Right-wing media played this assassination of two labor activists as a retired American lawyer acting as a gun rights hero. IS Ken Darlington actually a US citizen? Perhaps, but the US government isn’t telling. The guy is Panamanian, and was the Panamanian mob lawyer who advised The Harris Organization financial crime outfit. You don’t get to practice law in Panama if you are not a Panamanian citizen, and the Harris outfit advised Americans to give up their US citizenship. More to the point of the guy’s identity? He worked with PRD legislators to affect laws regulating the “offshore asset protection” business, and his daughter is married to PRD presidential candidate Gaby Carrizo’s brother. NOW this double murder, and the killings of two other protesters, get blown off as anomalies. Just a crazed gringo rather than terrorism by a politically connected Panamanian. Nothing to balance First Quantum’s narrative of violent anti-mining protesters. But who, what, when and where? Who did the protesters kill?
Contempt of court, contempt of Panama
At the end of November, this country’s Supreme Court of Justice ruled – for a second time – that the mining concession under which First Quantum has dug a huge toxic hole in Panama was unconstitutional from its outset. Now there is this complicated environmental mess that will take years to clean, a job that can never be complete.
The second time around the court emphasized that there is no contractual relationship between the giant mining company and the Republic of Panama. That the owner of the original sweetheart concession and another politicians who at one time was a major shareholder are desperately appealing their convictions and prison sentences for other crimes is just gravy.
Yet through government actions, through social media trolling and through corruption of some of the mainstream media, First Quantum is still talking and acting as if they have a contract to do the environmental reclamation job. There are conflicting claims about precisely what’s going on, but the company is still working at that site in Donoso.
Protesters who forced a halt to the illegal operation are being charged with crimes. Showing no evidence, the national ombudsman is hurling accusations against supposed gunmen threatening company employees.
A steady online chatter suggests that Panama is screwed without First Quantum, telling us about all this wealth that the mine generated – but any significant share of which Panama never received.
The PRD / company heroes and villains narrative rises to the defense of those who tried to make the deal and those who voiced support for it, with the aim being the sale of a major part of Panama as a foreign mining colony. HOW DARE the protesters call those folks vendepatrias – country sellers?!? Civility may be lacking in a lot of instances, especially when it’s men responding to or characterizing what women say or do, but the vendepatria epithet is equal opportunity. Leave it to PRD and First Quantum spin doctors to say that the opposition to a mining contract that the great majority of Panamanians and a unanimous high court rejected is just an exercise in sexism, a form of gender violence.
On January 9 we will honor people died to decolonize Panama back in 1964. Earlier this year four Panamanians died to keep Panama from being recolonized. People have a right to opine otherwise about those things but nobody owes them a duty to agree with them. nor to refrain from deprecating what they say or write.
Panama needs to do a massive audit, send in law enforcement to protect the mine site, come up with a reclamation plan and start the years-long cleanup process. First Quantum and the vendepatrias should be excluded from any control, profit or contractual relationship with respect to these processes.
The company should just take its equipment – but not any more minerals — and leave Panama. If the company wants to sue, Panama can defend.
If the vendepatrias want a referendum, the national elections in May will be largely a version of that. Of eight presidential candidates, two of them – the leftist Maribel Gordón and the centrist Ricardo Lombana – have shown clear, consistent and principled opposition to the mining colony. Some of the others jumped off of the mining colony bandwagon, or may say that the real issue is about militant labor unions, hypocritical environmentalists who use copper in their lives or sinister commie radicals with hidden agendas. The voters will sort all of that out on May 5.
They’re not even trying to hide it anymore….
When an ally has lost all sense of proportion and decency
It brings its friends to a critical crossroads as well. This particular politician may no longer be in office, but he well represents a dominant attitude in his government and society. Will he, and they, be allowed to carry on this way on a US dime?
How messy is Israel’s and its supporters’ divorce with reality? Didn’t the United States learn that lesson in the wars that it lost in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and from the experiences of others? Israel might decimate the ranks of Hamas fighters and kill every Hamas leader. However, they have traumatized Palestinian society and when its kids become adults they will be an even worse enemy for Israel.
The Death of Socrates, painted by Jacques-Louis David in 1787, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, photograph of the painting by Wally Gobetz.
By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.
Bear in mind…
Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.
He that thinks himself the wisest is generally the least so.
C. C. Colton
All God’s children are not beautiful. Most of God’s children are, in fact, barely presentable.
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