Editorials: Nito’s dilemmas, and Biden should step beyond the past

Health Minister Rosario Turner receives badly needed personal protective equipment donated by people and institutions abroad, via the Ministry of Foreign Relations. However, her credibility is in a deep hole, as is that of the PRD government as a whole. Ministry of Health photo.

Neither a hoax nor a failed advertising strategy — it’s more systemic than that

Three cabinet ministers, including the health minister, signed the call for what turned out to be a curfew-violating PRD meeting at Jimmy’s, a very good restaurant across from ATLAPA which, like every restaurant in Panama City, was supposed to be closed. There is a good reason for the curfew on restaurants, notwithstanding the hardship the ban works on those who work at or own such establishments. This COVID-19 epidemic is serious, and if most people who get sick don’t die, enough do succumb and some who do not die get lasting damage to their lungs or other organs. This is no ordinary flu season. There is no medical evidence that a “herd immunity” is possible.

Health Minister Rosario Turner recused herself from the matter. A subordinate fined the PRD and the restaurant $50,000 apiece. PRD online activist, whether on a government or party payroll or just volunteer zealots, have cried out for punishment of the protesters who showed up outside the meeting. They were, after all, violating curfew and they stand the risk of infection from their protest.

Just as the epidemic is building toward a second, more deadly peak, the Cortizo administration is terribly discredited. Not only by the meeting but by other apparent special privileges by which connected people got passes through roadblocks that others with similar claims did not, and by an inadequate food relief program that has generated both hunger and protests.

But now is not the time for the government to step down, to hold elections for a constituent assembly or anything else, to pour out into the streets for demonstrations polite or otherwise. People would get sick and some would die from such things. It’s not a moral issue but a medical one.

Now is the time for Nito to start listening to different people, to say no to those calling special dibs, to replace those who have on behalf of the nation gotten rooked on emergency purchases. It’s not a time for nihilism, to throw out all controls because they have not worked as well as they might have. Rather, it’s a time to fix the problems, especially for working people – both those who were formally or informally employed – who have been left without income. Embarrassed and discredited as the administration may be, it’s the only one Panama has and it needs to adjust some matters and move ahead with due caution and more concern for people’s lives.



Just because ONE thug takes a stand…

Oh, please, Joe. Your job is to replace the thug in the White House.

If you are not going to say anything about Bolsonaro in Brazil, Áñez in Bolivia or Hernández in Honduras, don’t single anyone out. Don’t, for domestic political reasons, lead the United States into a regime change adventure against Venezuela. In fact, don’t take on any mission to remove any Latin American or Caribbean government, whether of the left or of the right.

Yes, there are things that the United States can do to promote democracy in the region, but supporting pretender presidents like Mr. Guaidó is not one of them. Nor does the militarized and failed “War on Drugs” help. If there is one bitter lesson that should be drawn from the foreign policy of the Obama years, it ought to be the futility of “regime change” coups, military interventions and the arming of insurgents.

Just say no to the arms merchants who stand to profit from such policies. Lead the country into a new era in which it’s much more respected and a bit less feared in our region.



We must open the doors and we must see to it they remain open, so that others can pass through.

Rosemary Brown

Bear in mind…

Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.

Leonardo da Vinci


All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.

James Thurber


It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reasons for living.

Simone de Beauvoir


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