Want to see a fine mix of hypocrisy, xenophobia and narrow-mindedness at work? Look no further than Panama, a country where they've turned cooking sancocho from these ingredients into an art form.
Panama, until just a week ago, loved Donald Trump. The Donald came down here with his roaming meat auction also known as the Miss Universe contest, and the media as well as the population were all over it. Then Roger Khafif cut a deal with Trump to use the name for a tower in Punta Pacifica, and each and every newspaper, real estate promoter, chamber of commerce bozo and politician started a crowing contest on how "even Donald Trump is investing in Panama" (a lie; he only rents out his name and thus takes money out of Panama, but hey, who cares!).
Trump made Panamanians feel as if they were now inhabiting a real country, a mature player in the real world. They need this type of reassuring constantly on the isthmus, which explains how a tiny country created by Wall Street in a series of backroom dealings believes itself to be the "bridge of the world" and the "heart of the universe" and has an anthem that starts with, "We finally reached victory" and tells us about "ardent fires of glory".
This national inferiority complex shows itself not just in overcompensation by shouting out loud such superlatives - which at least is a kind of funny for a while - but also in darker sentiments like nationalism, xenophobia and an extreme sensitivity to anyone who dares criticize them or even doesn't share their vision of Panama as God's gift to the universe.
As Donald Trump has just found out.
Trump, in an effort to please US conservatives for electoral reasons, said something to the tune that handing over the Canal to Panama had been a gross mistake, because the US had not gotten anything in return. This infuriated Panamanians left and right, who took the statement by their former hero as if the US army was already en route to take back the waterway by force, so to speak.
Trump's statement in itself is nothing new. Just before the Canal expansion referendum in 2006, your reporter interviewed Howard Philips of the Conservative Caucus on the subject and he stated that nobody should invest a dime in the Canal until there are boots of US soldiers on the ground again in Panama. No-one took notice. Similarly, earlier this decade US conservatives organized their "missions to Panama" without creating the rage that the Donald has now generated.
The latest in this bizarre saga is that the municipal council of the Panama City - only two weeks after Paco Gomez was expelled from the country for similar reasons - has unanimously passed a resolution declaring Donald Trump "persona non grata" in the capital.
Mind you, this is a municipality headed by a corrupt former televised perfumes salesman where they are unable to even pick up the garbage in any organized fashion.
Mind you, this is Panama, a country that has diplomatic representatives who don't even know how the Canal works or what its history is.
Mind you, this comes from a country that failed miserably in using the handover of the Canal as a boost for development and a more equal distribution of wealth (with the elite saying it would turn us into a "democratic version of Singapore"); instead turning the management of Canal Zone assets into a pool of corruption, bureaucracy and mediocrity (remember Fraudito's ARI?). Especially in the Northern part of the former Canal Zone, closer to Colón, nothing meaningful has been done with gazillions worth of infrastructure and real estate. The former submarine base where John McCain was born is now a poverty-stricken gangland and decay is everywhere.
But in Panama you can't say these and other things if you're not born Panamanian. The right to express an opinion - even if it is a dumb statement from a three-time bankrupt idiot like Donald Trump - is universally accepted throughout the civilized world, but in Panama you'll get expelled or declared non grata if you exercise that right. And that's exactly why this country is not the "center of the universe" but a third world dump with a ditch running through it.