Bernal, Guardians of our own freedom

Calle 50
The democratization of power comes about through citizen participation. A protest on Calle 50, wherein seven of those were blocking the road were arrested and the PRD call centers went wild with both weird conspiracy theories and less outlandish political criticism on Twitter. Photo from the social media, perhaps by someone from Foco but if so they are not admitting who.

Citizen sentinels

by Miguel Antonio Bernal

The conditions and means for Panamanian citizens to have a permanent – not just sporadic — participation in public life do not exist.

The practices of the power brokers who have hijacked citizen participation in political life are ifront and center, mobilized to prevent a constitutional ,democratic rule of law. These times of COVI-19 have come like a magical glove to the political rulers and the econoimc powers behind them, to exclude any hint of civic exercise that may harm their gluttony for power. It’s a defense of the joint criminal enterprise that they have mounted to continue with all their fraudulent schemes.

The last six months of this government have shown us a whole series of arbitrary, undemocratic, anti-national, anti-popular practices. These have come to weaken even more, the already famished social, economic, political and legal guarantees of our daily life.

Nepotism, bonuses, phantom employees on the government payroll, overcharges for masks, respirators, and the modular hospital. Corruption in public contract bidding, in the budget, in the Social Security Fund, the long running and generally unpunished Odebrecht and FCC scandals – these have engulfed us, with the aid of a chain of flagrantly unconstitutional decrees. I cite just some of the latest acts of government kleptocracy.

These last twelve months leave us with a bitter taste of a terrible mixture of autocracy with impunity that, atop the policy of exclusion of any form of citizen participation in public affairs, confirms what I have been asserting for so many years: Panama has been ever more converted from a country to a business. Every day, we stop being a society and become a place where people live.

The social and political maelstrom in which we live goes unnoticed by most people. Every day there is less dialogue, less debate but, yes, more fear, more impositions, more arbitrariness, more abuse of authority and more power grabbing. Just look at the actions of the police to see what’s coming.

This process of curtailing our civil liberties and our most elementary rights as human beings tramples on the constitutional principle that public power only emanates from the people. Every possible manipulation is used to prevent the citizens from assuming our proper role as sentinels of our own liberties.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” Thomas Jefferson taught us. In Panama there is an absolute abandonment of freedom and eternal vigilance, which leads us, day by day, to the scaffold of a vile autocracy.



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