It is already over a month ago that banana plantation worker Valentín Palacios was taken away by the police and never heard of again. In more than a month, all the police has come up with is the statement that "he doesn't appear on our list of persons detained". The public ministry says the case is being handled by the personeria in Changuinola. In Changuinola, inquiries are met with a deafening silence.
Palacios was last seen on July 8, when he was arrested by the police on Finca 66. There is a rumor that he was transferred to the prison in Davíd.
Yesterday, thirty civic organizations filed a habeas corpus with the Supreme Court, demanding that they investigate where Palacios is, or what happened to him.
A large part of the opposition has been quiet about the case, because they belong to or are affiliated with the PRD, which still hasn't answered many questions into its own past of killings and disappearances during the military dictatorship of Omar Torrijos and Manuel Noriega.
Similarly, the media are only paying minor attention to the case.
So, all Palacio's wife and two children have to hope for is that the Supreme Court will do something. That'll be a long wait, because one half of the court are Martinelli yes-men and the other half is PRD. Nothing is to be expected from Winston Spadafora either - whose own brother was beheaded by Noriega's goons - as he has been silent about the case and is mired in an endless series of corruption scandals.
Yes, dear reader, 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.
So, what will happen? Eventually some sort of cover-up will come out of the criminal police force with the support of the Martinelli narco-mafia. And then we wouldn't be surprised if policemen start disappearing too, one by one, until Valentín Palacios is brought back, dead or alive. With a fascist government and a civil society that knows of nothing better than to go to a totally corrupt Supreme Court, violence is what one may expect.