Does #NoALaReelección apply to the same old individuals or families as forever? Arturo Araúz had the job from 1999 to 2004, and is now running as an independent to get it back. Photo from his campaign.
Same old in Chame and San Carlos?
by Eric Jackson
Change? In legislative circuit 8-3, which encompasses Chame and San Carlos districts, you generally get that. This time will be no exception, as the current deputy, the Partido Popular’s Juan Carlos Arango Reese, is one of the nearly one-third of the National Assembly to be calling it quits this year. He sees the handwriting that may shock some or most of his 50 colleagues seeking another term.
So who might the folks in the beach communities — and stretching inland — get this time?
First of all, the Electoral Tribunal isn’t really so eager to tell you. If you dig hard enough they will tell you who SOME of the candidates, the party nominees but not the independents, happen to be. Then you have to dig more to find who’s running as an independent. You find this stuff in the dysfunctionally indexed Boletin Tribunal Electoral.
There is the guy who was defeated trying to buy re-election last time, Junior Herrera, running on the Cambio Democrático ticket again. Not sure that he gets to use the corregiduría in Las Uvas as a center from which he sends out campaign workers with bags of groceries to those on the list this time. And this year’s billboards as composed to those he had all over the place in 2014? It’s early yet and there are an awful lot of empty billboards, but his face is less often and less prominently depicted along the roads, and when you do see it his face suggests that he has had a stroke.
NO, Francis Franco is not an apparition of the long-departed Spanish dictator. He’s the MOLIRENA candidate, also running on the PRD ticket. This is an area where the Torrijistas have their pockets of support, but generally get trounced in the two-municipality legislative circuit. (The PRD is stronger in San Carlos than in Chame.) What usually happens, and what happened this time, is that there is no PRD primary in circuit 8-3 but rather the party holds this open for a small party that allies with it. This time, quite incongruously in terms of the new junior partner’s history, that ally is the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (MOLIRENA). This is not the same Franco who held the seat from 1994 to 1999. Does this reporter flunk the most important of all sciences for the people who run this country, rabiblanco genealogy, for not immediately knowing what if any relationship he may have to Joaquín Franco? (But Ricky Martinelli’s people know — their database includes all such information, directly or indirectly stolen from the Electoral Tribunal during the 2009-2014 regime.)
What? This time we don’t get the perennial PRD candidate in the circuit, former boxer Enrique “Kike” Florez? Not to worry. The last time the Panameñistas won the circuit their man was Junior Herrera, and he promptly jumped ship to Martinelli’s party. This time they WON’T be burned this way. They made Florez, who never did get elected to the legislature, THEIR candidate this time. He went out and got the most signatures to run as an independent, but then the Panameñistas put him on their ticket. (That means only two independents running instead of three by this year’s rules.) And for Florez’s running mate? The would-be suplente is the in-and-out of jail and hiding and the court system former long-time mayor of Chame, Euclides “SiSiSi” Mayorga, whose daughter is the current mayor. Mayorga the elder has also switched parties a few times.
One of the two indies who made it through is journalist Manolo Álvarez Cedeño. A middle aged face, but a new one for this circuit. He’s calling for a “positive transformation” that includes replacing the Seguro Social policlínica in San Carlos with a full-blown hospital, improving the local IDAAN water system, promoting tourism and building a national sports museum. He’s for a parallel constituent assembly. His suplente is San Carlos Lions Club leader Leyda Delacruz.
The other familiar face in the race is independent Arturo Araúz. On his shift he did some noteworthy things, for better or worse. A boon to journalists and ordinary citizens, he sponsored legislation that eliminated the power of mayors and other public officials to fine or jail people for something that they wrote or said just because in his or her officious judgment said utterance was disrespectful. He doesn’t speak good English, but he was a big promoter of it. His notion of making English a second official national language did not get off the ground. His proposal of making English a mandatory subject of study in the schools did pass, and others interpreted and enforced it such that a brilliant student in everything but English can’t get a university education in Panama. His proposal to start teaching Mandarin in the schools did not get far, but perhaps its time is coming. He spent some of his legislative circuit fund on the annual New Years muñeco competition, breathing new life into that old cultural manifestation. He wasn’t known to be corrupt.
You foreign expats in the beach communities don’t get to vote your choice on this. Whom the voters decide upon may affect your life in some way.
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