Editorials: What to call this monstrosity? and Biden, the GOP and the Venes

The black and blue kids
The black-and-blue kids of Transformative Thought and Action (Pensamiento y Acción Transformadora – PAT) proclaiming to the world from the pedestrian overpass at the university complex in Penonome. Photo by Eric Jackson.

What’s in a name?

What would an old hippie radical like the editor suggest?

Do NOT accept the First Quantum / PRD rhetorical style. Don’t say “el contrato minero.” Instead, say “la colonia minera.” Is it that the editor’s just this history major, or just this guy whose formative childhood was in the old Canal Zone context?

It’s a more accurate characterization of what’s at stake in the here and now.

Canada will not send an army general to be a colonial governor, like presidents of the United States used to appoint US Army Corps of Engineers major generals as Canal Zone governors. But like the Canal Zone or the 19th century Panama Railroad, there could be company police.

Let’s not worship the dictatorship’s 1972 constitution, but let’s do recognize that the mining colony proposal is illegal by its terms. Let’s not embrace xenophobia, but let’s also not cede any part of Panamanian sovereignty to a mining company, especially to a foreign one. Let no foreign government step in to proclaim ownership, nor lend its prestige and muscle to a company that claims ownership, with respect to the minerals found in Panamanian territory.


Scene from a failed policy, set to music. A USAID “reconciliation” and “re-integration” program of would-be asylum seekers of Venezuelan and Colombian origin who were sent back to Colombia. The notion that those fleeing Venezuela and those fleeing Colombia are similar and fungible populations, the denial that US economic warfare against Venezuela and historically US-backed death squad gangsters in Colombia are driving people to take terrible risks in Panama’s Darien province and other points along the route to the US border have led to delusional policies, which the Biden administration is only slowly correcting. USAID photo by Katherine Ko.

Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan migrants in the USA

On September 21 the Biden administration offered nearly half a million Venezuelans who had been in the United States since July Temporary Protected Status. It will give those who accept the offer at least a year and a half of work permits, the ability to live more normal lives without the constant fear, the possibility of making themselves so very useful to the US economy that employers will make efforts to help them become permanent and productive Americans.

Xenophobes and white supremacists hate that. In the agricultural areas of states that are run by people like that, farmers have difficulty finding people who will plant, weed and harvest their crops. The stereotype is that the undocumented immigrant is a desperate criminal – and if denied the opportunity to work and make an honest living some of them might just get force into dishonest ways to survive.

Few Venezuelans who come to the USA will have it in them to be rich, famous and beloved like the soon-to-retire Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera. But on the whole Venes are better educated that most of their fellow Latin Americans and superior flan – quesillo in their dialect of Spanish – isn’t the only attractive aspect of their culture to become an enriching part of some other country’s way of life.

We all live on a finite planet with finite resources, but immigration has enriched the United States and the country has room for more of it.

It was US policy to strangle the Venezuelan economy because it didn’t like the socialist policies of Hugo Chávez and his successor, leading so many people to flee their once-prosperous homeland and come to the United States, where those who have become citizens have tended to be a predominantly conservative Republican voter bloc. But now we have right-wing GOP governors treating newly arrived Venezuelans very badly, shipping them off to mostly Democratic cities that are not prepared to receive them or house them.

Legalize them, protect and inform them of their rights, give them the chance to make their own way in a new country? President Biden and his party, just by such a show of ordinary decency, may in a few years see all of these newly naturalized citizens as the core of a blue Venezuelan-American electorate. It would be one more demonstration of the greater power of love than of hate in political life.


Bernadette Peters. Photo by nonobadkitty.

You’ve got to be original, because if you’re like someone else, what do they need you for?

Bernadette Peters     


Bear in mind…

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.

Jewish proverb


One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.

Agatha Christie


Life is not what one lived, but rather what one remembers, and how it is remembered to tell the tale.

Gabriel García Márquez


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