IT is generally understood that in exchanges between nations or peoples, whenever you try to take possession of someone else's lands by use of force, you may expect force to be used against you as well. That is why invasions usually evolve into wars.
Now it's not that we want to state the obvious here, but the thing is that this simple knowledge, passed from generation to generation over many millenniums all over the globe, has somehow not reached the failed abortion that currently serves as our president and his band of thugs.
Martinelli, probably the greediest goon to have ever run this country, has pushed from the beginning of his mafia rule for a mining law that would basically allow him to sell large parts of the country to foreign gold diggers and copper explorers, without any oversight or environmental supervision. Last year, he struck a deal with South Korea - the details of which are yet to be revealed but certainly involve numbered bank accounts - to allow that country to take over parts of Panama, destroy those parts, pollute the rivers and leave with the precious metals thus found. A small detail is that these mining concessions are purportedly located inside indigenous reservations, notably that of the Ngöbe-Buglé tribe.
So, for about a year know we've seen Martinelli and his 'Ndrangheta maneuver to get this thing done. Martin Torrijos was all about construction (CEMIS, Cinta Coimera, Canal expansion, Colón highway, construction boom); with Martinelli it's mining where the loot is to be had.
First it was the Ley Carcelazo, the law that prohibits blocking streets during protests. Nobody but SUNTRACS really cared about that - a tactical mistake that is now costing other groups dearly. It's a deeply ingrained sentiment in Panama that protest is something like politely stating your disagreement from the sidewalks without causing any sort of discomfort, and that's why protests generally don't accomplish much here.
Then we got the Sausage Law, which gave impunity to the police for crimes committed on the job, abolished the requirement for environmental impact studies (for mining projects) and hit the labor unions financially. The Battle of Bocas ensued, leaving many dead, including at least one baby, and even more wounded and blinded as Martinelli's chief pitbull, Gustavo Perez, thought it a good idea to shoot protesters in the face.
And now they passed the new mining law - no nickname for that one yet - and, since the Ngöbe-Buglé don't really fancy to see their lands destroyed by South Korean bulldozers and cyanide, there are again protests everywhere and again violent repression by the police thugs. Martinelli tries to invade their land by shooting them. So they shoot back. If our mobster-in-chief persists, it's only a matter of time before other tribes - paging the Kunas - join the fray.
As usual, it's mostly the indigenous people who are doing the heavy lifting. Others - the environmentalists, "civil society" - mostly stand by idly. The media are often racist in their reporting (there was a bit of a brawl about that when El Siglo ran a cartoon suggesting the "indians" could be bribed with cantinas and prostitutes) and our expat scam pimp and fascist Don Winner called those indians "ignorant". All of them.
And Martinelli? He was on TV telling lies, as usual. His statement that the "indians" could stop protesting because he didn't plan to give out concessions in their reservations was patently false and immediately debunked when El Panama America proved that he was indeed planning to do so. Earlier he was criticized for immediately calling the South Korean president after the mining law was passed (we think to give instructions as to where to wire the first installment) and then blamed his vice-president, booze-king Varela, for making him do that - more evidence that with Martinelli we're witnessing the advanced stages of Korsakoff's Syndrome.
We've also read reports that teachers in the interior who openly opposed the mining law have been fired by Opus Dei minister of education Lucy Molinar. That other drunkard, minister of presidency Jimmy Papademente, came out today saying that all he wants is to attract foreign investors for Panama - forgetting that serious business wants rule of law and not a bunch of alcoholic mobsters running the show as they see fit while collecting millions in bribes left and right (we just learned that same Papadimitriu controls a sand mining concession in Vacamonte but never disclosed that, so there you go). Why Panamanians continue to tolerate these maleantes to govern them and bankrupt the country - please don't ask us.
Alas, Sunday there will be another protest march, this time on the Cinta Coimera.