Just one more gash in First Quantum’s environmental rape, a new forested mountain being destroyed in what was supposed to be a protected biological corridor. It will take many years to do such land and water reclamation as can be done. Drone photo from the Panamá Vale Más Sin Minería twitter feed.
The day after the big ruling
The magistrates denounced contempt of the court’s 2017 ruling that the original concession was granted in an unconstitutional manner. They rejected an attempted renewal for the same reasons. They said a lot more than that, unanimously so. Most emphatically, they said that there is no existing contract between Panama and First Quantum.
Yet the shameless corporate shills who now complain that it’s a violation of freedom of the press to call them that go on and on in the rabiblanco media about how First Quantum’s work will have to continue for years. As if they have some valid contract for the land reclamation work. As if, after years of brazen interference in sovereign Panamanian political affairs, it is presumed that this foreign company is immune from expulsion from Panama.
The Panamanian people rose up against an attempt to create a foreign mining colony in our territory, and danced in the streets when our high court agreed with them. But still, we have unfounded suggestions of foreign financing for the protests against the mining contract law. We still have foreign media — and Panamanian and foreign residents here — talking about a Panamanian former organized crime lawyer’s assassination of a teachers’ union activist and a teacher’s husband in terms of “American hero with a gun” narratives. We still have racist hatred against the Ngabe nation spewing from tainted Panamanian sources and being repeated by foreign expatriates. We still have a government yet to bargain in good faith with the teachers’ unions. We still have hospitals short of supplies and construction projects delayed because PRD and allied legislators have given priority to election season slush funds.
Time to shift the subjects of debate and for those who need to do so to take a hint.
As any land reclamation project will take many years and never be complete, it’s worth it to have a national debate on how it should be done, and by whom. Forget the discredited First Quantum, but remember that Richard Fifer et al, the Canadian company’s predecessors in interest, also left a toxic mess for someone to clean and a bankrupt company with their Petaquilla gold mine. Also look ahead to the likely engineering projects that Panama will have to take to confront rising seas, population movements and changes in which lands are arable for which crops. Plus off of our shores, things that we can and should do to protect and enhance our fisheries.
Do we hire someone new? As in new bidding procedures to be rigged, with kickbacks paid to public officials? As in political patronage scams wherein cynical party bosses determine who gets which jobs?
Do we do it in-house, creating a national corps of engineers for the mine clean-up and many other inevitably necessary public works? Do we put that project in the hands of someone like our current minister of public works?
Give us about five months to debate these things, and don’t allow anybody — ESPECIALLY foreign interests or their paid local mouthpieces — shout anyone down. Let capitalists and socialists defend their ideas, and the general public be suspicious of anyone who says that his, her or its idea is the ONLY way. Let labor unions, business groups and would-be public administrators say their pieces. Then have an election this coming May, in which this debate weighs heavily on the voters’ minds.
More immediately, there are negotiations that must proceed in good faith the settle the teachers’ strike. Also important, and far more complicated, talks need to resume between the Republic of Panama and this country’s seven indigenous nations to arrive at a better system of co-sovereignty that brings more dignity, prosperity and hope to those living autochthonous cultures on this isthmus. We need truces to end the chaos of the last weeks, but real commitments to deal with the underlying issues rather than to simplify them and disqualify people and their legitimate grievances.
It’s a tall order. But it was an extraordinary mess that created the month of roadblocks in the first place.
A Palestinian child being dug out of the Gaza rubble. Thousands of others have not survived the US-financed Israeli assault. Photo from Mohamad Safa’s twitter feed.
Millions are being mobilized to convince US voters that those who don’t support ethnic cleansing are racists
There is no master race. There are no chosen people. It is no nation’s manifest destiny to conquer or dominate another nation. There are only despised races in the eyes of despicable people. The Islamic law of war defines many things that were done by Hamas as war crimes. International law defines the Israeli collective punishment of Palestinians as a war crime. And if you stand for any of these principles, somebody in the United States will call you a racist.
The 2024 US election campaign is shaping up as a really ugly one. Indications are, however, that ever more American voters are more sophisticated, more sensitive and more just than to accept corny and ugly old stereotypes about who is the good guy and who is the bad guy.
But is God on your side? Better to go back to the scriptures of your particular traditions, religious or secular, and get back to the ethical. It’s better to be on God’s side.
The great tragedy of my life is that in my search for the Holy Grail everyone calls True Love, I see myself as Zorro, a romantic and mysterious highwayman — and the women I desire see me as Porky Pig.
Bear in mind…
Democracy is not a spectator sport, it requires active participation and engagement from all citizens.
When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it — this is knowledge.
People with bad consciences always fear the judgment of children.
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