Usually, the process of becoming a hollow state is the result of non-state actors; the narco-gangs in Mexico or the Taliban. By attacking the state, they turn the government into an empty shell. In Panama however, it is the government itself that is hollowing out the state, and the process is now irreversible.
The cheap attempt to use Palacios's suspicious reappearance as some sort of "evidence" that the government did nothing wrong and is being falsely accused is a dumb and transparent ploy to distract from the indisputable fact that Martinelli's gang of thugs did kill at least 4 people in Bocas, and likely more. Including small children.
Valentín Palacios has been missing for over a month after being taken by the police. The situation in Panama is now so bad, and the opposition and the media so lame, that when the police disappears somebody this now generates far less response than during the dictatorship when opposition was more dangerous.
If you're in opposition against a government, what you want to accomplish is its isolation: It's physical isolation, its mental isolation and its moral isolation. With barely a year in office, the Martinelli government is already visibly suffering from all three forms of isolation.
Today, Friday, The national assembly continues its second debate about the so-called "ley chorizo". How Martinelli wants to appease the Motta family and civil society protests police impunity, anti-environment and anti-labor measures.
Today in Panama City a "Peace March" was being held, and president Martinelli, just back from Spain, promised there that he would finish off violent crime in three years and turn Panama into the most secure country of Latin America. Sounds great, but it won't happen. It's actually dangerous to believe him. Here's why: