Mayhem at the Assembly!

Turns out it wasn’t really a smart idea of our fearless leader Ricardo Martinelli to announce the sale of shares in C&W and then do the Bernie dance. Since early this morning, the National Assembly is the scene of a stand-off between opposition figures and protesters on one side, and the government and the police on the other.

The authorities had cordoned off the Assembly and wouldn’t let anyone in. The fence was then taken down by protesters, violence ensued, and eventually riot police was firing tear gas inside the Assembly.

More and more people are showing up at the Assembly right now to show their disagreement with Martinelli’s policies.

Of course yesterday’s corruptos are doing everything they can to steal today’s democracy for themselves. Telemetro interviewed for example Zulay Rodriguez, famous for the PAMAGO case, who used to be a conduit for bribes for Supreme Court magistrates, as if she were some sort of champion of democracy and courageous resistance leader.

The same goes for “opposition” figures like the Varela brothers, Samuel Lewis, Juan Carlos Navarro, José Blandón, etc. It’s not that long ago that the Varelas closed the Assembly to opposition figures to get corrupt laws passed.

And this is precisely what is at the heart of today’s upheaval: Martinelli is not an isolated phenomenon, but he and his group are the product of a political and business environment that has been created, nurtured and fostered for decades by the same people who now pose as the saviors of democracy. It’s a fight between factions of corrupt, rich elites, with ordinary Panamanians caught in the middle and being used as cannon fodder for the interests of Panameñista families and PRD groups.

As long as the population follows these charlatans, there will be no resolution to the issues this brawl is supposedly about.

Live coverage online at Telemetro.

UPDATE 14:00: With riots in the streets, Martinelli gave in and withdrew the law proposals. The sale of shares and the Fifth Chamber will now be discussed in some dialog setting. Tomorrow there is yet another march. And then Martinelli will look for another opportunity to get what he wants, or give his opponents a piece of the cake. So far so good for today, great job by Telemetro reporting live from the scene. And everything wrapped up again in time for European soccer!

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.

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7 Comments

  1. Santiago

    Así mismo es.
    Nadie lo ha explicado mejor, Mr. Okke!

  2. Kevin

    First, thank you for the reporting;
    Second, cheers to the people who could get out and protest;
    And third, aren’t you lucky to live in a country where, at least…when these first two items are done…SOMETHING happens.
    (Unlike the U.S. where I am currently ! )

  3. Faustino

    @Kevin,

    Right on buddy!

    Here people fight for their rights and the will of the people is reflected in the policies of the government! No apathy here!

    This place is like the good old days in the US. Liberty and Freedom prevail. A man can make an honest living, defend his family(easy to get a permit), and have no fear from terrorists or tyrannical governments! Sure we have our growing pains but government here stays out of a man´s business. Any old Cholo, Indio, Chombo or Blanco can work his way from the bottom up…no barriers, just hard work and you´re on your way. Like the days of American Greatness before the socialist plague.

    And here at least they know their President was born in the country!!! His name is Mr Martinelli, a self-made man, who came from hard scrabble background and rose with honest hard work to riches, but he is still a Good Ol´Boy, not all stuck up. With him in charge there´s is no fear of European style Socialism here.

    Martinelli knows what made the US great, (he went to university in Arkansas) and he has no respect for any Socialist thinking. He´d boot Obama out on his ass if he had a chance…He´s not afraid to say it like it is. Take a look at our cops here…real tough. Law and Order is the name of the game. Sure you can protest here but block the roads and you´ll end up with an ass full of buckshot!

    Get down here if you get a chance man…the US has been ruined, too many illegals, bleedin hearts, Hollywood reds….Panama is the place to be…

    But the best of all about Panamanian Culture is that they don´t have idea of Sarcasm or Irony. But you don´t seem to be a person who would miss this fancy pants type of humor!

  4. Benfatto

    “As long as the population follows these charlatans, there will be no resolution to the issues this brawl is supposedly about.”

    I’d say that by electing Martinelli the population clearly asked for change. They just got duped again. Soon the PRD fascistas will be back in power again.

    Is there any non-corrupt politician that people can support?

  5. Faustino

    @Benfatto….NO.

  6. business

    The Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), the Popular Party (PP) and the Panameñista party joined together this Friday, 15 June 2012, to call for the creation of a United Front for Democracy, to reject the latest government actions, including the designation of the judges of the Fifth Chamber and the approval of bills that allow the sale of state shares in electric utilities. About the appointment of the judges to the Fifth Chamber, the president of the Panameñista party and Vice President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela said “what happened was an assault on democracy.” “It is a State matter, not an election issue. It is a matter of defending democracy,” said the Vice President, whose party broke the alliance with the ruling Democratic Change in August 2011, after President Ricardo Martinelli dismissed him from office of Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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