Editorials: Panama’s dignity; and US democracy

Nuestra Panamá
An independent Panama, with a sense of dignity, if we can keep it. MIRE photo.

Neutrality, sovereignty and solidarity

From London, the neoliberal Financial Times reports ominous tales of US-Chinese rivalry playing out in Panama. They have their point of view but they don’t lie.

In the Straits of Hormuz, the Iranian navy has waylaid a Panamanian-flagged Greek tanker. It comes a few days after the US navy grabbed and redirected an Iranian tanker headed for China.

In our region, countries debate what to do about the migration crisis and one of the emerging probable agreements is to ease sanctions and warlike measures against Venezuela, as this has mainly just driven people onto dangerous migration routes that are a headache for everybody along the way. Likely related was Colombia’s decision to eject the pretender president of Venezuela, now to be another part of the obnoxious right-wing Miami exile movement – maybe they’ll let him join the Proud Boys.

Some basic principles for Panama:

  • We maintain a certain neutrality to protect ourselves and our principal assets. Everyone gets to use the canal and nobody is given a motive to attack it.
  • We are a country that has been colonized and given orders by stronger powers, such that we resent such things and sympathize with other countries that get bullied.
  • We are a maritime nation that’s for free navigation of international waters — and also for skies open to international aviation.
  • We look askance at undue territorial claims, especially those based on the histories of lapsed or retreated colonial empires.
  • We have to get along in this world, both with the great powers and with our neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • We are one of the Bolivarian Republics, and even if The Great Liberator died in despair as his dream of a united Latin America was crumbling, it’s still a good idea.

Let’s allow neither wimpishness nor the ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude to get in the way of a principled and pragmatic Panamanian foreign policy.

Montana police in riot gear arresting constituents for standing in solidarity with Zoey Zephyr. She has been silenced on the House floor because she is a transgender elected official. The GOP-run House was voting on a bill that would forcibly out transgender students to faculty & parents. Unattributed photo posted on Twitter.

To save failed and unpopular policies,
the Republicans attack democracy

Most Americans want to ban what are popularly known as assault rifles – high-powered semi-automatic or fully automatic weapons derived from those for military or police SWAT team use.

In the suburbs of Nashville a gunman with one of those burst into a schoolhouse, fired 152 shots and killed nine people. And when the protesters came to the state legislature to demand tighter gun controls, the Republicans in the House moved to expel three Democrats who sided with the crowd. It’s a breach of decorum to speak out against madness and the gun sales the give it extra force, you see. But they didn’t get the super-majority to oust the white legislator and the county governments from which the two popularly elected black legislators who did get expelled voted them right back into office, although there will be special elections.

In less populated parts of Montana it’s a popular sport to beat up queers. But in a bit more urbanized Missoula, they elected a tansgendered woman, Zoey Zephyr, to the state legislture. Said legislature moved to ban health care for and void privacy rights of of Montana’s small transgendered minority. Zephyr spoke out against that and was kicked out of the legislative chamber and silenced.

The Texas legislature is working on a bill to allow a Republican appointed official to overturn election results.

The Florida legislature is working on a bill to conceal records of the governor’s travel expenses, which were improperly used to deport Venezuelan migrants to northern cities.

Fanatics across the USA are going from school district to school district and from public library to public library with lists of book they want banned. In many of the cases those making the demands haven’t actually read the material.

The things that today’s Republicans stand for – “culture wars” extremism, racism and firearms violence – are unpopular with most Americans. So the Republicans respond by attacking democracy. We can be sure that the GOP will interpose semantic defenses but Democrats will have to run very foolish campaigns not to defeat the Republicans on these issues next year.

Nelson Mandela, shown in a commemorative United Nations graphic.

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

Nelson Mandela

Bear in mind…

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.

Margaret Mead

Neither millions nor alms – we want justice.

José A. Remón Cantera

I base my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.

Gilda Radner


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