Op-ed by Dr. Mauro Zuñiga Arauz
It is a known fact that many state governments have been, in one form or another, linked to drug traffickers. The same can be said about some institutions and administrative sectors of the importing countries. There is a triangulation between government, businessmen and traffickers. Mexican writer Anabela Hernandez studied the connection between former presidents Echevarria, Salina de Gortari, Vicente Fox and current President Felipe Calderon, and this illicit business. Former President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, is also mentioned in this activity. Manuel Antonio Noriega, Panama's former strongman, was arrested in the United States for drug trafficking. The latter was perhaps the only one that rose to power being a drug dealer; all others, as is becoming a trend, are helped in their propaganda campaigns to involve them in the crime later.
The case of Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, current President of Panama, has features that must be highlighted. He first got involved in money laundering in the late seventies of last century with Manuel Antonio Noriega, through his first supermarket. Later he became involved in drug trafficking, following in General Noriega's footsteps, such that before becoming President, he already was a kingpin. This is an open secret in Panama, but the subject is banned in the two major television channels and in all written news media. I have reported these links, but Martinelli has given these media strict orders that I not be invited to any live program, and that I not be allowed to write in the print media.
In Panama, a while back some media carried out a "free speech" campaign, but it was so fake that they had to suspend it. I criticized it for hiding the struggle for "freedom of expression". I am not allowed to express myself freely on television or on print media. There is only one reason: because I annoy the President and I report his ties to drug trafficking.
On the other hand, the media do report acts of corruption among government officials, and revel when a subordinate employee is investigated or arrested; but they have never dared to reach the puppeteer, even though they know that in Panama a penny never reaches any government official without leaving a kickback in the President's pockets. Similarly, they had the guts to report one of his ministers' bribery, Jose Raul Mulino, the Security Minister, who was bribed by the Italian company Finmeccanica, when they know that the business deal was carried out between Berlusconi and Martinelli, through fugitive Walter Lavitola.
According to data provided by Panama's Center for Strategic Studies, Ricardo Martinelli is director of 99 companies and underwriter of 139; his wife, Marta Linares de Martinelli, is director of 144 and underwriter of 46; his son, Ricardo Martinelli Linares, director of 18 and underwriter of 2; his son, Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, director of 36 and underwriter of 27, and his daughter, Carolina Martinelli is director of 6. These companies span many goods and services activities. Moreover, the President has the habit of sending officials from the General Revenue Directorate to entrepreneurs who refuse to sell their businesses to him, so as to blackmail them.
Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal controls the entire country: the administration of the State, the mass media and the citizens through illegal personal phone tapping. Our phones are tapped and our emails are monitored.
Noriega's arrival has regrouped the old G-2 (Military Intelligence Service, responsible for assassinations, torture and disappearances during the military dictatorship) again. I was kidnapped and tortured on August 21, 1985. Today, former agents of that institution are intimidating me. I have already submitted their names to third parties in case of any "accident". On the other hand, I have asked Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal to allow an independent audit of his fortune.
My hope is that this article be read by an international institution interested in investigating the deadly drug trade.
There’s an old Panamanian Politician’s story about the President of Panama who scrutinized over his Cabinet member’s and the Members of the Panamanian National Assembly.
Afterward he told the Vice President and the President of the National Assembly that these Politicians smelled horribly bad and the stench was so bad that it was being notice by all the Citizens of Panama.
The President of Panama then suggested perhaps it would help if these Politicians would change underwear on a regular basis!.
The Vice President and the President of the Assembly responded, “Yes sir, my Presidente, We will see to it immediately!”
The Vice President went straight to the President Cabinet member’s as did the President of the National Assembly who also went straight to the Members of the Panamanian National Assembly, they both announced, “The President of Panama thinks that the Politicians all smell horribly bad and the stench is too noticeable, so the President wants each of you to change your underwear.”
They continued, Partido Panameñista you change with Martinelli Cambio Democrático (CD), PRD(Partido Revolucionario Democrático), you change with well with the other members of the PRD(Partido Revolucionario Democrático that are left, Alcibiades Vásquez with Juan Carlos Varela, Federico Suarez with Alma Cortés, and Salomón Shamah you change with Lucy Molinar.
On and on this went, most every Politician in Panama exchanged their underwear with one another Over and Over again!!!
Yet, the stench just never went away!
THE REAL MORAL OF THE STORY: Panamanian Politicians always come along to always promise “Change”, but never deliver, so do not count on any thing smelling any better ever.
“Panama where the numbers never add up
This may or may not be the correct story to comment my observations of living and working for many years in Central America, but here goes.
I have worked for “self made” men that meaning, those that were the first in the family to graduate high school, attend college, start at the lowest job and or risk everything to start a business, idea etc. Some of them did not become rich they became men of “great wealth” and philanthropic doings came from the heart giving back now that they could.
How many sincere philanthropic’s do we have here virtually none because they know their trust and foundations will be looted
Here I have not, although I’m sure there are a very few out there.
How many times have I heard someone saying in Spanish “tiene mucho plata” as if that is what it is all about. They never can answer where it comes from and or how did the individual get to where they are.
Just look at what the press investigates in other countries as to candidates source of wealth latest example Herman Cain (IMO a self made man) although he stepped down as a result of inquiries into his personal life.
If you were to do the same here you would find the candidates numbers don’t even begin to make sense but that’s not important as the electorate are like blind sheep that continue going to the slaughter thinking it is greener pasture.
Here it is not unusual to see a 30 something driving a 100k plus whatever with nothing to show for it and opens a business (SA of course) in Panama City with a pre opening advertising budget that is greater than the amount of inventory going into the place and it it employee overpopulated doing essentially nothing.
Their websites are useless they don’t answer phones etc how do they even stay in business even if they were legitimate and successful?
You only see the owner hanging out at all the spots chatting away as if cell phones cost nothing to use etc etc from the clothes on you name it.
I may not be clear in my writings but I’m sure perhaps you can understand a glimpse of what I am trying to convey.
I always joke what microchip did he or she invent or was it velcro?
Mr. Zuñiga: Though I got the gist of what you were trying to say with your article, I have to tell you that your English is awful. A lot is lot on translation, and it is not such a simple thing to do. Panama cannot be saved. It is corrupt to the core, as are most of its people and inhabitants. Money laundering is a regular, normal thing in Panama, and has been for quite a long, long, long time. Noriega wasn’t your typical drug dealer either: He worked for the CIA, and his job was to make the drug lords feel comfortable and calm using Panama as a transit point and money exchange capital. He succeeded, spectacularly. The DEA got all the info it ever needed with their man Noriega in place. Noriega did not need to deal in drugs, he received ample commissions for letting the drug lords use Panama. After all, by being ‘friends’ with the drug lords Noriega made a lot, a LOT of money. And yes, it is well-known in Panama that most (not all) of the people who became very rich practically out of the blue, and overnight did so with drug money. Everybody knows who they are. Bottom line: Panama is NOT a great country by any stretch of the imagination. It is rotten to the core. That so-called ‘stability’ is a mirage, to attract people who really DO have some REAL money to the place. Anyone who becomes President is doing the bidding of someone higher up, don’t kid yourselves otherwise. Panama is the ‘dirty tricks’ place, the ‘neutral’ zone of crime, where criminals, known and unknown, from all nationalities, gather. The U.S. gave back the Canal, legally. But they are not gone, nor will they EVER be gone. There’s covert stuff going on constantly, every day, day in, day out. Those RADARS, for example: Where do you think they’re going? Fourteen bases need to be built. Panama does not have an Army. Take a wild guess who’s gonna run those bases…Go on…
Hahaha..typo: It should read ” a lot is LOST in translation”