Editorial, He’s the US president-elect so Panama should adjust

Joe Biden, speaking at a gun policy meeting in Iowa. Wikimedia photo by Gage Skidmore.

Although diplomacy is about nations rather than individuals…

As Donald Trump and his delusional followers spun conspiracy theories and the Electoral College voted to confirm Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election, US Southern Command chief Admiral Craig Faller was on a tour of Latin America, which included ceremonies and high level meetings with Panamanian officials.

We know what was published about Faller’s visit, but not everything that was discussed. There are surely specific details that should not be public knowledge. There are also covert foreign policies that should not be concealed from the people of the countries involved. We don’t know if the US visit broached the subjects of which Latin American or Caribbean nations Donald Trump intends to attack, blockade or harass next.

Panama has since its independence from Colombia placed upon the United States a great deal of reliance for its security. We approach the anniversary of an appallingly bloody invasion that resulted in large part from Panamanians depending on Uncle Sam to remove an obnoxious dictator. We are still in the grip of an epidemic from which Donald Trump was unwilling and unable to protect the people of the United States, let alone Panama.

If Donald Trump was an aberration, let’s look at his tens of millions of delusional followers and not make the mistake of considering his presidency an interregnum, after which relations will “get back to normal.” Things have changed, Panama has to look out for itself, and the change ought to begin with the Panamanian government telling its US counterpart about Panamanian decisions taken by Panama in Panama’s interests.

The “War on Drugs?” Threats against Panama and Panamanians to prevent economic dealings with China? The expectation that Panama will honor and enforce unilateral US sanctions and boycotts? Demands for US use of Panamanian territory as a launching pad for attacks against sister Latin American nations, or as a place from whence a US thumb is placed on the scales of other countries’ internal political rivalries? Panama ought to tell Joe Biden and his people that those days are over, even if we may want to talk about underlying issues and perhaps come to new agreements.

Will Joe Biden be able to act against a Trump tax cut for the ultra-rich that has been ruinous for the United States? Nito Cortizo may want to see how that goes, but certainly Panama needs to increase its tax revenues and should not hear any assertion of a purported US veto power about taxing wealth in Panama or legalizing and taxing marijuana. Both countries need to move on in their domestic affairs and in their bilateral relationship, because times have changed.

Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the mandate of US voters, and the violent extremism of many of his supporters, creates some security and foreign policy issues for Panama to address. On the eve of the Electoral College vote, the Proud Boys engaged in violent confrontations in Washington DC, including by attacking black churches. Panama should consider them a terrorist organization whose members may not come to Panama, nor conduct any financial dealings that involve Panama.

Are there followers of a serial fraud artist — including shady stuff Trump’s businesses have done here — who say that they will escape the horrors of a Biden administration by fleeing to Panama? This country needs to take care that nobody brings scams or the proceeds of such to our territory, and that nobody uses Panama as a platform for international fraud.

The Southern Command delegation talked with countries in the region about illegal fishing. Panama certainly shares that concern, but Donald Trump is more concerned about bashing China, whose giant fishing fleet is a major offender. Joint action to protect the nation’s, region’s and world fishery would be an important subject of US and Panamanian relations, as would bilateral cooperation among scientists and environmental agencies to rebuild fisheries even in the face a changing ocean climate. We should not, however, become a pawn in a US-Chinese cold war.

Let’s not end an old friendship, but let’s put past abuses behind us. Both countries have legitimate interests, and both are sovereign states.


Ursula, NYPL
Ursula K. LeGuin, New York Public Library photo by Benjamin Reed.

          What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?

Ursula K. LeGuin          


Bear in mind…


We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.

Aneurin Bevan


I can’t understand it. I can’t even understand the people who can understand it.

Queen Juliana


First make yourself unpopular, then people will take you seriously.

Konrad Adenauer


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