Editorial: Odds are that 2022 will be better. Have a happy one.

2022 will be a year to prepare. You don’t go the distance with Bluto if you don’t save and plant your spinach seeds, and keep the plants watered.

A Panagringo editor looks at the year to come

It’s a couple of days before 2022 begins. The editor is 69 years old and The Panama News is 28. Panama, the United States, this publication and the world have some work to do and a lot of it is readily apparent.

In Panama

We have a population with mostly healthy instincts and a terminally ill political order. Yet with a wave of omicron infections growing around us there is a rise in the politics of denial, Panamanian translations of imported far-right stuff from Europe and North America, by and large. Some of it will be from actual foreigners, but the Panamanians who glom onto that stuff will often be those who otherwise spew ultra-nationalist, xenophobic bile.

In Panamanian politics this will be a year of waiting out events and the laying of groundwork. In traditional electoral politics there are these battles for control of the PRD, CD and its splinters, the Panameñista tradition, the Partido Popular and MOLIRENA. There will be eventual “winners” but it’s hard to see how any of these come out in a strong position for the 2024 elections.

Ricardo Lombana’s Movimiento Otro Camino avoids the infighting, but after buying in on the fiasco of petitioning for a parallel constitutional revision process they have yet to catch fire in the public imagination – just some timid reforms and “not THEM.”

The left is weak and divided as usual. Except that, away from the arcane and theoretical, the labor movement that’s its natural base is growing and becoming more militant. Perhaps the unions will tell the politicos what to do instead of the other way around this time.

Will far-right elements break off of the crumbling traditional parties and form a neofascist party? If they don’t do that this year it will be getting late for 2024. And if they do, which politicians and factions among the rest will say “Me, too” about the hate they inspire and which will define themselves as anti-fascist?

Ricardo Martinelli’s legal fate, and the politics associated with Martinelli family legal problems, will be the big unknowns two years out from the 2024 campaign. Perhaps a bigger danger to Panama than the former president prevailing in multiple Panamanian courts would be for too many Panamanians to look to a courthouse in Brooklyn, or to an embassy in Clayton, and figure that the gringos will solve it. That sort of thinking has led Panama to tragedy time and again.

In the USA

The Democratic primary season that’s starting to get underway right now will determine whether nostalgia for the way things were once done will strip the party of any meaningful offer to the voters and leave them with “not Trump” to run on next fall. Given that Donald Trump won’t be on the ballot, that would be a most unenviable position.

OR, Democrats could choose a younger, more progressive, more capable slate than the octogenarians in the House leadership and the corporate crowd in the Senate would prefer. Democrats have about half a dozen GOP Senate seats that they might grab, and a slim House majority that they might pad. The historical odds are against that, buit then in 2022 the Republicans have the QAnon shaman as their running mate.

At the end of 2021 the big political imponderable for next year in the USA will be the movement of viruses that can’t vote. This editor is betting that by the summer the COVID epidemic will have receded and so will the double-edged politics of assigning blame for it.

The Panama News

As the editor slowly recovers from being beaten up last June, so has the production work on The Panama News. But it was a powerful reminder about succession and evolution. The publication will continue in its bilingual direction and will need to be gradually handed off to a more collective enterprise. Does this attract yet another wave of hustlers promising that they can “monetize” this project? It’s a known hazard to avoid.

Planet Earth

This epidemic, widespread environmental devastation, wars with great powers as direct or proxy players, people forced out of homes in many places, the politics of extreme hatred – can Panama survive all that? Can any country? I expect that we will.


AOC at the 2019 women’s march in New York. Photo by Dimitri Rodríguez.


I just hope that more people will ignore the fatalism of the argument that we are beyond repair. We are not beyond repair. We are never beyond repair.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz


Bear in mind…


     Even God cannot make two times two not make four.

Hugo Grotius     

     Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.

Gore Vidal     

     The truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is.

Nadine Gordimer 



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