Editorials, What about the newspapers? and Joe’s punt

It would be easy to dismiss El Panamá América by saying that it always was yellow journalism. But in its century it has been more than only that. It’s one of our cultural landmarks. Started as the English-language Panama American in the 1920s by Harmodio Arias of the racist Accion Comunal movement that advocated the expulsion of the Afro-Antillean and Asian ethnicities, at its best the newspaper that — according to trial testimony — Ricky Martinelli bought with public funds is also a valuable part of Panama’s historical record. What to do about it raises many questions about who we are.

The New Business trial

We shall see how Judge Marquínez rules. With all the games run on her, it would be understandable for her to lash back in her verdict and any sentence. Let’s hope that she has a calmer judicial temperament than that.

The trial put the details and the depravity of Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal’s operation on display for the Panamanian people. It should scream much louder than any US declaration about the man’s character, for a variety of reasons. Recall, for example, how American officials, The Panama News and so many others looked askance at Balbina Herrera in the 2009 presidential election – all with good reason – and what we got was Ricky Martinelli. Official Washington and its representatives here do not lie when they characterize Martinelli now, but leave it to Panamanians to judge, and to figure out how to proceed.

If things go as one might expect, the government will confiscate El Panama America, La Critica and Dia a Dia as stolen public property. As it should.

However, there is left the dilemma of what to do about this newspaper empire that began with a racist English-language newspaper in the 1920s, The Panama American. Turn it into a state-owned PRD propaganda operation? Auction it off to the highest bidder, to give us another rabiblanco medium, or perhaps a foreign-owned newspaper chain? Those would be the habitual defaults for this current political caste.

It would be better to elect from the ranks of people who worked on those papers before, those who work there now and Panamanian journalists in general a new editorial advisory board, and turn these media over to student journalists – perhaps one to those at the University of Panama, one to those at USMA and one to those at UNACHI. And pay little heed to the laments of the Martinelista hacks who would be left jobless in such a transaction. Panama needs a new generation with better ethics to dominate this country’s journalism in the years and decades to come.


Joe Biden explains his debt ceiling deal. White Hous photo.

A deal that everyone likes to hate

In a democracy, elections have consequences. The alternatives are a ruling aristocracy to which public preferences mean little or nothing or a functional breakdown wherein every disagreement brings on paralysis.

The Republicans want to consolidate their hereditary aristocracy but the smarter among them know that their main man, Donald Trump, is unlikely to make it across any general election finish line. They may swing behind some other right-wing totalitarian, but that’s not where most of the American people are at.

The Democrats are eternally squabbling, but so long as they don’t allow those on that side of the political divide who consider themselves entitled to do whatever they want because of this or that reason, ought to pull together as a winning coalition. However, we have the wretched cliques who ran the 2016 national campaign as a monument of how arrogance and incompetence can lose an easy to win election.

The United States got divided government in 2020 and 2022, and thus a bipartisan punt on a debt ceiling issue that the Republicans created. Does the GOP Freedom Caucus complain? Do the Justice Democrats complain? In either case the way past that is to win the 2024 elections, better in a convincing, across-the-board fashion.


Dame Edna. Photo by Eva Rinaldi.

You mustn’t judge Australia by the Australians.

Dame Edna Everage

Bear in mind…

Emergencies have always been necessary to progress. It was darkness which produced the lamp. It was fog that produced the compass. It was hunger that drove us to exploration. And it took a depression to teach us the real value of a job.

Victor Hugo

Peace has to be created, in order to be maintained. It is the product of Faith, Strength, Energy, Will, Sympathy, Justice, Imagination, and the triumph of principle. It will never be achieved by passivity and quietism.

Dorothy Thompson


We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it, as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land for all children, and love it, as God loves us.

Chief Seattle


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