Balbina next old hag of Panama politics to flirt with dead leader

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Balbina Herrera campaignsSome people never learn. In 2009, Balbina Herrera was soundly defeated by a guy called Ricardo Martinelli in the presidential elections. Voters didn't trust Herrera, who seemed unable to separate herself from her sordid past as a Noriega loyalist and leader of the band of thugs also known as the "dignity battalions".

Her militant and aggressive attitude throughout the campaign did nothing to improve the image the vast majority of voters has of her either.

However, Balbina, undaunted, has now decided that if she can't be president (the next president of Panama, in case you didn't know, is Juan Carlos Navarro), she will be mayor of Panama City, and she has already started campaigning.

It won't go far. She would maybe have had a chance if she'd transformed herself into a politician of the 21st century. Yet instead, she dug up what's left of the corpse of dictator Omar Torrijos to liven up her act, on Twitter:

"Creo en el proceso de la consulta de la misma forma en que lo hacía Omar. Casa por casa, persona a persona"

"House by house" and "person by person" doesn't just conjure up images of razzias and dissidents being hauled away; it is indeed how Omar Torrijos and the rest of the military goons treated any and all opposition to their corrupt and deadly rule. To turn this into your style of winning votes does at the very least suggest that Balbina is not being assisted by any professionals who know something about campaigning.

What is it anyway with the old hags of Panamanian politics that makes them flirt with the rotting corpses of yesterday's rulers?

First we had Mireya Moscoso and her public necrophilia act with the remains of "Fufo" Arias, as if digging up some old guy whom half of the voters don't even remember and then burying the bones again would somehow improve her legacy and political status as a corrupt, kleptocratic and largely useless president.

Of course, nobody fell for that. So why would Balbina think that telling the world how she's going house to house, Omar style, is going to improve her chances?

The first reason is that in her party, the PRD, there is this belief that in order to be a real perredista, you need to be an adherent of something called Torrijismo. They actually compete inside the PRD for who is the best, loudest, most fanatical Torrijista as if it is some tipico song contest. Other than a bizarre personality cult around a murderous dictator who was also drunk most of the time, nobody really knows what Torrijismo is exactly, nor is anyone in the PRD able to coherently explain any of it.

Omar Torrijos, for those who don't know, was a paid US agent who grabbed power in a military coup in 1968 and his biggest success was that he managed to fool progressives all over the world into believing that he was some sort of benevolent enlightened dictator (many similarities to Obama today). Of course, in reality he was doing what all dictators do, namely running the economy into the ground, getting rid of his opponents by any means necessary, give himself wacky titles and line his pockets in a spectacular fashion. Oh, and drink rum by the gallon. He died in a plane crash and was eventually succeeded by another paid US agent, Manuel Noriega.

The second reason is that political dinosaurs and/or ignoramuses like Nito Cortiz, Samuel Lewis and Balbina Herrera, actually believe that a tin pot dictator-for-sale who died almost 32 years ago has significant electoral appeal in 2013. Which is of course nonsense. It would be like a US candidate campaigning on how he is such a staunch Nixonite. How Balbina thinks she can win votes posing as a Torrijista is one of the great mysteries of her political belief system. Young voters - a lot of those in the capital - either don't remember Torrijos or they know better than to believe in the adoration of him by political fossils. Older voters do not support Torrijismo, whatever it is, in significant numbers. It's not for nothing that Omar Torrijos feared free elections; he would have been crushed.

And that's what will happen with Balbina's aspirations to become mayor of Panama City too if she doesn't get her act together. And most likely she won't, just like during the 2009 campaign when she preferred infighting and backstabbing over actually winning. Bye, Balbi!

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