Martinelli heads for new clashes as “divide and conquer” fails

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While Bocas mourned its dead, Martinelli was planning his next stupid move.

Our fat little despot Ricardo Martinelli flew to Bocas del Toro last weekend and tried to do a version 2.0 of Omar Torrijos. The latter, if you recall, would fly around in a white helicopter visiting small communities and perform miracles on the spot; bridges would be repaired, children would have shoes, clinics be built and so on. Then he'd drink a bottle of rum and jump in a river, fully dressed.

And so we could see Ricardo Martinelli making all sorts of wild promises and handing out bicycles to the children, "sorry I shot your father, but here's a bike, bye."

Meanwhile, funeral processions were going on for the victims of Martinelli's murderous rule, and thousands of people were chanting that they didn't want handouts but justice, no vague promises but the repeal of bad laws. Martinelli wasn't welcome and returned home in his jet.

So today started another clumsy political maneuver: The temporary suspension of some of the articles of the "sausage law". The national assembly is debating it, and the proposal has done absolutely nothing to stop the controversy and widespread opposition against the law.

For starters, the articles to be suspended are only those dealing with the labor code. Environmentalists and human rights activists complain that the measures eliminating environmental protection and giving the police immunity when they committ crimes (like killing people, blinding them and shooting them in the face) are unaffected by the proposal and continue as is.

It's a dumb attempt at "divide and conquer", and it's not working. The labor unions, notably SUNTRACS, are calling the ploy a "show" and demand that the whole law be repealed and not just part of it. So do the various indigenous groups.

Other groups are already planning more protests and picket lines in front of Martinelli's Super99 stores, aptly renamed Sufre99.

So where is Martinelli going with this partial suspension of the sausage law and his round table that excludes most of those affected? Absolutely nowhere. A president who isn't serious in what he does should not expect to be taken seriously. There will be more protests, more unrest and more violent repression.

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