Editorials: Nito in a world apart; and Voting in the USA from Panama

Protesters on Via España, on an afternoon when President Cortizo extolled expanded opportunities for women who can afford to go to the beauty parlors. Photo from Davis Álvarez’s Twitter feed.

Instead of talking about the things that matter most…

The lockdown in Panama and Panama Oeste provinces has been harsh. The restrictions have been widely flouted, but even more widely respected. The huge second wave of illness in death in the metro area is subsiding with the lower infection rate leading a reduced death toll.

The economic news is horrible with only a few bright flashes here and there. The economy we knew, save for banks and telecom companies that are mostly not Panamanian-owned, will not rebound anytime soon. It’s depression times for most Panamanian working people. The informal sector is especially hard hit.

It’s not even a prosperous time for politics as usual. One of their rabiblanca “influencers” fled the country, saying asinine things. How much is coming into PANDEPORTES these days, and what does that do to legislators’ ability to skim away some of it? Worthless nephews and cousins installed in government sinecures are too damned craven, and finding themselves, unlike legislators and cabinet members, unemployed in the face of public indignation.

And what about the PRD old-timers, who lent their efforts to abolish a US colony in Panama’s midst? Donald Trump sent an emissary with marching orders for Panama and by all appearances we can surmise that Nito saluted and complied. Let’s hope that things are not as they seem.

So we get this address to the nation about how long it takes to get hair done at a beauty parlor and the joys of keratin treatment for certain sorts of damaged hair. So very understanding for women who can afford it. Advice from another planet for the much greater female population that’s barely making ends meet.


If you have a printer and a standard envelope, or have access to a business that can do this for you, click here to download a proper sized ballot return envelope form. Using one of these envelopes you can take your US ballot to the US consulate in the embassy complex at Clayton and send your ballot to the place where you vote absentee via the diplomatic mail.

If you are a US citizen, most likely you can vote for US president from here — BUT…

To vote, you must be at least 18 by November 3. The general rule is that it’s by absentee ballot in the last place you lived in the USA. Some states will bar convicted felons. Those American citizens who have never lived in the United States can generally vote where one of their US citizen parents last lived in the USA, but there are a few states that do not allow this. But FIRST, you must register to vote and order your ballot, which, if you have not already done so, you can do online. Different states have different registration deadlines.

There is no ban against dual US and Panamanian citizens voting and US election officials don’t send your registration data to Panama’s creepy  xenophobes so that they can harass you for being a foreigner. Although you generally have to sign your absentee ballot when voting from abroad, there are no greater invasions of privacy than that.

More that half of the states make it possible for you to cast your ballot by email, fax or online. Do this if you have that option, You get around Donald Trump’s vandalism of the US Postal Service that way.

However, absentee ballots from abroad may be cast by POSTAL MAIL ONLY in these states:

  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin
  • Washington

The most effective way to get your ballot mailed in — but this is a moving target with changing rules and circumstances — is to send your ballot in through the diplomatic pouch. One huge uncertainty has to do with Donald Trump’s vandalism of the post offices, where he has had more than 600 mail sorting machines removed for the specific purpose of inhibiting voting by mail. Sending a ballot by the diplomatic pouch gets it to the USA in an embassy container, but then it gets taken out of the container and put in the US Postal Service mail, which has been intentionally slowed. So, given the slowdown, you should get your ballot mailed as early as possible.

This is what the embassy says about the procedure:

Return Your Completed, Signed Ballot:

Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically and others do not. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials by mail, you can do so through international mail, professional courier service, or through US Embassy Panama’s diplomatic pouch.

The diplomatic pouch provides free mail service from embassies and consulates to a US sorting facility. You will need to place your ballots in postage paid return envelopes or in envelopes bearing sufficient US postage, in order for them to be delivered to the proper local election authorities.

If using the diplomatic pouch, ballots can be dropped off to the American Citizens Services section by Ave. Demetrio Basilio Lakas, building #783, Clayton, Panama City from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please note that all visitors to the Embassy are subject to security screening and you will not be permitted to bring electronic devices, including cell phones, inside the facility. Please note that it can take up to four weeks for mail to reach its destination if sent by an embassy or consulate via diplomatic pouch. All overseas US citizens are advised to submit their forms and ballots accordingly.

There have always been at least a few problems with people who register and order their ballots but do not receive their ballots. In the case of states that send out ballots by postal mail, since Panama’s postal service is closed these would not arrive here. That is why there is a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot form that can be sent in by people who ordered but did not receive their ballots. Given the US postal slowdown, if you have ordered but not received your ballot and your are in one of those “vote by postal mail only” states, download, print, fill out and cast one of these write-in ballots.

You registered and ordered you ballot, and the state where you vote only accepts absentee ballots by mail and doesn’t send the ballots out until sometime in September? Use the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot and get it off right now.

There are options in the works — requesting salvoconductos for Americans living outside of Panama province for an exception from the travel ban to come into the consulate to put their ballots in the diplomatic mail, possible courier service from Coronado, possible sending ballots with embassy representatives from outside the city. There are other possibilities. None of these are completely certain. And remember, voters from MOST states can and should send in their absentee ballots by email, fax or on their voting state’s electronic system.


                Sometimes I worry about being a success in a mediocre world.

Lily Tomlin                


Bear in mind…


He who postpones the hour of living rightly is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.



Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day.

Albert Camus


If the whole human race lay in one grave, the epitaph on its headstone might well be: “It seemed a good idea at the time.”

Rebecca West



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