Op-ed by Dr. Mauro Zuñiga Arauz
It is a known fact that many state governments have been, in one form or another, linked to drug traffickers. The same can be said about some institutions and administrative sectors of the importing countries. There is a triangulation between government, businessmen and traffickers. Mexican writer Anabela Hernandez studied the connection between former presidents Echevarria, Salina de Gortari, Vicente Fox and current President Felipe Calderon, and this illicit business. Former President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, is also mentioned in this activity. Manuel Antonio Noriega, Panama's former strongman, was arrested in the United States for drug trafficking. The latter was perhaps the only one that rose to power being a drug dealer; all others, as is becoming a trend, are helped in their propaganda campaigns to involve them in the crime later.
The case of Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, current President of Panama, has features that must be highlighted. He first got involved in money laundering in the late seventies of last century with Manuel Antonio Noriega, through his first supermarket. Later he became involved in drug trafficking, following in General Noriega's footsteps, such that before becoming President, he already was a kingpin. This is an open secret in Panama, but the subject is banned in the two major television channels and in all written news media. I have reported these links, but Martinelli has given these media strict orders that I not be invited to any live program, and that I not be allowed to write in the print media.
In Panama, a while back some media carried out a "free speech" campaign, but it was so fake that they had to suspend it. I criticized it for hiding the struggle for "freedom of expression". I am not allowed to express myself freely on television or on print media. There is only one reason: because I annoy the President and I report his ties to drug trafficking.
On the other hand, the media do report acts of corruption among government officials, and revel when a subordinate employee is investigated or arrested; but they have never dared to reach the puppeteer, even though they know that in Panama a penny never reaches any government official without leaving a kickback in the President's pockets. Similarly, they had the guts to report one of his ministers' bribery, Jose Raul Mulino, the Security Minister, who was bribed by the Italian company Finmeccanica, when they know that the business deal was carried out between Berlusconi and Martinelli, through fugitive Walter Lavitola.
According to data provided by Panama's Center for Strategic Studies, Ricardo Martinelli is director of 99 companies and underwriter of 139; his wife, Marta Linares de Martinelli, is director of 144 and underwriter of 46; his son, Ricardo Martinelli Linares, director of 18 and underwriter of 2; his son, Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, director of 36 and underwriter of 27, and his daughter, Carolina Martinelli is director of 6. These companies span many goods and services activities. Moreover, the President has the habit of sending officials from the General Revenue Directorate to entrepreneurs who refuse to sell their businesses to him, so as to blackmail them.
Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal controls the entire country: the administration of the State, the mass media and the citizens through illegal personal phone tapping. Our phones are tapped and our emails are monitored.
Noriega's arrival has regrouped the old G-2 (Military Intelligence Service, responsible for assassinations, torture and disappearances during the military dictatorship) again. I was kidnapped and tortured on August 21, 1985. Today, former agents of that institution are intimidating me. I have already submitted their names to third parties in case of any "accident". On the other hand, I have asked Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal to allow an independent audit of his fortune.
My hope is that this article be read by an international institution interested in investigating the deadly drug trade.