Panama asylum dog and pony show

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An ad in La Prensa shows that the newspaper is sponsoring the brain behind the current asylum scandal

OUR maximum leader, president Martinelli, has just made his contribution to maintaining Panama's reputation as the political trashcan of the Americas, by granting political asylum to María del Pilar Hurtado, Colombia's former head of the state security service DAS. Mrs. del Pilar Hurtado was being prosecuted in Colombia because of her responsibility for a political campaign of terror, psychological torture, stalking, harassing and assaulting of political opponents, NGO people, activists and journalists during the reign of Alvaro Uribe.

It's often called a "wiretapping scandal", but the illegal tapping of phones is just a euphemism to describe what really went on. Under del Pilar Hurtado, the DAS collected all possible information on its victims, and even infiltrated through domestic servants and in schools of the children of its victims. These victims would then receive death threats and otherwise be intimidated.

María del Pilar Hurtado was only accountable to the president, Alvaro Uribe.

Uribe, whom US authorities established had significant ties with drug trafficking, was during his presidency involved in major scandals like the "parapolitica" (his and his family's ties with paramilitary death squads), ties with David Murcia and left Colombia with an abysmal human rights record.

So naturally, Alvaro Uribe is a good friend of Ricardo Martinelli.

The political asylum for María del Pilar Hurtado is widely assumed to be a favor of Martinelli to his friend.

The media in Panama are going full blast on the case. At least, that's what it looks like. La Prensa is crying foul, Telemetro and TVN have been doing multiple reports, all are giving ample space to critics of Martinelli's decision. They haven't had as much fun since Montesinos came to Panama and then left again.

Or is it just a show? In La Prensa's print edition of November 22nd, we found this intriguing advertisement in the business section, announcing a "Conferencia Magistral" of Alvaro Uribe, organized by the INCAE Business School. The theme Uribe will address is "The synergy between the State and the Private Sector" (read: "How government and Narcos can work together") and the event takes place the 25th of November in the Sheraton Hotel.

Under the sponsors, both La Prensa and TVN are listed as "Diamond Sponsors", one step above the "Gold Sponsors" which include Global Bank, BAC/Credomatic and BDO.

Why would the same media that are "exposing" the asylum scandal sponsor the former narco-president of Colombia who is behind that asylum scandal?

18 thoughts on “Panama asylum dog and pony show

  1. Remember Panama is open for business the newspaper got it’s ad but the real question is who got how much for the asylum being granted? (Remember the Shah).

  2. As Usual Panama is all show and No GO!

    Taking in and providing sanctuary to Money launders, Narco Political Criminals, and thieves, hence can raise a lot of revenue for this Government.

    It looks like a reciprocal deal with Columbia for our whored out and tire old corrupted Money laundering Political Hacks and Political thieves?

    This way the chain of corrupt Politicians can eat their cake and not loose a dime of the monies they have stolen from the people of Panama!

    This is now the National Socialist state of Panama?

    Panama is now becoming the ultimate Right wing Government!

    Not too far ahead arrests for any anti Government speech, written article, peaceful assembly or demonstration?

    Panama is now replicating the same methods and tactics of Chile and Argentina in the mid sixties with out any doubt now.

    Panama can no longer be even remotely considered a Republic!

    “Panama where the numbers never add up”

  3. @DR. DIAS: Your prose makes me weary. I have the distinct feeling that you are not a “Doctor” as your “DR.” seems to suggest. Your style is very poor and your unsubstanciated insinuations are an insult to our intelligence. Most of us, readers of Pananama Republic are politically leaning towards the left, but your vulgar extremism gives all liberals a bad name. Why don’t you let the Editor write his piece and refrain from adding insult to injury. Moderation is key to credibility.

  4. @XIO: Unless you are 10 years old or have never lived in Panama, what Dr Dias writes is a fairly accurate reflection of the state of Panama (without the benefit of figures from the Bureau of Statistics).

    Perhaps you don’t enjoy his syntax or his punctuation, but don’t let that fuel your hostility and miss what he’s saying. If you go by the notion that unsubstantiated claims should never be published, then BananamaRepublic would not exist.

    And your intelligence is insulted by his comments, surely you’d have to admit that questioning someone’s title in a manner as aggressive as yours would also be cause for dismissal.

    Be careful where the stones land when you throw them.

  5. While the papers are focused on giving asylum to someone who in many countries would be considered a criminal, something else, giving in to Washington, went under the radar:

    The administration of President Ricardo Martinelli of Panama (below) has done something that previous governments have resisted for at least 20 years – agreed to what Bloomberg News characterized as an “agreement to exchange tax information” between the two countries.

  6. @Jan,
    This is no surprise. Martinelli, despite all of his free market rhetoric, has shown that he really is all about raising taxes to support his vast government spending. Anyway up until now no one has really pressured Panama to end banking and hence tax secrecy. I bet that the only info he will turn over is that of his enemies or a few little fish. It will just be the usual token gestures. It will be like his war on corruption. He’ll investigate all corruption propagated by his enemies.

  7. @Faustino

    Neither Martinelli nor his boss in Washington ever cared one iota about free market. It only has been (still is) used as a fig leaf to increase profits by outsourcing jobs to the lowest wage countries aka “globalization”. That might have been behind the recent Bocas tragedy too.

    That the course in finance is being changed can only have one reason: Westernized civilization needs an increasing amount of oil for continuing economic growth which every physicist will declare impossible because oil is a finite resource.

    Now even the IEA has acknowledged that we’re past peak-oil
    govts are waking up to the fact that revenues are about to dry up, beginning with countries that can’t continue business as usual, when gasoline hits above $5 / gallon.

    IOW govts could get creative if only to fill private pockets. Just imagine the price asked to prevent del Pilar Hurtado from publishing a book about her dirty deals with Washington, or the autobiography of Noriega, if he can be repatriated before dying in a French jail.

  8. Yeah Leave our Dr Dias alone!!

    His observations seem pretty accurate to me too.

    Granted his style is different, a blogger’s

    “horizontal haiku with repeating limerick-like ending of monothematic mathematical allusion”‘

    all good to me!!!

  9. @Jan,

    How right you are. It always astounds me that no matter how cynical one becomes as to the nature of politics and politicians they are always one step ahead in their deceit and expedience.

    As for the price of gasoline it should have always cost $10 a gallon.

    Its cheapness was the result of the real costs being miscalculated. Add environmental damage, the costs of geopolitical manipulation, costs of direct warfare, costs to suppress alternate fuels and the price of a gallon of gas would have been $10 gallon in 1970. If these costs were factored in then we would have weened ourselves off fossil fuels in 15 years. The omission of these costs, for political and corporate purposes, resulted in the disasters we face today. As long as energy efficiency, peace, non interventionism, human rights, and the environment are not allocated any value in the economic equation disastrous mis-allocation of resources will occur.

    I believe in capitalism, but as long as capitalists can´t or won´t recognize the market failures of not factoring in these non tangible or politically inconvenient costs capitalism is doomed.


  11. @Kibian

    You may want to check your caps key. I’m standing. What exactly would you like to say?.

    @Xio, What did you expect after your criticism of Dias?

  12. @ Faustino

    It’s true that capitalism is the most effective way for production – if controlled in a sense that sustainability is guaranteed. With both Soviet kolchos and Israeli kibbutz models the failure was an absence of personal involvement.

    Small scale farming and small factories like Duran in the West of Chiriqui have an interest to take care of the environment because their livelihoods depend on it, literally.

    Things go wrong with multinationals which after destroying the environment in one country, can sack all workers, leave, and do the same in another country, as long as Washington’s puppet regimes are sufficiently bribed.

    Because Washington also bribed the regimes in oil producing countries to accept only US dollars as valid currency to prolong the era of “debt doesn’t matter”, data on reserves is likely to be way too optimistic (Matt Simmons’ warnings) and $10 / gallon gasoline is only a matter of time.

    It’s a sign on the wall that copper mining is likely to be started here:

    The company will make a revenue of ~2.5 billion / year, the govt gets a tip of 80 million and the locals are lured into micro-credits to set up mini-markets and restaurants while their environment gets destroyed. How ugly that is going to be, from another country:

    Another national tragedy is the diabetes and obesity epidemic, which could be cured within 4 months with just a good diet. It is truly sickening that the sales of medicine administered to sufferers even gets added the GDP and nothing can done to improve the situation because of the NAFTA treaty that forbids taxes on the junk food, causing obesity and diabetes.

    Latin America still has plenty of resources for a nice, sustainable lifestyle without fossil fuel but before Washington & associated vultures collapse no more can be done than to blog (make aware) and protest.

    But if despite a course in terror practices at the school of the Americas, Omar Torrijos couldn’t suppress his conscience, there’s still a little hope left, something similar could happen to Martinelli and those he grants asylum.

  13. @FAUSTINO regarding what I expected from DR. DIAS : I merely wanted to express my outrage about him insinuating that Panama is now like Nazi Germany. As a Panamanian, I felt deeply insulted by such insanity and perhaps over reacted a little. While it is perfectly legitimate to criticize one’s Government (i.e. : The Editor of Bananama Republic does that very well – always with style and wit), I was weary about DR. DIAS’ cheap one-liners that don’t bring anything to the table in this forum.

  14. Pingback: Cultural Tourism: Visit the Panama Wall! | Bananama Republic

  15. @XIO: Personally, I think that claiming that our government adheres to any kind of ideology is giving them way too much credit as they obviously don’t possess the intellect to comprehend ideological frameworks or any kind of advanced economic theory that goes beyond “greedism” and “improvisationism”.

    But Dr. Dias can have his opinion here, and I would appreciate it if you’d attack the message and not the person.

  16. I fully agree with your new policy and provided everyone abides by that new rule, I solemny pledge not to attack the person – just the message, excepting of course “Full Monty Freezner”.

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