About two weeks ago we wrote a bit about that question and offered our insights on what would be needed to really organize Panama's civil society.
Well, we went to a press conference of the Alianza Ciudadana Pro Justicia today, and if they keep it up like this the answer would be "Hell no, they can't!"
The press was called to denounce and debunk the idiotic campaign by the government to discredit the public face of the Alianza, Magaly Castillo, for being under contract with a foreign company that has in its turn a contract with the Public Ministry. It is indeed a possible conflict of interest, and Castillo would have done better to publicly disclose it instead of giving Martinelli, Bonissi et al their ammunition on a silver plate.
So there was the usual strongly worded protest against the gutter politics of Martinelli, there was an explanation that the Alianza consists of 20 different organizations and they demanded to be respected.
So far so good, but then Angelica Maytín took the floor. Maytín is the Barbie doll of Panama's chapter of Transparency International, an organization that tries to strong-arm left-leaning governments with false reports into becoming more business-friendly to its multinational donors, or at least reduce the amount of bribes they have to pay. And Maytín started ranting and raving against television station RCM, which she said spouted all kinds of lies and bullshit about Magaly Castillo. Even though she had not seen the program in question herself, she warned RCM - looking directly into the TVN and Telemetro cameras - that there were laws in this country against such irresponsible journalism and that you couldn't just take a microphone and say what you think. And she would analyze what was actually said with the goal of filing charges. All this in a voice as if she were selling fish at the Mercado de Marisco.
She sounded actually a lot like your average Central American tin pot president, you know, those pompous characters who can't deal maturely with criticism. The media haven't included it in their coverage so far, but if we were Martinelli or Bonissi or any other one of these maleantes we'd immediately seize upon it: "So look at her doing exactly what she blames us for!"
These kind of tactical errors, in combination with Castillo's clumsy lack of disclosure about possible conflicts of interest, further slow down a civil society that has already trouble getting strategy and tactics together. To win from Martinelli and his clique, we need better than this.