Editorial: The unwelcome mat; and La Prensa’s assets

A typical example of this sort of discourse.

Putting out the unwelcome mat

Do you want to tell people unlike yourself – here in Panama or wherever else you are living – to “go home” on account of their race, ethnicity, beliefs or national origin? Facebook may like and permit that sort of thing, but it will not be allowed on The Panama News Facebook wall.

Looking to post your Trump talking points, to portray black people as suspects, protesters as antifa criminals, white people pulling guns on black people as inherently justified by white fear? Take it elsewhere.

Bullying abuse, wherein you come onto The Panama News wall and hurl threats, or tell the editor to shut up? Do that on your own wall

All that anti-mask stuff, all those Trump wedge issues designed to reduce the vote? You have your far-right places to run that stuff and will not be allowed to wage that campaign via The Panama News. Not that you are prohibited from publishing that stuff.

All this stuff is happening in an increasing and systematic way all over the social media. We know what’s going on. You guys will not be allowed to shout everyone down.


A big part of the problem is imitation gringo cancel culture via social media trolls. It comes largely out of PRD, Cambio Democratico, the religious far right and xenophobic neofascist circles. When it’s coming from the PRD or the Martinelistas, there is a lot of money behind it.

La Prensa’s frozen assets

If a former president of Panama is defamed in the press, is a multi-million-dollar judgment ever justified?

He or she is a public figure, able to defend against the calumny in public. He or she is not a working person, thrown into penury by bogus publicity that leads to blacklisting and unemployment.

Is the claim that, but for the yellow journalism, he or she would have a political comeback? Do we really want the legal system to say or in any way imply that an elected office other than one to which a person is presently elected is a personal property with a monetary value?

Then, of course, what a judge has done in the Ernesto Pérez Balladares versus La Prensa case is not to hand down or enforce a judgment, but to sequester assets pending a possible judgment. A pompous rabiblanco medium that newspaper might be, but it’s also an endangered species because of the failing advertiser supported business model of the mainstream news corporations. That business collapse is a complicated and international phenomenon. The pre-verdict sequestration of assets, however, might push La Prensa right over the edge.

The feelings of so many of us are bound to be mixed. La Prensa is obnoxious in many ways. They, and the ad agencies with which they are embedded, and some of their most important clients, are notoriously dedicated to monopolistic practices and have been for years. Theirs is the voice of oligarchic privilege and denigration of organized labor. They are absent when the time comes to support anybody’s freedom of the press other than their own.

Set aside the legitimate disgust for the hypocrisy, however. The possibility of multi-million-dollar libel verdicts in favor of prominent political figures, and of pretrial sequestration of assets predicated on that possibility, needs to be banished from Panamanian law. It’s reason infinity plus one why we need a new constitution.



Bear in mind…


Oh peace! How many wars were waged in thy name?

Alexander Pope


I’m going to give the politicians a big surprise. I’m designing a system – a political party – in order to get out. They think I am designing a system to stay in.

Omar Torrijos
to Graham Greene, on plans to create the PRD


Age is wisdom, if one has lived one’s life properly.

Miriam Makeba


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