Bernal, Constitutional convention time

Justo Arosemena Quesada
19th century jurist, diplomat, writer, activist and statesman.
Governor of the federal state of Panama within Colombia, he was forced out under the pressure of the US-owned Panama Railroad Company, which wanted special tax favors to which he objected.
Would any of today’s grasping legislators belong in the same room with him?

Constitutional convention time

by Miguel Antonio Bernal

What happened in the National Assembly during the last two weeks confirms that professional politicians are discredited, and every more so as the days go by.

Political patronage and neopopulist personality cults are today more rejected. The demagogy and the fallacies of the legislators are rejected and repudiated despite the effort made by the so-called “independents” in the Assembly to make ua believe that THEY are not more of the same.

Hijacked by corruption with impunity, our country refuses to sink. We begin to react, without haste but without pause, to the impositions of authoritarian structures and authorities who are distinguished by their level of mediocrity.

During recent administrations those who have been in positions of command and jurisdiction have been concerned about and dedicated to the task of making the Law benefit them and serve their petty personal interests. The prevailing inequality is increasing and most citizens suffer more and more.

The people, therefore, should not allow the political parties to restart their traditional money dance. They would aggravate the unreasonable state in which we live, as a result of the unforgivable absence of citizen controls. We need what they won’t allow to have a democratic, constitutional rule of law. Only with such a new order can we meaningfully talk about citizen participation.

The “reforms” designed to prevent any change were stillborn but the political caste and its backers still want to impose them. To do this, they would seek to set up a rigged referendum to get a Yes vote.

But the time has come for a Constitutional Convention, through real and effective citizen participation. A Constitutional Convention that emanates from the original constituent power that the people inherently have, an exercise in civic action to end the increasing personalization and concentration of power, to control the increaseinglyi irrational exercise of power.

Those who today promote the counter-proposal of parallel process – which the current deputies and magistrates and president and ministers can and will shape and control – unmask themselves when they slander and insult those of us who argue for a Constitutional Convntion. They avoiding the real debate. They stutter in the service of democracy’s enemies, to avoid citizen participation.

The hour of he Constitutional Convention can’t be put off any longer.

Clara González de Behringer
20th century jurist, educator, activist and stateswoman.
The first Panamanian woman to graduate from law school and practice law, she was a delegate to the 1946 Constitutional Convention that replaced Arnulfo Arias’s racist 1941 constitution. She taught economics and civics at the Instituto Nacional. A tireless campaigner for women’s suffrage, she ran for office on the Feminist Party ticket. She was the founding judge of Panama’s first juvenile court.
Would any of today’s grasping legislators belong in the same room with her?

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