Editorials: End corporate secrecy for Panama’s sake; and Fix the summit

With a label like this, a great tragedy could have been avoided. However, the original label was in Chinese and new, erroneous labels were put on the poison in Spain, then in Panama. But there was no compensation forthcoming from the Panamanian company, due to the corporate secrecy laws here. Master Chem photo.

For a more just Panama, not just to please the rich countries

Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes, to a business publication on the eve of a gathering here convened by the dark money guy – “Democratic Majority For Israel” politician and billionaire Michael Bloomberg – recited the long-running complaint that Panama is unfairly singled out as a tax dodgers’ and rich thugs’ financial haven. US President Joe Biden, who after all represented Delaware all those years, ought to understand a thing or two about tax havens. So should the queen and leading politicians of the United Kingdom, given all the financial manipulations of the City of London and the crown colonies in the Caribbean and English Channel. Panama’s position may be reasonable enough in light of such comparisons.

However, it’s unreasonable in light of the interests of ordinary Panamanians.

About 16 years ago, a rash of mysterious deaths erupted. The administration of the time, headed by Martín Torrijos, suppressed news of it for months. Hundreds died and many more were left injured.

What happened was that a politically connected anonymous corporations sold mislabeled diethylene glycol to a government lab which, having been misled that it way glycerin, mixed it into cough syrup that was distributed via government pharmacies. It was not an intentional crime, but a series of negligent acts that stretched back to China, through Spain and through that anonymously owned import company that sold the stuff to the government – and through government agencies that were not given the budgets to test the stuff.

A bunch of the culpable parties settled lawsuits but here, the owners of the import company were shielded by corporate secrecy and by the time the trail led to that business it was an empty shell with nobody around and no resources that could be seized to compensate the victims.

It could happen again tomorrow. Panamanian corporate secrecy is not just the world’s rich “beautiful people” cheating tax collectors, it’s part of the dysfunctional Panamanian justice system that provides impunity for the rich and connected and no recourse for ordinary people who get injured.

Set aside the excuses on the world stage. Let’s end corporate secrecy for the benefit of the Panamanian people.


The Americas are much more than the United States of America. The many other countries are not appendages of the USA. Let’s delay the gathering, take the time to correct mistakes and have a proper summit.

Start over on the Summit of the Americas

Most Latin American and Caribbean heads of state say that they won’t attend next month’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. The first stated objection was President Biden’s decision, in the name of freedom and democracy, to exclude Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Not the violent Colombian regime, where death squads are right now killing and disappearing people to affect upcoming elections. Not Mr. Bolsonaro’s Brazil, whose abuses are not outdone by those of Maduro’s Venezuela. Not Mexico, where it’s way more dangerous for journalists than a Cuba that seriously restricts freedom of the press. Not El Salvador, where recent mass arrests have outdone what has been going on in Nicaragua.

So, a “Summit of the Americas” in which Joe Biden, whose administration seeks to have journalist Julian Assange jailed for the rest of his life for embarrassing the United States, lecturing a small rump of regional leaders about freedom and democracy?

That may be what the totalitarian heirs of the dictatorship that Fidel Castro overthrew years ago might want to see. However, they’re almost all Trumpsters. They never see a repressive right-wing regime that they don’t like. The values of a political clique that holds forth in the Miami area are not the values of most of the American people.

Joe Biden should admit that this summit has gone off the rails and postpone it. There should be consultations with every government in the Americas, invitations to all of them, and a real summit of the hemisphere’s heads of state after that sort of fresh start. A real summit won’t solve all of the many problems. It will get the Americas back on speaking terms and a bit more respectful of one another.


The Kiwi prime minister visiting NATO headquarters in Brussels in 2018. NATO photo.

Leadership is not about necessarily being the loudest in the room.

Jacinda Ardern


Bear in mind…


Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.

Isaac Newton


It is important that the musician just lets the music be written.



Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

Martin Luther King Jr.



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