Editorials: Panama the terror hub? and Cuba’s our sister Latin American republic

Almost certainly it was a ruse used in the assassination of Haitian strongman Jovenel Moïse. Almost. We should ask why this might have had any effect, and that gets into some ugly history that suggests things for the USA not to do. Such awful questions, however, do not spare Panama from scrutiny in the event.

An international terrorist operation used Panama as a transportation hub…

In a conflicted situation such as Haiti’s, with contending factions who have competing narratives, very little should be taken at face value. Declarations by local or international players that appear self-serving merit special scrutiny.

Be that as it may, we hear from multiple sources that Haitian-American plotters used a Venezuelan exile owned mercenary firm in Florida to hire Colombian soldiers of fortune and Haitian-American interpreters to kill the man who was acting as president of Haiti, whether legitimately so or not AND, that as part of this mission, officers recently separated from the Colombian Army flew through Panama en route to taking some operational coordination role in this attack.

How convenient for President Cortizo to fly off to Texas and delay or entirely avoid questions about this. Set aside the criminal nature of the enterprise and look at it as a national security issue. The Panama Canal’s main defense is Panamanian neutrality, a political restraint that avoids giving any foreign power or movement a good excuse to attack it. As Haitian factions take up arms, might some of them see Panama as, if not a sponsor, a willing enabler of terrorists who attacked their country? If the response to that is “we knew nothing about it,” doesn’t that belie at the very least a dangerous cluelessness that we have seen before with Colombian paramilitaries and US militia members coming in unchecked, and now with a Venezuelan exile mercenary firm running operations through here?

It’s all very unacceptable. For all the PRD rants against foreigners, this PRD administration is either not on guard against extraneous terrorists coming through here, or in one way or another has been convinced to allow this. History tells us that this party is not the only offender over the years, but there’s still no excuse. Nito needs to give the nation some answers and take some actions to prevent recurrences of this sort of thing.


A Cuban medical brigade that came to help Panama with a spike in COVID cases.

If Cuba is to have “regime change” it must be a strictly Cuban thing

Huge anti-communist demonstrations in Miami? Yes, and the Cuban exile movement and its friends there DID turn out the vote for Donald Trump. They also provided some of the thugs for the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. It’s nothing that anyone in Latin America, nor in Cuba itself, is bound to respect.

Hungry and angry Cubans in the streets of Cuba making demands and opposing a one-party government that has been in office for more than 60 years? THAT’S important — most of all for Cubans. There have also been large pro-government demonstrations, surely populated by anyone who has and wants to keep a government job, but also likely representing a substantial part of the nation’s public opinion.

It’s legitimate for sister Latin American republics to offer mediation between polarized Cuban factions, if they both would accept that. It’s legitimate for other countries to call on both sides to refrain from violence, and for all political prisoners and hostages to be set free.

There are international norms about fundemental freedoms that Cuba does not always respect. The United States, however, doesn’t have a squeaky clean human rights record either. The indirect Cuban elections, with their rigged nominating system, make a mockery of democracy. But then, the USA has all these vote suppression laws and tactics, and twice this century the Americans have had presidents who lost the popular vote. And have Cubans taken to the streets because of an economy that doesn’t work? Decades of US economic warfare against the island give the United States no standing whatever to talk about this issue. The US embargo against Cuba is a violation of international law, one that less than a month ago was denounced by a 184-2 vote of the United Nations General Assembly.

Without glossing over the authoritarian nature of Cuba’s political system — nor of many of the exiles who dream to replace them — the best Latin American advice is for the United States to get out of Cuba’s affairs and stay out. For Cubans in Cuba, all the neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean should urge them to solve their problems without a bloodbath. It might be too much to ask. Those should be the guidelines by which Panama should offer a helping hand to our sister Latin American republic.


          To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose
          everything else.

Bernadette Devlin McAliskey          


Bear in mind…


The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.

James Baldwin


The key to immortality is first to live a life worth remembering.

Bruce Lee


Never feel self-pity, the most destructive emotion there is. How awful to be caught up in the terrible squirrel cage of self.

Millicent Fenwick


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