Next for The Panama News?


Emergency measures here as everywhere

by Eric Jackson

Reorganizing through a machine disaster, in the midst of multiple matural disasters, as possible political disasters lurk, working around an economic disaster.

There you have it, folks — The Panama News in 2020.

It does seem to be getting better.

A year or so ago, the plan had been that, in the wake of a series of political campaigns that would disrupt my life and work on The Panama News, I would sleep it off for a day or three after the election, then start to make some changes to The Panama News. That’s still sort of the plan — bring back certain features to the website, perhaps eliminate or alter a few others, post a lot more things than I had been, step back a bit from the running crisis that has been the news coming out of the USA both on the website and on The Panama News social media.

A computer virus of some sort has crippled the main production computer, a Lenovo machine that’s now in the shop. It was my only connection to the Internet. I have weathered a number of such crises over the decades, but the Plan B was always to carry on at an Internet cafe. The COVID-19 virus and associated health regulations and economic disasters have shut down those establishments, surely a lot of them forever.

These worrds are typed on a borrowed machine – which I have to slowly program with the main links and features that I use./

Nothing that a bit of money to buy a new computer and fix the old one to be the new backup could not solve. But the epidemic has killed at least one of the regular donars, driven several others to move away from Panama, and hit the pocketbooks of just about everyone save a few pandemic profiteers.

It’s a small chip of a greater mosaic — no matter what any policy maker in any nation of any ideology may intend, the old economic arrangements as they were, say, five years ago, are never coming back. What is to come on the grand national and international scales should make an interesting set of stories.

I like my Chinese Lenovo laptop. I liked the Taiwanese Asus laptop that I used before that. As a student of history and politics I understand the concept of China as one civilization and also know that it has most often in one way or another been several countries at the same time. (From WHICH kingdoms did Confucius and Laozi hail?) I was sad to see Panama’s relations with Taiwan cut as they were, which is not to say that I ever thought that relations with the plucky Taiwanese — who were loyal friends to Panama — were ever any sort of reasonable substitute for formal ties to great power China. And when you do see this, it will come to you via a Huawei dongle stick from a guy without too many objections to Panama buying Chinese technology to give us better wireless Internet connections out here in the boonies of Cocle province.

Get to the Panamanian side of who I am and you find this modern anti-imperialst. None of this taking bribes from a state-sponsored Brazilian multinational, none of this taking orders from China about who can or can’t be our friends, none of this taking orders from Donald Trump about our trade relations with the Chinese. On the gringo side I am a Detroit Tigers fan, so “¡Fuera Yanqui!” perhaps, but never “Yankee Go Home” — whenever possible a Yankee should be tagged out before he crossed home plate.

ANYWAY, back to The Panama News, and some relevant considerations:

* Our backup during hacking crises has been our Facebook page, but now Mark Zuckerberg, on top of providing a forum for neofascist militias to recruit thugs who kill people, has throttled many media that don’t suit his political views, including The Panama News. In other words, he has altered the Facebook algorithms so that fewer people see what is posted on our Facebook page.

* Our Twitter feed is slowly growing, but that social medium is not so apt for blogging and discussion as Facebook tends to be.

* The email newsletters have been few and far between,. There is a revolt against the social media companies for many reasons. So do we go back to low tech email on a more regular basis? Several people have made that insistent request.

* I have long been looking for somebody, or better yet multiple somebodies, with different musical tastes than mine — especially folks younger than me — to add regular new playlists to my weekly ¿Wappin? features. Meanwhile, Google has inserted ads into things on YouTube.

* The Panama News has always had readers who use it to learn English. What I would REALLY like is a regular Spanish as a second language page. The notion that you can live here without knowing Spanish — unable to call an ambulance, report a fire, call the police about a crime in progress or so on — is downright dangerous.

* I keep my Facebook settings such that FB friends can post things on my wall, and it only occasionally gets abused. In my absence a friend or two have been posting but I really do need a few more such friends, and somebody trustworthy and diligent enough to ge tthe codes to be able to go in and delete malicious stuff.

* And yes, let’s get back to more NEWS, as opposed to opinion and feature stuff, from PANAMA. Since March is that along with the health restrictions have come a reduced ability to go out and cover the news. Much larger and richer media than The Panama News also rely more than they’d like on stories and images fed to them by the government.

SO THERE is a bit of my content wish list, but it’s all in the realm of theory unless some more resources, first to replace or repair the production computer, and then for general living and operations, come in. To donate to The Panama News, click here.

And just MY wishes? I want to be a bit more democratic than that. Send me an email at with your thoughts about this publication’s future.

Eric Jackson
the editor