Editorials: A purge trial we should like to see; and US voting from abroad

Varela and Lynton
Juan Carlos Varela and Miguel Lynton, both in legal trouble these days. Old Panameñista campaign trail picture, posted on Twitter.

Take him away. Take ALL the crooks away!

Well, OK. Innocent unless and until proven guilty. We should all respect that. Colon Panameñista operative, former DGI tax office director and former candidate for legislator Miguel Lynton has been caught up in the raids on the Gulf Clan paramilitarized drug gang. We should not play the part of lynch mob, even if Panamanian justice is very defective.

But then, the criminal justice system’s “guilty if sufficiently proven AND with insufficient funds or political influence to bribe the prosecutors and judges” standard is one thing. A political party’s decisions about the company it keeps is a different matter, with different standards.

Panameñista leader José Isabel Blandón says that corruption, and particularly infiltration of his party by drug gangs, will not be tolerated. He promises party disciplinary proceedings to expel the corrupt.

Let’s see how it works out, but that’s a positive sign. We might get into the Nazi sympathies of the party’s deceased founder, but those times are long gone. Don’t look for someone with the character of Ilsa Koch doing the interrogation, and let’s hope we don’t see pushovers for judges or any other sort of unfair proceeding. But movement from the grass roots and party leaders responding to that is one avenue to push back against corruption.



The judgements of US ambassadors are not always to be trusted, and protocol niceties shouldn’t be taken as endorsements anyway. This is an old American Embassy photo.

 A ballot box at the Embassy: it has worked well. It should be done for all US elections.

This is not rocket science. A mailbox is set up just inside the American Embassy gate, a safe distance from the embassy itself and with security guards looking on. People drop their ballots, requests for ballots or other election materials in the box. With but a cursory inspection to make sure there are no letter bombs or such, the box’s contents are put into a separate mail bag, which goes into the container that’s the diplomatic pouch. Once in the USA, generally in Washington, the election mail gets put in a US Postal Service mailbox and the votes go to their separate destinations.

We have had that in the past several presidential election cycles here. The practice should be expanded to all US elections in time for next year’s midterms, including the primaries. Joe Biden could do this by executive order, but perhaps there would be the need to add some staffing at the consulate so that this does not take some consular officer away from some other pressing business.

Not complicated. It’s democracy.



Photo of poet Nikki Giovanni by David Quinn, in 2007. Creative Commons license.

Today, I am 64 years old. I still look good. I appreciate and enjoy my age… A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it. You still bring to bear all your prior experience, but you’re riding on another level. It’s completely liberating.

Nikki Giovanni


Bear in mind…

The military is a plant that must be carefully cared for so that it does not bear fruit.

Jacques Tati


We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Elie Wiesel


I change myself, I change the world.

Gloria Anzaldúa



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night oil