President Cortizo delivers bags of soccer balls and other sports equipment in the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca. It’s a traditional political thing, and here it seems to be a matter of the presidency delivering the goods to local activists to distribute. ‘Here’s a soccer ball for your kid in exchange for your vote’ isn’t something unique to the PRD but it’s a multipartisan sort of politics that is enshrined in the dictatorship’s constitution under which we live. It’s also a sorry substitute for kids having enough to eat, access to medicine, a relevant and high-quality education and a future in a society that has justice within the rule of law. Photo by the Presidencia.
They think they can go back?
With July’s protests ended and the talks that arose from them having run their course, all of the worst people in Panamanian public life are laughing at those less wealthy than themselves for falling for the ruse. It has to be a terrible letdown for President Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo Cohen.
He made a good agreement and gave us some reasonable decrees to lower Panama’s high medicine prices. But those would take a bit of time to fully implement and meanwhile pharmacies are generally not stocking price-controlled medications, some that do have them available have defied the price controls, bureaucratic obstacles to the establishment of independent pharmacies’ medicine importation and wholesaling cooperatives loom and we see little or no promised relief on food prices. The automotive fuel subsidies are unsustainable over the long haul — as is the subsidy on tanks of cooking gas — and many gas stations make it a terrible pain to refuel at the promised price-controlled rate.
Nito killed a notorious and expensive subsidy to developers, originally created in the name of “tourism promotion,” but NOW the legislature is moving to revive it. They’re also defying the president and the courts to revive the practice of multiple salaries on the public payroll. In a bunch of local governments the politicians are giving themselves big pay raises.
On the world stage, Nito, who has been ailing, did not go to New York to speak at the UN, but sent Vice President Gaby Carrizo to speak in his place. What Panamanians and the world heard was not a description of how Panama tackled high medicine prices at least as well as most of our Latin American neighbors have. Nope. What we heard was a plea to the world community to solve a problem created in Panama by a little clique of monopolistic hustlers. Like those who thought a bloody US invasion of Panama was just the remedy we needed, this iteration of the PRD is again betting on foreign intervention as the solution to national problems that we should solve.
Is the thinking that the July protests failed, so now those who provoked them can go back to what they were doing, only taking sterner measures to slap down anyone who complains about it?
And is the thinking within the ruling party that they will be voted out in 2024 anyway, so now’s the season to smash and grab?
Another ugly cycle, except moved forward a bit because the president has some health problems? Like the wheel of Panamanian politics runs eternally, but the wheel of karma doesn’t?
It isn’t just a higher mean temperature on the planet. Winds of change are blowing around the world and across the region. These are unpredictable, but it does seem likely that the corny old tricks won’t be able to withstand them.
For more information and the links you need, go to https://www.votefromabroad.org
The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.
Ida B. Wells
Bear in mind…
The inescapable fact is that when we build a society based on greed, selfishness, and ruthless competition, the fruits we can expect to reap are economic insecurity at home and international discord abroad.
If you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up. There’s a way out.
We cannot feast on global resources while the world’s poor struggle to survive on inhospitable lands. It is as simple as that. It is the rich who are making the world poorer. Environment and Poverty are one crisis, not two.
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