Editorials: Hustlers using young people that way gets old; and Mulino’s choice

Norbert the Notorious Nark
A frame from a comic book by Gilbert Shelton, who owns all of the rights.


It’s fitting that during Pride Month the editor would see a redux of something that happened a decade ago, when a disgraced former cop was trying to take his house in El Bajito. Then, it was a adolescent male just coming into the house and asking to sleep here. The day before yesterday, it was an adolescent male asking the editor if he wants a compañero.

OBVIOUSLY a single male living alone MUST be queer, or can in any case be set up to be framed as a gay pedophile. There are adults with economic motives, or with hate motives, who use kids in this way.

Ugly stuff, even if this weird old hippie chuckles as he’s reminded of the antics of Gilbert Shelton’s comic book character Norbert the Nark.

With this kid of the other day, there is more to the story about which I will not get into at this time. But what appears to be the case is that once again minors are being recruited by adults for criminal purposes. It’s a common enough problem here in Panama, but it seems that authorities only take notice if it’s about drugs.


BEFORE. If also after, Mulino may not last his term in office.

If Mulino proceeds to be Martinelli’s front man…

Since the US State Department has called Martinelli corrupt and the American Embassy here has repeatedly snubbed the man, his followers and his family, it would seem that for President-elect Mulino to take office, pardon Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal and take him into his government would sour US-Panamanian relations. Or one might think.

However, there are both Panamanian and international obstacles to that.

First of all, a president’s power to pardon here is limited to “political” crimes. For other crimes the president may only commute sentences. Martinelli himself violated that constitutional provision when some supposedly off-duty cops intercepted a fishing boat at sea, opened fire and people were killed and wounded. Then, to cover their crime, they planted a weapon in the fishing boat. Martinelli issued pardons to the cops BOTH for the shooting and for planting the assault rifle – which effectively swept away questions about whether these officers were working for a drug gang that mistook these fishers for underworld rivals. Some noises were made but this exceeding of his constitutional powers never prospered as a court case against Martinelli.

Then there are the other cases pending against Martinelli, his sons and members of his political circles, and standing convictions against a number of members of Ricky Martinelli’s inner circle.

Might Mulino just take care of all of those by issuing pardons or commutations?

Well, not ALL of those. Spain has this criminal investigation, touching several members of the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Israeli spy tech company NSO and naming the former Panamanian president as a principal and instigator, for the electronic and physical stalking of one of Don Ricky’s former mistresses on Mallorca. Are people in this country’s business and financial circles complaining NOW that the European Union imposes restrictions on Panama and generally treats us as some sort of thug haven? Let it be perceived that through Mulino, Martinelli is running Panama and see how bad THAT gets.

But will Washington change its tune? Maybe Trump will get back in? Recall that Martinelli and Trump had an infamous falling-out, when a knockoff of Dubai’s Burj al-Arab with Trump’s name affixed was built in a notorious flood zone and Ricky blamed The Donald for Ricky’s negligence.

However, the United States has a long history. Manuel Antonio Noriega was once a CIA asset. In the 1989 US invasion, now imprisoned between then and now briefly mayor of Panama City Bosco Vallarino rode around triumphantly atop of a US Army armored personnel carrier and boasted about his work for the CIA. Will the wise guys at Foggy Bottom, Langley and the Pentagon ever understand that the person who sells his or her own country, whether by taking bribes for personal profit or as a favor to a foreign power, is nobody to be trusted? Is it Panama’s fate to be ruled via remote control by yet another disposable US cut-out front man?

It mostly depends on which decisions Mulino makes now.


Statue of the Roman poet, soldier and civil servant Horace. Photo by Mark Cartwright.

            Life is largely a matter of expectation.



Bear in mind…


True friends are those who really know you but love you anyway.

Edna Buchanan


A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.

John le Carre


I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.

Mary Shelley


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