THE government of mobster-president Ricardo Martinelli is falling apart. Yesterday, we learned that our narco-in-chief was chastising his ministers for publicly disagreeing and criticizing policy. He added that in his team, it is he who gives the orders, and nobody else.
The controversy was partly due to revelations by WikiLeaks of a cable that described the airport duty-free zone as a haven for money laundering. Minister Mulino then stated in the media that the concessions for the duty-free shops - given to the Motta and Waked families - could be revoked. That apparently angered Martinelli, who is widely believed to have intimate ties to money laundering himself.
Then there is the controversial mining concession law, that has publicly divided the cabinet.
However, Martinelli's warning is mostly directed towards his vice-president Varela, observers say. Varela was quoted in cables from the US embassy as apologizing for Martinelli's behavior demanding that the DEA wiretapped the phones of his political enemies. He also hesitates openly to go along with Martinelli's sell-out of Panama to foreign mining interests.
Nobody really believes that the coalition of Martinelli's Cambio Democratico and the Panameñistas is going to last the full presidential term. Predictions range from 6 months to 12 months maximum from now, and then the Panameñistas will leave the government of the "locos".
Meanwhile, it's not just the government, but the entire country that is falling apart. With Panamanians still baffled by the deliberate burning-alive of teenagers in a juvenile correction center, victims of that other massacre, in Changuinola last year, took to the streets today to demand that the government keeps the promises made when Martinelli negotiated a way out of the mess. More protests have been announced, and if this is not resolved quickly - which it won't be - we're looking at riots and repression all over again.
There is virtually no sector of society that is not in some state of disarray because of Martinelli's policies or the lack thereof.
The capital is still without potable water, and even a beer brewery has moved operations to Honduras because of the lack of a reliable water supply in Panama. It turns out that even bottled water is polluted, and there is no policy, no answer, no nothing from the government.
The garbage crisis is still not resolved, the latest being that tourists abandon the beaches en masse because of toxic fumes - tourism minister Shamah being too busy defending himself against allegations of links to arms and drug trafficking.
Coming from Arraijan and La Chorrera, commuters face endless traffic jams as the Centennial bridge has been closed after the highway collapsed, and at the same time the government had the brilliant idea to break up the one remaining highway for maintenance.
The Public Ministry, meanwhile, is still mired in narco-corruption scandals and they can't even figure out what to do with the pseudo-procurador Guiseppe Bonissi.
Isn't there any good news? There is, dear readers. Doctor Mauro Zuñiga, a fierce critic of the government, has filed a law proposal with the National Assembly that makes it a crime for politicians to promise things during campaigns and then not fulfill them when they're in office. These criminals will then be sentenced to between 8 months and 4 years of jail time. Take them away!