Editorials: Now that the voting is over; and What Bernie says

Tweeting about politics while hosted in asylum at a diplomatic mission? That violates international law. Even if the mayor-elect he’s wooing is the son of his brother-in-law. From Ricky Martinelli’s Twitter / X feed.

With new caretakers about to come in…

Yes, Martinelli’s stand-in got elected to the presidency with just over one-third of the vote. His political party got 12 seats in the 70-member legislature, as did the PRD.

There are appeals, and reviews of some “funny stuff,” so the precise legislative results are not yet set in stone.

The PRD has 35 seats in its outgoing legislative caucus, and has taken an unprecedented and catastrophic loss. Its presidential candidate, and its incumbent mayor of Panama City, each got only single-digit percentages of the vote.

The Panameñistas, whose presidential bet was to play second fiddle to Rómulo Roux, will remain steady at eight deputies but that’s not stopping a big post-election faction fight. The Partido Popular, which got shut out in the last election, will actually pick up a couple of seats. MOLIRENA lost four of its five seats.

Against that, the newcomer party Otro Camino, whose presidential standard-bearer ran second, gets about four seats in the next legislature and there will be at least 21 independents, although a few of these will be ringers very unlike the Vamos and Otro Camino reformer types.

On the local tickets, the incumbent PRD was swept out of the mayors’ offices in Panama City, San Miguelito, Colon, Arraijan, La Chorrera and Santiago. The new mayors, most of them young, will mostly deal with fragmented city councils. However, from their ranks it should be expected that there will be a new crop of national political figures whom the new president and the new legislature would be well advised to take into account.

Same old, same old? Hardly. If you read the international reports, they are about how Panama has elected the henchman of an awful thug, a fugitive who stole more than $70 million from us. Who then laundered his loot to buy a newspaper chain, the inattentive global news organizations don’t usually add.

Even before the July 1 changing of the guard, there is business to take care of.

The court has ordered that Ricky Martinelli does not get to keep what he stole, that the EPASA newspaper chain is public property. Nito was a fool to allow Martnelli to use it as a propaganda arm during the recent campaign. He should have seized it when the court order was handed down. He needs to nationalize it now, reorganize it and pass it off to new owners before Ricky’s nominee comes in. It would be best to hand control to a consortium of the nation’s universities, as far as The Panama News is concerned.

Mulino will have the power to commute Martinelli’s sentence – which will set off a political firestorm if and when he does it – but he doesn’t have the right or the power to ratify theft.

How will we get past all the fragmentation and gridlock? In the short term, compromises will have to be made. But we know the sort that the old school politicians like to make – the non-aggression pacts where neither side gets prosecuted for anything. Let’s have none of that.

The way out is to have a constitutional convention. We should be aware of all the pitfalls. The organization of it? Via the political party bosses, using the cockamamie legislative election scheme, with the Electoral Tribunal intervening as it wishes? Let’s not have that. With demagoguery that in the name of populism – “fewer politicians” – puts the wealthiest Panamanian and foreign interests in control of our government? With sleazy operatives going around looking for sleazy citizens willing to sell their country for bags of groceries in the elections for convention delegates? Let’s steer clear of those things, too.

We still have many of the same old problems, presided over by many of the same old people. But now we have, inside of and outside of the legislature, a new crowd of talented young opposition leaders. The struggle continues.


What Bernie says…

“There is an increasing tendency in the media and some of my colleagues in the Senate to use the word or phrase pro-Palestinian to suggest that means that those who are Pro-Palestinian means that they are (anti-semitic)… in my mind that is unacceptable and factually inaccurate!”



Martina Navratilova in 1999. Photo by John Matthew Smith.

The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else.

Martina Navratilova

Bear in mind…

When tyranny becomes law, rebellion is a right.

Simón Bolívar

Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you’re scared to death.

Harold Wilson

People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant.

Helen Keller


Contact us by email at thepanamanews@gmail.com

To fend off hackers, organized trolls and other online vandalism, our website comments feature is switched off. Instead, come to our Facebook page to join in the discussion.

These links are interactive — click on the boxes


click to donate via PayPal