Editorials: Hungry, angry and bored; and Evacuation flights

A disturbance in Arraijan.  It’s  not the better part of the citizenry rising up in a deadly rage. It’s not people who are starving to death. But there are real grievances that the government should not ignore. Anonymous photo from Twitter.

Hungry, angry and bored

A curious food riot, it was. The powers that be coming to troubled Arraijan with 500 bags of food, which were not nearly enough to meet the demand. Boys playing soccer in the middle of the road at Loma Cova. Another traffic nightmare to remind people to stay home.

The are unscrupulous people and organizations fishing these troubled waters. Given government secrecy – lots of money for dubious “influencers” and ad agencies and not enough transparency in the ordinary course of business – serious people are trying do draw inferences from things that leak out, or appear to. The blanket statement that what is stated in the social media is “fake news,” without specifying such things as which document is alleged to be a forgery, which claim is erroneous and why, or who is running a systematic disinformation campaign, serves no good purpose. The specific identification of foreign sources, fake personas or bots, “call center” operations and known political actors playing fast and loose with the truth would help.

People are hungry, even if not starving to death in great numbers.

People are angry about seeing the same old oligarchs, many with well deserved sewer-level reputations, consulted by the president about the economy while he’s never seen listening to people like them.

People are getting a bit stir crazy in the confinement of quarantine. Simple boredom is a big problem but for now the least deadly of the symptoms. To their credit public agencies are taking depression, suicide and domestic violence as major public health threats that spike when worried people are shut in.

So Coca-Cola, Bimbo and Kiener want to open more of the small food businesses? They do make a good point, but why isn’t the president seen talking with the small business proprietors in question?

The food bags are pitiful and the national debt is huge. Shouldn’t the government help people to grow victory gardens in yards, on balconies and on rooftops, so as to make up some of the dietary shortfall and to give people something to do?

Panama’s strict quarantine measures, even if they are not universally obeyed, are working to limit coronavirus infections and deaths. This pandemic, however, is and will be more than just a health crisis. It’s changing people’s behavior and old social and economic equations. Sensitive and sensible leadership are needed for those things, too.


Evacuation flights to the USA

There are US citizens who are stuck here, who want to attend to family crises back in the USA. They should be allowed to do so.

Americans who just can’t stand the isolation in a foreign land, who find the walls of depression closing in on them, who just can’t find anyone to whom to reach out – these folks need not be ashamed. If repatriation to the States might help, they should be allowed to seek that remedy.

Those US citizens who are not also Panamanian, who may or may not be aligned with the ultra-right movement staging armed demonstrations against US governors, but regardless of affiliation insist upon undue public opposition to the sovereign Panamanian government’s policies – those folks should be repatriated to the USA and should be given no choice in the matter. Complaining about the inconveniences is one acceptable thing. Suggesting in good faith better things for Panama to do is another positive and permissible if occasionally annoying exercise of a right. Repeatedly posting anti-scientific junk on social media with the purpose of “proving” Panamanian policies wrong, making arguments that the quarantine violates the US Constitution and that US law ought to apply to Panama, deriding those who urge obedience of the curfew decrees as wimps or fools – that element of the gringo community should be put on the next plane out of Panama.


          I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.

Frida Kahlo          

Bear in mind…

Poverty cannot deprive us of many consolations. It cannot rob us of the affection we have for each other, or degrade us in our own opinion, of in that of any person, whose opinion we ought to value.

Ann Radcliffe

Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile!

Kurt Vonnegut

Everybody knows if you are too careful you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something.

Gertrude Stein


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