Bernal, Corruption reigns supreme

PRD legislator Zulay Rodríguez responds to the MOVIN complaint that she is one of the legislators who has not published her legislative office’s payroll and other public expenditures via her office. She attacks principal MOVIN spokeswoman Annette Planells, conflating “they” (the universe of MOVIN people) with “she.” The legislator comes to the conclusion that MOVIN is not independent (of the polítical parties, it actually is, but of powerful social and economic forces in Panamanian society it isn’t) and equates the organization with President Varela. Actually, they supported Varela at the end of the 2014 campaign as the most likely person to thwart Ricardo Martinelli’s proxy re-election but later broke with Varela over corruption and constitutional reform issues. MOVIN is a business and professional classes movement that has included among its backers the probable richest man in Panama, Stanley Motta. For a xenophobic demagogue like Rodríguez, railing against the evil rich guy is a fairly standard campaign dodge. Columnist, law professor, radio show host and activist Miguel Antonio Bernal is an independent of a different stripe than MOVIN. He and they agree that no elected official ought to be re-elected this time.

Enough of this corruption

by Miguel Antonio Bernal

The Panamanian government, given present-day power brokers’ lack of will, does nothing – in reality – to diminish or eradicate the corruption that has become entrenched in each and every sphere of this country.

Within this degenerative process, the scourge of corruption ever more the consumes highest public officials and the top managers of private enterprise. Uncontrolled, it permeates all social sectors, creating explosive situations of exclusion and injustice.

The lack of means for citizen participation, on the other hand, contributes to the absence and ineffectiveness of control mechanisms needed to contain the local Odebrechts and their accessories within the machinery, such as the Comptroller’s and the Attorney General’s offices.

Electoral populism is fully and busily engaged. It’s a fraudulent tournament of corny tricks promoted by the three electoral magistrates and co-sponsored by their buddies in the courts and the legislature. Any desire to empower the citizenry to participate in national events through the full exercise of our rights is totally repudiated by misnamed “political class.”

Whatever civic preventive action through inspections, observers or demands for accountability in the face of multiple cases of corruption is not contemplated by any of the candidates. This warns us that “change so that nothing changes” has hijacked the process.

Day by day, we live in a “democracy” that has been hijacked by a few, for a few, and to the detriment of the great majority that’s reduced to being spectators rather than actors.

The participation of citizens in different spaces is urgent. To do this, organizing ourselves around a constituent process will allow us to better defend the public interest and strengthen civic action. “No to reelection,” for example, goes hand in hand with no more corruption.


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