In case you haven't heard yet: The Panamanians have seized a North Korean sugar boat that was about to sail through the Canal on its way from Cuba to Kim Jong Un's neo-Stalinist wonderland.
We also learned from the Panamanian authorities - and not independently confirmed by any reliable source - that the captain of the ship had and a heart attack and tried to kill himself, while the crew resisted the take-over of the vessel - as if that is a strange thing if you have Panamanian pirates seizing your boat.
Regular readers of the Bananama Republic know that anything coming from the Panamanian authorities is suspicious. Always. They're usually lying, and if they're not lying they're hiding the truth. Martinelli included.
While Martinelli was parading, pretending to have made the catch of the century in some secret sanction busting arms trafficking deal, the Cuban authorities explained what was going on here. They said, this ship is carrying obsolete armament to North Korea for repair. Broken anti-aircraft missiles from half a century ago. Two MIG-21 fighter jets that won't start.
The spectacular arms catch is, in fact, a bunch of old dysfunctional Soviet junk. For good measure, and probably as a down payment on repairs, the remaining cargo space was filled with a load of sugar for the North Koreans.
Could this possibly, maybe, after all, be a case of arms being smuggled to North Korea, in violation of a UN embargo? Come on, dear reader, what do you think? That North Korea really needs two old crappy Russian jets that don't work, neglected by the Cubans and a dozen or so anti-aircraft missiles that won't launch? A country that has nuclear bombs and, with that, all the geopolitical leverage it could wish for? That just doesn't make any sense at all. But then again, nothing in this story makes any sense at all.
So how did this whole crazy affair come about?
The Panamanians say they received a "tip" that the vessel was smuggling drugs. They didn't say where this tip came from.
Of course we have our ideas. This particular ship has been tracked for some time now, it is alleged in a Guardian article. Who has the resources and capabilities needed to track the movements of North Korean ships? Right. While writing this story, we saw an AWACS plane fly over on its way to Tocumen airport.
I don't think it's far fetched to hypothesize that the US told Panama to seize the sugar boat under some flimsy pretext of a "tip". That way a direct confrontation is avoided and the tropical Berlusconi and his cunning spies get to take the heat if it turns out that there's only broken Soviet museum pieces on board.
Yes indeed. A sort of what they did when they forced European countries to close their airspace to Bolivia's presidential jet because whistleblower Edward Snowden would be on board, except that he wasn't.