Bernal, Pandora

OF COURSE those who fancied themselves scribes of the gods blamed the woman for opening the box.

Pandora’s boxes to open

by Miguel Antonio Bernal V.

Once again in Panama, the power brokers demonstrate the old Asian proverb that warns that “when they show you the moon with their finger, the fool looks at the finger” predominates among a population that’s overwhelmed by its social and economic situation.

The content of the so-called Pandora Papers is hardly known here in Panama. Those who look at the finger when shown the moon, now emerge from among the ranks of top officials, party “leaders,” media personalities, business groups and an endless et cetera.

However, despite their ignorance about what’s in the Pandora Papers, these power brokers spare no effort to close ranks among themselves and, once again, pretend that they are not what they are. They would like to appear as the world’s most pristine players.

In reality, what they seek to achieve is to avoid, at all costs, is citizens assume their role as controller. They don’t want people to open the other Pandora’s boxes, stored and sealed over decades, whose contents would expose the reality of why so much inequality in this country we call home.

The other Pandora’s boxes, made in Panama, are guarded by the militaristic constitution that has been in effect for half a century now. In turn, those who guard the constitution imposed by the dictatorship continue to impose their objectives. They prevent the democratization of political power and the construction of a democratic constitutional rule of las. The block or divert citizen actions in favor of transparency and accountability prevail. If everybody knew and those who enriched themselves off of this sytem had to account for it, their privileges and perks would immediately end.

The other Pandora’s boxes are in sight: the electoral system, the social security fund, the administration of justice, the public debt, unemployment, the housing deficit, the education and health systems, agriculture that needs reform, militarization, low wages, crime. …

To try, once again, to cover the sun with the little finger, is absolutely authoritarian and demagogic. It is first and foremost a mistake. Pandora in Panama is more than a message or a sign. It is, above all, the overwhelming confirmation of the serious and growing damage that the consensual corruption and impunity sponsored by those in power has done.

For those of us who love Panama and fight for it to occupy a worthy place in this globalized world, the arrival of Pandora is another “deja vu” that, far from allowing the “patriotic” voices to rerun their well-known demagoguery, should lead us to react with greater determination and dignity. We need to stop being spectators and act as citizens. We need to make the decision to banish the vices and the vicious, those truly responsible for making Panama look responsible for THEIR many excesses.

To open Pandora’s boxes is to revive hope for a country that’s for everybody. A constitutional referendum is urgently needed, in order to convene a constituent process and give us a new constitution, one that’s for all of us!


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night oil







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