Editorials: The Guna Yala mask ban; and Neoliberal death rattle in Chile

Within hours after Guna Yala authorities banned the wearing of masks, the Banco Nacional decided that it would not subject its people to the health hazards caused by irresponsible politicians. It did not sue over whether the comarca has the right to do this, it just withdrew in the face of the threat.

They could, so they did?

Panama’s indigenous nations have been hard pressed since Spaniards came here more than 500 years ago, looking to get rich. People have fought and died for such limited self-government as the original nations have been able to win. Let’s not hear any racism or any talk about nations unable to govern themselves, especially from citizens of nations that are also misruled.

Could the local Guna Yala authorities prohibit the wearing of masks? There are legal and political battles to come, but it seems that they have.

It’s a deadly, foolish decision. The first to raise the alarm were Guna teachers. Within hours the state-owned Banco Nacional de Panama closed its doors in Guna Yala. We can expect travel and trade restriction to and from the comarca so long as the extremist anti-mask rule is in effect.

Just because people with a bit of power CAN do something does not mean that they SHOULD do it. Legal rights and powers do not trump natural consequences. Self-determination for an indigenous nation does not mean that the nation won’t pay for bad decisions made on its behalf.


Chileans celebrate after it was announced that they had voted more than three-to-one to scrap the former dictatorship’s constitution and convene an elected assembly to draft a proposed new one.

A new era takes hold, not just in Chile

You taught us this just as well
That the rich man’s heaven is the poor man’s hell

Burial, by Peter Tosh & Neville Livingston

Chileans, weary of economic dogmas and police brutality enshrined in the 1980 constitution imposed by then dictator Augusto Pinochet have voted overwhelmingly to rescind that document and to begin a democratic process for its replacement. In the same plebiscite Chile also voted by a large majority to exclude current politicians and their institutions from participating in the formulation of a proposed new constitution.

No doubt there will be candidates for delegate to the constituent assembly who will assert all the rejected notions. Chileans will again hear the arguments about “free markets” and how privatization makes things more efficient. They will again be told about how it’s the natural order of things that life has winners and losers, and police and courts to protect those on top from those on the bottom.

All that “Chicago Boys” stuff, which became the “Washington Consensus” about the time that it was written into the Chilean constitution, has been tried and found wanting in Chile.

Elsewhere, too.

The US-prompted coup that installed the Pinochet dictatorship left the strongman in power for more than 15 years and his constitution in effect for more than 30 years after he left office. The US-prompted coup in neighboring Bolivia installed a dictator with similar economic ideas plus overlays of racism and religious fanaticism, but that regime has been voted out after less than one year.

No matter the shape or orientation of any given Latin American or Caribbean government, hard times are here and will be with us for some time. The old rules and built-in inequalities are likely to sooner or later be rejected in most places.

So does Panama want to make its plans based on the old free trade rules with Chile? Does the United States, no matter who wins the upcoming elections?

We don’t know what is to come, but it’s a good foreign policy estimate for any country that the world will not go back to what it was.

All principles are not out the window, nor should they be. Governments everywhere, however, will need to adjust their calculations to a changed situation in our region and in the world.


          It is better to be the widow of a hero than the wife of a coward.

Dolores Ibárruri          

Bear in mind…

A good manager is best when people barely know that he exists. Not so good when people obey and acclaim him. Worse when they despise him.


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.


If we are going to teach creation science as an alternative to evolution, then we should also teach the stork theory as an alternative to biological reproduction.

Judith Hayes


Contact us by email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com


To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.


These links are interactive — click on the boxes