Editorials: Consultation? With whom? and The GOP gets a partial payback

THESE opinions
THESE opinions? This mostly labor contingent of a larger march with a lot of environmentalists, anti-colonialists and others was pretty much ignored — at the start of the “consultations” shot at with tear gas and birdshot — by the ruling PRD. So their particular objections mostly didn’t register in the committee report or in President Cortizo’s reaction to it. Photo from the CIAM Panama Twitter feed.

The primordial issues unaddressed, Nito vows to go on

Do we start with the constitutional, or the procedural, or get into the nuts and bolts of practicality? Whatever the starting point, the idea of the Cortizo administration negotiating a new mining contract is a nonstarter.

The Supreme Court has held the original mining concession, granted in 1997, was unconstitutional. Part of it was this international crime wave – stock swindles, environmental rape, workers cheated and so on – called Petaquilla Gold. Part of it was sold off to become what is not the copper mining concession in Donoso and environs. Does the partition and sale of an unconstitutional grant make it constitutional? Only in the realm of purchased Panamanian legal opinions. The multinational giant First Quantum bought an illegally obtained concession from people now going through appeals to avoid criminal sentences imposed on them for other matters. They devolved this concession to a Panamanian subsidiary so that if the law catches up with them the main company’s losses will be a bankrupt subsidiary rather than payment is full for damages. So if somebody breaks into the editor’s house and steals this computer, can they sell it to a buyer who gets to claim rights to it? The PRD and allied legislators just ignore the underlying illegality of this project, and if the day comes when they no longer can look the other way they’ll just say that it’s an accomplished fact no matter what the law says.

Was there actually a “consultation” with respect to this contract that would have the force of law? If we accept that supporters of a proposal get all the spaces in the hearing rooms and opponents are not only locked out but are brutalized on the streets outside, is that a valid consultation? Yet despite that corny thuggery, public opinion has swung sharply and overwhelmingly against the contract. That was the tacit admission in the committee’s report, but nobody has taken responsibility for this ugly mockery nor will the people who engineered it ever acknowledge just what they did. Accountability would have to come from the voters next year – which is why they are trying to rig the election rules at this late date.

The labor unions hate this proposed contract for a number of reasons. The main one is that government obligations to pension systems, the public schools and public health care upon which working families depend are being made contingent on the contract passing and the company making payments, when the company has never paid what it owed. There are other labor leaders who might allow for mining in the context of a national development policy, but they are not on board with this project because it’s about resource extraction, not building a modern industrial economy. To be sure, there are company union guys cheering for the deal because they are paid by the company to cheer. Real labor activists – leaders and the rank-and-file – won’t touch this monstrosity with a ten-foot pole.

The most basic and irreconcilable objection is environmental. A supposedly protected natural area has been stripped of vegetation and topsoil, then the water running off of it has been polluted by mud, tailings and processing chemicals. It’s a crime against nature that the PRD would repeal all across Panama. Might Nito the rancher say that people might still graze cattle on what’s left? How many countries would look askance at importing meat from animals that drank the runoff from the copper mine in Donoso?

The nature that the mine has destroyed is lost to any generation now living. There will be no reclamation worthy of the name. And they want to expand this? No way.



What a mess in Washington! But let’s not fall
into this “everybody is responsible” nonsense.

The Republicans let their fanatics take control. The AR-15 lapel pins, the congresswoman from Georgia calling for a “national divorce” to break up the United States, the “Putin Republicans, the Christian Nationalists and white supremacists – these people are way out there, they have the Republican Party in a strangle hold and they have not been able to deliver much of value to anyone.

They threatened to impeach President Biden on vague and trumped-up charges and the case collapsed around them. They threated to shut down the government. They threw around all sorts of unflattering stereotypes, which all added insult most of the American electorate.

To top it all off, in the long intra-Republican battle by which Kevin McCarthy won the speakership, he had to give the most extreme element of his caucus a House rules change that allowed any one of them to move for his recall. Then, on the wake of their embarrassment over the would-be Biden impeachment, one of their most disreputable members invoked it. 

The Democrats swung as a whole behind the motion because McCarthy had made an ass of himself and deserved to be removed.

Will there be cheap shots from the left, within the Democratic Party or from Greens or others outside the party? Of course. However, those attacks are ineffective because they defend an unworthy speaker.

When House Republican sort out their mess and come up with another speaker, then the Democratic leader, Representative Hakeem Jeffries, may get to show his stuff, to be measured in terms of how well he can negotiate with a fragmented GOP to accomplish things that the nation wants and needs. He needs a caucus that works out its own differences before addressing the Republican majority as a Democratic unit. He got a good start at this by mobilizing Democrats to kick McCarthy out of the speaker’s chair.

In a little more than a year’s time there will be a national general election to sort these matters out. Then, too, in order to save the United States, Democrats will have to stand as one after their primary battles are resolved. It’s a matter of simple math, nothing so sinister as Andy Yang suggests.


Joseph Conrad – 1904 portrait by George Charles Beresford.

The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.

Joseph Conrad

Bear in mind…

When you’re dealing with new and emerging diseases, you have no idea and you can’t predict in advance what would happen.

Margaret Chan

Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue.


It is not good to see people who have been pretending strength all their lives lose it even for a minute.

Lillian Hellman


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