Editorials, Nito’s vaccine scandals; and US policy can’t go back to what was

nice try
An ephemeral Plan A: One of the companies doing unauthorized vaccinations in a Coco del Mar condo, Vidatec, immediately denied that it had any knowledge or connection. But when caught by journalist Flor Mizrachi and photojournalist Roberto Cisneros, apparent nurses were wearing Vidatec uniforms and Vicatec secretary, director and manager Denisse Vega was photographed on the scene. WHO is the president of Vidatec? Why, former Panama Canal administrator and before that CUSA construction company CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta, who has made noises about running for president of Panama. The day after La Prensa published Mizrachi’s story, THIS purported document was circulated on Twitter. SEE? Alemán  Zubieta and Vega could not have been involved, because they left the company back in 2019. The next day, speaking as president of  Vidatec, Alemán Zubieta was quoted in La Prensa saying ““This surprised us and we proceeded internally to suspend her.” So the above document is bogus and so far neither the prosecutors nor the mainstream press have shown much curiosity about it.

Credulity strained, intelligence insulted

The scandals — multiple — about diversion of some of the government’s vaccine supplies to people paying or using political clout to jump ahead in the line are flagrant. The often conflicting stories we get from the government about these practices are insulting.

We are told that former president Ernesto “Toro” Pérez Balladares was vaccinated along with members of his family, at his home because he was ill on his appointed day for the second shot. Nothing out of order, the health minister said. Then said minister said that as far as we know the vaccine didn’t come from the ministry’s supply, even though the ministry has an import monopoly.

Records show 612 doses sent to the Autonomous National University of Chiriqui (UNACHI) but then only 500 doses received by the university.

Many of the  legislators and legislative staffers jumped ahead of  everyone else to get vaccinated, and the health minister said he knew nothing about it and did not authorize it. Seems that Nito’s special advisor Eyra Ruíz signed off on it.

Who has been arrested in the Coco  del Mar situation? A funeral home driver with faked medical credentials was allegedly giving shots. We are given different numbers of those vaccinated at $200 a shot — first the prosecutors said 17, then 32, but far fewer than the known number of doses gone missing from the government’s stash. With what were the patients vaccinated? There, too, the prosecutors are telling wildly conflicting stories, everything from a mixture of coconut water and brine to the Pfizer vaccine. That penultimate possibility has prosecutors talking about Denisse Vega as a victim of a fraud rather than a criminal — this driver with fake papers and perhaps some supplier deceived her, the narrative goes. But by Panamanian law one involved in a criminal enterprise can’t sustain such a complaint against an accomplice. Alberto Alemán Zubieta, the president of the company involved, seems never to have been treated as a suspect — can’t do anything that might disrupt an oligarch’s political ambitions.

The  general public conclusion? Lies, improper privileges, impunity for tawdry little crimes, an elite who will steal someone else’s medicine instead of wait in line like everyone else.

There are things ongoing that we don’t know. Maybe the acting attorney general has the prosecutors working hard, intelligently and honestly behind the scenes. So far we have not seem much sign of that.

This is, of course, no isolated scandal. It’s just another milestone on an administration’s road to infamy.


Back in Cold War days, summit security crews didn’t have anti-drone squads like this one deployed at the recent Brussels meeting. Times change.

US foreign policy can’t go back even were that desirable

The Cold War? That’s over. The global economy on corporate terms, circa 20 years ago? Some of that is still with us, but it’s more properly referred to in the past tense.

Preventing climate disaster is no longer possible, but adapting to the changes, ameliorating the damage and putting the brakes on things that make it worse are all front and center in relevant public policy discourse everywhere.

If the agenda for most countries is no longer escaping from or preventing British domination, now the overriding concern is to avoid being vassals of China. However, in Latin America Chinese terms may look much better than a return to US gunboat diplomacy. Already businesses from China have run much of competition off the field across the Americas.

When Biden and Putin meet, it won’t be like Khrushchev and Kennedy, nor Reagan and Gorbachev. The leaders of two great powers, once styled as superpowers but neither really that anymore, will meet in Geneva. Both have grievances against the other. Both cling to vestiges of glory. Some lines need to be drawn to keep the peace. However, success is to be measured in terms of peaceful cooperation for mutual benefit. Without making the other country grovel, putting both countries back to work, making each other more competitive with China, moving together from the fossil fuel age into the era of electric cars and ships, connecting new infrastructures that never were rather than just limiting ourselves to patching the old.

If new things are to be done, they will have to be explained to domestic constituencies wedded to notions from the past and fearful of the unknown. Not a small set of challenges, but important ones to surmount, and not just for Russia and the  United States. Give us something positive to talk about, you guys.


              Only the thing for which you have struggled will last.

Yoruba Proverb              

Bear in mind…

Literature cannot control a government; poets, as poets, do not legislate. What they can do is set minds free of the control of any tyrant or demagogue and his lies and disinformation.

Ursula K. Le Guin

God made everything out of nothing, but the nothingness shows through.

Paul Valery

The politics of fear is fueling a downward spiral of human rights abuse in which no right is sacrosanct and no person is safe. Governments are undermining the rule of law and human rights with “short-sighted fear-mongering and divisive policies.

Irene Khan


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