Editorial, To end this predicament

The police move in to prevent further violence in Tierras Altas, Chiriqui
The police move in to prevent further violence in Tierras Altas, Chiriqui. From an anonymous online video.

Let the court close the question, if it will.
Then Panama must make other decisions.

Who, if anyone in public office here, is to be trusted? Maybe the better question is who will do the right thing?

The Supreme Court has an odious reputation, but most of that was earned with a different set of magistrates than we have now. They are the ones who are in the best position to go with the weight of expert opinion, public opinion and a decision made long ago, so as to reaffirm that the concession under which First Quantum operates a notorious copper mine is unconstitutional. If they do that, it would rest primarily on the shoulders of the president to obey and carry out that ruling.

God help Panama if by some slick sophistry the plain words of the constitution and laws get set aside and the establishment for generations of a mining colony is “legalized.”

Give the National Assembly another whack at it, and all those bribery opportunities? From the perspective of those who oppose the mining colony, that’s an impractical idea.

The court holding that the mining contract is illegal and First Quantum being allowed to continue operating as if nothing happened? That would be incendiary. Anyone looking forward to such a conflagration as a political or financial opportunity would be a dangerous fool.

A few limited terms and timetables would be proper topics for negotiation. First Quantum overreached the scope of any concession that they arguably had, and interfered in Panama’s sovereign political affairs. Are corporations persons? THIS foreign corporation has behaved far too obnoxiously — claiming territorial rights to Panama’s Caribbean waters, conniving with corrupt legislators to insert its employees at public hearings so as to exclude the public, sending its employees to block the road in Penonome, conducting a media and social media campaign to affect a decision reserved for Panamanians…. First Quantum is and ought to be declared to be persona non grata in Panama, its Panamanian subsidiary dissolved for illegal activity, leaving its only remaining operations the exit of the company, its equipment and its foreign employees from Panama in an orderly fashion.

They’re going to sue? Let them sue. Their exit will disrupt all sorts of PRD economic and political calculations? That’s the PRD’s tough luck.

In the wake of all of this Panama needs to address many things that have been allowed to drift along in their disastrous ways for years. How are we going to govern ourselves? The dictatorship’s political patronage constitution will not do. What should a mutually respectful and beneficial co-sovereignty of Panama and its seven indigenous nations look like? How do we write a proper constitution with the same old operatives going around with bags of groceries for which voters might be induced to sell out Panama in elections for convention delegates?

Panama needs both a change of constitution and a change of culture. Easier said than done, but a country that has endured this past month’s sacrifices can endure those kinds of changes, too.


Alexandra Kollontai
Alexandra Kollontai, Europe’s first female ambassador, whom Greta Garbo famously lampooned in the romantic comedy Ninotchka.

I’ve read enough novels to know just how much time and energy it takes to fall in love and I just don’t have the time.

Alexandra Kollontai

Bear in mind…

It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. For if, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree.

Charles Baudelaire

It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.

Hannah Ahrendt


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