The deal is… (3): Is Ricardo Lombana breaking out of the pack?

“The new constitution is the first pillar of the Another Road for Panama movement, a constitution that should protect the citizens from the abuses of power.”

Despite fake polls, mudslinging and an early PRD lead, is Lombana rising to the occasion?

by Eric Jackson

Yes, he’s an Evangelical. No, he doesn’t want to beat up queers.

Ricardo Lombana has yet to be anointed in the temples of Ricardo Martinelli or Donald Trump. Don’t hold your breath waiting for those things to happen. Reverend Gantry probably wouldn’t endorse him either.

See, Ricardo Lombana has his faith, which he openly professes but compartmentalizes with a belief that church and state ought to be separate. If ever you have caught his expression when talking about the corruption that besets this land, it’s easy to believe that he got that attitude in some church that approved of Jesus Christ’s one recorded act of violence, the scene where he went after the moneylenders with a whip. But Lombana hasn’t been noticed with a scourge of chords on the campaign trail.

And so it goes when you have a religious right railing against feminists and homosexuals, and against sex education in the schools much more than against the sexual exploitation of underage girls by adult men. A religious right with leaders who were on the payroll of Ricardo Martinelli’s kleptocracy.

“I believe in the separation between church and state,” Lombana explained. “One shouldn’t bring his religious beliefs into government decisions.” But of course he would. The bit about “Thou shalt not steal,” for example.

About marriage equality, wherein Panama might recognize the marriages of same-sex couples? That one he dodges, saying that Panama should have a constitutional convention to replace the current document that dates back to the dictatorship, and that marriage equality is one of the subject that ought to be debated in that process.

Isn’t THAT diplomatic? Lombana, was, after all, a Panamanian diplomat in Washington DC during the Martín Torrijos administration. (Recall that those were years of a Panamanian government led by this country’s by then quite neoliberal affiliate of the Socialist International and a US government under the Republican administration of George W. Bush.)

Lombana makes a point of not passing out $20 bills on the campaign trail, and he doesn’t throw red meat to those looking to scapegoat someone. What kind of a campaign is THAT for Panama?

He got on the ballot in a petitioning process that had him overtake a guy who apparently had copies of government records that are supposed to be confidential, and from those paid people who forged signatures on petitions. The guy he overtook will not face a criminal investigation, but some of his campaign crew might. It was a surge in the last week of petitioning that got Ricardo Lombana on the ballot.

By all credible accounts, the PRD’s Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo is the front runner in the presidential race. But the polls that the Electoral Tribunal approves for publication are lies. They show nobody undecided, while unpublished surveys by more reputable people have shown more or less one-third of the electorate undecided. And things are volatile, as for one thing with the conviction or acquittal of Ricardo Martinelli one might expect his man for president, Rómulo Roux, to gain steam or more likely collapse.

Meanwhile, attorney Lombana keeps talking what the hate mobs will surely consider heresy on the campaign trail: “I worked to help create laws to defend the animals. My commitment is that these laws will be enforced, because animals are also Panamanians who need protection.”

Can he get away with it? Can he win? Perhaps the best indication is that people are attacking him now, mostly by way of fake documents and queer baiting from the religious right.

Figure that in the closing week or two before the May 5 election, if some of the richest people in Panama figure that Nito Cortizo can and should be beaten, a ton of money will pour into support for the chosen one. It might be Lombana.

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