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.
The term “crumbling nation” would be more appropriate for EU countries. Panama still has a long way to go before reaching their level. At least in Panama money is spent on infrastructure, not on bailing out bankrupt banks and failed states.
As for the possible involvement of corruption of a political leader in Panama, you make it sound like if it only happened in Panama. Even if all true, it still does not reach the level of corruption that goes on way up North. Here is just one example:
BTW why is it always EU companies corrupting politicians on this side of the world? Can’t they sell their products without a bribe.
You should make a blog on Greece, Italy, the USA, Canada etc. as you will find a lot more material about banana politics…
In Panama they bail out rabiblancos who don’t need it.
Bananama Republic is about Panama, not about the European Union or the US. The fact that there is corruption in other places doesn’t make the situation in Panama less serious.
In the US they bailout Wall Street who does not need it.
Politicians in general are corrupt and Panama is no exception.
What makes you say that Panama is “crumbling nation”? Panama had 10.6% GDP growth in 2011. I know a lot of real crumbling or bankrupt nations in Europe that can only dream of such growth. If Panama is crumbling with 10 GDP growth, then the whole world has already collapsed…
Also one of the best measure of foreign investment is the number of multinationals in Panama. Does Panama have a large or small number of multinationals for a country of its size? And is this number growing or shrinking?
When we look at Panama it is not so difficult to see why these ever so popular percentages keep rising. Let’s pump 30 or 40 percent of GDP in infrastructure projects in whatever country and observe the change. It is an artificial growth however and the bill will present itself eventually.
In the streets one can sense the contradiction of these numbers. Compared to let’s say 5 years ago, there is no money in these streets. I do not live in the expat community secluded from everyday life. These foreigners selling the “Panamanian dream” are segregated by language and cultural barriers. They have no clue about the workings of their own country and think they are so tapped into this one. As time passes, more and more one notices that the ruling rabi blancos suffer from the same problem. Latest CFZ developments are a vivid example of that.I live, talk and work with “real people” and they do not experience these so called good times. Does that make me an expert? No, but in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. 😉
Multinationals… They come, provide jobs (to foreigners mostly) and take the profit home. Eventually there will be economic benefits sure, but not in the way that would be provided by local businesses. Their arrival, in my opinion, is no indicator for economic growth as such. In many (if not most) cases they leach society more than benefit it.
For any “Airbus” scandal in the US there is a “Lockheed” scandal in Europe. Unequal market conditions provoke some kind of “leveling”. We can learn from this that people generally are corrupt, no matter their origin. Plan ahead, expect bribery to happen and eliminate the opportunities with structural changes, I’d say.