Martinelli: Foreigners, shut up!

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Paco Gomez being taken away by Martinelli's thugs

PANAMA'S proverbial xenophobia has reached a new low with the expulsion from the country of journalists and human rights activists Paco Gomez Nadal and Pilar Chato, both from Spain. They were arrested this weekend for "inciting violence" during a protest against Martinelli's mining law on the Plaza 5 de Mayo.

As "evidence", the government uploaded a surveillance video on YouTube. That video shows absolutely nothing in terms of "inciting violence" or even participation in the protest by Gomez and Chato.

But Martinelli has had his eyes on Gomez - a fierce critic of Martinelli's rule - for quite some time already. Last year, he was stopped at the airport when returning to Panama, under the pretext of some unspecified tax violation. Eventually they let him enter the country, and neither the government nor the immigration department ever explained why Gomez was detained.

Paco Gomez signed off on his expulsion today under pressure of threats of a prolonged stay in jail, La Estrella reported. Such a civilized country we live in!

Today, Martinelli went on one of his classic rants of the type he always ventilates when he's in one of his manic episodes, filled with paranoia and xenophobia:

"There is a difference between a journalist and an agitator. A journalist is someone who reports things as they are. A person who turns into an activist, who goes out in the streets and incites violence is something else."

But even protesting without violence isn't acceptable for our mobster-in-charge:

"Foreigners can't protest in Panama. They are welcome, but they can't protest."

Well, that very much remains to be seen. Panama's constitution is quite clear in granting equal rights to nationals and foreigners where it comes to basic freedoms like that of expression and the right to gathering, and Martinelli appears to be heading towards some international trouble with his dictatorial stance. The latest immigration law (article 65 and onwards) says nothing at all about foreigners not being allowed to protest. Martinelli, true to form, is just making shit up. Also, the Ngöbes see the action against Gomez as a violation of the agreement reached yesterday, spelling yet more trouble.

Other than that, your Bananama Republic - headed by a foreign journalist as well - doesn't think Martinelli has the stature to forbid us anything. Or, it takes a lot more than some xenophobic third world drunken despot to stop us from protesting whenever the hell we want.

Martinelli has meanwhile moved on to a new target: He just complained on Twitter that people are opening accounts "abusing his name". Los bobos somos más!

UPDATE: Here's a write-up of events by Paco Gomez Nadal, put together while on his way to Spain. He announces legal action against Panama because of his illegal detention and expulsion from the country:

Desde San José de Costa Rica, camino a Madrid (España)

He sido expulsado de Panamá en el día de hoy por el Gobierno de Ricardo Martinelli. La fórmula legal se denomina retorno voluntario pero ni es voluntario ni es retorno. Explico las circunstancias:

1. El sábado 26 de febrero fui detenido ilegalmente cuando, claramente identificado como miembro de la organización de Derechos Humanos Human Rights Everywhere (HREV), documentaba el desalojo de los indigenas ngäbe que cortaban la Plaza 5 de mayo. La detención se produjo con violencia y sin ningún tipo de contemplación. En el operativo también fue detenida de forma arbitraria e ilegal mi compañera, Pilar Chato, que estaba en el andén de la esquina entre 5 de mayo y Calle L esperando el final de los acontecimientos.

2. En las siguientes 20 horas fuimos recluidos en tres instituciones diferentes y en ningún momento se nos indicó de qué se nos acusaba, no se nos permitió comunicación con nuestros abogados ni recibir asistencia consular de la EMbajada de España, país del que somos ciudadanos. Los propios funcionarios de la DIJ de Ancón nos manifestaron que no había expediente ni documentación que justificara nuestra detención en esas instalaciones (donde tuvimos que dormir en el suelo sobre periódicos)

3. Que en la tarde del día 27 de febrero, 23 horas de spués de la detención, fuimos víctimas de un juicio express en la corregiduría de Balboa con acusaciones falsas de la Policia Nacional (como que no estaba identificado al momento de la detendicón o que se nos leyeron nuestros derechos o que fuimos informados de las razones del acto) y en base a un video sin audio que, a todas luces, no es probatorio de ningún acto delictivo o contrario a las leyes panameñas.

4. Que Aproximadamente a las 4:30 p.m. fuimos trasladados a las oficinas del Servicio Nacional de Migración donde ni siquiera sabían por qué recibirnos hasta, tal y como nos indicaron, "recibir una llamada de Presidencia". Una vez que nos recibieron en calidad de "retenidos", los funcionarios del SNM aseguraron al consul de España, a nuestra abogada y a representantes de la Defensoría dl Pueblo que ningún trámite sería realizado hasta la mañana del día 28 de febrero y que por esa razón debiamos permanecer en las celdas de Migración, a pesar del compromiso de los funcionarios nacionales e internacionales de servir como garantes de nuestra comparecencia al día siguiente.

5. Que después de irse el equipo de acompañamiento, la directora del SNM junto a sus abogados dictaron un decreto ilegal y arbitrario en que sin pruebas nos condenan a detención por haber alterado el orden público e "instigar" protestas". Fuimos despertados pasada la media noche, intimidados e irrespetados y obligados a firmar un documento en que se afirmaba que el SNM había escuchado nuestra defensa y respetado nuestros Derechos Humanos, cuando esto no se había producido.

6. Que ante las arbitrariedades cometidas, la agresividad de los comunicados públicos del Gobierno desde el mismo sábado 27 y los antecedentes del intento de expulsión del 4 de julio de 2010 y ante la TOTAL FALTA DE GARANTÍAS jurídicas para un proceso justo o para nuestra seguridad física ni jurídica, decidimos aceptar la deportación voluntaria.

7. Manfestamos la absoluta falta de garantías para el trabajo como Defensores de Derechos Humanos en Panamá y alertamos a NAciones Unidas y a la Comisión INteramerciana de DDHH sobre el grave riesgo al que están sometidos otros defensores en Panamá y cualquier líder social.

8. Agotaremos todos los recursos legales disponibles en Panamá y en el sistema Interamericano de JUsticia para revertir esta situación y exigiremos la compensación por los daños morales, económicos y personales a los que hemos sido sometidos al abandonar nuestro hogar, nuestros amigos, nuestra misión como defensores de Derechos Humanos y nuestro desarrollo profesional.

9. HREV y mi persona sólo hemos tratado de promocionar y defender los derechos humanos de los colectivos más desfavorecidos de Panamá, tal y como es nuestro mandato. Nuestros informes sobre violación de derechos humanos en Changuinola o en el Centro de Cumplimiento de Tocumen o nuestro seguimiento a todo el proceso de defensa territorial de los pueblos Naso, Ngäbe y Buglé han molestado a las autoridades que han desconodio las recomendaciones de las organizaciones internacionales respecto a los Derechos HUmanos de estas poblaciones. A esta situacion se suma mi labor como periodista y columnista en el diario La Prensa con trabajos críticos que incomodan al Gobierno tal y como lo han manifestado en diversas ocasiones.

10. El trato de los funcionarios de rango bajo de la DIJ y de Migración fue en todo momento correcto y ellos mismos nos mostraron su perplejidad ante este proceso.

11. Los pueblos originarios de Panamá no necesitan de instigadores. Son autónomos y dignos y cuando protestan suelen ser provocados por medidas del Gobierno que, además del abandono secular, aprueba medidas que afectan contra la autonomía territorial, cultural y política de los pueblos originarios.

12. Reconocemos y agradecemos profundamente la valentía, el ánimo y la solidaridad que numerosas organizaciones, ciudadanos y, en especial, los representantes de los pueblos originarios de Panamá nos han mostrado en las últimas horas.

No nos echa Panamá. Nos echa su gobierno.

La lucha por los Derechos Humanos es irrenunciable y los delitos de lesa humanidad imprescriptibles.

Paco Gómez Nadal
Pilar Chato Carral

That's legal security and the rule of law for you, Martinelli-style.

11 thoughts on “Martinelli: Foreigners, shut up!

  1. Foreigner’s can’t protest?!?!? Didn’t the “foreigners” protest in Rio Hato, Playa Blanca, and other interior area, wearing gas masks, and the like, as toxic smoke wafted over the beaches because of open garbage piles being set on fire? Please! Fartinelli had better look around him and stop smelling the foul fumes of his own delusional grandeur.

  2. There are enough precedents regarding protection of the human rights of foreigners to suggest that Martinelli eventually could face reprimand (or worse) from the UN, when injustice (jailing / abusing foreign journalists and photographers) passes a moral / ethical threshold.

    Regarding the Twitter activities, just this:

    there once were two tweeters on Twitter
    applying for leaders in litter
    but antis appeared
    who snickered and sneered
    and left the two cheaters in chitter

  3. Now every Gringo & Expat has a true reason to worry while walking or driving any where in Panama!

    You can now be taken, deported without cause, or imprisoned for an indefinite time without cause, charges, or for any reason!

    Quoted below are the facts that any one within this Panamanian Government can disregard proper credentials and disregard all proper legal processes guaranteed by and under the Constitution of Panama to any one within Panama!!

    In other words Yankee, Gringo, Expat go home!

    If you can not pay us off or Keep you mouth shut and opinions to yourself!

    Then you better get your butt out of Panama or the Panamanian Government will remove you forcibly!

    Welcome to Nazi republic of Panama!!

    “According to Roxana Méndez, the Minister of Government, the case of Paco Gómez Nadal is an immigration topic, a process that was opened for having breeched (requirements) as a foreigner in Panama, and because he was not accredited as a journalist. The minister emphasized that Gómez Nadal was not accredited as a journalist, that the evidence of what happened on February 26 do not indicate that he was working, as he himself has argued in a statement. Mendez said that foreigners can not participate in such activities, referring to the protest of the Indians.”

  4. The moment the Panamanian government denied Gomez Nadal and Chato Carral access to the Spanish embassy and consular officials it was declaring itself above international standards of law. Whether they had accreditation or not, which is clear a ruse on the part of the government to evict them from the country, does not entitle them to be kidnapped and held without rights.

    This action sets a grave precedent and only shows that the Martinelli government is only upping the ante in its right-wing actions. One would have thought that international pressure in economic and/or political form would have come to bear on this tinpot dictator by now but, sadly, it seems its either too little or not grave enough for the current rulers to back off.

    Attacking journalists, foreign or domestic, to stymie free speech and getting away with it only gives the government more confidence in what it can get away with it. Soon they’ll be paying visits in the dead of night to people’s homes in their search for enemies of the State. And hasn’t Panama seen enough of that in the past to let it happen again?

  5. @ Dr. Dias:

    The better idea might be to know where the Nazis got their ideas (like experimenting on humans) from:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1361275/Americas-shocking-secret-US-experimented-disabled-citizens-prison-inmates.html

    It could have been guessed as the US still is world champion regarding human rights abuse (ousting democratically elected govts, Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, extradition to dictatorships for “hardcore” torture etc.).

    Because the US is held as a shining example by its allies (of which the Panamanian govt is one), an improvement of the situation only would be possible when the govt consists of enough indigenous people, for whom the interest of Panama would be first, second and third – just like already happened in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela.

    It could also mean a revival of moral and ethical values as is required for a meritocracy, contrary to the mix of kleptocracy and corporatocracy which is the highway to “legalized” pillage and plunder without borders and all the suffering associated with that.

    http://thehickoryhound.blogspot.com/2011/02/melding-corporatocracy-with-kleptocracy.html

  6. Since when can foreigners not protest in Panama. These events are starting to scare me as a gringo living here for almost 5 years. So according to the drunken mafioso, basically if your a foreigner you have no civil liberties in Panama. Wow, I think this guy needs to take some classes on basic human rights. This country is going farther down the shitter every day. It is not likely that any uprising or overthrow of this joke of a government will happen because Panama doesn’t have a big enough middle class to go up against the oligarchy of rich families, bankers, and interested multinationals. They purposely keep the large inequality gap here so they never have to raise salaries or give benefits. That way the working class will never organize and throw this drunkard out on his ass. This is a sad development because I was actually thinking about going to participate with the Nobes in the protest. Thank god I didn’t or I’d probably be sitting back in the states or in some secret prison.

  7. @ Jon D.:

    Panama does have a kind of middle class when considering knowledge / education but there’s no work that allows to invest in more study to get a better job or get a better result from the present activities by applying more knowledge.

    One reason why initially Martinelli was popular here (border region with Costa Rica) came from his promise of a free Internet connection for everyone (interpreted as the promise to improve on self-education). Several years later and the treasury depleted with some 25 million, there still is nothing, people with only a few hundred $ / month income could use at home.

    Yet there is a very cheap way to serve the entire country with Internet, radio and TV. It’s a motorized transponder residing in the tropopause, that relays via an upload location anywhere within range. At a height of 20 Km, no problem with weather, 12 hours of sunlight / day to recharge batteries and GPS keeps it in position.

    At that height, optical range is a circle with 1,000 Km diameter so 100% coverage of Panama + coastal waters. Such a device can be made to last for at least 10 years before failure.

    As such an installation also can replace all cellular towers and is unaffected by disasters like floods or storms, it is in the national interest of every country in the tropics.

    With such a device, the Panamanian national network has just 2 nodes so it will be extremely fast because the maximum distance between the nodes cannot exceed 1,000 Km, and delay (due to the speed of light) then is just 3.3 milliseconds.

    IOW it is rather interesting for many if not all gringos as well, plus tourists.

    The project could be realized by students (electronics, a bit of aeronautics) at a technical university. But it looks like the nearest faculty is in Colombia:
    http://ingenierias.utp.edu.co/

    • There are a bunch of people trying to post comments here – not using their real name – along the lines of, “if you don’t like it here why don’t you leave”. Nationalism is of course always the refuge of the miserables, and Panama is no exception. I’m not going to allow that ugly sentiment here and furthermore, I think these nationalists should at least be consistent in applying their own murky standards: If they don’t like it here why don’t they leave?

      • Martinelli, by the way, yesterday stated that Paco Gomez was living in Panama “illegally”.

        How “illegal” is it to have a visa and a Panamanian cedula?

        Cedula Paco Gomez

  8. Pingback: Panamanian xenophobia: Donald Trump goes the way of Paco Gomez | Bananama Republic

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