REMEMBER how our beloved president Ricardo Martinelli would cause a nation-wide uproar with just one angry tweet? In our chaotic political system it was the equivalent of the Butterfly Effect. The term comes from chaos theory and refers to how small variations in input in chaotic systems (butterfly flaps wings) can cause wild and unpredictable consequences (hurricane). But that was then.
Today, we have the opposite, what we have baptized the "Caterpillar Effect" here in the Bananama Republic newsroom: Martinelli tweets something and nobody gives a shit. There are no consequences at all. The system has changed in a way that no longer allows him to influence it with his petty thoughts in 140 characters. Not even his "call centers" make a difference any more and have been dismantled and all the evidence destroyed.
Martinelli is not the only loser who made the transition from butterfly to caterpillar. On the picturesque island of Taboga, the elections were watched with hope and anticipation by the various local candidates for mayor. It took until the wee hours of the next morning before the results came in, mainly because counting the votes on the nearby island of Otoque did not start before a problem with the electricity was fixed.
Finally, it turned out that CD candidate Ramon "Poto" Ramos had been elected mayor - no surprise, really, because even though he did not campaign at all with banners and billboards, the Martinellistas had been busy handing out money, stoves, microwave ovens and other such goodies to ensure their local victory. Magalys Ricord, who ran for the PRD, took her defeat (with just 95 votes difference) in stride and told us that she intended to work with the new administration as far as possible on projects she thinks the island needs. Edmundo Botello, who ran for the Panameñistas and came in third, said, "well, better next time," and went back to his restaurant business. Even Amilkar Gamboa, a construction worker who ran as an independent candidate and only got a sad 14 of the 1,469 votes, was happily back to work the next day and greeting acquaintances.
So, who turned from butterfly to caterpillar, then? Well, meet Patsy Owens de Pons, de independent rabiblanco candidate.
End 2012, Mrs. Owens a sort of hijacked the so-called Taboga Civic Association, asked the expats for money, and turned it into a campaign platform for what many already suspected were her political ambitions. Arriving by private yacht from the capital, she would hand out gifts to the needy, ferry the local doctor to Otoque to attend patients, and come up with a flurry of impractical and even bizarre ideas for the island. The aeronaval soldiers barking at and searching arriving tourists with drug dogs as soon as they disembark from the overpriced ferry is one of Mrs. Owens' crazy ideas that actually got implemented even before the elections took place.
Other plans, like painting all the houses white, obligatory, luckily didn't make it. Similarly, her plans to improve education on Taboga didn't go beyond redecorating the outside walls of the local school. Voilá de rabiblanco agenda for Taboga: Clean the place up and throw some paint at it, so that property values of the summer houses of the rich are not affected too much by the neglect of issues that really should be taken care of.
Not surprisingly, the Taboganos were less than impressed with Patsy Owens, and despite all the gifts and "projects" from the Taboga Civic Association she only got 166 votes.
This made Mrs. Owens very sad and resentful. In a Facebook post on May 8, she announced her transformation from a butterfly - someone who at least did some lasting and useful work - into an inconsequential caterpillar. After a long rant, she concluded:
Acepto mi devastadora derrota y me resigno a recibir todas las burlas y todas las críticas de quienes me conocen o no, de los que saben o no que ofenden a una residente y ciudadana tabogana, haciendo diferencias solo por pertenecer a una equis clase social y económica.
La única desilusión que siento es que NO se me cumplió el sueño de poder demostrar a mis hijas que así como mis padres fueron unos “honorables médicos”, su madre pudo ser una “honorable alcaldesa”.
Mis mejores deseos para el Distrito de Taboga… pero regreso a mi rol de observadora, a la distancia, como cualquiera panameña más.
Oh, no more work for the Taboga Civic Association, then? How telling - it tells us that it was all about her being elected and her political ambitions in the first place. It tells us that it was about showing something to her own children, not to do something for the children of Taboga. Here we have someone who has probably more money and assets than all the other candidates combined, and she whines that that didn't buy her some status when she wanted it.
So: Caterpillar. Had she done her work for that association and continued to do it even when not elected, it would have been a different story, but now she's in the same league as Martinelli: ineffectual, inconsequential and just another bad loser who plays the victim card. And that's about all we really have to say about the elections 2014 here at Bananama Republic.