CHAOS: Does Panama still have one government?

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Lucy Molinar

The number of contradictions, bizarre statements, frantic denials and then confirmations is growing at a speed that makes us wonder, here in the Bananama Republic newsroom, if Panama still has one functioning government.

First we had minister of education, Opus Dei member Lucy Molinar, who declared on television that Martinelli had asked her to go to the Soloy Hotel and the police headquarters in Ancon to make sure that those activist leaders who had been detained were released. The siege on the Soloy hotel, where these leaders were having a meeting, was a mistake, in this version of events as given by the minister. And then nothing about people being dragged out of their hospital beds, brought to the police station, harassed, then they discover they weren't wanted so they return them to the hospital.

Which raises the question: Who ordered it? And did those who ordered it feel comfortable doing so, such a high-profile siege and mass arrests, without consulting first with the highest authorities? Apparently, they felt comfortable enough to ignore these authorities?

Then, nobody seems to be able to provide any clarity about how many arrest warrants are out there, for whom and why.

Juan Jované for example, a political figure who heads a small left-wing party, saw his house raided by police to capture him, but they were unable to produce a warrant. He says he doesn't believe there is one. The public ministry said on the radio there is an order, reports Telemetro. But they can't produce it. Martinelli said yesterday that there wasn't any warrant and that it was all rumors. And then that other incompetent yes-man, our pseudo-procurador Guiseppe Bonissi, said on TV that, well, he didn't really know, to be honest.

Is anyone still in control in this country?

Papadimitriu told viewers on TV that the government had learned its lesson from events in Bocas, that they should have consulted with unions and other groups before passing the sausage law - basically he repeated what anyone with half a brain has been saying for months now. So who ordered to fire more than 50,000 rounds of ammo in Bocas del Toro? Why have 40 people been shot in the face, and 10 from a distance of less than 5 feet? And why is Martinelli at the same time undercutting Papadimitriu's statements with wild accusations of poor people being used as shock troops and releasing partial and edited phone conversations on the web in a lame attempt to make the PRD responsible for everything?

While Papadimitriu was explaining how the government had learned its lesson, basically admitting that they'd done everything wrong, minister of security Mulino came out and said they did NOTHING wrong and that the repression was no repression at all and could have been much worse, with hundreds dead, if Martinelli had just given the order. So, which one is it?

Then, Martinelli said this afternoon that "the door is open for negotiations" under the agreement that was reached in Bocas. So, whom is he going to negotiate with if at the same time there are all these arrest warrants for the leaders of the various groups? How does this make any sense, also with Martinelli, as mentioned, stating that news about these warrants is just "rumors"?

It appears to us, dear readers, that we see confirmed today what we wrote about yesterday: There are now in fact competing factions within the government and they are working uncoordinated and often against each other.

17 thoughts on “CHAOS: Does Panama still have one government?

  1. Christ, I leave for two weeks and all hell breaks loose. Sounds like a fascist state in the making. Not much different from what’s going on in the states these days.

  2. The government is exhibiting multiple personality disorder. It appears to be a good cop bad cop comedy where Martinelli enthusiastically plays the role of a mad dog. He has an uncertain political future so Varela, Molinar and Papadimitriu are positioning themselves as if showing daylight between them and their leader, would exonerate them of criminal behaviour….fat chance!

  3. Not to disagree with a fellow poster who dislikes (perhaps that’s a bit too mild) Martinelli, but I believe that his acknowledged mental issues have exacerbated to the point that I don’t think that he could even run the grocery store chain. Which may be a good thing, who knows?
    The most amusing part of all is that the all-critical “negotiations” in Bocas is that no one besides the Martinelli government wanted the “people” negotiator representing them. Martinelli selected the negotiator. Now is that not smart grocery business or what? You pick your own guy to negotiate quantity, price, quality, shipping terms and he agrees to everything you want, and then you are shocked, SHOCKED! I tell you when the distributor rejects the terms. That’s a Hell of a way to run a railroad. And a country too, by the way.

  4. His saving grace will be that most people dont have the staying power to go the course and keep plowing until the issues are resolved. It will be interesting to see if the “people’ stay on top of things during the next 90 days.
    If they remove the offensive articles from Law 30 it will indeed have been a good lesson from them. But it appears the writing is on the wall and Varela has begun distancing himself from the CD crowd. If the PRD had ONE charismatic leader they sure could milk this thing, but they dont and they wont, on the contrary they fall into traps and make themselves look like idiots. Too bad Endara did not have a political heir – they would be well positioned right now (sorry i dont count Ana Mae)

    • This is the biggest issue in my mind right now. Even if they’d succeed in kicking Mentirelli out, then what? The Panameñistas don’t have a great track record of responsible governance, to put it mildly, nor has the PRD, there are no new faces and even less so if you look at the left side. I just don’t see anyone coming up. Ana Matilde Gomez would be in a good position to ascend, but with whom?

  5. really right now, the only one who has come out smelling like a rose out of all this crap has been Varela – he has been promised the next presidency on a platter and i dont think he will let RM screw it up for him. I dont think they will (or can) kick RM out. But they will probably put him on a tighter leash. There is still 4 years, you know how things can swing either way during that amount of time. Whoever brokers a deal on ley 30 is assured some notoriety – i hope they dont waste that capital. Even though he screwed up at Bluff beach and the turtles and that stupid TV show from Colombia, I still Like the Bocas mayor Dr Anderson. He is the only bright light in that bunch. If he had money he could be one of our next diputado.

  6. They have a “good cop, bad cop” speech, PapaJimmy being the bad cop and Johnny Dry being the good cop…
    What worries me is that they are sowing fear and strengthening the Armed Forces, just like it happened back in the 50’s and everybody knows it ended in a Gorilla`s Coup d`Etat in 1968—-

  7. @Santiago, it was one of my first worry about cop immunity of ley 30 – and first the increase of salary (proportionally higher than anyone else – although i dont begrudge them the raise as I think they are underpaid – all workers and cops alike) it just felt like he was trying to get extra chummy with the armed force, I mean the peace keepers….since they are not technically an army….
    The beauty of being in a third world country, you never know what to expect next – the fun never ends.
    Papadimwit’s video from Bocas should be more widely distributed – what a show of incompetence. Really it could not possibly take much for anyone to shine and prop themselves up after the disastrous displays put on by these people. Viva Youtube.

    • Maybe Papademente thought he would look like Boris Yeltsin climbing on that tank way back when. But in reality it’s as if they’re all escapees from the Muppet Show. With Alma Cortés as Miss Piggy.

  8. @FROMBOCAS, Ana Mae? Ana Mae? Ana Mae!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    you are brilliant, only la Chi Cho Chu can lead us out of this mess.

  9. Actually it is a shame that Ana Mae is such a loose cannon – she could have had potential. She is young (as in she is not likely to die during the presidential campaigns any time soon), she is attractive (it never hurts), she is smart (until she loses control and alienated EVERYONE that was any good in that party), she seems to have her heart in the right place (gotta love a first lady who goes down and protest with the people in the street) and she is linked to one of the very very few politicians against which not much bad can be said. As far as widows go, she would/could have been a vast improvement over Mireya.

  10. wtf! the fix is that in Panama u have to root for someone’s runt (i.e. Martin) or bitch (i.e. Moscoso or Ana Mae) for president ……yawn…….why can’t u root for someone that just makes sense and has integrity?

  11. although she has great credentials of all sort (she is NOTHING like Mireya) , the woman is apparently beyond redemption – so we will need to look elsewhere – but it sure is slim picking!

  12. Not only here in Panama, but in many places in Latin America, f.i. Argentina.

    Many Latinos love “caudillos”, like Peron, Arnulfo, or “strongmen” even though they are dictators… See Torrijos example…

    This can only be reversed with a long term civic work which is quite difficult.

  13. The problem we are facing is the because of our constitution and the way the president is elected. I know last time there was not much of a choice (either la chola o el loco) and that´s to blame on the PRD where candidates like Cortizo could´ve done lot better.
    They need to amend the constitution in order to have a minimum percentage of votes in order to be elected, that way when we are in a situation like last time we dont vote for the less worst. So we can acctually express the fact that neither candidate fill our expectatives and then vote blank

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