Editorials, The PRD budget show; and End the Gaza War

Legislator from Bocas del Toro – PRD party president – National Assembly Budget Committee president – Panama Baseball Federation president Benicio Robinson. He’s the seventh-term big boss man of the national legislature and unlikely to lose his seat in the May elections. If the voters all over Panama are fed up enough with the PRD, he may, however, end up as a member of an opposition caucus without much real power. National Assembly photo.

A shot across the bow, or just a pretend gesture?

The president and the legislature are fighting over the 2024 national budget, or so it is being made to seem. Nito has vetoed bonuses for hundreds of National Assembly employees and presented the legislature with a somewhat pared down on the political plums 2024 national budget. If there is no agreement on next year’s budget the national government will have to go by the pork-heavy 2023 budget for next year.

Is it a real argument, or just a show like professional wrestling?

Regardless, either about the budget, or about the copper mine and its phase-out, or about many other questionable political practices, it seems that most of the PRD has not noticed any of the public anger that was expressed in two long and disruptive strikes last year and this year.

Will this maneuver and that, and a culture in which selling one’s vote to a party or politician is not widely seen as a disgraceful betrayal of the country, allow the PRD tor control the next government? Looking at history it’s doubtful at the presidential level, a bit more possible in the legislature, but ultimately up to the wisdom and integrity of the voters.


Gaza after just the first couple of days of Israeli air strikes in October. Wafa / Wiki Palestine photo by Naaman Omar.

Stop this atrocious Gaza War

Is the Israeli Army operating under an explicit “Hannibal Directive,” shooting at anyone who moves, pouring salt into the land, destroying all habitable structures? It’s one of the conspiracy hypotheses floating around in the social media but actions tend to make a persuasive circumstantial case for such an allegation. A rival thread of thinking is that the IDF has degenerated into an undisciplined racist mob. Whatever the truths about motives, organization and orders, the Netanyahu regime’s plea that its soldiers killed three Israeli soldiers who had their hands up and were carrying a white flag was a “mistake” rings hollow. ‘We were just killing everybody in Gaza whom we could kill, and we didn’t know…’ rings so hollow that many Israelis have taken to the streets to renew old demands that Netanyahu resign.

The status quo ante was unbearable for the Palestinians, unacceptable to most of the world and unsustainable by Israel. We might cherry-pick an event to say who started it, but it has been a long-running atrocity. Did Hamas commit war crimes in its October 7 attack? Not only by the Geneva Conventions and other generally accepted international norms, but also in violation of Islamic Law’s bans against attacking noncombatant civilians, particularly women, children and the elderly. Israel’s collective punishment of all Gazans in response, its special attacks on hospitals, schools, religious and cultural sites, its targeted attacks against the press and prominent Palestinian intellectuals – those are the sorts of crimes for which European and Japanese fascists were sentenced to hang in the aftermath of World War II.

Let’s have a permanent ceasefire now. Let’s leave it to the Palestinians and the Israelis to use democratic processes to replace their respective failed leaders rather than having foreign powers trying to run either Palestinian or Israeli affairs. Let’s cut off foreign assistance that allows this war to continue.

The violence is sickening. So are Israeli apartheid, the corruption and failure to defend Palestinian interests of the Abbas “authority,” and the futile fanaticism of the Hamas and Islamic jihad militarists. The war’s spread to the Red Sea and Lebanon is alarming. Any suggestion to expand it into some sort of holy war against Iran is insane.


Two children in the Warsaw Ghetto, 1941.

           True poverty does not come from God.

Yiddish Proverb           

Bear in mind…

Our deeds travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are.

George Eliot

I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself.

Michel de Montaigne

A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love.

Pearl Buck


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