The women’s march against the 1947 proposed Filos-Hines Treaty, which would have made all of Panama a permanent US protectorate. In those chaotic days there was also the shootout at the university, the rise of a student generation who later negotiated the end of the Canal Zone, disagreements among the ranks, petty hustlers who saw lucrative opportunities for themselves in the deal and in the end a wise cop who said no, who insisted that there must be dignity and justice to have any hope to maintain order. Panama’s future happiness and prosperity depend on people coming forward like this now.
What might happen at the National Assembly today, or in the days that follow?
That things proceed as Nito, Gaby, Benicio et al apparently plan would be this historical disaster on a par with the 1904 acceptance of the imposed Hay – Bunau-Varilla Treaty. Panama would be colonized again.
Then there is the danger that some delusional character informed by imported “hero with a gun” fiction might introduce violence into what ought to be a serious but civil discussion. No telling who, from which side, nor where that might lead. History has lots of horror stories about that sort of thing to tell us. Multiple burdens of responsibility are placed on the police today. Let’s everyone on both sides of the line keep the peace.
Do we want to look back to the moments of wisdom and grandeur in Panamanian history? The big one was about a cop who took responsibility and did other than what he was told to do. It was in 1947, when José A. Remón stepped out of his supposed-to-be apolitical Guardia Nacional role and advised the legislature to reject the proposed Filos-Hines Treaty with the United States. Harry Truman never forgave Panamanians for it, but the deputies did the right thing and followed Remón’s advice.
A contract that gives a foreign company powers akin to those taken by Belgium’s King Leopold for mines in The Congo? That’s the ugly colonial scheme being urged upon Panama, and from ever more lines of thinking and walks of life, Panamanians are rejecting it.
The time has come for one, two, a bunch of actual patriots in the legislature to tell their parties, to tell their bosses, to tell their would-be benefactors that this deal is off, that Panama is not for sale.
Of course the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you – if you don’t play, you can’t win.
Bear in mind…
It’s innocence when it charms us, ignorance when it doesn’t.
It is not unseemly for a man to die fighting in defense of his country.
Never refuse any advance of friendship, for if nine out of ten bring you nothing, one alone may repay you.
Madame de Tencin
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