On a Tuesday with few givens…

cat's don't eat star apples
Cats won’t eat star apples — neither in a Zonian gringo nor Caribbean English sense.

So, what to do?

On this Tuesday morning, I am not sure what I will feed the cats or dogs. I got a gun nut on my Facebook wall calling me a liar about a traumatic experience I had when I was 12 years old. House repairs, cutting the grass, a thorough cleaning of my surroundings — all left to slide. The water is heating for the morning caffeine fix. one month from today I will celebrate my 70th birthday, as the Arabs say In sha’Allah.

I am used to uncertainty, short rations, making do. There have been a lot of those things since the epidemic hit Panama in early March of 2020 and when I was attacked at my home by five maleantes in late June of 2021. I get by. I realize that nothing is eternal, especially not people. And I think about continuity for The Panama News.

This publication has been my mission, my project, for 28 years now. It started with another publisher, me as editor and these awful and unsustainable office politics.

When we first started posting online, it survived one of these “Canal Zone forever” zealots sending me a spam email.

When forced into informality, the vultures didn’t get fed and the prosecutor who demanded to know “Why haven’t you shut down The Panama News?” didn’t get any respite from the truth for her thug boss.

When a presidential aide threatened us with a criminal defamation charge over a story about his private business running a monopoly scheme at the expense of some canal retirees and the US government, I called his bluff.

When a bot from China shut down our website we bounced back in a few days but had to adjust in the form of me taking back some decisions that affected our resilience.

When a fraud artist from Georgia set up shop in Bocas del Toro, formed political alliances here and we published stories about it, we held on against HIS criminal defamation charges until there came the day when he was taken away in cuffs to face charges back in Georgia.

We retreated, advanced and side-stepped through or around many lean times and almost as many offers to “monetize” for someone else’s benefit.

When a “patriot” militia guy and convicted felon fraud artist came down here with an investment plan to sell, we wrote about that, he hired Noriega’s guy for shutting down the opposition press as his private prosecutor but we beat that criminal defamation charge, too. And we lived to report that thug lawyer become presiding magistrate of the Supreme Court, then get impeached and thrown into prison.

The Panama News also along the way made some corrections or retractions when they were justified, because truth is the first principle of journalism and it would be a hardcore lie to pretend infallibility like so many of highly paid TV news stars do.

When it became clear that the advertiser-supported business model for small media doesn’t work AND that it hardly works for big media corporations, The Panama News renounced ad sales and became reader supported. That left us a bit more dependent on copy commons / public domain content, on top of my own work and donated stories, photos and videos from readers and friends. And those copy commons news services? They’re also asking for money today.

Between 2013 and 2015 we had our old website destroyed and our archives deleted by a series of hacker attacks. I have reason to believe but can’t prove, in any way that the courts here would accept and given the resources available to me, that these electronic attacks were at the expense of the Panamanian government. Anyway, we retreated to publishing just on Facebook for a few months, then came back with a new website.

Then came the pandemic that closed many a business but not The Panama News, which, however, has been terribly gouged by the telecom oligarchs.

And there came the attack by maleantes — whom I believe but can’t prove had a backer — and I rejected all the advice about guns and moving to suburbia coming from usually well-meaning gringos. Through a head injury and slow recovery, I slogged on.

It’s the last “Giving Tuesday” before I turn 70, and to tell you the truth neither such unofficial holidays nor my coming birthday move me very much. I will survive until I don’t, but I am looking for ways for The Panama News to survive after I don’t.

Send money today and some immediate problems may be addressed, but longer-term, this publication needs some deeper thought and new commitments.

Eric Jackson
the editor



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