Electoral Tribunal bans 18 electronic media sites

Among the 18 Internet or social media sites “suspended” by the Electoral Tribunal, two, the above page and the Movimientos Sociales de Panamá Facebook page, are associated with the constellation of groups that revolve around the semi-underground November 29th National Liberation Movement (MLN-29) and are associated with the Broad Front for Democracy (FAD) political party.

Electoral Tribunal gag order against 18 small media and candidates’ social media pages

by Eric Jackson

On March 25, without any prior hearings, citing “complaints,” the Electoral Tribunal issued edicts “suspending” 18 Internet sides, mostly on the social media. There are restrictions on political advertising and on political polling that have been issued and the tribunal says that these were violated. Some of the social media sites include those of presidential candidates José Isabel Blandón and Rómulo Roux. Some, like Frenadeso Noticias, are general news and commentary sites that have been around for years and whose content is mostly not about elections.

Not included were Ricardo Martinelli’s media empire, which includes major newspapers, a television station and radio stations. All of Martinelli’s media feature a notable political slant in favor the the jailed ex-president and candidate for Panama City mayor and legislator.

The Panama News, which is more than 24 years old, was never notified of anything by the Electoral Tribunal when it had it “consultations” about press rules. Nor was Frenadeso Noticias ever consulted in this process.

Notwithstanding the constitutional bar against discrimination according to social class, the tribunal only notified and heard the rabiblanco media, ignoring the small publications and especially those which operate predominantly via the social media. But now, in a break from past practices of pretending that the small media and social media do not exist, the magistrates are attempting to assert control. As these three functionaries represent the scandal-plagued major political political parties, it’s probably safe to presume that this is the latest move to suppress the #NoALaReelección movement to oust as many incumbent politicians as possible from their public offices. 


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