Editorials: The PRD, and Push comes to shove in US elections

gangster hit
The forensics team works the scene of PRD activist Wendy Del Carmen Rodrírugez’s gangland-style murder. Public Ministry photo.

Nito’s party

President Cortizo is not entirely to blame, maybe not even mostly at fault. But as the government faces a huge debt crisis and a still-deadly epidemic the ruling PRD is falling into faction fighting that appears to shade into gang warfare, almost daily displays of arrogant disrespect for the general public and increasing demands on the public treasury. Such is the setting for next year’s internal party elections.

The man who founded the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), General Omar Torrijos, was a complicated character who put together a broad and at certain glances unlikely coalition to unite Panama for the task of abolishing the old Canal Zone. His big advantage was that the Pentagon wanted to retain certain military ties here, but generally considered the white Zonians as obnoxious and expendable while it saw the West Indian civilian majority of the Canal Zone population as a prime resource for its military recruiters. Once the Panama Canal treaties began to take effect in 1979 the Torrijos coalition and the PRD itself began to fall apart. Within the party the centrifugal forces have been at work ever since.

Next year leftists and neofascists will do battle within the PRD, and will probably be outflanked by yet other factions. There will certainly be turf wars and hit men may come into play. Grasping would-be party elites will be looking to create paid positions for themselves and push out the last of the unpaid patriotic volunteers. There will be promises and pressures to manipulate the legal system to get alleged rapists, drug runners, embezzlers of public funds and garden variety assault and battery guys relieved of all consequences for their actions.

Now’s just the prelude. There is a move in the legislature to create new 41 corregimientos to staff with PRD activists, at a starting cost of some $13 million a year. About 60 low-level local PRD activists have now banded together as “professionals” and are demanding inclusion on the public payroll.

The intra-PRD power struggle has strained the president’s relations with his party caucus in the legislature. If history is any guide, the party won’t be re-elected to power in 2024 and its frantic hacks will be squeezing every last advantage to amass some wealth for a coming five years in the political wilderness.

But this is only a year and a half into this government’s five-year mandate. President Cortizo could be rendered politically helpless during one of the worst crises in Panamanian history. Perhaps, though, he could reach beyond his party and call upon the Panamanian people to surmount this dilemma. The problem with that is that the non-PRD folks who have his ear, mostly business leaders, are also on the whole grasping and short-sighted.

The PRD’s woes aren’t something for Panamanians who are unaffiliated with that party to celebrate. They are but a microcosm of the nation’s woes, replicated in every political party, in the private sectors and in the ways that so many of us deal with one another.

So do we have someone to lead us past this moment?



Push comes to shove: in US elections

It’s well beyond political hardball and into criminal activity. Donald Trump threatens to send out goons to intimidate voters where he knows he will lost big. Donald Trump has sabotaged the mail sorting rooms in largely Democratic areas and declares that he’s defying court orders to reinstall the torn-out equipment. Donald Trump has issued orders to slow down mail service by ordering postal workers not to deliver all the mail.

In a number of key jurisdictions Reverend Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign are organizing a voter defense effort. But in the face of organized crime directed at hijacking American democracy, more should be done.

State, county and local governments need to step in so that nobody interferes with the mail and nobody brutalizes or intimidates voters. If the order comes down that election mail is not to be delivered to clerks in time to be counted, one of the responses ought to be that state national guards and postal workers’ unions combine to thwart such crimes and deliver the mail. If Republican mobs block access to voting places like they recently did in one Virginia county, they should be arrested by local or state authorities. People displaying weapons at or within sight of voting places should be taken off to jail.

Cadet Bone Spurs thinks that everyone who might vote against him is a wimp. He’s wrong, and even were he not, voters of all persuasions should be protected from his gangster displays.


The estate that Gandhi left behind.


Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.

Mohandas K. Gandhi


Bear in mind….


Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

Surah Al-Baqara, 2:256 (Yusuf Ali version)


The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.

Isaiah 61:1 (King James version)


If I were going to convert to any religion I would probably choose Catholicism because it at least has female saints and the Virgin Mary.

Margaret Atwood



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