Guest post by Dr. Mauro Zuñiga Arauz.
On February 5 in the early morning hours the narcotics-dictatorship that oppresses the Panamanians, led by the fascist Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, began a repression against indigenous Gnoble-Bugle groups, who keep the Panamerican Highway closed to protest against the approval of the law that allows mining and the construction of dams in the indigenous territory. These same groups were victims in July 2010 of another slaughter for the same reasons and by the same government. At the time of writing this article, two natives were known dead and hundreds were injured. The information is incomplete because the tyranny cut all communications with the provinces, such that we are only receiving fragmented news in the capital city. There are indigenous leaders who speak of eleven dead.
For several months I've been reporting the Martinelli administration's dictatorial nature. Panama is a country of 3.5 million people. According to recent figures, foreign debt increased by three billion dollars, so that the much vaunted economic growth is nothing more than a mortgage on future generations as I have pointed out on another occasion. The cost of basic food items rises every day and with it, poverty rates. Crime and public insecurity are at the highest levels in our history. Insecurity is promoted by the government itself to justify hiring more soldiers with the corresponding expenses.
The illicit gain of the President, his ministers, legislators and heads of decentralized entities is not just evident, but vulgar. They are strangling the people with excessive cynicism. The Attorney General stores away and decides not to investigate corruption cases in which the President is involved in harmony with other governments, such as the case of radar donations by the Italian government presided by Silvio Berlusconi. He refuses to investigate the death of over a hundred patients for KPC bacteria, although claims have been filed against the Director General of the Social Security Institution for negligent manslaughter. He has not even been separated from the job. Moreover, Martinelli prepares his re-election by creating a new hall in the Supreme Court of Justice to either endorse it or extend his presidency for five more years.
The Gnoble-Bugle people were repressed by the revived Defense Forces, who battered the Panamanians during the 21 years of military dictatorship. These soldiers are the ones who "protect" the Colombian border from the drug trade. We know they are the ones in charge of allowing and guarding cocaine shipments from the south. So the remilitarization of the country to combat drug trafficking was shown to be a story, as those are the same soldiers who are repressing the aboriginal groups.
Meanwhile, the government refuses to sit down and talk. Security Minister, Jose Raul Mulino, has started attacking priests of the Catholic Church, ready to serve as mediators. The tone of the government in handling this crisis is the same that he has developed during his administration: lying and lying. He thought that by cutting communications off people would not find out about the slaughter, but some media and independent groups took the task of describing the facts.
There is widespread outrage. More than 80% of the population rejects the government. Other sectors are already mobilizing and we all see a confrontation of predictable consequences between the Defense Forces and the Panamanians. Martinelli has added Noriega-era soldiers to his military government. I make a new solidarity appeal to the international community. The Panamanians have traditionally been a peaceful people, but the current President, due to his excessive ambition for money and his psychiatric disorders, wants to see the blood of his countrymen.
Mauro Zúñiga Arauz was born in Panama City in 1943. He received the degree of Doctor of Medicine at the University of Panama in 1968, specializing in Internal Medicine. Zuñiga worked at the Rafael Hernandez Hospital in the city of David from 1973 to 1976, then moved to the Service of Internal Medicine at Metropolitan Hospital Complex Arnulfo Arias Madrid in Panama City until 2007, when he retired from clinical practice. He was Special Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Panama and worked in private practice in San Fernando Clinic. He is a published author and currently a researcher at the University of Panama.