. 

Now we have seen more than a million signatures submitted by independent candidates for president, and several of these hopefuls have submitted forged signatures of names taken from confidential Electoral Tribunal data. One candidate even admitted it, and a couple of others are likely to say that they paid these contractors to gather signature and know nothing about how they did it.

So the election crimes of 2014 continue into 2019, with little prospect of any serious and impartial investigation, let alone enforcement of our laws. It’s somewhere along the slippery slope from a flawed democracy to a failed state.


Bear in mind…

   Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.

Niels Bohr    

   Power doesn’t corrupt — it unmasks.

Thelma King    

   War has become a luxury that only small nations can afford.

Hannah Arendt   


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