Editorials: Why protest? and ANOTHER “joint task force?”


Unity with those who are taking advantage?

Tomorrow’s protests against an election theft in the making, and a new route for politicians to criminalize journalistm that does not favor them, are not an endorsement of Stanley Motta. Nor of the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups. Nor of the weak and fragmented opposition groups in the National Assembly. Nor of the corporate mainstream media. Nor of the banks. Nor of the Electoral Tribunal. Nor of Nito Cortizo’s concerns about what his party is doing in the legislature.

Nobody is asking labor to march under the banner of big business, nor for unions to roll over and play dead in negotiations with management.

It’s about a political caste – or some particularly malignant factions of an overall discredited political caste – that has alienated everybody, driven the nation deep into debt with nothing of much value to show for what was bought, and flaunted their misconduct in front of the public. It’s about gangsters on the public payrolls. It’s about more than 170 public servants arrested for organized crime activities this year, nearly every one of them with a political sponsor. It’s about a looming some two and a half years off reckoning that the worst thugs in Panamanian politics are trying to cancel.

There’s no transparency, even to the legislative committee members who aren’t in with the plot. There is no real debate being allowed. There is no respect shown for democratic institutions. All that we have seen is a power play to enrich and entrench malevolent politicians who are under any ordinary circumstances headed for career-ending defeats.

If a billionaire with whom labor has legitimate grievances finds what a cabal of legislators is doing to be bad for business, he’s probably right about that. If some personality from the corporate mainstream media who has defended nobody else’s freedom of expression but her own is alarmed at news coverage and fair commentary being regulated and in some cases criminalized under the election laws, the multicolored and multimedia schools small media don’t have to validate her snobbery when recognizing that her alarm isn’t false.

So you gather with your friends or organization, recognizing that there are folks with whom you have some major disagreements will be in the crowd. Perhaps you march there separately, under your own banners. Perhaps you laugh at the pretenses of some of the other people in the crowd.

But you join with the nation and say enough. You insist that this stuff shall not be pulled on us. You show up with other people very unlike yourself to make your insistence stick.


Katherine Dueholm at the ground breaking ceremony. Public Ministry photo.

Another “Joint Task Force?”

At the moment Panama has an ex-president on trial for using the Israeli Pegasus program to collect information on people, with no warrant or legitimate reason turning people’s cell phones into room bugs.

Among the more than 170 government employees arrested this year, mostly for this or that sort of racketeering, we now have a captain of the SPI presidential guards, a prosecutor and someone from the enlisted ranks of the National Aeronaval Service, among the allegations against them being that they shared information with gangsters to assist them with their crimes.

Now we have Katherine Dueholm, the chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy gathering at Amador with various law enforcement people to break ground on a new headquarters for a new “joint task force” to confront money laundering and public corruption.

Another “joint task force” that’s going to WIN the “War on Drugs” this time? Or adding the prefix “narco-” to whatever political adversary Washington has at the moment, and using the new facility to pursue that demon du jour? Another stride toward the remilitarization of Panama, again not for the defense of Panama? Those are the sorts of things one expects when Uncle Sam starts talking about joint task forces here.

Not to worry, we are assured. It’s about a Panamanian program that shares information with the Americans about money laundering and public corruption.

If that’s not a lie, things need to change in the Panamanian government. There has been no will to track down and prosecute financial crimes and Panama is on various international blacklists because of it. Public corruption is constantly waved in our faces here, and rarely are there any unpleasant consequences for those who do it.

So will the USA solve Panama’s problem? Perhaps like the Noriega problem was solved, at the cost of hundreds of innocent Panamanians who were killed in the 1989 invasion?

That skepticism expressed, there seem to be shifts in US information policies. How far they will go remains to be seen, but notice that Joe Biden has opened the archives about the September 11, 2001 al Qaeda attacks, and expressed skepticism of US “regime change” efforts. It would actually be nice for the United States to be more open with Panamanians about what it knows about public corruption in Panama, and more forthcoming with Americans about which US companies are using Panama to cheat on their taxes.

All to be seen. One key indicator will be the routine about “operational security” – would information passing through the new building be kept from public perusal, but filtered to the crime cartels? It’s an outrageous question, but that stuff has happened so many times.


President Kennedy at the wheel of the Coast Guard Yacht “Manitou,” Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. August, 1962. Photo from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came.

John F. Kennedy

Bear in mind…


Being an Irishwoman means many things to me. An Irishwoman is strong and feisty. She has guts and stands up for what she believes in. She believes she is the best at whatever she does and proceeds through life with that knowledge. She can face any hazard that life throws her way and stay with it until she wins. She is loyal to her kinsmen and accepting of others. She’s not above a sock in the jaw if you have it coming.

Maureen O’Hara


Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.

Ella Fitzgerald


If you are pining for youth I think it produces a stereotypical old man because you only live in memory, you live in a place that doesn’t exist. I think aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person that you always should have been.

David Bowie



Contact us by email at fund4thepanamanews@gmail.com

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

These links are interactive — click on the boxes

night oil