Casco Viejo Taliban kidnap Mir Rodriguez at zombie walk

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Jairo Morán (right) announces that the permit for the Zombie Walk has been revoked (Eric Jackson)

So the Zombie Walk got permission. And at about 7 PM people gathered at the Plaza Herrera for the annual event. But of course the third world pompous pricks that pass for "authorities" in our country had to cause trouble.

That is, notably the corregidor, one Jairo Morán, couldn't accept his defeat in trying to outlaw the zombie walk.

First, we understood through Twitter that on the streets leading to Plaza Herrera, the police was stopping people who were dressed up as zombies and wouldn't let them into Casco Viejo.

At about 20:00, it was announced by Jairo Moron that the permit was canceled on orders of Bosco the Clown, our corrupt and empty-headed mayor. It remains to be seen if this statement was actually true.

Then, this piece of shit corregidor - according to an eyewitness - summoned everybody to walk on the sidewalks and not on the street - mind you, we're talking here about a simple event, not even a protest, and during the afternoon the SPI was blocking the streets around Plaza Bolivar with its music band - and Mir Rodriguez, who is an environmental activist, works for Greenpeace and runs a very nice website called Almanaque Azul, about Panama's beaches and coast, tried to argue with that idiot Morán that there was no law whatsoever that forbids him to stand on the street.

After all, they are our streets.

Mir Rodriguez was then arrested and taken away. He is at the time of writing being held in the Juzgado Nocturno of San Felipe, on charges of "disrespect" for authority or something along those lines.

For some unfathomable reason, with the exception of some of Rodriguez's friends, the rest of the zombies did nothing, they continued their walk, now carefully staying on the sidewalks and under constant surveillance of a group of gorillas policemen as if this was really some group of dangerous terrorists trying to blow up the Canal. The corregidor, said our eyewitness, then waved some law book claiming that waring theater make-up is also illegal and could and should result in arrest.

So, end result, more damage done. Abusive authorities, and citizens who, with very few exceptions, let themselves be bullied around or look the other way. After all, they could all have stepped on the street - No Zombie Left Behind - and then what would Morán have done, arrest a legion of zombies?

Ironically, Mir Rodriguez went to the event to support the right of anyone to organize these type of things. We are told that he was worried about organizer Rob Rivera, and called on others to stay close to him because an arrest warrant had already be issued against Rivera. When then not Rob Rivera but Mir Rodriguez was arrested, the walk continued as if nothing had happened and Rivera, on Twitter, called it a "success".

Are activists and organizers never going to learn in this country?

Your reporter was in Casco Viejo in the afternoon. A 14 year old boy had been shot, dead, supposedly by someone from a rivaling street gang. The body was on a sidewalk for hours. Don't these corregidores, police chiefs and all the other members of the circus have REAL work to do, one wonders, instead of harassing people dressing up as zombies on Halloween?

INSTANT UPDATE: This comment just came to our attention: "Mir is ok. a group went down to pn [policia nacional] to see if he needed help. at that point he was free to go but wanted to stay and speak to the corrigedor."

However, we understand that they fined him with $360 and he has until 6AM to pay, or will be taken prisoner again. This is nothing but vulgar shakedown by no less vulgar authorities. Also, nobody from Portodiao showed up in his support.

UPDATE 2: We just (1:30 AM) talked to Mir Rodriguez. He's out after a friend paid the $368 fine. Now all we need to do is find a way to make these idiots pay the price....

--- Developing story ---

18 thoughts on “Casco Viejo Taliban kidnap Mir Rodriguez at zombie walk

  1. 1. This is an activity of cultural-turistic interest
    2. In a Quarter of cultural-turistic interest

    Yet they are so afraid of an organized citizenship that they bully with fear, they do not want “respect” from us, they want fear… What bothered them about MIR was not the “disrespect” but the “fearlessness”…

    VAMOS BIEN

    AH! And sad for the kids who left MIR to his own devices…

  2. @Okke,

    Real policework is tough. Dealing with street gangs is dangerous and the gangs fight back. Acting tough and busting law abiding middle class folks is without risk. Classic bully syndrome, pick on someone who won’t fight back.

    It is sad that the Zombies sacrificed Mir. A microcosm of the white wearing civilistas, that despite huge numbers baked down to a few Dobermans at the height of the Noriegato. When the Doberman’s sadly outnumbered bashed in a few heads of white wearing grandmothers the whole crown ran off and let them get badly beaten. All show and no go.

  3. @Okke,

    Real policework is tough. Dealing with street gangs is dangerous and the gangs fight back. Acting tough and busting law abiding middle class folks is without risk. Classic bully syndrome, pick on someone who won’t fight back.

    It is sad that the Zombies sacrificed Mir. A microcosm of the white wearing civilistas, that despite huge numbers baked down to a few Dobermans at the height of the Noriegato. When the Dobermans, sadly outnumbered, bashed in a few heads of white wearing grandmothers the whole crown ran off and let them get badly beaten. All show and no go.

  4. Well, we stayed and rushed to make sure not just Mir, but the other three people who were detained, were ok and taken care of. We have been monitoring everything, and I wouldn’t call it a success. It’s bittersweet, really; still sinking it in. I am very glad no one got hurt and no great casualties happened… no one got hit, shot, or killed by these authorities.

    I agree that now, with all the video footage and pictures everyone took at, seemingly, every second of the event, we have enough evidence to show up these people as the ass clowns they really are.

  5. As far as I know from what Mir told me, no group of friends went over there to see if he was ok. ONE friend of his went there and she paid the fine.

  6. Unfortunately there ARE laws about walking on the sidewalks and not wearing enough makeup to cover your identity – The organizers were very aware of these laws. PortoDiao and Rob Rivera also had a much bigger team that is appeared with property owners of Casco and attorneys working behind the scenes. One of Porto’s top supporters was the one who coordinated with Rivera to drive the friends of the others who were arrested to see them and make sure they were OK. This same supporter also knows Mir very well and was coordinating to make sure his fine was paid quickly.

    Sometimes there is more at work than meets the eye – but I do realize the reporter of this post needed to get this story up quickly and I agree with the decisions to get the word out as soon as possible. However, with speed you loose the time for fact-checking and it is a reporter’s duty to bear the responsibility for making sure what he is informing the public is correct.

    All of that aside, an important statement was made tonight – and the public that attended, that walked, that read about it, and that heard about it from a friend – are, because of this experience, all the more prepared to stand up next time something of more serious importance comes up to fight for.

  7. FYI it wasn’t Rob who tweeted success, it was me. I posted it when we got back to the park… as in… “it’s over!” not like “oh greatest event ever”, but whatever…

  8. Well, I think everybody who was there was very courageous, because they did go on with their silly walk even knowing perfectly well they were facing arrest. I don’t blame Rob or the others because for them this was probably the first time openly defying the gorillas, and didn’t know too well how to act. In itself having so many people making a stand is a success and should be seen in a positive light.

    Of course, the whole issue is that the zombie walk was an easy target. The culture of zero respect for human rights trickles down the system and they pick on easy victims: indigenous people in the remote west, as well as most poor and black people in Panamá and Colón know this very well. Who was going to come out and defend a bunch of satanic yeyesitos? This was about not letting it go unnoticed and unchallenged and I believe we have succeeded

  9. Sorry I spoke too soon regarding the comparison with the civilistas…these protesters are new to the game and it is a difficult thing for a person who is law abiding to initially face down abusive authoritarian thugs. That’s why they pick on normal citizens…

  10. @Okke: Why adding insult to injury by calling Jairo Moron a “pompous prick” when all he did was living up to his name? LOL

    @Faustino: Comparing yesterday’s zombie walk to the civilista protests of the late eighties was indeed way over the top. I was there when Noriega’s dobermen beat the hell out of us protesters-in-white and I was there yesterday when a handfull of loud mouth racatacas walked the streets just to have some fun and I can assure you that there is no comparison between both events.

  11. … no one does anything, because no one wants to be arrested and forgotten in some dungeon. Happens AAAAAAAAAll the time in this country over the stupidest shit. 2 types of people seem show no fear engaging the police. Pseudo celebrities and well-off family kids. In other words people who will be missed and financially rescued. To be honest i think if the walk was not allowed to take place where the permit originally stated it would, it should have been CALLED OFF and pursued leagly by the organizers on monday. No confrontation, no settling for less. Ofcourse the only thing more LABYRINTHINE and bureaucratic then the penitentiary system are the USELESS courts, so that would have been a total waste of time also, specially when the fight is over dressing up and walking on a public street. Solution; Deal with the source, elect better representatives, create awareness campaigns about freedom of RELIGION or something. Its because of these elected officials and misplaced hypocritical orthodox Christian beliefs that all this shit happens, the cops are simply low wage order-following pawns. They are under-payed, overworked and pretty much at the bottom of the social food-chain so i dont blame them. If anything i pitty them. If they had been ordered to protect the zombies they would have had to.

  12. The point was the event had its permits in order. The Alcaldia knew about the nature of the event and allowed it, because in principile this is (or should be) a democratic country with freedom of expression, religion, thought and gathering rights among others. This counterorder came from someone specific. This needs to be investigated. Even the police was angry that they were kept there babysitting a Halloween party when they had important criminals to look for. This was the doing of ONE man. And, by the way, those regulations about mask or no mask should be sued by the civil society on being against our Constitutional Rights. The Corregidor tried to say that being in a plaza as a group needed a permit. I answered: so every school that takes a group of kids to the plaza asks you for one? every tourist group that visits Casco asks you for one? every group of friends that decide to meet at a Plaza asks you for a permit? He could not answer this, so he kept repeating that the permit Robbie had had been revoked. On no grounds.

  13. @Kimberly: Indeed there was a need for speed with this story, I think for obvious reasons. I do not think I missed anything.

    I’ll gladly take your word for it that Mir’s friend was part of the back-end of the organization, so to speak, but that doesn’t really change the equation much.

    From the moment this whole affair went viral over Viek-man and the permit circus, it was abundantly clear that, contrary to other years, this would have the added component of “protest”. What Mir urged for – stay close to Rob, prepare on making noise and protecting him if attempts to arrest him are made – is the way to prepare for that. There are similar recent examples when some government goons tried to work a union leader in a car and take him away just months ago, and the people around him made sure the attempt failed and the guy could make a quick exit.

    To do nothing and continue with the walk and let someone just be taken away, without people knowing that there is a system in place that will deal with the situation at the very least sends the wrong message, namely that there is no solidarity with people who take risks for people’s freedom to express themselves in whatever way they want. What should have happened is that the arrests should not have been allowed to be made. You guys should have created a stink right there and then. If that still doesn’t work, people who have to spend the night in one of Panama’s fine police cells (and the media present) at least feel that they were supported, that at least the protests were noted, that they’re not just forgotten.

    But again, I think it’s great that there was something in place, which obviously I didn’t know when I hit “publish” in the early morning. Maybe that’s where twitter would have been a good tool to use.

  14. Editor – I agree with some of the points you have made and as a few other commentors here have pointed out the organizing group is new to this type of conflict – usually just creating cultural and arts events that have been nothing but supported by anyone those you attended them. I can say for sure that the walk turning into something of a protest was not something the organizers expected and they did their best to manage it each step of the way – a pretty good first attempt.
    I think that everyone involved is better prepared to handle a similar situation in the future and I am very glad we have this public forum to discuss this. Having what happened be talked about and investigated from all angles is key to it actually making a difference – so thank you for getting this conversation going.

  15. Well, I will give you guys a point of view from the participants, since you all seem to be in on what was going on behind the scenes , who was who and all your internal communications.

    This point of view is from someone that knows Rob and Butter, knows about Porto Diao, and had read all about the banning of the zombie walk. I had over the years heard about the zombie walk portodiao has been organizing and also have seen videos and seen blogs about zombiewalks all over the world and have always found them fun, but hadn’t felt the urge to participate in one until I read the news on portodiao about the close minded superstitions authorities we had. I too felt it was an attack on our freedom of expression and decided to go simply because today they ban halloween, tomorrow it could be a private party in your house.

    I went with a group of friends that also know Rob, but, we were not involved and had no means of participating in the “gearwork” of the protest. We were there supporting Rob, supporting our right to do whatever we want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, and finally of course, being a zombie is fun.

    To get to my point, I want to address the issue of “The zombies did nothing and just stood there”.

    Guy, I don’t know where the hell were you. But we were being pushed by at least 5 red berrett SPI officers WITH BATTONS against the sidewalk, harassed by 3 or 4 more green National Cops who were literary in our faces telling us to wipe our makeup off, we were saying we couldn’t we would need water, since our makeups had latex and everything it was impossible to take them off without a gratuitous amount of H2O. You are here writing up a post and bitching about how ‘we white collar folk’ didn’t do anything.

    You know what? WE COULD NOT. The ass kicking we would have received would have been on epic levels. Yes we were herded… so what? If you were there then that just means you were not brave enough yourself to start it up against the not only the usual police but Presidential Guard as well? You do know the SPI has special powers that entitle them to do whatever they believe necessary if they feel the palace is threatened… Maybe you or a family member of yours is in the SUNTRACS and you think its better off to pick up sticks and stones against trained agents with weapons.

    We did what we could, we could have just gone home after the first, second, third and so on arrests, but we didn’t we said FUCK YOU we are doing this. I do stress my point that we “normal” citizens were not gonna go gorilla and fight them back, but we didn’t back down and go home either. You sound so adamant in your position that nobody did anything. Yet it surprises me that you weren’t texting this blog on your PDA from the cell next to MIR.

    So in conclusion, moderate your words and harsh comments on the participants. THIS WAS NOT A PROTEST, it was a party gone wrong. A party composed of normal non-activist people. We are not accustomed to rioting it up with the police, nor were we planning on it, we wanted a halloween zombe walk, some were there because they had done it before, others like myself were against the banning and were showing support and yet others were there to fire it up into something else.

    Peace.

  16. There’s a lengthy and comprehensive write-up of events out on the Porto Diao website, titled “La Gran Caminata Zombie 2010: Las Autoridades vs. La Libertad de Expresión”.

    http://portodiao.com/2010/zombie-walk/la-gran-caminata-zombie-2010-las-autoridades-vs-la-libertad-de-expresion/

    Most media did a mediocre job of reporting on the event, with the exception of La Prensa and TVN, the latter showing footage of Mir Rodriguez being hauled away so you can decide for yourself who did what and if it was enough.

    One thing the zombies imo can be proud of is that the freedom of expression debate is no longer the exclusive terrain of journalists and media owners in Panama, thanks to them. This whole affair has received far more attention than the lame protests by journalists in front of Eisenman’s Jaguar dealership on Calle 50. It’s a problem throughout “civil society” in Panama; groups claiming exclusive ownership of issues, and especially where it comes to the freedom to express opinions and ideas I’ve always found it very annoying that media owners act as if they hold the patent on it. The reality is that they’re more often than not a threat to our basic freedoms instead of defending them. Porto Diao has broken through that mold, maybe unintentionally so but it happened nevertheless. Freedom of expression is not just the freedom of the Waked family to run their economic and media fiefdoms as they see fit. It’s also the right to walk in the street wearing white make-up and a wig if you feel so inclined.

  17. You know that someting is wrong when the infamous Don Winner agrees with you in his blog, as follows: Editor’s Comment: Ridiculous. On many issues I tend to disagree with Rob Rivera – mostly for political reasons – but on this one he’s right. These people were doing absolutely nothing wrong and the Panamanian authorities come off as idiots for trying to crack down on something as harmless as grown adults playing dress-up on Halloween, prior to getting hammered on a Saturday night. Panama is a culture still dominated by the Roman Catholic Church and relatively conservative values. However, many of these same people are hypocrites. They thump the bible in church on Sunday, and then spend the rest of the week screwing someone other than their spouses (and then they ask for forgiveness next weekend. Oh, the guilt…) Once done screwing the hottie from the 17th floor, they then go about screwing someone out of money in a business deal. They go to church one day and then go back to trafficking drugs or laundering money the next, etc. And, let’s compare the playtime horrors of the “Zombie Walk” to the real world horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. Anyway, this is what happens when adults let themselves be governed by the irrational fear of something they don’t understand. Dumb. Whatever happened to tolerance?

  18. The gorillas will never go, whether they work for millonarios or militares. These gorillas, whether army personnel or police, exist as the sole preserve of those in power to protect their interests, not the people of Panama. Bully tactics are all they know. Imagine being one of these gorillas: almost no education, badly paid, negativity is their currency; how do you think they’ll behave: they love to take it out on you. They had such a great opportunity with the Zombie Walk they couldn’t leave it alone, so instead of trying to behave with some dignity and respect, they do what they have been trained to do, that is, behave like the criminals they are supposedly defending us from. Except that as Faustino said, soft-assed civilians are easier to kick around.
    This government and this country are both fucked.

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