First I saw where someone for whom I have great respect posted a document about this and said, more or less, ‘No way!’ From the Twitter feed of Ricky Martinelli’s sex and death tabloid, La Crítica.
To be honest, I got hoodwinked for a moment
“Oh my God — are those jerks going for the resource extraction economy AGAIN, this time overtly including an indigenous comarca in the design? I retweeted the sounding of the alarm.
Coming home after a few hours of errands and there were clarifications, denials and erasures. The documents creating an oil drilling concession are real enough, and to be found these days in Panama’s Registro Publico. But they are from a century ago, 1923, and surely lapsed.
(I would not put it past some hustler to buy or swipe such rights at there may have been and bribe some official to treat them as viable. But just now, after a month of chaos following a comparable scam…?)
Anyway, I scrolled down some more and saw the above newspaper story, and looked in vain for anything similar in other major media here. La Critica is stolen property, one of the EPASA papers that Ricardo Martinelli obtained via the laundering investment of kickbacks from overpriced public works contracts from when he was president. Certainly not a source that I take at face value, so instead of writing something about it went into Penonome to do some stuff, most importantly to get dog and cat food.
When I got back Don Ricky’s mouthpiece had embellished upon the tale in a tweet aimed at Martinelli’s VP, successor and these days hardcore foe, Juan Carlos Varela:
Come home, the government had weighed in with an explanation and denied that there is any oil concession in Darien province or adjacent indigenous comarcas. A prominent mainstream journalist for whom I have great respect pointed out that blindly reposting stuff from the social media without checking things out amplifies falsehoods — before she erased her post, which included the misrepresented document in question.
I also took down my retweet. Shame on me, shame on a lot of us, shame on this wretched administration for behaving so badly that it seemed readily believable.
We’re going to have an election and the betting on resource extraction as an economic solution to this country’s woes will be an issue.
But those of us who think that mining or drilling or clear-cutting is an insane way for Panama to go need not resort to misrepresented old documents to make the case. And the guy who paralyzed the country and got people killed years ago by proposing to sell off a mountain in the Ngable-Bugle Comarca to be strip-mined by Asian interests, through his ill-gotten media empire or his spokesman, has no standing to say anything that anybody should take at face value about this general issue.
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