Martinelli's government has done more public infrastructure projects than any other since 1989. Metrobus, the metro, highways, a new bridge across the Canal is in the works, extension of the Cinta Costera, and so on. Not to mention useless radar systems and patrol boats. Martinelli doesn't do all that because he's such a visionary, or because he wants to lift Panama up into the first world. He doesn't care about any of that. The goal here is to make money. If a project costs $50 million, he and his accomplices will budget it for $100 million and steal the $50 million margin for themselves. Martinelli doesn't do small scale bribery like Mireya; he goes for the big bucks.
But for this looting to work, Martinelli needs a constant stream of cash coming into the state coffers. And he has been running on empty, because they're all getting way too greedy. Despite a helping hand from the no less corrupt rating agencies, investors get a bit weary of buying bonds that will maybe be repaid one day with Martinelli's home-made toy coins.
So, instead of counting on investors, Martinelli is now into fire sales of state assets. First he tried to sell the majority shares in telcom Cable & Wireless and energy company Union Fenosa - but then protests forced him to drop that idea. His current move is to attempt selling the land of the Colon Free Zone, and a law to that effect was rammed through the Martinelli-dominated parliament.
But that idea did not play too well in Colon itself, a city that has been abandoned for decades - because our ruling white elite doesn't care about black people - and where high levels of unemployment, abuse and corruption have given rise to even higher levels of poverty, crime and misery. And to then see the land of the CFZ be sold from under their feet to finance Martinelli's corrupt rule was just one step too far for the Colonenses, so they took to the streets to protest.
Martinelli and his new best man, the self-proclaimed "Sexual Buffalo" Sergio "Chello" Galvez, who also happens to be president of the National Asembly, immediately started accusing the PRD, terrorists, a Palestinian lawyer and whomever else they could think of, of inciting and financing the protests. Then they sent in the gorillas - National Police and the soldiers of SENAFRONT. And, as those heroes always do, they assassinated a 9 year old child and then they complained about "terrorism".
By now, everybody wants Martinelli to withdraw the bill that allows him to sell the CFZ, which usually means that he will dig himself in until his goons have killed some more children and international pressure mounts.
As was to be expected, Martinelli is being cheered on by the usual right-wing gringo crowd in Panama - pretty much the only unpaid supporters the president has left in the country. Meanwhile, FRENADESO obtained this video of the police acting in their habitual rabid dog fashion. Martinelli himself, meanwhile, left today for yet another
vacation trip to Japan.