Editorials: Labor uprising; and Don’t bring your guns

Striking teachers take to the streets. Modified still from an AEVE video.

It wasn’t very long…

President Cortizo left for medical treatment outside of the country, and the next day information that had been public and updated every day was no longer to be found. 

Nito left with labor restive, and the next day teacher strikes and labor marches against the high cost of living broke out in earnest.

The economic troubles we now face have long been foreseen, but the president and his top economic policy advisor — Vice President Carrizo — had looked at those on the bottom just enough to prevent food riots but had mainly listened to business leaders who seem to live in Never Never Land.

It’s not a good thing that things break this way as soon as the president takes sick leave. It makes Panama look unstable to the world. It further fragments our political scene. It allows the most obnoxious elements of an overall creepy political caste to dispense with some of their remaining self-controls. It thus feeds instability at a time when from top to bottom, most of the country is hurting.

Better if in our own private dealings, this society shows restraint and a sense of justice. Easier said than done when through this epidemic and consequent economic crisis there have been some powerful people and institutions who have taken advantage of those weaker than themselves. However, the chaotic options are worse.

And Nito? How quickly so many people have wished for the quick return and full recovery of a not-so-popular president, but still a leader with a sense of restraint.


A week and a half ago, the government cut the ribbon on a new center for the destruction of weapons. There are legal guns in Panama, but under limits not set by gun sellers nor by foreign governments. You can’t possess a military-style weapon here unless as a member of government forces. You don’t get to keep an arsenal in your home, nor intimidate the general public by display of weapons, nor attend any sort of political event while armed. Panamanian law enforcement very jealously guards its monopoly on legal violence. Policia Nacional photo.

What? Panamanians don’t have
mass shootings every day?

Panama is a sovereign independent republic. We became such with some intervention from abroad, but we remained such because Panamanians were truly sick of the constant armed conflicts of the period when we were part of Colombia.

We have our own gun laws, which do not, like the US Second Amendment, derive from a system of warfare that depended on governors calling up militias armed with muskets, nor from the compulsion of white citizens to form patrols to keep black people off of the roads, nor from a period of continuing armed land grabs from the indigenous nations. Panamanian gun laws are designed to keep deranged people from arming themselves, and to keep those who are allowed to legally arm themselves from getting military style weapons with which they might fire 70 shots at a crowd of people who don’t realize what’s going on.

Can’t handle that? Think it’s an intolerable infringement of your most fundamental freedom — the right to tool up to kill someone? Don’t live here. Better for you, better for Panama.


Susan Sontag in 1975. Photo by Peter Hujar.

A novel worth reading is an education of the heart.

Susan Sontag

Bear in mind…

Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.

Alan Watts

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Pay attention to what you pay attention to.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal



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