Protests in the streets, chaos in the government, consumer boycott and another “lobster law”

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Hundreds of environmentalists marched today against the elimination of environmental impact studies for government approved projects.

Martinelli returned home this morning from his vacation in Greece and South Africa to face protests from virtually every group in society. The passing of the "sausage law" has united everything from hardcore environmentalists to SUNTRACS to the Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Business Executives in rejection of the legal mutant that Martinelli's Frankensteins slammed together while he was away.

As a result, there will be protest marches every day now, with an expected mega-march next Thursday that the unions have called for. The march of today was mostly attended by environmentalists.

We've learned that the government is in turmoil and internal war has broken out. The Panameñistas fear - and with reason - that they'll pay the electoral bill for the string of political blunders Martinelli and his clique are pulling off at breakneck speed. The Cambio Democratico faction, on the other hand, needs these repressive laws to execute their agenda of turning the country into a corporation that they can continue to run after Martinelli's term has ended. Minister Mulino said this afternoon that Martinelli "may veto" the controversial law - an indication that fights and negotiations are ongoing.

Then there are Martinelli's other toxic issues that may affect everyone around him. Persistent rumor has it that the president is under investigation by the DEA for his dealings with his cousin and treasurer of his political party, Ramón Martinelli, who currently sits in a Mexican prison on accusations of money laundering for a Mexican cartel. It is indeed noteworthy that nothing official has been scheduled between the US government and Martinelli for months now, but that vice-president Varela has been meeting with one US government official after the other.

On top of that, the unions, environmental organizations and others have called for a consumer boycott of Martinelli's Super99 supermarkets and products such as Seco Herrerano and Ron Abuelo from Hermanos Varela - the business of the vice-president and the president of the Assembly.

However, none of this has stopped the government from presenting yet another law that combines all kinds of changes to various other laws in one. This time it is supposedly the tax code that is being altered, however, there are various other changes.

One important change is that non-profit groups will have to publish a list of donators every month on the web - a rather arrogant demand from a government that has so far refused to make the campaign finances of its coalition partners public.

The law also appears to pave the way for buying toll roads - notably the corredor sur - which some allege are empty shells. An earlier bid to buy these roads with pension fund money seems to have collapsed under protests.

There seem to be more of these laws in preparation: One thing Martinelli wants to change is the ban on foreigners to own retail businesses in Panama. The current law prohibits the sale of Super99 to Walmart, a deal that is widely assumed to be in the works but that would require that law to be modified.

5 thoughts on “Protests in the streets, chaos in the government, consumer boycott and another “lobster law”

  1. The boycotts are a great idea. There is plenty of competition that would gladly take up the grocery slack. Especially effective if Martinelli wants to sell Super 99 to Walmart. Nothing like knocking the book value of a business down by having the sales fall off precipitously. Especially if the bad taste remains in the consumers mouth, damaging the brand. Nothing slows a businessman down faster than losing profit. This is a language that all his cabinet will understand.

    Perhaps this will be the fork in the road for the country. Unite and fight now and break through or muddle around and face harsh repression later. This is the confrontation with the bully on the block. Let’s hope he backs down.

  2. Martinelli needs to amend the Constitution in order to allow foreigners to make retail sales (and also to get re-elected, to approve the Death Penalty)…
    And he is paving the road for those Constitutionals amendments, he will weaken the Congress so bad, he will have no in the Govt…
    This is the Panorama.

  3. I’m missing something about the above-referenced “Lobster Law”. Nowhere in this article, interesting as it may be, is anything about Lobsters. Would you so kindly help me understand what is this “Lobster Law” than you are talking about?

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