Editorials: Panama’s maritime neutrality; and Thugs make things worse

ship from Biomuseo
Is Panamanian independence getting to be as antiquated as this ship?

A neutral maritime nation? Or whose vassal?

One of the last things that the Varela administration did was cancel the Panamanian registry of a tanker ship that the United States condemned as “terrorist” because it allegedly was used to transport Iranian oil to Syria. This, it was said, in furtherance of the US embargo against Iran and international anti-terrorist agreements. The vessel was later seized by the British as it attempted to pass through the Straits of Gibraltar.

This de-flagging at US insistence was preceded by the Varela policy of banning the Panamanian registry of ships that rescue migrants on the Mediterranean Sea, this at the request of the right-wing Italian government.

Now we have a new administration and a new head of the Maritime Authority, who will have cabinet rank in the Cortizo administration. It is announced that Panama will make sure that in the maritime ambit we follow all international agreements.

Which ones, and under whose interpretation?

One of the most important sets of international agreements that Panama has provides that the canal is a neutral waterway which ships of all nations may use. Is that now called off whenever Uncle Sam calls some other country “terrorist?”

And what about another great maritime dispute of our times, China’s claims of the South China Sea as its territorial waters, against the claims of several other nations, and its aggravation of that dispute by creating landfill islands on places that would be underwater at high tide, militarizing those and claiming territorial seas and exclusive economic zones around those. Are we to condone those practices, which arguably violate the applicable international agreements about the law of the sea, because China is a great power and important economic partner?

Now it will be up to Nito Cortizo. Is Panama aligned with a foreign master or independent? If Panama is aligned, with whom? You would expect that no sensible leader of little Panama would go hurling bombastic defiance at either the United States or China, that diplomacy will have to be more subtle. But there are still some decisions to make about what Panama is and intends to be, and however these are made there will be powerful people and nations who don’t like them.



He / she / it / they broke the lock on the back gate and reached in through the work station window.

Maleante weekend

July 4 through 7 was not a long weekend for Panamanians like in the USA. But here the thugs made it seem that way, with several days of homicides and assaults more befitting of a long weekend in the most heavily armed and crime-afflicted areas of the United States.

Was THAT all over? Late Monday morning your hard-working editor began this editorial page, then, already on short July rations – this is the month when the biggest bills come in — went into Anton for basic cat food, rice and coffee staples.

Returning, it was discovered that some local hoodlum – let’s not guess who – broke the lock on one of the back gates, couldn’t or didn’t break any other locks, reached in through the back window to the computer station where The Panama News is produced, and stole. He – pretty sure it was a he, but perhaps not – stole the wireless modem and stick. Stole the mouse. Stole the cable used for the modem. Stole the editor’s cell phone and charger, which wasn’t working anyway due to an apparent dead battery. Stole an old iPad which only works for a few things, but could not reach the charger cable for this. The laptop itself was kept out of the reach of burglars, as it habitually is.

About $100 would replace those stolen items used to produce The Panama News, not counting the cell phone and chip, the editor’s time or travel expenses to and from places where replacements might be found.

This is written offline, and posted and uploaded at a place with free WiFi. Production of The Panama News is disrupted for at least a few days. How many or few days depends on the generosity of readers. We were already in a hole for our annual web hosting and anti-hacking program rentals, and now this. Sorry about that.

To lend a hand via PayPal, which generally takes a few days, click on https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=N9GEGY9C3VSH8

To donate to The Panama News if PayPal does not work you can send money by wire, in the full name of the editor, “Eric Lea Jackson Malo,” who lives near Antón and Penonomé, via Western Union, MoneyGram, Super 99, Correos, etc. We need to know if you sent money and the routing number. Let us know at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com.

The complications with this are that there is no phone connection and Internet connections are only brief and sporadic, when the editor is at a place with free WiFi. Ah, well. Many a cause has rebound from far worse a setback.




I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley                

Bear in mind…


The two most powerful nations of the world had been squared off against each other, each with its finger on the button. You’d have thought that war was inevitable. But both sides showed that if the desire to avoid war is strong enough, even the most pressing dispute can be solved by compromise. And a compromise over Cuba was indeed found.

Nikita Khrushchev


The Republican Party can lead any person to believe that their promises will be fulfilled in the future. They follow the Hitler line — no matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as truth.

John F. Kennedy


The point is not for women simply to take power out of men’s hands, since that wouldn’t change anything about the world. It’s a question precisely of destroying that notion of power.

Simone de Beauvoir


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