Editorials: What the chaos up there means down here; and Still pestilential

George Floyd protest by the White House. Photo by Geoff Livingston.

Much is said in the USA about the USA — think of what it means here

While it’s true that virtually all nations owe their origins at some point to conquest and that’s invariably ugly, the United States is notoriously divided by and obsessed about race. We have racism in Panama which is not excused by what goes on to he north, but the United States is a rare case. A white cop enabled by the whole legal system for acts of brutality, aided by two other white cops and an Asian cop, treated the planet to a televised show of callous torture and murder of a black man. Then, as usual, prosecutors and the coroner hesitated to call it what it was. A nation — and not just its Afro-descended population — was moved to protest. The response was violent. The protests were marred by violence from several quarters. The con man in the White house called for more police violence.

Are we in Panama supposed to wait out this global pandemic, then wait out the aberrant Trump administration, then go back to the way things were?

We depended on a US umbrella for our national defense, but when it was a plague Washington wasn’t here to help. They belatedly sent a tiny amount of aid along with an outsized press release, but Panama’s reliance on the United States was misplaced.

The United States has been torn along racial lines before, but this time there is hardly any money and there are few jobs to be distributed to smooth out the aggravating economic factors. The great colossus is a deindustrialized shell of what it was, its once heralded middle class a shadow of its former self, its assets largely stolen by a tiny clique of billionaires. Its social convulsions are far from over.

Perhaps the most telling news clip as the protests spread all across the USA came from Europe. Trump invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the USA for a Group of 7 summit, and she turned down the invitation. Trump postponed the meeting before more rejections could come in. It seems unlikely that old US allies whom Trump has insulted and with whom he has sabotaged old arrangements will want to come in the fall, to boost his re-election campaign.

Bottom line? The old neoliberal consensus is over. The rest of world is moving on. When the pandemic is over, there will be no going back, only forward in one of several possible directions.

Shipping is down and will be for some time. Commerce in our region is a mess. Panama’s old economic niches in the world are threatened, and the gringos will not save us. There is no acceptable replacement power. We ought o be better than looking for a new master anyway.

Panama has many friends in the USA and many gringo friends here. However, Panamanians need find ourselves, feed ourselves and have confidence in ourselves. That’s the lesson we should draw from the USA burning.


The mandatory quarantine has ended before most of the physicians at Santo Tomas Hospital in Panama City think that it should have. The doctors, nurses and staff still recommend that it’s a good idea to stay at home as much as possible. Photo by Hospital Santo Tomás.

Take care, not just because
the law says you must

The quarantine and is agonies are over, alhough many restricive health measures remain in force. However, Health Minister Rosario Turner warns us: “Nobody can have confidence in the face of a virus that can be lethal.”

We may have seen a peak in COVID-19 deaths and new infections — the latter hard to know because of insufficient testing — but there are no sharp drop-offs. With the quarantine replaced by a curfew, expect a second rise in cases.

It’s dangeous. Wear a mask in public places, to protect others more than yourself. Stay home as much as possible. Do pay attention to the health news but don’t get deceived by the conspiracy theories or quackery. Your life may depend on your caution.


all haile Marx & Lennon

Bear in mind…

When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it.

Bernard Bailey

The most violent element in society is ignorance.

Emma Goldman

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

Marie Curie


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