First we had narco Willy Cochez making scurrilous comments about Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez. Then he got fired. Then he was found distributing a fake video that showed Chavez in his hospital bed except that it didn’t. A real shameful episode for Panama.
So you’d expect that when they appointed a new ambassador to the OAS, they’d do a little bit of background checking, right? Well, no.
The new ambassador of Panama to the OAS, The Panama News reminds us, is one Arturo Vallarino and he has a past as a promoter of criminal schemes designed to rip off Americans:
When he was vice president Arturo Vallarino teamed up with Atlanta swindler Tom McMurrain and former Bocas mayor Eladio Robinson to promote real estate and investment frauds, land thefts, a business shakedown racket and a private militia.
Read more about these activities here: part 1, part 2. Tom McMurrain, who was already a fugitive when he came to Panama, ended up in jail in the US. Eladio Robinson was jailed in Panama. The schemes collapsed and many people lost their money. Even the US embassy at the time warned unsuspecting investors against McMurrain’s scams.
Here’s the old Tom McMurrain press release for the scheme, called “San Cristobal”, bragging about Vallarino’s involvement:
So how does pimping mega-scams qualify someone to become ambassador at the Organization of American States? In any normal country it doesn’t. But in Martinelli’s Panama, a mix between a run down theme park and a madhouse, such things are entirely normal.