Martinelli strikes again

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As we write this, Spanish journalist and human rights activist Paco Gomez Nadal is about to be expelled from the country on the 9PM Iberia flight. There are some protesters gathered outside the Immigration offices in Avenida Cuba. Other activists, among which Claudia Figueroa, have been arrested as well and are being held at the Ancon police station, with others being detained at the el Chorillo police station. They're being held for "political reasons", one cop told journalist Guido Bilbao:

charlas informales con policías del cuartel de Chorrillo. "Los detenidos no están a disposición ni de un juez ni de un fiscal: están a disposición del director de la policía"

"No tenemos nada contra ellos, esto es una cuestión política"

(Update 20:45: We just heard that Paco Gomez and his wife will be dealt with further tomorrow. The foreign correspondents association is already mobilizing support).

An eyewitness described Gomez'z arrest as follows:

Plaza 5 de mayo, ayer a la tarde. Diferentes grupos de la ciudad habían convocado una marcha para protestar por la represión. Alba, dirigente ngobe y organizadora del inminente congreso tradicional ngobe, estaba siendo acosada por la policía. Paco trató de interceder, estaba con una abogada. Les dijo que no Alba no cometía ningún delito, que era una dirigente del pueblo Ngobe. Mientras, grababa todo con su cámara. Las cosas subieron de tono y la policía quiso manotearle la filmadora. Forcejearon y Paco la tiró a hacia dentro del auto de la abogada. Los policías no toleraron esa actitud y entre varios comenzaron a arrastrarlo entre golpes hasta esposarlo. Alba mientras tanto logró meterse en el auto de la abogada que trabó los pestillos. Los policías las rodearon hasta que se hicieron con la cámara de Paco. Las pocas personas que los acompañaban también fueron detenidas. ¿Puede la policía en Panamá detener a un periodista porque se niega a entregar su material? Parece que sí.

Against that backdrop, the Ngöbe people are increasing protests and pressure against the government's mining deals. The Panamerican highway is closed most of the time. Two government officials have been taken into custody by the Ngöbes and five policemen have been hurt as well as countless protesters. There are unconfirmed reports about policemen taken hostage by the indigenous protesters.

La Prensa today described San Felíx, the center of the protests, as a no-man's land. The police station and fire station have been evacuated.

Minister of the presidency Papadimitriu, while continuing to blame the protests on "outside agitators", has traveled to the area. VP Varela will follow, and so will some other members of the government and the church in a bid to "mediate". Papadimitriu said the mining law won't be repealed and refused to go to San Felíx and wants to hold talks at the Nacional Hotel in David. The protesters said they wouldn't go there. (Update 20:45: Apparently a meeting is taking place in San Felíx)

Protests are being held in the capital as well, but the point of gravity is definitely in and near the Ngöbe comarca and what we're seeing is an indigenous uprising taking shape with the government violently repressing it. Other tribes, like the Naso, have already been marching as well against constant abuses.

8 thoughts on “Martinelli strikes again

  1. What is this top picture actually showing? Is this Indian woman sleeping, drunk, or dead? Is this picture in any way related to the recent Paco Gomez Nadal incident, or did you dig it out of your archives? If the latter is the case, you should be blamed for misleading your readers (!) On the other hand, if this Indian woman has been killed by the police yesterday, on order from Gestapo Perez, you should cleary say so. I think You owe your readers the true facts (not insinuations).

  2. Unless action is taken, that article about expelling Paco Gomez Nadal spells more trouble: the reasons to expel him aren’t about witnessed events, objective as in a state ruled by law, but instead, about interpretation, so subjective, as in a police state.

    I asked the gardener if he (or members of the community) knew any political party, opposed to open mining. His cautious answer, every Panamanian president now is worse than his predecessor (who didn’t improve well-being and /or standard of living of the community in any way) and didn’t see a reason for that to change any time soon IOW wouldn’t join any action. There’s a long
    list of forbidden agrochemicals:

    http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/Belly-21401-Resumen-del-de-Plaguicidas-prohibidos-Cerro-Punta-REP-BLICA-PANAM-Ministerio-SaludDirecci-n-Nacional-Farmacia-Drogas-Antecedentes-Justificaci-31122004-as-ppt-powerpoint/

    and he knows that all of them are for sale at any shop in agrochemicals, visible on the shelves for every visitor (your tax dollars for public health at work).

    So the brave Ngöbe Buglé is the core of the action. Does anyone know long Panama City could be run in “business as usual” fashion without air conditioning?

    But even when the open mining issue is solved, predictably, similar issues are to arise, probably rather soon, and the only democratic structure to deal with them is via public info, Q&A by specialists, and forums with serious discussions and public input. The next step is to hold a referendum, not just on “yes” or “no” but including possibilities like “yes, if …” aka “no, unless…” and appointing enough international observers to prevent fraud.

    That no party even mentions the issues and subsequently proposes how to deal with them as to prevent mayhem, could be seen as a sign on the wall that politicians (not just in Panama) nowadays only want to loot the treasury.

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