Editorial, Look to the young to fix Panama’s situation; and GOP bets on chaos

El Chorrillo in late December, 1989. The wounds were so much deeper than the deaths, injuries and property damage. We’d seen the leaders of both countries summoning up the worst instincts and behavior among the Panamanian people, from Noriega’s goon squads attacking people to troops under Bush’s command standing around smiling as businesses were looted. We had the economic devastation of sanctions leading up to the violence. We had Bush trying to squeeze Endara and Panama into extending the time for US bases to remain in Panama. We had the thugs of the old regime and honest people who worked for it persecuted alike. We had some honorable new people coming in, and this large “It’s our turn to steal!” crowd. And Panama STILL needs to be liberated.

Smelling like 1994

The 1989 US invasion and both its aftermath and the economic warfare leading up to it scrambled things a bit in Panamanian politics – which only served to keep entrenched economic forces and old political parties in command.

The next opportunity we had to change it, in the 1994 elections, we blew it.

The post-invasion political reforms were shallow and subject to de facto US veto powers. We no longer had the Panama Defense Forces, but had – and have — under the heading of police, militarized forces that are subsidiaries of the US Southern Command in its lost “War on Drugs.” SENAFRONT and SENAN have not been pressed into all-out combat for things like Plan Colombia and US “regime change” moves in the region. Panamanian forces, never admitting it, do stand by for and lend support to such imperial missions.

So we are left with the same old inbred, incompetent and squabbling oligarchy – its few excellent sons and daughters rejected out of hand by the in-crowd – the same old political parties that don’t stand for anything, and a hand-me-down constitution from dictatorship times. Latin American societies and republics are not a fungible mass, but we do have sister countries in the region stuck in their own versions of this sort of predicament. Plus, however the numbers might be fudged or spun, the epidemic leaves the whole region with the prospect of a bad economy for years to come.

So, many parties, rival factions in the existing parties, rank demagoguery and the same old grasping political culture.

Might we get full-blown fascism emerging from the PRD, as Panama’s earlier fling with fascism emerged from the Liberal Party in the 1920s? Perhaps.

Might we swing to the left? Not unless some unifying new leaders emerge and get past the pointless faction fights from the past.

In 1994, the first elections after the invasion, there were important ideas discussed in the campaign. For a variety of reasons, no cohesive political force arose to put these ideas into effect. Panama has been lingering in the squalor of that missed opportunity ever since.

Look to younger people to lead us out of this mess, but not just anyone who’s young. Press them hard on their ideas, be demanding if not dogmatic about their credentials. The next elections are three years away, but now is a good time to start searching for and organizing the new forces that Panama needs.



California Republicans bet on ungovernability

Seven months from now California voters will see a special recall election in which Governor Gavin Newsom may be replaced. The petition drive was begun by the ultra-right, but the way that recalls work is that anyone with any grievance has the opportunity to throw the incumbent out.

Were the Republicans not so busy vilifying the moderates in their midst as RINOs, the might pull a repeat of their last California recall and come up with someone like Arnold Schwartzenegger. There will be dozens of people running to replace Newsom. Step several notches down from bodybuilder turned actor Schwartzenegger and we get the best known Republican declared in this race, athlete turned reality TV persona Caitlyn Jenner. The GOP establishment has no hope of putting one of their own in the governor’s mansion of deep blue California. But maybe some celebrity.

The Republicans, on the national level having repeatedly invited foreign powers to intervene in US politics and coming off of a Trump administration best described as a crime spree, don’t seek to govern California. They seek to disrupt.

It’s considered rude for a loyal Democrat to run in one of these odd California recalls. But maybe it would be better for the California Democratic congressional delegation or some comparably body that’s respected within the party to select a Democratic unity candidate who will advocate a “no” vote on the recall but be the ready alternative just in case Newsom is recalled.

People who cane nothing about the United States of America nor the State of California have put the ball into play. It’s time to play hardball with them.


Mr. Justice Robert H. Jackson, acting as chief American prosecutor at the main Nuremberg trial. Among those defendants sentenced to death in that proceeding was one Julius Streicher, the publisher of Der Stürmer, for incitement to genocide.


The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish.

Robert Jackson


Bear in mind…


[Facebook has] abused its market power to squash competition, manipulate democracies, and crush journalism.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz


Customs are more powerful than laws.

The Talmud


All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.

Hypatia of Alexandria



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