Bernal, Getting past the dictatorship’s constitution

A December 1979 experience that neither killed nor intimidated Miguel Antonio Bernal, but in addition to seriously injuring him it did harden the law professor’s attitude about the dictatorship and its constitution, under which Panama is still governed. You have to go to YouTube to see it.

Toward a new constitution

by Miguel Antonio Bernal V.

More than three years ago, the Constituent Movement YA, under the guidance of Don Cristobal Silva (RIP), released “Documento Conceptual y de Principios,” which we note today in this opinion article.

The constitutional crisis had motivated the United Citizens for the Constituent Movement (CUCO) and the Constituent Movement Now to merge our efforts, dedication and actions, to promote a Constituent Assembly as the joint main objective “motivated by the crisis of institutionality that the country is going through, which merits exploring the possibilities for an urgent transformation of the Nation based on a constituent process.”

By publishing the Documento Conceptual y de Principios — made as an initial proposal to be improved – the movement contributed to a national political debate about the need for a new Constitution through a constituent process.

However, it is mandatory to confess that little or no attention was paid to it by civil society and its various professional groups, labor unions, political parties, etc. This has not prevented the need for a constituent process. The idea has not been abandoned. At some point there’s a need to realize the maxim that “public power emanates only from the people.”

The attempt by the lovers of “change” so that nothing changes, to follow Article 314 of the imposed militaristic constitution and impose a “parallel” constitutional process, received a resounding rejection from broad sectors of the population who were not fooled by the fallacies of the gatopardists.*

Today, after the eruption of citizens onto the national stage — people tired of all the inequality, deceit, corruption, privileges, perquisites and impunity — it’s striking that those attending the “Mesa Única”(for dizziness) in Penonomé, have overlooked the need for a new constitution through a constituent process.

By eluding the fact that the matrix of our society’s problem is the imposed militarist constitution, which has served and continues to support all the actions against the public interest, they have once again set the table for the joint criminal enterprise that passes for our government, so that it can continue doing its thing: anti-national, anti-popular and anti-democratic practices.

* The term derives from an Italian novel, which has been made into several movies, about a minor Sicilian prince who, in a time of revolution, explored various schemes of cosmetic change to ensure that nothing would change for his privileged aristocratic caste.


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