We told you so: Guillermo Cochez, the blundering ambassador of Panama at the Organization of American States (OAS), is out. Fired. By Martinelli.
Cochez caused a rift between Panama and Venezuela - and pretty much most other member states of the OAS - with his offensive comments about the health of Hugo Chavez and Venezuela, which he called a "sick democracy".
That, coming from a country of which the president had earlier told an Italian newspaper that he was the "anti-Chavez", was one step too far for the Venezuelans, and their ambassador filleted Cochez during an OAS meeting, live on TeleSur and CNN, calling him a "yokel" (patan).
Wednesday, the Panamanian government stated that the diatribe by Cochez was unauthorized and not representative of Panama's positions. Any real diplomat would have gotten the message and honorably resigned, but not Cochez, whose track record includes accepting donations from druglords for his political campaigns and several other scandals.
So today he was sacked, in a rather confusing way, with Martinelli initially refusing to confirm the fact.
Cochez is crying his heart out and making attempts at a dramatic non, je ne regrette rien- where else than in the Oligarch Daily, which regularly runs ultra-right bile masquerading as opinion pieces authored by Latin American recycled dictatorship figures, who spout similar venom about left-leaning countries in the hemisphere. He did it, says Cochez, all in the name of Democracy. He has now sacrificed himself for that great ideal, because Venezuela is, as we all know, a brutal dictatorship with no free elections where the evil Chavez persecutes the media in which he, Guillermo Cochez, freely publishes his rantings. A hero has fallen in the battle for a better world. The La Prensa phonies suck it all up without one single critical question. They stop just short of calling him the next Bolivar.
It would be nice if we could give Martinelli some credit here, like, it was too far off the map even for him. But reality is that the Cochez affair is just the latest in a series of diplomatic gaffes and craziness in which Martinelli himself is an enthusiastic participant.
Who doesn't remember the Panamanian commercial attache in Spain running a Ron Abuelo retail outlet in the consulate, for example?
And then the same guy, Giovanni Afu, popped up again in the Canary Islands, this time as consul, cross-dressing and drunk?
Whatever happened to the Panamanian consul in Miami, the night club owner Tomas Guerra, who went on TV there to say that Panama used to be the "coastal area" of Colombia, and that the Pacific Ocean is "higher" than the Atlantic?
Next in this good news show was the arrest of a Panamanian diplomat in the Philippines, on accusations of rape.
And then Martinelli himself. In Israel, the Palestinian world and back home he caused shock waves when he stated that Jersusalem should not be divided and named it the "capital of the world".
Similarly, he managed to align China, Taiwan and the Chinese community in Panama against him when he declared his solidarity with Japan in its claim on the Diaoyu Islands.
He also managed to cause a walk-out at the ILO where he delivered a speech. That was just around the same time that eyebrows were raised over his comments that Panama should join the euro zone, whereas yet another manic episode prompted him to demand worldwide internet regulation and an "expiry date" on online content.
And so on. The conclusion from all this is that, most likely, Martinelli didn't have issues with Cochez' rants about Hugo Chavez and Venezuela, but that international pressure forced him to at least now, for once, sack one of those payasos that Panama keeps sending around the globe to make fools of themselves - and the country.