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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