Editorials: The PRD spending spree; and Bibi should not have been invited

A makeshift speed bump, which is gradually being removed by drivers who like to speed. Photo by Eric Jackson.

Election year spending

Doctors at one of Chiriqui province’s main public hospitals have gone on strike because, allegedly due to budget shortfalls, critical medical supplies have run out. At the pharmacies in public health care facilities all over Panama, there have been off-and-on shortages that have sent patients to much more expensive private pharmacies.

Yet all over the country, wherever an incumbent PRD or allied representante or diputado seeks re-election, there have been these make-work projects designed most of all to provide jobs for PRD supporters and contracts for PRD business owners. Street pavings through neighborhoods where almost nobody owns a car and which are poorly done, with no provisions for drainage — those are typical. Even when locals are upset about the heavy dump trucks tearing up existing roads, and about environmental damage in the places where sand, rocks and gravel are mined for these projects.

For a small and not really so rich country, national development requires some thought and the making of priorities. Those things get lost in the shuffle of a pork barrel political patronage system.

The primary results to date have shown us the limited effectiveness of this kind of campaigning. The low primary participation, the people who showed up and cast blank ballots and the incumbents who were defeated were rebukes that characterized the voting among PRD members. Capira’s political patronage queen, Yanibel Ábrego, was crushed in the Cambio Democratico primary by a generally bland corporate lawyer whose lacks extend beyond charisma to a spigot through which government money flows.

PERHAPS Panamanian voters have become weary enough of the old games to change the results that they have yielded in the past.



During an ongoing ethnic cleanse isn’t a good
time to invite Netanyahu to Washington

Are you a Zionist? Are you a supporter of an independent Palestinian state?

Either way the side with which you sympathize has committed terrible crimes. At least have the sense of humanity and justice to admit it.

It is diplomatic and presidential for the resident of the White House to ask foreign leaders with whom there are disagreements to come to Washington and talk. But such visits also get used as stamps of legitimacy. It’s why, in the agonizing final years of South African apartheid, no US president played host to a South African president. It’s why the pomp and ceremony of an official Putin visit to the White House is a bad idea at the moment, absent a plan to announce the definitive end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Netanyahu is in the midst of directing a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign in the West Bank and East jerusalem, and within Israeli politics he’s pushing a “court reorganization” that, like Donald Trump is trying in the USA, would give him impunity for his past and future crimes.

The invitation is out there and Bibi will come. What Joe Biden tells him in private and also in public statements will be important.

It was, however, a mistake to invite the prime minister of Israel to visit the United States of America at this time.


Drawing of Horace Walpole in the Library at Strawberry Hill House, England (1756).

Foolish writers and readers are created for each other.

Horace Walpole


Bear in mind…


Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.

Annie Lennox


I can’t understand it. I can’t even understand the people who can understand it.

Queen Juliana


Justice is a contract of expediency, entered upon to prevent men harming or being harmed.



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