One down, many more to go in Bocas massacres

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"Wild Bill", accused serial killer, with in the background Panama's police in Changuinola; confirmed serial killers.

"Wild Bill" and his charming wife/girlfriend have been caught while trying to enter Nicaragua in a hijacked boat. This will solve at least a couple of murder cases in Bocas as well as some missing person mysteries, but the majority of those guilty in recent killing sprees and what appears to be one forced disappearance remains at large.

The police chief of Bocas del Toro, Didier Degracia, said today that the "intention was not to hurt anyone seriously" during the violent repression of protests, but they had to shoot birdshot because "there were many strikers".

He added that those who participated in the protest marches "maintained high levels of discipline, determination and strategies for the struggle".

Much saner observations came today from former consul of Panama in London, Kevin Harrington, who visited Changuinola and surrounding areas. He distributed his conclusions by email (translation by us):

- No private businesses were damaged. There was talk about one clinic, but I didn't see it;

- The Global Bank was the only private enterprise that was damaged and has been quickly repaired, it appears the reason was that the police was shooting from the top floor at the crowd;

- No public entities were damaged, only five cars, most of which were from the ministry of labor;

- The airport has been repaired at the speed of light, the complete interior, the ceiling and everything else is new. The exterior still shows signs of the battle and fire; it was indicated that the airport was besieged by the people. The police maintains a presence at the airport, they sleep in one of the hangars.

- Most people talk about more than 8 deaths, and suspect that those bodies that are still in the morgue are victims of bullet wounds, among them a small girl hit by loads of birdshot.

- The failure of the government to maintain order and stay in control is due to the fact that they don't know Changuinola. The police would at times flee into the banana plantations and hurt themselves by running into the cable systems that are used to transport the harvest.

- The people were in full control, not just Changuinola, but from Almirante to Guabito. At one point, between Costa Rica and the protesters there was no Panamanian authority present.

- There are black banners everywhere. The commercial area (banana growing and processing) isn't damaged at all, the people don't really resent the banana company, but they do resent the government and its ministers.

- The so-called "apology aid" from Martinelli was generally not well-received. The kids accepted the bikes and have formed groups that ride through town.

- The indigenous people who live on the plantations reject the "show" by the government.

- The people are clear in that the "sausage law" has to be repealed, which is what they told labor minister Alma Cortés from the beginning. However, this demand fell on deaf ears, which was the first violent act: Not listening. The second violent act was to insult the people - the rest was to be expected.

- I felt humbled by the courage of the people of Changuinola, where the "ignorant indians" speak three languages - Spanish, English and Ngobe - and study at the university. The ignorance is all coming from the government, its ministers and its president.

Meanwhile, the National Robbers Den Assembly is discussing the partial suspension of the now infamous sausage law. The unions, the environmental groups and several others, including the Federation of Retirees, demand that the complete law be repealed and not just three articles. Furthermore, they want chief of police Gustavo Perez, minister of labor and former Martinelli narco-lawyer Alma Cortés and minister of security Raul Mulino sacked. A criminal complaint was filed to underline the seriousness of the demands. Banana workers already announced they will be back in the streets if the government doesn't cede to their demands.

10 thoughts on “One down, many more to go in Bocas massacres

  1. “The police would at times flee into the banana plantations and hurt themselves by running into the cable systems that are used to transport the harvest.” Is there a video of THAT? As I said, this whole thing needs to be a documentary.
    As an aside, I think if they repealed the offensive articles of that law that would be a good start. The aviation part was fine. It should be part of the negotiation and it would still be a MAJOR MAJOR victory.

  2. It all shows me that there was no manipulation – political parties in Panama have no intellect for that – but a well-organized action from the People, they believed in what they did and they are still convinced.

    They have been quite civical, because radical hordes would have taken the province… Martinelli, you would have lost Bocas territory, señor.

    Be thankful.

    Now you know where you can be invaded and you will not help it.

    • “Now you know where you can be invaded and you will not help it.”

      Interesting observation. If the police aren’t rapidly upgrading their knowledge and tactics you are right; it would be relatively easy to take over Bocas. Imagine that.

  3. They the Government of Panama used the world Cup to hood wink the Panamanian People especially the poor and the so called minimum wage workers.

    Laws thirty only protects the Rico, the Police and the multinational Corporations!

    Law thirty sells Panama and it’s people and natural resources to the highest bidder period!

    It was one of the multinational Corporations that wanted the Government of Panama to dissolve the Unions of Changuinola!

    What a surprise when it was not the cake walk they the Government of Panama hoped for!

    Now the Government of Panama has discovered this is not the Banana wars of 1901 t0 1911 in Central America(No US Marines to back them up this time)!

    The Government of Panama is about to use up it Political Capital it thinks it earn by being elected!

    These brave people where shoot with live ammunition!

    This is the First time since the PDF and the Dignity Battalions were disbanded that live ammunition has been used against the people of Panama in a protest or strike.

    The head of the DIAST Security ministry and all the top leaders and Officials of the National Police should be arrested and imprisoned for crimes against the Peoples of Panama!

    The Government of Panama is about to use up it Political Capital it thinks it earn by being elected!

    Too Many Panamanians remember the Dignity Battalions and the PDF atrocities.

    Civil war is an easy thing to have happen, It is a harder thing to bring to a peaceful ending!

    “Panama where the numbers never add up”

  4. Martinelli, who much is enough? I really hoped you would be an intelligent guy, made your money and wanting to build a memorable legacy. Naive, I know. Wouldn’t you rather pass from this world knowing you helped your country, then to be just another crook? Panama has everything to be a paradise, not just for the rich. A peaceful country with virtually no taxes, freedom and prosperity. For that we need less laws and regulations and more common decency and common sense. You had the chance of improving your business just by being the President you promised to be. Something to be proud of. The people would have forgiven all your wrong doings in the past! By the looks of it, you’re squandering it all away. Your reputation, your business and your country. At the end you will know that you had a chance very few people will have and you f*cked it up because of greed for money and power. Big big time! It comes with a price though. There are no free rides in this world. Someday at some point you will have to settle the bill. It might be more than you bargained for, but hey.. ain’t life a bitch?

  5. It’s about time someone properly positioned the Wild Bill drama for what it is: a distractive media spectacle. Yes, his senseless crimes deserve notice–but not at the expense of broader realities. How can my fellow gringos get all up in arms (pun very much intended!) about a single run-of-the-mill criminal while completely going mum on state-sanctioned murders? Where on the side of humanity do these people stand (sometimes you have to ask questions you already know the answer to just to make a sad point)?

    I bet my fellow expats are freaked out by the fact that a *white* dude–one they probably rubbed elbows with at expat cocktail events–went bananas (yep, again: pun intended!) on their own turf. I’m sure they can’t stand the idea that a business-oriented expat committed those crimes–I mean, expats around here are the investors, the movers-n-shakers and therefore must be civilized and totally upstanding, right? It’s those greedy *workers* who cause all the problems around here, and the cops need to do all they can to control them, right? Uh-huh.

  6. happy expat – oh how very very right you are!!!! It was such a disgrace how expats reacted to the tragedy unfolding in Changuinola, making light of it or ignoring it, while totally losing it over the death of 2 gringos (which of course is to be deplored). And we will hear about this for months to come. Do these people even remember what happens a couple weeks a go in Changuinola aside from being inconvenienced in their transit efforts.
    On the upside, with the wild bill nonsense, I dont think anyone will want to invade Bocas now.

  7. I agree with you FROM BOCAS. The ability of an individual to murder with impunity is so small when compared to the the instutions of government with their very ample resources. The expats don’t seem to understand that if the government can shoot up protesters in Bocas with impunity they can also shoot up expats with impunity as well.

  8. While RM needlessly get involved into Colombian inner conflicts, no actual intelligence work is being done…
    They have been focusing on the activists, intellectuals and humanists…
    How about the real crooks?
    RM, you don´t know where the rabbit is gonna jump…
    You are the best ally of your gravediggers, and you are digging “el pueblo” down under with you…

  9. Thanks for reporting this. It’s people like you that gives me at least some small faith in the human race.

    The Panamanians are not living an idyllic life by any means and articles like these just show the world the truth. Oppressed peoples who barely manage to eke out a living. It will be interesting which serial murderer takes centre stage.

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