Editorials, The CD internal elections; and Dershowitz and Trump’s legal woes

A rent-a-crowd cries fraud outside the Cambio Democratico headquarters, before moving its protest to the Electoral Tribunal. This posed video from the Twitter feed of one of Ricardo Martinelli’s communications media. It’s much less than viral, which is an indication of Martinelli’s appeal to Panamanians these days.

It should have taken just a couple of hours

More than a day later and still no official word on the Cambio Democratico internal election results?

Yes, early on the official party leadership, headed by Rómulo Roux, admitted that there will have to be some reruns in several corregimientos. It was usual things like ballots printed without all the candidates listed, polls not opening on time, self-appointed goons keeping people from voting with made-up-on-the-spot “rules” and so on. But only in a few places.

So, with only a few exceptions, shouldn’t the official outlines of the result have been known rather quickly?

It turns out that some time ago the legislature, at the insistence of the Martinelli people among others, decided to leave the running of and vote counting in party elections to the party organizations. The Martinelistas accuse Roux and his faction of failing to pay the Electoral Tribunal to run the intra-party elections of convention delegates and the leaders of the CD women’s and youth organization, and fault them for that.

Say WHAT? It’s this terrible offense for a political faction NOT to pay election officials? Only in Panama.

The announcement will belatedly be made, and from observers at the polling places it seems that Roux and his entourage will be re-elected to the party leadership and that Ricardo Martinelli and his proxy Yanibel Ábrego will continue to allege fraud. Then, upon receipt of a complaint in acceptable form, the Electoral Tribunal may look into the allegations.

Even if Ábrego’s team pulls out a narrow victory in the end, it’s not the smashing and obvious victory need to maintain Ricky Martinelli’s aura as a sure winner in 2024.

On the other hand, wipe away all the dishonest Martinelista slop thrown at Roux, and still there remains the image of a party leader who couldn’t manage something like unquestionably fair and efficient elections in his own party.

So Roux intends to have himself declared the CD presidential candidate for 2024. As a corporate lawyer, he does seem to be the type who would be a worthy fiduciary for a rich person to retain in defense of his or her fortune. Not, however, the sort of president for working people to trust to defend their interests.

Martinelli and Ábrego? They are not to be trusted to guard what belongs to the public, nor really, what belongs to anyone rich or poor other than themselves.

It’s very unlikely that Roux or Ábrego will be the next president of Panama. Perhaps, if he can get another winning streak in the courts going, Martinelli might be. However. The glitter has rubbed off of him, such that he couldn’t convincingly win his old party back. The patina will dull considerably more as Panamanians observe his upcoming corruption trials.

It’s likely that both Roux and Ábrego will be figures on or supporting different coalition slates next year. Many are the conventional wisdoms that might be disproven. Some bad years not entirely of politicians’ creation — after scandalous post-invasion decades — may have taken us to a breaking point.

There is no obvious front runner in the 2024 presidential race, but the possibilities for coalitions are beginning to fall into place. Stay tuned.


Let the guy have his say, and understand how abominable it is.

The torture lawyer defends the untenable

Former Harvard Law School professor and renowned attorney Alan Dershowitz says it’s against the law and the Bible to indict Donald Trump for paying Stormy Daniels to remain silent about his sexual activities with her during the 2016 campaign.

Well, not the most heinous offense. Nothing like the incitement of a violent attempt to overturn the will of the American voters as expressed in the 2020 election. Nor like attempts to pressure state election officials to commit fraud about the same matter, nor the procurement of fraudulent “electors” also for the purpose of thwarting the proper succession of the presidency.

ALSO not as heinous as trying to strong-arm the president of Ukraine into framing Joe Biden’s junkie son Hunter for offenses the younger Biden did not commit, nor as bad as trying to pressure former Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela into overriding this country’s condominium owners’ rights and the decision of a US bankruptcy court in order to keep The Trump Organization as the management of that mobbed-up knockoff of the Burj Al Arab in Punta Pacifica. In those cases it was a matter of soliciting, perhaps attempting to extort, foreign emoluments that US presidents are not supposed to accept.

Dershowitz, the learned gentleman who in the wake of the Al Qaeda attacks on the United States advocated the institution of torture warrants to make bad guys confess their secrets? US law didn’t get such warrants, but US politics got a string of shameful scandals, with untenable defenses under US and international law, at places like Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Base and Guantanamo Naval Station. Low-ranking servicepeople like Private Lynndie England and several others took the hit. The intellectual authors of this crime wave, the people of power or influence, were not charged.

Donald Trump rode into power on the crest of a great moral crisis. He validated, or tried to validate, all sorts of brutality, dishonesty and disloyal relations with foreign powers. Perhaps the stolen documents case will shed light on the extent of the latter situations.

But for Dershowitz to distinguish going after Trump over payoffs to silence a Stormy Daniels for the purposes of a US presidential campaign from going after Al Capone for tax evasion after things like the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre really is a nonstarter. Taxes were one of Capone’s lesser crimes, and payoffs to Stormy Daniels were one of Trump’s more petty offenses. It doesn’t mean that Americans should put up with that stuff as a feature our US political campaigns.


Archimedes’ Lighthouse, a sculpture by Dominique Rolland in René Lévesque Park in Montreal, Quebec. The lights originally planned for it were not installed because it’s believed that they could interfere with navigation on the adjacent St. Lawrence Seaway. City of Montreal photo.


There is a time when quiet courage and audacity become for a people at the key moments of its existence the only form of adequate caution. If it does not then accept the calculated risk of the great steps, it can miss its career forever, exactly like the man who is afraid of life.

René Lévesque

Bear in mind…


Trust in God: She will provide.

Emmeline Pankhurst



If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.

Marcel Proust



Sometimes it seem like to tell the truth today is to run the risk of being killed. But if I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I’m not backing off.

Fannie Lou Hamer



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