Is Panama ready for the WikiLeaks cables?

It won’t have escaped anyone that there is a global storm raging as a result of the latest WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables from and to US embassies around the world. The US government is conducting cyber-warfare by proxy against the website, which has so far managed to stay online.

What’s in this batch of leaked cables about Panama?

So far, WikiLeaks has only released one cable, dating back to December 1989, about how Panama’s only hope to escape from the yoke of the Noriega regime was to wait for another coup. Just weeks later, the US invaded Panama and captured Noriega, which shows that the author of the cable was clearly not in the loop about what was being planned for the tiny nation.

Is that all? No. The cable database, hosted on Google Fusion Tables, shows that there are 912 cables originating from the US embassy in Panama waiting to be released.

The first ones are from 1989, and then the dates jump fast forward to January 6, 2004, which is just before the elections that put Martin Torrijos in office. The latest cable is from February 23 of this year.

This period covered by the cables includes several events that we would expect to find in these cables. Like for example the 2006 campaign for the expansion of the Panama Canal. Before that, in 2005, the US government revoked the visa of Supreme Court magistrate Winston Spadafora, without however explaining the reason for that move publicly.

Then in 2009 we had elections again, won by Ricardo Martinelli. And then Martinelli appointed one Gustavo Perez as head of police, which made the Americans very unhappy, to the point that the embassy itself leaked documents to El Panama America to expose the police chief’s war crimes under Noriega.

There are also the negotiations for the US-Panama free trade agreement within the period covered by the cables. Plus the arrest of Panama’s naval “admiral” Traad for involvement in drug trafficking – which insiders reported took place under heavy pressure from the DEA. And then we had one David Murcia spending money on politicians until he was arrested and send through Colombia to the United States.

When will WikiLeaks release the other 911 Panamanian cables, then? We don’t know. The organization has so far opted to work with just a handful of big news organizations – which has been met with some criticism over the last days.

Has Martinelli been warned yet by the State Department? We don’t know that either. Stay tuned….

About the author /

Okke Ornstein is an award winning journalist, TV/Radio producer and photographer from the Netherlands and currently based in Panama. Specialized in high-impact investigative journalism, his work has led to arrests, questions in parliament and the downfall of many frauds and swindles.

Related Articles

%d bloggers like this: