Panama is burning after a week of widening protests against the sale of the Colon Free Zone, but our courageous president Ricardo Martinelli is too busy with geopolitics to pay much attention. Back home the supermarket tycoon may not be loved any more, but one has to appreciate his talent for international spiel, like when he managed to unite China and Taiwan - enemies, really - by simply
saying something stupid taking sides with Japan in a dispute about some islands nobody has ever heard of the famous Diaoyu islands.
his capers successful stay in Japan, Panama's glorious leader moved on to Vietnam, which is communist, where he hopes to find investors who are still dumb enough to put money in his crumbling nation.
Meanwhile, he had to back away from his CFZ sales plans in a half-assed sort of way, but a vast majority of Panamanians still wants his head, and that of the self-appointed "sexual buffalo", Chello Galvez. It turned out for example that the kid that was shot by the police was not running around outside as the authorities had claimed (and was immediately repeated by dumb gringo police apologists), but it was inside, with other children, when the police came and specifically targeted the minors.
One of the reasons the protests and riots have had a relatively quick effect is that the whole situation is paralyzing the cargo flow in and out of Manzanillo.
And there is more good news: The Italians are closing in on Martinelli! In the ongoing scandal and investigations into the corruption surrounding Finmeccanica and the sales of helicopters and other equipment to Panama, the name of Martinelli continues to come up. Last Tuesday the head of Finmeccanica, Paolo Pozzessere, has been arrested as a result of this case, and Valter Lavitola, already in jail, continues to provide for new insights into the true nature of his close friendship with Ricardo Martinelli.
Italian newspapers are having a field day reporting how, according to an intercepted phone call between Lavitola and Pozzessere, Martinelli would get a huge bribe out of the Agafia corporation that Lavitola had set up in Panama as an "internediary". It appears that Martinelli wasn't just a recipient of that bribe, but in fact a shareholder of Agafia.
Ricardo Martinelli is an Italian citizen as well, and it looks like the prosecutors in Naples are determined to bring down the entire cabal surrounding Lavitola that was paying bribes left and right to loot developing nations. Panama, after all, will be stuck with over $200 million in coastal radar equipment it doesn't need and that doesn't work for what it is supposedly intended for. Not to mention the expensive Agusta helicopters that aren't needed either.
Update: The Italians make no jokes: Berlusconi was convicted to a 4 year prison term for tax fraud, and barred from office. The sentence was quickly reduced to one year, but the disgrace is forever.