After initially accusing the PRD, president Martinelli today blamed "communists" and "Panamanian anarchists" for being behind a "defamatory campaign" linking him with money laundering and drug trafficking. Further evidence of how he and his government are in uncontrolled panic mode was when he said that pseudo-AG Guiseppe Bonissi will travel to Costa Rica to file criminal complaints against online newspaper El País, after Jimmy Papadimitriu had earlier stated that these charges were already being filed last week. These contradictory statements, plus the fact that he can't just order the Attorney General around as if it were his private lawyer, to us indicate that they are really trying to figure out what to do and how to get out of this mess.
(For a good overview of the whole saga, read Eric Jackson's write-up of events at The Panama News)
For Martinelli, meanwhile, time is running out, and vice-president Varela is already doing his warming-up in the sidelines, playing the great statesman on Monday and apologizing for the murder of Heliodoro Portugal on behalf of the Panamanian State.
Our president has successfully maneuvered himself in a corner and faces a lose/lose situation. If he stays, the accusations will stay with him for the rest of his presidency, because he has no convincing answer to them and he himself keeps the narco allegations alive with erratic behavior and frivolous legal offensives. If he goes or is removed - and there is a lot of hidden and open speculation about that possibility these days - his political career is over and he will still carry the stigma of being a narco-president.
Does Martinelli have something to hide? It may by now be safely assumed he has. He was elected on an anti-corruption ticket, but his handling of the money laundering case within his own political party and family at least suggests that there is a ton of dirt just waiting to be uncovered. Why else would he not have done the only thing that makes sense: Make his campaign finances public?
If there is no truth to allegations of campaign funding with Mexican drug money and donations from David Murcia whitewashed through tourism minister Salomon Shamah and money laundering through Super99 and Ricamar, why the secrecy? Why not be transparent instead of attacking the messenger in Costa Rica under some idiotic Noriegaesque pretext of "the Canal is in danger"? Why not offer an independent audit of the Super99 and Ricamar books, if there's nothing to hide? What easier way to blow any and all of the allegations out of the water?
RELATIONS WITH THE US
And what about the United States government with whom, the first article in El País alleged, we enjoy reduced relationships as a result of Martinelli's "mafia government"? Is the DEA investigating Martinelli?
While it may take some time to find out the answers to these and other questions, one thing is abundantly clear: Nothing and nobody is coming out in support of Martinelli from the US. Not from the State Department, not from the embassy here, not from law enforcement. While Varela was received everywhere just recently in Washington, they just leave Martinelli hanging out there. Draw your own conclusions.....