When the military took power in Honduras and installed a bloodthirsty regime, they were being cheered on by a number of North American expatriates in the country, led by an anonymous woman on her gardening blog. At one point, this character even called for the assassination of the US ambassador in Honduras - a threat that was only removed when others called for the US Secret Service to investigate. The threat, however, was only an illustration of the ultra right-wing and even fascist mindset of the crowd she was representing.
These expats will normally lecture anyone whom they feel gets too involved with the political affairs of their host country, explaining that, "we're only guests here". However, when events fit their agenda, this radically changes, and they start calling for assassinations, repression, implementation of a garrison state and always the persecution of workers, campesinos and authentic journalists.
In Panama these days it is no different. The lunatic fringe of the Republicans Abroad crowd and its sympathizers see the electoral victory of Ricardo Martinelli as the continuation of the Honduran Micheletti project; an ultra right-wing government, funded by its narco-interests, that pimps the country to corporate predators without any respect for human rights, freedom or democracy.
Cheerleader of this group is obviously Don Winner, who runs the Panama Guide website. Yesterday, he wrote about the police killing protesters:
And, at least one of the protesters has been killed - shot to death by the police - and there might be as many as four. Now of course everyone will blame the police officers, and not the union leaders who incited these people to violence in the first place. And that is exactly why the "line of duty" element was included in Law 30 as well. These guys are trying to do their jobs and follow orders in a chaotic riotous situation, outnumbered and fighting for their lives. They responded in kind to the use of deadly force with deadly force.
Winner then goes on to smear the indigenous people in Bocas as well as union leaders. Later, he falsely reported that two policemen who had been captured by activists had been shot - a blatant lie he only published to incite further hatred against protesters. His "analysis" also includes this gem:
Finally, there are other political elements at play with allegations that all of this is being backed, fomented, and incited by both domestic actors such as the PRD and international actors such as Hugo Chavez.
Of course, no right-wing diatribe would be complete without dragging Hugo Chavez onto the scene. The Chavez theme is also extremely popular on Sam Taliaferro's blog, which used to contain thoughtful posts about Panama but has recently deteriorated into Obama-birth-certificate craziness, racism, union bashing and other such goodies, and all the regular followers have run away as fast as they could while nutcases like one Harry Kirmon and a certain "Mike" have hijacked the comment section.
On Panama Forum, a Yahoo group for English speaking expatriates, an individual posting under the pseudonym "Greywolf" had the following to say about protesters being assassinated by the police:
And as I've said before, "A rock is a projectile that can kill or maim. You throw a rock at me and I have a gun, You Just Lost" PERIOD! It's your own damn fault!
Canadian serial fraud artist Monte Friesner - who doesn't read or speak Spanish and has trouble spelling English - joined the fray and had the following to say:
Majority of them were drunk and thought it was a party and yes they were throwing "sticks & stone" but some of the professional hecklers did have firearms loaded with bird shot.
However, all of this is having an affect on Panama business, especially tourism but we should not blame the government. The Unions want the Government to collect the union dues for them and the government should not be a "collection agency".
This is not for equality of the workers but rather for collection of money or the Unions. Read carefully on the bona fide news media.
And he added:
The striker that was killed was shot in the back with bird shot by one of the strikers themselves.
How do some of these bloggers sleep at night dreaming up all of these fabricated hog wash?
And so on.
Obviously, the demagoguery, spreading of demonstrable falsehoods and fascist propaganda doesn't go unnoticed in Panama, and those foreigners living here who do not adore the swastika become the victims of it. Susan Guberman Garcia, a retired American lawyer in Bocas, described how friends of her - foreigners - were stopped on the road by a machete waving crowd that didn't want to let them go.
Anti-foreigner violence is a logical consequence of those loud-mouthed lunatics disparaging the genuine struggles of the Panamanian people for a dignified existence, for freedom, justice and the environment. Because of the irresponsible bile these people post and publish, every foreigner runs a higher risk of becoming a victim of the hatred they spew. Just so you know who to blame, next time someone's waving a machete at you.
I mean, Sam Taliaferro? What do you expect from people like him who come here expecting to be spared from Armageddon by virtue of the dollar and their own especially trained “security team”? For them the ngöbe indians surrounding their Valle Escondido haven should shut the fuck up and learn to obey the gringo. Not surprising at all.
It is true about the Investor Blog. Mike and Harry are the only ones that write anymore. They spew hatred, racism and infantile logic.
I am not sure what they have on Sam, but he seems to support their incredibly offensive rantings.
It has to be bad for business as these writers refer to almost any minority by their most derogatory labels..ie Gooks, rag heads, fagots, etc.
These types would surely bring the wrath of the Panamanians upon Gringos. Their only saving grace is that neither of them speak a word of Spanish so their rantings reach only the English speakers.
It is a shame because most of the sane readership of the Investor Blog has probably left. Perhaps with all his units sold, Sam’s true colours are showing.
What I don’t get…. Boquete is a small town, and there have already been anti-foreigner events, proposed rules, like foreigners couldn’t own land above or below 3000 meters or something. I wouldn’t want to run the risk of further hostility against my resort if I were Sam, but then again it’s his business of course.
Frankly I never understood your gushing on about Sam. From the get go he has been an ultra right wing wacko. From the get go he has supported really bad projects like Red Frog, and that other ones where they killed two workers etc etc – He just happened to agree with you that the then Minister of tourism was a buffoon. Of course, in retrospect the guy was not too bad and he can sing!.
Sam has only one orientation and that is his business and business oriented viewpoint.
@frombocas: I haven’t been “gushing” about Sam, but I always thought he was someone you could disagree with and still have a normal debate. But when he posted a comment recently saying that he didn’t see a problem with calling black people “niggers” because in Panama they call him a “gringo”, I knew those days were over. God only knows what has gotten into him.
I hope the fascist regime doesn’t ruin Panama for the rest of us. I’m a gringo y si hablo bien el espanol. These right wing nut cases don’t make any attempt to learn the language or get to know the locals or understand their everyday struggles. Their only interest is BUSINESS. Doesn’t matter who stands in the way, a mother who can’t feed and send her kids to school, a husband who’s trying desperately to give his family a descent humble life. If it affects their “profit margin” they don’t give a shit. This is my biggest problem with free market and capitalist societies. I see the benefits if they are done responsibly, but people have irrational behavior and a healthy honest profit becomes inadequate. Their constantly feeding their ego and have to show off to their “elite” friends and one-up each other. If any of you haven’t read books by the author Naomi Klein or Raj Patel about this exact argument I suggest you do. I’m not in the slightest a left wing nut communist. I grew up in a business family, and had an easy life, but I’m now seeing that the gap between rich and poor, elite and normal class is growing out of control. And these are the best arguments these right wing racist assholes can come up with. I would like to start a blog about all this, but I don’t even know where to begin. I just know that human rights are more important than profits.