Bernal, Hunger and The Debt

mother and her 8 kids live here
Some living conditions for a family of nine in Veraguas. Photo by the Ministry of Social Development.

Hunger and megadebt

by Miguel Antonio Bernal V.

Two hundred thousand Panamanians suffer from hunger, three hundred thousand people eat badly in Panama and about 15% of children under five years of age suffer malnutrition while the PRD government squanders a million bucks on phantom employees and organizes a shameless search for more than $10 million for the “legalization” of illegals.

All of the above occurs while the deputies of the PRD, accompanied by the Panameñistas and “Yanibel’s caucus,” vote in the National Assembly for Benicio and Huevito to preside over the Budget and Credentials Committees, while the public debt of our Panama, in the face of widespread indifference, amounts to a sum greater than forty-eight BILLION US dollars.

The public debt is the debt that the state has, that is, the population of a country. It’s divided into internal and external. There are debtor countries and creditor countries. In addition, “the classification of the debt is made according to its origin, the term of the thing owed, the title representing the obligation, the nature of the debtor, the way in which it must be satisfied and the place where the payment must be made.”

The increase in the public debt of our Panama during the last decades, has been constantly and permanently ascending.

In 1990 Panama’s debt was $3.300 billion. By the end of 2009 – the government of Martin Torrijos – the debt reached 10,802 million and with Martinelli in 2014, it rose to 17,639 million. Then Varela raised it to 26,612 million in 2019 and Cortizo will practically double it by the end of 2023.

The “justifications” of the different governments from 2000 to date, have not changed since they have all followed the same economic conceptions of an outdated neoliberalism based on the unstoppable desire for profit and to privately enjoy the honey of power.

Given the government’s action as a joint criminal enterprise, pretending to know where the billions in loans acquired in the last four years with Cortizo have gone, is more difficult than knowing what happened during the last 18 years that preceded it.

The obligatory question that we citizens must ask ourselves – among many – is how and with what are we going to pay a debt that does not stop increasing day by day? The social damage that government debt policies represent for the vast majority of the population is also unknown. Neither the government, nor the political parties, nor the leaders of the labor unions, business groups, nor civic associations come out to explain or denounce. It’s one of the main obstacles to our ability to limit and reduce the unstoppable social inequality that suffocates the majority of the population.

Governing by borrowing without limit, in addition to simultaneously stealing from government coffers, requires no greater effort by those who exercise public function for other than public service.

However, the other figures – which they hide from us – of unemployment, housing and road deficits, school dropout rates, state bureaucracy, etc., are also frightening. All this does not seem to worry those who, with their “me-with-me” dialogues, pacts to close gaps, failed parallel constitutional reforms and so on, have found a modus operandi to continue indebting and suffocating us. The current pre-election histrionics only portend more of the same.


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