Our vice-president, Juan Carlos Varela, used the festive ambiance of carnival to ventilate a strong warning to those groups who operate on the fringes of the law and "who use our country as a bridge for drug smuggling or human trafficking". There will be no more tolerance, he said.
According to La Prensa, he was referring to the FARC. There have been some violent confrontations between Panamanian border forces and the Colombian guerrilla group which has used Panama for rest and recreation for decades. Smart indeed, to change the relatively peaceful status quo and challenge those guerrillas who, despite being much better trained for the jungle environment than our amateurish police force, have always left Panama alone.
Meanwhile, president Martinelli's cousin - they would often be seen together during campaign events - has been sent to prison in relation to charges of money laundering for the violent Beltrán Leyva cartel. And other than that, Panama has already convincingly lost the so-called "war on drugs" - trafficking is everywhere in Panama and money laundering rampant and, according to the DEA, it has penetrated virtually all business sectors. Despite the occasional drug bust, prices in the major markets are unaffected. Way to go, Varela!
Maybe he was drunk? He also said that organizing carnival would be best left to private enterprise. Yeah, sure, notes Monica Palm, as in Varela of Varela Hermanos, the biggest producer of seco (undrinkable booze commonly mixed with milk), who make their biggest sales during carnival but refuse to contribute a penny to the ambulances needed to take away the drunks.
Talking about ambulances, these were already paid for by the Panamanian people through the Teletonto scam, and - surprise surprise - it turns out that many of them are broken, the 911 system is mismanaged and we can just wait for the first reports about money missing.