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Hightower, The beer merger will be a bitter brew

So where will the new company assign this horse? To a glue factory, or a brewery? Or will it be shipped off to Panama? Photo by Busch Gardens.
So where will the new company assign this horse? To a glue factory, or to a brewery? Or will he be shipped off to perform new duties in Panama? Photo by Busch Gardens.

Should one beer behemoth control 70 percent of the US market?

An awfully bitter brew

by Jim Hightower — OtherWords
Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall
99 bottles of beer
Take one down, pass it around…
only one bottle of beer on the wall.

Most people never sang that old song all the way to the end. But one multinational brewing corporation is finally ready to belt out the last verse.

The world’s biggest beer conglomerate, Anheuser-Busch InBev, intends to gulp down the second biggest, SABMiller, leaving us with only one behemoth of brewing. The two mega-stouts of mass-market beer have agreed to a $104 billion merger deal.

Both giants are creatures of the global merger-mania that’s consumed the industry in the past decade.

Anheuser-Busch was a St. Louis company built on the Budweiser brand. It was taken over in 2008 by a Brazilian consortium that had previously merged with a huge European brewing conglomerate. So plain old “Bud” is now AB InBev, headquartered in Belgium and also producing Corona, Stella Artois, Modelo, and a host of other brands.

Miller was a Milwaukee company until a similar series of mergers put it in the hands of a consortium controlled by a South American family dynasty and Altria, the tobacco giant that makes Marlboro cigarettes.

Now headquartered in London and named SABMiller, its roster of brews includes Peroni, Pilsner Urquell, and Grolsch. Plus it has joint ownership in the brands of the Canadian-based Molson Coors conglomerate.

These two sultans of suds say that the ABInBevSABMiller conglomeration of conglomerates is necessary for “future growth.” Hogswill.

For consumers and beer industry workers, the deal is about shrinkage. The new colossus would control 70 percent of all US beer sales and would own nearly half of the world’s top 40 beer brands. It won’t hesitate to use this monopolistic muscle to shrink consumer choice by squeezing independent breweries out of bars and retail outlets. And the merged entity is already planning to cut thousands of jobs.

That’s an awfully bitter brew.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, and a member of the Public Citizen board.

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Jackson, Jack Oliver’s spawn

In collaboration with some Panamanian law firms, "offshore asset protection" outfits and real estate people, plus another American named Daniel Daves, he has prompted a migration to Boquete of Americans who believe in these primitive hatreds and are prepared to evade the laws of the Republic of Panama. Quotations by Rick Wiles, graphic by The Advocate.
In collaboration with some Panamanian law firms, “offshore asset protection” outfits and real estate salespeople, plus another American named Daniel Daves, Wiles has prompted a migration to Boquete of Americans who believe in these primitive sorts of hatreds and are prepared to evade the immigration, labor and weapons laws of the Republic of Panama. Quotations by Rick Wiles, graphic by The Advocate.

Colonization: a touchy subject that Panama should not just ignore

by Eric Jackson

Take the Wayback Machine to Panama City in 1856, when the California Gold Rush was still underway, the Dred Scott case was percolating in the American courts toward the next year’s decision that would do so much to provoke a bloody civil war, and this gringo named Jack Oliver thought it appropriate to steal from an Afro-Panamanian fruit vendor, and to introduce a gun into the argument when the vendor objected. Dozens of people, mostly Americans, were killed and the first of several US military invasions of Panama ensued.

Fast forward to 2014. This gringo named Sage Million was one of the “sovereign citizens” who colonized the El Volcan area. The sovereign citizens have many variations on a rap that began with a white supremacist group that calls itself the Posse Comitatus (not to be confused with a US law of that name). That routine originally went that because the rebellious states of the old Confederacy were obliged to adopt state constitutions that ratified the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution as a prerequisite for readmission to the Union, those amendments and all US constitutional changes that came thereafter, and the very existence of the federal government. and the things that it does and has done, are illegitimate, null and void. Consider that the 13th Amendment abolished slavery to know how reactionary that is. Consider that the 14th Amendment provides among other things that every person born in the United States is a US citizen to know how reactionary Donald Trump is. But there are other strains of sovereign citizens who say that it wasn’t until the 17th Amendment in 1913, which provides for direct election of US senators, or the 1934 Gold Reserve Act, that the national government became “unconstitutional.” In any case, the sovereign citizen rap is that by the time that Hawaii became a state in 1959 everything that the US federal government did was illegitimate.

That being so, Mr. Million figured, Hawaiian statehood and Hawaii’s state laws are illegitimate, ESPECIALLY the one giving rise to the warrant for his arrest for allegedly having sexual relations with a 10-year-old girl. He also considered himself so personally sovereign that Panamanian and Costa Rican borders didn’t apply to him. In the course of an illegal border crossing Panama’s SENAFRONT arrested him and the US embassy notified Panama of the state warrant for his arrest. Just one short-eye perv who’s a bit crazier than most? Well, that too, but Sage Million had both open and silent supporters in the gringo community here.

That’s scary, because some modern-day Jack Oliver who considers that young cholas have no rights that a white gringo is bound to respect could rather quickly inflame the deadliest of passions. A mob enraged about something like that may not inquire about what sort of American they would be attacking, especially if the ultra-right element of the gringo community shoves its way in front of the TV cameras and represents itself as the voice of all Americans here.

So is it just a matter for amusement when dozens of American families heed a call by Rick Wiles and Daniel Daves to drop everything in the USA and head to Panama, and then they start to show up in Boquete?

Consider that they are not just urging senior citizens to come retire here. Many of the people who have come to Boquete due to the urging of Wiles and Daves are working age Americans who are not millionaires and won’t qualify for pensionado, investor or special professional visas. They are coming here intending to violate Panamanian labor and immigration laws. And what about the advice that Daves gives his followers about protecting themselves? He not only says that every “Christian” of his variety ought to be packing a gun, he’s advising people to get portable anti-aircraft weapons to shoot down drones. Panama is conflicted about gun policies at the moment, and perhaps our Security Minister Rodolfo Aguilera is so far off the deep end as to like the idea of foreigners who are illegally here carrying surface-to-air weapons around. Were the National Police interested in a military coup, that sort of thinking around the cabinet table would be a readily available excuse. But although I think that Aguilera gets his information from Hollywood fiction to an extent unacceptable in a Panamanian government minister, I don’t think he’s for gringo fanatics going around Panama armed with weapons of war.

But hey — just because Panamanian law provides that preaching ethnic, political, racial or religious hatred is a deportable offense if a foreigner does it, our gay, lesbian and transgendered citizens are “fair game” here. In Panama it’s “legal” to hate queers. Plus, one of the questions that is not looked into during this country’s immigration procedures is whether the applicant suffers from paranoid delusions.

Set aside all of the creepy xenophobia that comes from legislator Zulay Rodríguez’s mouth — but all resident gringos should be aware of the threat that it represents in the presence of American extremists in Panama. And for those of us who are citizens, whether or not duals like me, there is a duty to defend Panama’s sovereignty — not only from hostile nations but also from individuals who consider themselves to be sovereign powers superior to the Panamanian people and to the flawed republic that happens to be the only one we have.

Balance those things against the universal human right to believe in whatever stupid thing that you want to believe. It’s not the first occasion for Panama to balance such considerations. But I think that if Wiles or Daves are found in this country, they should be arrested for illicit association to violate a number of Panamanian laws, and that all of their followers who have come here or seek to come here should be carefully examined on an individual basis. Panama really needs a better defined and more consistent policy about these sorts of colonizations.


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Harrington, Cambio de gabinete

El gabinete. Foto por la Presidencia.
El gabinete. Foto por la Presidencia.

Cambio de gabinete

por Kevin Harrington-Shelton


Si lo hace el Presidente, quiere decir que NO es ilegal
Richard Nixon


Uno de los misterios más sibilinos en el Palacio de las Tortugas es por qué aún no se ha dado un cambio de gabinete. No porque el presidente Juan Carlos Varela lo disponga, sino porque los ministros serios (que sí empujan la carreta rumbo al desarrollo del país) no rehusen a continuar cargando con los ministros politiqueros (para quienes el gobernar es un cheque cada quincena). Ya el ministro Jorge Arango Arias provocó lo correcto, cuando el nepotismo del Instituto de Mercadeo Agropecuario. Los ministros serios saben que hoy la cosa no anda por buen camino, mientras que a los otros (incluido el mandatario) no les importa ni el robo, “con tal que sea legal”.

Pero esta semana surgieron indicios que esto podría cambiar. En negación de encuestas públicas que desde hace meses reflejan que el panameño no comulga con su caer en la tentación de “espíritus animales” (al decir de Lord Keynes), que descuida la ralentización que la economía global imprime sobre la nuestra local, el Palacio opta por darle a la sinhueso, sea con silencios mediaticos, espectáculos judiciales o anunciando proyectos faraónicos con costosísimas campañas publicitarias. Distrayendo de la raíz del problema que –por decisión del propio Varela– no se ejecuta política alguna de contención del gasto, pero sí se “ahorra” la mitad del Presupuesto de Inversiones (fulcro de la economía local). Porque saben esto, es que los diputados suplentes no tienen recato alguno en exigir un aumento de $3 mil para llegar a $6 mil. Y por eso es que la única contención del gasto públicamente anunciada por su impacto demagógico –la racionalización del gasto consular– ha desaparecido totalmente de los medios.

Esta semana pareciera indiciarse un cambio. Ejemplo. Luego de críticas poco-veladas de quien bien podría sucederle en la cartera de Obras Públicas, se da la ausencia del ministro Ramón Arosemena en la apertura del tramo final del Corredor Norte -curiosamente- el único ministro que ha hecho traslados de partida de planillas, hacia Inversiones — pecado mortal en el insaciable gobierno Panameñista/Popular. Conocí del área mientras fungí como administrador judicial de PYCSA Panamá, S.A. en su litigio con el Parque Natural Metropolitano, y luce poco probable que dicho profesional en materia vial habría aprobado tal “apertura parcial” sin los debidos controles de calidad de peralte, drenajes y rodavía, alguna interconexión funcional hacia Brisas del Golf/Domingo Díaz/Villalobos, y la iluminación indispensable en una carretera por peajes por esos parajes remotos. Aparte de, contrario al cuento de la propaganda oficial, esta medida politiquera sólo resuelve el problema –por sólo 30 días– para la pequeña élite de personas que tuvieran tanto carro, como PANAPASS. Todo esto sólo para “resolver” un problema que el propio Varela creó, al variar del esquema multimodal del gobierno Martinelli –de movilización masiva desde la 24 hacia la Línea 1 del tren ligero en San Isidro via METROBUS– en vez de crear un nuevo y costoso caos en la vía Domingo Díaz durante 5 largos años….

Pero perdura el problema de raíz.

El actual Presidente no reparó en la visita del Director del Fondo Monetario Internacional Dominique Strauss Kahn mientras fue vicepresidente del gobierno Martinelli, quien advirtió mediante remitido público contra el peligro de recalentar nuestra economía sui generis con desproporcionadas inversiones públicas. El optar –inteligentemente– por no tener papel moneda de curso legal forzoso nos obliga a un especial cuidado de las finanzas públicas, para no caer en esa tentación. Nuestra historia económica consiste en sucesivas altas y bajas económicas (Rufino Cuervo y Barreto, 1840: “Quien quiera ver a Panamá que venga, que se acaba” ).

Por las tempestades que hemos de cosechar durante el último trimestre del año –cuando merman las entradas oficiales y aumentan los egresos en razón del Décimo Tercer Mes– no puede culparse solamente “al gobierno anterior”. El gobierno del presidente Varela también ha sembrado estos vientos. Usando como ejemplo el financiamiento de la “descentralización” . El re-avaluo express que la financiarla nace en “la reforma sacaplata”, diseñada por el ingeniero Alberto Vallarino como ministro de Economía y Finanzas y firmada por el hermano del Presidente Varela como presidente del Órgano Legislativa. Cuando el público pegó el grito al cielo, este mecanismo se “suspendió” –no se derogó– para resucitar luego, embozalado en la “descentralización”. Esto se da, porque el esquema financiero del gobierno Varela es simplemente continuación del de Martinelli, solo que aumentando en $250 millones más los gastos de funcionamiento. Lo demás sigue igual: viajes y regalos papales, propaganda excesiva, el PAN, ley de contrataciones públicas, etc. No debiera sorprender cuando, para cuadrar a machetazos nuestras finanzas públicas, al igual que entonces pasó bajo Martinelli, próximamente también se aumente el ITBMS por otros “sólo dos puntos”.


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Ashrawi, Dying to be free

3d Intifada
The Third Intifada, now underway whatever older Palestinian leaders — let alone people from Israel or any other country — might advise.

Dying to be free

by Hanan Ashrawi

By calling on Israeli Jewish citizens to openly carry arms, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is giving them license to shoot at will and execute Palestinians on the spot, proves that the Israeli government is transforming its own public into vigilantes and gangsters following the official Israeli policy of land theft and summary executions, while providing incentives and protection to settler terrorists. It has thereby generated a culture of hate, racism and violence and translated Israel’s state impunity into lawlessness and individual impunity for its own citizens.

Israel’s acts of aggression and violence have resulted in the killing of 24 Palestinians and the injury of more than 1,200 Palestinians. Israel is provoking violence in Jerusalem and creating a situation of instability and crisis as a cover to exercise control over the Al-Aqsa Mosque and expropriate Al-Haram Al-Sharif, transform the character of Jerusalem, annex more Palestinian land, and escalate its illegal settlement activities. All the while, it persists in spreading a false narrative labeling Palestinians as terrorists, and blaming the victim once again in an act of grand deception.

Yet another generation of Palestinian young men and women, born under occupation and enduring its ruthlessness and cruelty, has again engaged in popular resistance to send a clear message to Israel and the rest of the world that they will not forget or surrender; their spirit cannot be broken and they will continue the struggle for freedom and dignity. They are literally dying to be free.

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Ben-Meir, Before it is too late

Palestinian youths, heading into a Third Intifada, assist one of their wounded near a Gaza crossing.

Before it is too late

by Alon Ben-Meir

It was always a question of when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would violently erupt once again, which only proves that, contrary to the prevailing views among a multitude of Israelis, no Israeli government can manage the occupation indefinitely. The current replay of past violent flare-ups points to the dismal failure of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy.

That said, I do not suggest for a moment that all Palestinians are innocent bystanders; Palestinian leaders, including Abbas, have their share in provoking the unrest. But those Israelis who call on their government to use harsher measures to prevent further escalation should answer a simple question: what happens the day after a successful Israeli crackdown, and where will all this lead to?

They all seem to conveniently forget or ignore that what is fundamentally wrong here is the continuing occupation, which by its own very nature cannot be sustained without paying an increasingly heavier toll on both sides.

The stabbing and killing of innocent Israelis is most reprehensible, and the perpetrators should be brought to justice if they survive the aftermath of their atrocious acts. The Israeli government has the responsibility to take security measures to prevent such criminal acts.

The use of excessive force, however, only provokes more intense violent resistance and fuels the already-existing Palestinian extremism which is not likely to abate, however brutal and forceful Israel’s counter-measures might be.

Whether or not the violence was instigated by the Palestinian Authority’s unfounded accusation that Israel is changing the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram el-Sharif is hardly relevant, even if it were true.

If the conflict over the Temple Mount did not instigate the current flare-up, any other incident would have ignited it because the conditions on the ground were ripe for such a violent uprising.

A multitude of Palestinian youths live in abject poverty, are despondent, and have no hope for the future. They feel completely abandoned by their own government on the one hand, and are choked by the Israeli occupation on the other.

The fact, however, that Jerusalem was the flash point is especially worrisome as the city houses the largest number of Israelis and Palestinians living side-by-side. If Jerusalem cannot provide the microcosm of Israeli-Palestinian peaceful coexistence, there will never be peace between the two sides.

When it comes to the use of force, Israel will sooner than later prevail, which may calm the situation, but only temporarily. The general shifting of the Israeli population to the right-of-center and the enormous power the settlement movement wields make matters considerably worse.

Extremists on both sides will continue to provoke each other, which will only set the stage for the next bloody confrontation if the political status quo and conditions on the ground remain unchanged.

Israel, rather than the Palestinians, will end up licking its wounds, because irrespective of how many Palestinians are killed and how much destruction they sustain, it is a small sacrifice they happily make in their march toward statehood.

The fact is, a handful of knife-wielding Palestinians can cause such havoc among the Israelis, rob them of their personal safety, and make them psychologically vulnerable.

Meanwhile, Israel’s image is further tarnished as friends and foes alike view Israel, rather than the Palestinians, as the culprit behind this new wave of violence. The persisting occupation and the expansion of the settlements provide a constant flame, and it takes little fuel to make it a raging fire that leaves terrible destruction in its wake.

Those extremists among the Israelis who really believe that the use of force is the only way to deal with Palestinian violence are living in self-denial, and the complacent among Israelis in general do not want to know the truth, preferring to live the life of false comfort that complacency provides.

Moreover, there is no way to take this Palestinian ‘uprising’ out of the regional context. The Arab Spring and the resulting regional turmoil reminds every Palestinian that fighting and dying for a cause is better than living a life of servitude and hopelessness.

Wisdom dictates that Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition rethink their position and devise a long-term strategy not limited to only stem the current bloodshed, but to prevent the vicious cycle of violence by changing the status quo.

Some Israelis and Palestinians might think that time is on their side. They are dead wrong. Time works on the side of those who know how to seize the moment and are committed to finding solutions to endemic problems, instead of waiting and falsely hoping that they can ride the wave of uncertainty and improve their position over time.

Every intelligent Israeli and Palestinian, and there are many, should speak up loud and clear that there will be no winners in this conflict — only losers.

The losses will transcend material, territorial, or physical control, but inflict far more acute damage: the loss of the moral tenet that frees the individual of the responsibility to do what is right. It a dreadful curse because it is self-propelling and allows for ever more latitude to kill and destroy without any sense of remorse.

The mutual acrimonious charges and counter-charges by Israeli and Palestinian leaders do nothing but instigate ever more violence. If Netanyahu and Abbas really want to end the bloodshed, they must appeal to their respective publics, preferably together, and unambiguously state that they are both determined to end the violence.

The question is, do they have the courage, vision, conviction, or will to do what must be done, as neither side can have it their way or wish the other away.

Israel has every right to exist as a Jewish and a democratic state and should protect that with all of its might. However, being that Israel is by far the more powerful party, it should use that might to change the reality on the ground, because its survival as a true Jewish and democratic country depends on the creation of a Palestinian state.

Given past experiences with Netanyahu and Abbas, I seriously doubt that either can rise to the occasion on their own. But for the visit of Secretary of State John Kerry to the region to have any positive effect, Abbas should accept Netanyahu’s invitation to meet during Kerry’s visit. They must promise that the status quo ante will change and together they will chart a new road to peace before it is too late.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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Scenes from the Toro Guapo Festival in Anton


Anton 1At the Toro Guapo Festival

photos by Eric Jackson

For more photos of this event, visit our Facebook page. To give us a budget that allows us to get around Panama to cover more things, donate to the cause.

Anton 2


Anton 3


Anton 4


Anton 5


Anton 6


Anton 7


Anton 8


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The Panama News blog links, October 18, 2015


The Panama News blog links, October 18, 2015

PBS, PanCanal expansion set off an environmental fight in Florida

Petroleumworld, Can the Panama Canal fulfill its global LNG promise?

MarineLink, Tokyo MOU welcomes Peru and Panama

Reuters, How the doomed El Faro met its end

JMDeportes, Panamá campeón en béisbol sub-14 panamericano

FourFourTwo, Mexico 1 – Panama 0 in soccer friendly

Video, Panama drag racing

Prensa Latina, Cancelan en Panamá concesiones hidroeléctricas

E&N, Fusión AB Inbev – SAB Miller crearía gigante cervecero de Centroamérica

Euromoney, Panama moves against illicit finance

PR, AIG sells Central American assets to ASSA

Xinhua, Economía de Panamá crece 5,8% en segundo trimestre 2015

Baker, Donald Trump’s tax plan ridiculed but the TPP deal gets a pass

Weisbrot, Lessons for the Trans-Pacific Partnership

ICIJ, How a World Bank translator became a hunted man

Kapur, Escape from the World Bank

Rights and Resources Intitiative, Who owns the world’s land?

Video, How coral reefs spawn

Khor, Antibiotic resistance: a global plan at last

Mongabay, Frozen methane deposits off the US Pacific coast might be melting

The Intercept, The drone papers

Newsweek, Former CIA interrogator forced out of college post

ThinkProgress, Amazing moments from Fox News’s fake CIA “terrorism expert”

The Intercept, Snowden says Hillary’s statements show a lack of political courage

Bloomberg, Insurrection erupts at the Democratic National Committee

Time, Democratic debate transcript

Video, The Empire Files debates the debate

Caribbean News Now!, Cuban continues to hold graffiti artist

Carlsen: Ayotzinapa, state violence and terror

ADITAL, Acuerdo de paz en Colombia divide opiniones sobre castigo a criminales

Prensa Latina, Accusations against Uribe keep piling up

BBC, Colombia: ‘Crime drops’ after Venezuela border operation

EFE, Muere en operativo militar cabecilla del Clan Úsuga

Video, Coiba

Presidencia, Varela impulsa Coiba como destino de turismo verde

Xinhua, Defensa considera nula acusación contra Martinelli

Video, Martinelli faces 21 years for espionage

Espinosa, El desmoronamiento político y moral de la sociedad panameña

La Estrella, Liberación de institutores transcurre entre el desasosiego y la alegría

The New York Times, Panama’s Laquita Mitchell et al with the NY Philharmonic

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¿Wappin? Music videos by which to become bilingual

Denise Gutiérrez.

¿Wappin? Music videos by which to become bilingual

Janis Joplin – Ball and Chain

Led Zeppelin – Dazed And Confused

Sin Bandera – Entra en mi vida

Sia – Big Girl Cry

Carla Morrison – Dejenme Llorar

Bob Marley – No Woman No Cry

Cultura Profética – Rimas pa’ Seducir

Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing

Celia Cruz – Te Busco

Joss Stone – Free Me

Romeo Santos & Usher – Promise

Imagine Dragons – Who We Are

Enrique Bunbury – El Extranjero

Zoé & Denise Gutiérrez – Luna

Tina Turner – Simply the Best

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Martinelli squirms

So Ricardo Martinelli shows his support in Panama by tweeting a copy of an ad in a newspaper he owns, said to be a statement by the Cambio Democratico caucus in the legislature. But the CD deputies, most of whom now ignore Martinelli, never actually met to issue this statement.

Martinelli dodges, pretends and delays as his world closes in on him

by Eric Jackson

He still has some newspapers, radio stations, websites, NexTV and his Twitter account in his media empire. That gives Ricardo Martinelli room to spin. As in, putting out the call for an October 14 demonstration in front of the Public Ministry. Few party leaders or elected officials of Martinelli’s Cambio Democratico party showed up, but they did hire or otherwise moblize a couple of dozen people to hold the signs and banners objecting to alleged persecution of Martinelli and a number of officials of his former administration. About 15 Panameñista counter-protesters showed up across the street, with signs of the “lock him up” genre and a small squad of riot cops moved in between the two groups, just in case. There were insults but no objects hurled and nobody was punched or arrested. But the way that Martinelli played it, the scene was a throwback to Noriega’s Doberman riot squad and CODEPADI goon beating on brave pro-democracy demonstrators.

It’s not a show that moves the masses, but it’s one of the few moves left in the former president’s playbook. The world is closing in on Ricardo Martinelli. Even if for whatever reason Washington lets him stay indefinitely or permanently in the United States, the Martinelli brand is toxic here. It’s likely that by this time next month there will be an international arrest warrant out for the illegal electronic surveillance that Martinelli ordered, and that would be but one of many legal troubles.

Consider the gyrations:

  • With prosecuting magistrate Harry Díaz asking for a trial before the Supreme Court and a 21-year prison sentence, magistrate Jerónimo Mejía has about two weeks to rule on that motion. But Martinelli’s lawyers moved down another avenue to delay the case, by trying to get Díaz removed as prosecuting magistrate. The full court immediately heard that motion and unanimously rejected it.
  •  There is talk that to avoid this high court trial and reset the calendar on the spying case, Martinelli will resign from the Central American Parliament, thus devolving the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over him and sending this and a dozen other cases to ordinary courts and prosecutors.
  • Meanwhile, the gears of Italian criminal justice grind against Martinelli, who has recently retained an Italian criminal defense lawyer to handle those cases.
  • All of Panama’s corporate mainstream media that Martinelli does not own are in a frenzied competition to discover and report new details of how the former president and his two sons became silent partners in the hydroelectric dam business and used the government to feather their nests. The cast of characters overlaps with those of other matters under criminal investigation and the money trails from various scandals are merging and diverging here, as is common in a racketeering conspiracy case. But Martinelli isn’t denying any of the specific allegations anymore — he’s just attacking La Prensa and the Motta family that controls TVN in general derogatory terms.
  • So where is Martinelli? By most credible accounts he’s in Miami. The ones that had him in Paraguay — coming from a single convicted money launderer and notoriously unreliable source — may have been disinformation for which the former president paid. In any case, now the man’s talking about moving to Spain or Puerto Rico. There is also talk of him formally applying for refugee status in the USA, which even if the Obama administration opposes that could start years of litigation in the US courts to delay any deportation or expulsion.
  • About one-quarter of those who were Cambio Democratico members at the time of the 2014 elections have quit the party and now a majority of CD deputies ignore what Martinelli has to say. He is, however, still leader of that party and as such retains some useful to him immunities from investigation and prosecution that can be lifted but only after time-consuming proceedings before the Electoral Tribunal. The party has internal elections set for October 25, but moves are afoot to move that voting back to next January. Why? Because that would extend Martinelli’s extra-special election season immunity as party boss.

Because the US government has not stated a position on Martinelli’s legal woes or the desirability of his presence in the United States, we can’t tell with much certainty the probability of Ricardo Martinelli taking up residence in a concrete and steel cage. But it looks possible enough and imminent enough to him that he’s visibly squirming.

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Toro Guapo Festival this weekend in Anton

Here we don’t have the blood sport of bullfighting as in Spain or Mexico — but we do have the Toro Guapo.

Such a handsome little bull!

The parties and ceremonies are already underway as the sun goes down on Thursday, October 15 in Anton. Friday at noon there is the first parade, the diablos de espejos, a uniquely Interiorano sort of folklore.

The partying and parades turn up to full blast on Saturday and Sunday, the 17th and 18th. If you can only make it to Anton for part of the party, be there on Sunday for the oxcart parade.

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