Editorials: Foreign intervention; and Old problem on a new chief’s shift

President Cortizo and his cabinet did hear the public rejection. However, he’s giving us new “consultations” about the old plan, which is the National Assembly tinkering with the constitution in self-interested and thuggish ways that avoid the most pressing public concerns, then spending a lot of public money and displaying a UN stamp of approval to try to jam it through on a referendum vote.

President Cortizo’s very old
new plan: foreign intervention

Panamanians are weary of the political caste’s crime wave. We want a new constitution, from scratch, that eliminates all of the special privileges and protections that politicians and a very few powerful families get and we don’t. The National Assembly, many members of which belong in prison, wants to continue to steal from PANDEPORTES, put their relatives and private company employees on the public payroll, and end all questions about their corrupt behavior with another question directed at the questioner: “Who are YOU?”

Of course the voters are set to reject whatever comes out of the legislature.

But what if it can be disguised by having a Gringa, working under the auspices of the United Nations Development Program, oversee a consultation process?

It’s a terrible idea. Just like, in 1989, having the United States deal with the Noriega problem. Just like, in 1903, putting a Frenchman with a financial stake in the process in charge of negotiating a canal treaty with the Americans.

What sort of consultations are needed? Those aimed at coming up with a fair and generally accepted process to elect delegates to a constitutional convention. Only that subject. Certainly not suggestions for another proposal by the National Assembly.

This hiding place for prison contraband was in place before the present administration
and National Police director took office. What happened at La Joyita was a confluence
of things and we should be ready to look in depth at all of those things, rather than to
quickly point fingers based on partisan orientations.

Beyond the usual questions
after a prison massacre

Of course. Inmates are not supposed to have a lot of things, and near the top of the list are 9mm pistols and AK-47 assault rifles. It took some public corruption for those things to be in La Joyita. ‘Mistakes were made’ is an unacceptable understatement, but specifically which police officers and which guard committed which guilty act or omission is a harder set up circumstances to clarify.

So how come a prison policy of separating gangs into cell blocks where they don’t come into contact with their rivals didn’t stop the gang warfare that left 14 dead in La Joyita? The short answer is that there has been an apparent and deadly split in Bagdad, one of Panama’s two main criminal gangs, and that was what erupted.

But is it acceptable to presume that gangsters will remain such and just need to be given their separate spaces in prison? Or should they be mixed up and put into situations where they must navigate new arrangements in their lives, without such protection as gang loyalty can bring?

And when will we wise up and take most of the money out of gangland activity by legalizing drugs and quitting Uncle Sam’s lost “War on Drugs” cause?

And when will we address the main reason for adolescent boys and young men joining gangs in the first place, the stark inequality, lack of economic prospects and pervasive snobbery that combine to lead so many to the conclusion that they have no honorable future, and thus risk nothing by taking up a short, nasty and brutish life of crime?

Let’s not hear facile advertising from would-be gun importers, nor calls for death penalties or police brutality. Panama needs a better society if its worst is to get any better. 



                    Powerlessness and silence go together.

Margaret Atwood               

Bear in mind…

If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.

Johnny Carson


Like many other countries, my country, Vietnam, has lived through long years of wars which have ravaged this already-poor land and left behind millions of orphans, widows, disabled and missing-in-action. Vietnamese women, as part of their nation have been tested by harsh trials and countless hardships. They have derived therefrom their exceptional endurance and tenacity, their ability to survive and to persist in their full identity through the storms of life. Just like the Vietnamese bamboo tree, which is supple but unbreakable, which bends under the wind but does not break, and which afterwards, stands again as straight and proud as before.

Nguyen Thi Binh


Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.

Bertrand Russell


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