Bananama Republic was Panama's english language alternative news source. Known for its entertaining and snarky take on Panamanian events as well as its high-impact investigative journalism, our reporting and our scoops have led to arrests, questions in parliament, political mayhem and the downfall of many frauds and swindles. Editor Okke Ornstein was the most-prosecuted foreign journalist in Panama ever, largely because of the inconvenient truths the Bananama Republic blog published.
While by no means a comprehensive news site, we do pride ourselves in having caused such high-profile scandals as the revelation of the presence of Ku Klux Klan grand masters in Panama, bringing down mafia-operated teak outfits, a president involved in a narco kidnapping, rogue business leaders, the shenanigans surrounding the Panama Canal, financial shysters, corruption and a host of other bad actors. At the same time, we enthusiastically sided with the poor, people of color, the working class and what is called the indigenous population.
Some older articles (2006 and earlier) reference to this site as "Noriegaville". In a previous incarnation, we were called The Noriegaville News.
As is to be expected, we got sued regularly by the people we expose, under Panama's wacky "crimes against the honor" laws, or they start smear campaigns. This has never caused a story to be removed, has never led to a definitive conviction in court and has generally only sped up the demise of the complainant.
Bananama Republic is no longer actively maintained. In November 2016, Ornstein was arrested and detained in Panama for exposing government involvement with fraud and money laundering. Because of international pressure he was quickly pardoned by then-president Varela, who added that the journalist would be welcome to continue working in Panama. However, Ornstein didn't believe him and left the country - for good.