The need for a new Constitution, in order to update the structures of the Panamanian government and its institutions, is becoming more relevant day by day.
This has led to the traditional opponents of a constitutional convention — the neo-opportunists of the plutocracy and the barnyard party abandoning their isolation to join the Creole encyclopedists of the anti-constituent current, which now flows towards a constitutionalism that’s more authoritarian. Change so that nothing changes.
What they fear is that a political system can be established in our country with methods, rules and procedures that pull our dismembered society together, establish citizen controls, elect democratic and honest governments and make collective decisions in favor of the nation.
What the fugitives from a constitutional convention and their “parallel process” allies fear doing is a truly democratic and non-police political system. But let the will of the majority of citizens prevail: we are the ones who must make the decisions and enforce our citizen power. Ours are unlike the interests that they would defend with a parallel convention. They play pure Gatopardismo pretending to be he on the cutting edge of change so as to cut things off so that there is no change.
What the creators, and today promoters, fear about article 314 of the constitution and the parallel process that may be opened up is that the population might know their rights, as well as benefits of the progress achieved by humanity in the constitutional field — techniques of freedom and citizens’ control.
What those who ask citizens to sign a blank check fear is that people will understand the implications of their negotiation with the Electoral Tribunal, that citizens, via to a constituent process, would unmask their electoral demagoguery and it would lead to a true constitutional state with the rule of law.
What they are afraid to do — those who try to deceive with their “Panama Decides Foundation” and their allies the plutocrats and the political parties — is to allow citizen participation through the exercise of their constituent and citizen power. Inherent rights empower public sentiment for an originating process through which they regain their freedoms, their equality before the law and the right to be happy. The parallel process isn’t really for constitutional change because it’s just the same old crowd excluding everyone else.
Black Lives Matter protesters in Detroit last year. Note as well the crumbling infrastructure. Funding to fix the streets, and the water and sewer lines, and to build new things that never were, are part of the congresswoman’s Green New Deal program to make Detroit more prosperous and livable and less desperate and violent. Black Lives Matter photo.
Whom I represent
by US Representative Rashida Tlaib
We continue to see death after death of Black people at the hands of police officers with no meaningful accountability for the officers or departments involved.
We’ve seen money pumped into trainings and half-measures, but so-called police “reform” is not making our communities any safer. Instead of investing in police, incarceration, and criminalization, it’s time that we invest in and deliver safety.
That’s why, instead of investing in an increasingly militarized police force, we should be investing more resources into our community to tackle poverty, education inequities, and to increase job opportunities.
I have never shied away from speaking truth to power. That’s why I’ve repeatedly spoken out against the Detroit Police Department’s (DPD) violent treatment of our residents.
Report after report cites DPD’s harmful treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters. The city even took protesters to court, in an attempt to intimidate the movement.
Whether it’s violent attacks on protesters, such as a Detroit Police SUV plowing through a crowd and hospitalizing people (clearly seen on video), knocking protesters to the ground and putting them in chokeholds, and aggressively arresting hundreds of protesters exercising their right to free speech — I will continue to defend my residents against violent, racist policing.
This week, the Detroit Police Chief ran to FOX to call for my resignation. He even said he’d “throw [me] a goodbye party.”
I’m not going anywhere.
Chief Craig went on a local FOX station to question who I speak for when I say we need to divest from the police. I represent the communities that are afraid to be pulled over by the police because they are scared that they could be murdered.
The $300 million that’s spent on DPD each year would be better spent on addressing poverty, education, and jobs in our communities.
I will continue to work on policies that address systemic problems in our communities — such as banning racist facial recognition surveillance — to ensure every person feels safe and has the opportunity to thrive.
It’s always important to separate the essence from the protocol, the pleas for cooperation from the policy statements, the things that he wants to do from the things that he has done. Don’t make a facile comparison to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first 100 days because Joe Biden doesn’t have the overwhelming Congressional majority that FDR did.
Siempre es importante separar la esencia del protocolo, las peticiones de cooperación de las declaraciones de política, las cosas que quiere hacer de las cosas que ha hecho. No haga una comparación fácil con los primeros 100 días de Franklin D. Roosevelt porque Joe Biden no tiene la abrumadora mayoría en el Congreso que tenía FDR.
La vaina golpista omitida
After the Trump crime spree the “he said / she said” sort of “fairness” no longer serves
Infallability? That you won’t get. Transparency and democracy you would, from me.
Just a couple of hours to get your ballots in. Looking at the board minutes but not at the email, I figured there were seven more hours after that, but such will not be the case. Get your ballots in by 5 Panama Time today.
If I am elected as chair I will be a voting delegate to the upcoming DA global convention. If not I won’t be.
The following is a significant resolution, co-sponsored among others by our current (outgoing) and previous chairwomen. Some of the ideas I might support but in general I oppose it. I especially object to the idea that a government authority would have the power to determine what’s true and order The Panama News or any other publication off of the Internet, without any right of the affected person, page or periodical to be heard. I also object because none of these people were involved in the grunt work of doing battle with the swarms of false online personas going into target groups in the last months of the 2016 and 2020 campaigns with “don’t vote” / “write in Bernie” / “vote Green” / “vote Kanye” / “vote for some party that does not exist” messages. We know that a lot of these came from Russia in 2016, while last year it seems to have been US-based call centers of white supremacist trolls doing it. You’d think that they would get into trolling blitzes using fake personas, but they seem to be above that.
Apparently none of these people have faced bogus criminal defamation charges like I have. Remember the Montana Freemen? Now THERE was a militia dear to the hearts of those who stormed the Capitol on January 6, and when one of them who had done time in prison in Colorado for fraud came here with this wonderful investment program to sell to expats, I called him a “hustler.” He hired Alejandro Moncada Luna, who had previously been Noriega’s guy for shutting down the opposition press and later was Ricky Martinelli’s presiding magistrate of the Supreme Court, as his private prosecutor. I beat Moncada Luna, who is now out of prison and practicing law again, and “Rex Freeman,” in that case. I have won all such cases against me. But I should not have had to go through this annoyance.
I think it’s important that we have leaders with practical political sense, and who respect basic principles of freedom and democracy. Neither the high school in-crowd mentality nor bureaucratic disrespect for fundamental rights should guide us.
Also, this is similar to legislation that Josh Hawley is supporting — he also wants to strip immunity from the online platforms. I can’t get into that sort of “reach across the aisle” politics.
There IS a need to deal with monopolistic abuses, and I support Elizabeth Warren’s move to invoke antitrust laws against Facebook, Google and Amazon. Were it up to me I’d declare eminent domain over the Google search engine and the main body of Facebook, but I don’t think that the body of US opinion is there yet.
Vote. There are more than just personalities involved.
El Chorrillo in late December, 1989. The wounds were so much deeper than the deaths, injuries and property damage. We’d seen the leaders of both countries summoning up the worst instincts and behavior among the Panamanian people, from Noriega’s goon squads attacking people to troops under Bush’s command standing around smiling as businesses were looted. We had the economic devastation of sanctions leading up to the violence. We had Bush trying to squeeze Endara and Panama into extending the time for US bases to remain in Panama. We had the thugs of the old regime and honest people who worked for it persecuted alike. We had some honorable new people coming in, and this large “It’s our turn to steal!” crowd. And Panama STILL needs to be liberated.
Smelling like 1994
The 1989 US invasion and both its aftermath and the economic warfare leading up to it scrambled things a bit in Panamanian politics – which only served to keep entrenched economic forces and old political parties in command.
The next opportunity we had to change it, in the 1994 elections, we blew it.
The post-invasion political reforms were shallow and subject to de facto US veto powers. We no longer had the Panama Defense Forces, but had – and have — under the heading of police, militarized forces that are subsidiaries of the US Southern Command in its lost “War on Drugs.” SENAFRONT and SENAN have not been pressed into all-out combat for things like Plan Colombia and US “regime change” moves in the region. Panamanian forces, never admitting it, do stand by for and lend support to such imperial missions.
So we are left with the same old inbred, incompetent and squabbling oligarchy – its few excellent sons and daughters rejected out of hand by the in-crowd – the same old political parties that don’t stand for anything, and a hand-me-down constitution from dictatorship times. Latin American societies and republics are not a fungible mass, but we do have sister countries in the region stuck in their own versions of this sort of predicament. Plus, however the numbers might be fudged or spun, the epidemic leaves the whole region with the prospect of a bad economy for years to come.
So, many parties, rival factions in the existing parties, rank demagoguery and the same old grasping political culture.
Might we get full-blown fascism emerging from the PRD, as Panama’s earlier fling with fascism emerged from the Liberal Party in the 1920s? Perhaps.
Might we swing to the left? Not unless some unifying new leaders emerge and get past the pointless faction fights from the past.
In 1994, the first elections after the invasion, there were important ideas discussed in the campaign. For a variety of reasons, no cohesive political force arose to put these ideas into effect. Panama has been lingering in the squalor of that missed opportunity ever since.
Look to younger people to lead us out of this mess, but not just anyone who’s young. Press them hard on their ideas, be demanding if not dogmatic about their credentials. The next elections are three years away, but now is a good time to start searching for and organizing the new forces that Panama needs.
California Republicans bet on ungovernability
Seven months from now California voters will see a special recall election in which Governor Gavin Newsom may be replaced. The petition drive was begun by the ultra-right, but the way that recalls work is that anyone with any grievance has the opportunity to throw the incumbent out.
Were the Republicans not so busy vilifying the moderates in their midst as RINOs, the might pull a repeat of their last California recall and come up with someone like Arnold Schwartzenegger. There will be dozens of people running to replace Newsom. Step several notches down from bodybuilder turned actor Schwartzenegger and we get the best known Republican declared in this race, athlete turned reality TV persona Caitlyn Jenner. The GOP establishment has no hope of putting one of their own in the governor’s mansion of deep blue California. But maybe some celebrity.
The Republicans, on the national level having repeatedly invited foreign powers to intervene in US politics and coming off of a Trump administration best described as a crime spree, don’t seek to govern California. They seek to disrupt.
It’s considered rude for a loyal Democrat to run in one of these odd California recalls. But maybe it would be better for the California Democratic congressional delegation or some comparably body that’s respected within the party to select a Democratic unity candidate who will advocate a “no” vote on the recall but be the ready alternative just in case Newsom is recalled.
People who cane nothing about the United States of America nor the State of California have put the ball into play. It’s time to play hardball with them.
Mr. Justice Robert H. Jackson, acting as chief American prosecutor at the main Nuremberg trial. Among those defendants sentenced to death in that proceeding was one Julius Streicher, the publisher of Der Stürmer, for incitement to genocide.
The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish.
Bear in mind…
[Facebook has] abused its market power to squash competition, manipulate democracies, and crush journalism.
Customs are more powerful than laws.
All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.
Neither leader is likely to risk his political future with bold diplomacy. But younger Cubans continue to separate themselves from the policies and priorities of their government, creating a basis for a different relationship with the United States.
No longer a threat
Raúl Castro’s retirement coincided with the 60th anniversary of Cuba’s military triumph over the United States at the Bay of Pigs.
On April 17, 1961, Cuban nationals aided by the CIA began an invasion designed to overthrow Fidel Castro. The Cuban army quickly defeated them, humiliating the Kennedy administration.
Cuba soon allied itself with the Soviet Union, then America’s greatest enemy. The United States responded with a rigorous trade embargo.
In the six decades since, US-Cuban relations have alternated between hostile and icy, with a brief thaw under President Barack Obama.
The defenders at Playa Giron. Photo by Radio Angulo
Fidel Castro’s Cuba supported leftist insurgencies and Soviet allies across Latin America and the world, from Nicaragua to Angola. In 1962, Castro permitted Soviet missiles to be set up in Cuba and aimed at the United States, about 100 miles away, leading to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union.
Today Cuba is still communist and it remains on the State Department’s list of countries that support terrorism, alongside Iran and North Korea. But bereft of patrons like the Soviets, it presents no danger to the US mainland or its allies.
Cuba can do little more than irritate US presidents by supporting Latin American leaders who resist American power, like Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and Bolivia’s ousted former leader Evo Morales.
Cubans who came of age during or after the so-called “Special Period” of the 1990s – when Cuba faced economic collapse – rely on the government to deliver certain services, primarily health care and education. But they know it cannot feed, clothe and house its people in any but the most basic way.
Young Cubans have to hustle to survive – or “resolver,” a Spanish verb that means “to resolve” but which in Cuba refers to providing for one’s family.
Today, official statistics say about a third of Cubans are privately employed. But the real proportion is almost surely higher. Almost all the adult Cubans I know have their own business – whether cutting hair or renting their home as a bed and breakfast – along with a traditional government-regulated job.
Meanwhile, the government has begun to eliminate the subsidies that long defined Cuban life. Ration books for staple foods are disappearing and with them, subsidized prices.
A Cuban “dollar store.” Granma photo by Alberto Borrego.
Consequently, many Cubans operate outside of the law, trading in everything from clothing to scrap metal or gasoline stolen from the state. Cubans call people with illegal businesses “bisneros.”
Whether legal restaurateur or black-market bisnero, Cubans operate businesses not to become rich but to “resolver.” They hope to improve their lots modestly, allowing their families to eat a wider range of fresher foods, or to save for a child’s birthday party.
Cuba “forces us to be criminals just to make a living,” said 26-year-old Carlo Rodríguez, a server at a Havana restaurant.
Older Cubans remain faithful to the Castros’ vision of Cuba as an anti-imperialist, anti-American outpost. But revolutionary slogans like “socialismo o muerte” – “socialism or death” – do not resonate with young Cubans.
Young Cubans also want more free speech. While Cubans can and do complain privately, the Cuban government has long restricted civil liberties. Journalism is mostly state sponsored, and the country’s few independent newspapers run into trouble when stories criticize the regime.
Social media only recently became legal and relatively widespread in Cuba.
Last year, a dissident artists movement organized via WhatsApp and gained enough popular support to force the government into unprecedented negotiations about expanding freedom of expression in Cuba. A crackdown followed, with some dissidents jailed. But calls for free expression persist among younger Cubans.
Various are the survival strategies — for when you go months without the local aqueduct bringing you water, AND for a medium that’s squeezed by tech monopolies. It helps when you see your little publication as a cause rather than a cash cow. Archive photo by Eric Jackson, from the time when his house and his neighbors’ houses went eight months without water.
Google and Facebook, attacked from several directions, move to silence their critics
by Eric Jackson
Want to be NOT listed by Google as a news website? One of the easiest ways to do that is to neglect the insertion of code into your medium that makes it easier for Google to strip out maximum information about those who read it.
Want to have your website’s Facebook page downgraded so that many fewer people see it? Take political stands in favor of those Democrats who would apply existing anti-monopoly laws to the tech monopolies, or better yet, advocate that some of the very useful but incorrigibly abusive ones get bought out by eminent domain and devolved to a democratic public authority that’s not engaged in surveillance capitalism.
It’s easy to see why Vladimir Putin went ballistic with his interference in the 2016 US elections, more than just the usual propaganda against Russia’s old rival the United States. Sponsor an anti-Russian coup in a country on Russia’s borders, and an intervention in Syria that would take away the Russian navy’s Mediterranean base in Tartus and ANY Russian leader, gangster or good guy, has to react like a vengeful strongman or he’ll be ousted as leader of Russia.
AMERICANS — individuals or corporations or business associations — that do the bidding of the likes of Vladimir Putin are held to different standards. There are old practices like how Russians caught spying in the USA and Americans caught spying in Russia eventually get swapped back to their home countries, while Americans spying on the USA or Russians spying on Russia tend to be locked up under harsh conditions.
You don’t have to be some retro-hawk Cold Warrior to say that the hefty fines that Facebook paid for hosting a massive Russian troll and bot invasion aimed at electing Donald Trump in 2016 were not enough. You don’t have to be a history nerd to demand accountability for Google having set its search engine algorithms to direct those who looked up the Holocaust to neo-Nazi pages that said that it never happened.
It’s not just a US problem. Other jurisdictions like the European Union and Australia are looking askance at the practices of these US-based tech multinationals.
Meanwhile, though, the tech monopolies shifted gears for the 2020 elections, primarily by throttling or downgrading or otherwise trying to bury online media that favor US politicians who say they will move to curb their abuses. Primarily, those which support Democrats who are neither dependent on Silicon Valley funding nor supportive of the blank checks that monopolies have enjoyed in recent years.
The complaint that Common Dreams lodges is not unique to that news service. It also applies to The Panama News, many other websites, Democratic-leaning Facebook pages and groups and public interest muckrakers. Immediate survival may be the present agendas of the monopolies’ diverse foes, but huge fights in the US Congress and elsewhere are brewing.
Count The Panama News in.
Mr. Weinberg is the founder of the DuckDuckGo search engine.
How it’s done, was attempted to be done and should be done — three different things
by Eric Jackson vice chair, past chair and candidate for chair, Democrats Abroad Panama
These elections are delayed. It is so because there was an attempt to ditch Democrats Abroad Panama by-laws and most semblances of transparency and democracy and present the organization with a slate of candidates with a single person for each position, and no more nominations once the slate is presented process. This, not based on any decision of the board (intentionally kept short-handed) but “because that’s how they do it in Europe.”
I objected. Eventually Kim and her supporters backed down and we belatedly got a slightly more open process. The slate was revealed, additional candidates were allowed and the voting by email ballot is underway. If you are a member of Democrats Abroad Panama and you did not file a notice with the organization to refrain from sending you emails, you should have gotten your Google Forms email ballot by now. If you have not filled it out and sent it in, you must do so before the end of Tuesday (by 11:59 p.m.) for your vote to count.
You may have joined and had your name purged from the database at some point.
However, if you are a US citizen living in Panama, there is “same day registration” — or re-registration — via this link:
Don’t mark your application that you don’t want to get emails until after you have received and returned your ballot. You can adjust to reduce email box clutter after then if it’s your pleasure.
What’s this stuff about how the Europeans do it, anyway?
First of all, let’s look at the Democratic Party as upscale social set. As in, the rules say that with very few exceptions anyone attending a Democratic National Convention, OR a Democrats Abroad Global Convention, has to pay his or her entire way. The DNC there has never had online participation. DA has had it, with mixed results. The epidemic makes the Democrats Abroad global convention in May entirely online.
There are these perennial jet set in-crowders, not all of them elected by any country chapter nor by a global convention to have votes at a given convention, who join these gatherings. Some are fine activists — taught by trial and error and observation over many Democratic campaigns over many years, young and talented quick learners, veterans of different causes taking a plunge into electoral politics or so on. Down at the bottom of the barrel some were born rich, or are corporate managerial types, and consider themselves inherently entitled to lead.
But to lead WHOM, anyway?
These are the countries outside the USA with the most American citizens living in them:
Canada, more than 1 million Mexico, about 1 million France, perhaps 200,000 UK, perhaps 200,000 Germany, about 150,000
There are imprecisions about counting Americans living abroad. There are spectra of dual citizens. Many are the Panamanians whose parents met at a US university where dad was a foreign student and came back with an American bride. Some are proud of their US passports, some dread it being known that they have a gringa mother. And then there are purely US citizens who went abroad deeply disenchanted, and don’t care to be counted by Uncle Sam for any purpose. Folks come and go, and sometimes change citizenships. So there isn’t an American Embassy anywhere that has a totally accurate count on how many US citizens there are in the country where it is located. But the approximate numbers above are the most recent and generally accepted ones.
Democrats Abroad had global presidential primary voters from almost every country in the world. We have accepted country chapters from fewer than one-third of those. The representation at the conventions are based on Democrats Abroad members, which have sometimes been counted in fishy ways, but generally do reflect the organization’s membership. Panama, with 586 confirmed members, gets two votes at the global conventions, one for the chair and one for the vice chair. These might be assigned, entirely or for certain times or votes, as proxies to other members. The biggest two delegations, Canada and the UK, are tied at 23 votes each. France has 12 votes. Germany has 15. Mexico gets 9.
Now, in a year where there is all this talk about diversity and identity politics, let’s look at the candidates for international offices, stripping away their names, genders, races, sexual orientations and favorites in last year’s primary, leaving just their countries and which of the three Democrats Abroad regions from whence they hail: (The regions are Americas, Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) and Asia/Pacific (APAC).
International Chair Israel, EMEA Germany, EMEA Germany, EMEA France, EMEA
International Treasurer Denmark, EMEA Spain, EMEA Colombia, Americas
International Legal Counsel Australia, APAC France, EMEA United Kingdom, EMEA United Arab Emirates, EMEA
Be not fooled. DA has been heavily Eurocentric in its leadership since it formed in the 1970s. Bernie Sanders won the 2016 and 2020 global primaries but at the 2016 convention Hillary Clinton had the most delegates and last year Joe Biden got most of the convention delegates.
Whether I have a vote at the global convention in May depends on if I get elected chair. If I do become chair again I would vote for officers and certain resolutions, but might assign a proxy or two to folks who have never participated in a global DA convention because I want to be a transitional chair who brings new people into new realms of knowledge and skills.
I would surely vote for one of the candidates, and surely vote against another. I’d keep an open mind, with all the usual identity politics stuff giving way to experiences, skills and most important of all, ideas. Not “Who did you support in the primary?” but “How would you democratize and expand Democrats Abroad?” Knowing as I do what a great uphill battle we face in 2022, I would look for folks who can run an intelligent political campaign. I would expect to vote for some centrists, and some progressives, based upon individual merit. I would oppose anyone who wants to purge a party faction to which she or he does not belong.
The resolutions? I’d support the proposal coming out of DA Israel this year, to move toward making Medicare available outside of the USA. I’d oppose the idea coming out of the taxation committee, of giving a special $400,000 exemption from Biden’s proposed “offshoring of profits” rules for those Americans who own businesses abroad. I’d support student and medical debt relief and bankruptcy reform. I’d side with the doves against the hawks if that argument comes up. I’d support DA Guatemala’s resolution to reduce the pressures for mass migrations from that country and neighboring Honduras and El Salvador toward the USA.
And if I am chair again, I would resume the practice of informing the membership about what’s going on upstairs. Folks have a right to know.
A number of states and cities have elections this year, plus there are some congressional by-elections. To register and vote, click on https://www.votefromabroad.org
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.
Para defendernos de los piratas informáticos, los trolls organizados y otros actos de vandalismo en línea, la función de comentarios de nuestro sitio web está desactivada. En cambio, ven a nuestra página de Facebook para unirte a la discusión.
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