YOU THOUGHT that things were getting different and better now, with Varela in power and all that, didn't you? Well, dear reader, that is why you have us, your Bananama Republic, to make sure that you don't really start drinking the Kool Aid that the other media are serving you. Because, as usual in Panama, there is much more continuity than change.
THE DEVIL IS AMONG US
Case in point: Minister of Social Development Alcibiades Vásquez Velásquez. A rich source of corruption tales and wacky tropical politics. We first ran into this guy when he launched a War on Satan! Those were the days when he was still a legislator and he had taken it upon him to ban Halloween from schools. Because of Satan. That's also - Satan, we mean - the reason that almost every picture you find of this guy is out of focus. Satan's revenge. Forever blurred.
We interviewed Satan, to get his version on the bid to outlaw Halloween, a Bananama Republic exclusive, and he was profoundly underwhelmed:
“If that third world prick thinks he can stop me from entertaining thousands of children and winning them over to the dark side, he’s out of his mind”, Satan told Bananama Republic during an exclusive interview.
But our little hero didn't give up, and a year later he demanded that his law proposal was put on the agenda of the National Assembly. No more Halloween!
Alas, he failed again. But now that he is a minister, a member of the government, no doubt that come October he will give it another shot. So stay tuned for that one.
DEBIT CARDS ARE A DWARF'S BEST FRIEND
There being no money in the Satan fighting business, Alcibiades moved on to the more lucrative world of fraud with prepaid debit cards. Enters the scene the Canadian career criminal and fraud artist Monte Morris Friesner. As we reported here earlier, based on leaked documents, Friesner paid the gentlemen José Isabél Blandón (now mayor of Panama City) and Herbert Young (lawyer and partner of Blandón in his law firm) handsome amounts of money to get a favorable law for his debit card fiasco drafted and passed by the National Assembly.
Old news, you say. Corrupt politicians of yesterday get recycled into new governments so they can make a fresh start. Sure. We hear you. But the detail is that José Blandón wasn't the only legislator who entered that Friesner law. The other legislator was: Alcibiades Vásquez Velásquez.
The Satan fighter was also included in the list of people who had to be paid by Friesner for their efforts on his behalf, through a front company that Herbert Young controlled, the leaked documents and correspondence showed us.
Naive and gullible observers - which includes almost all of civil society and much of the media plus the insufferable useful idiots who say, "let's give Varela a chance" - have spent considerable time wondering if the new Varela administration will go after Martinelli's embezzlement and bribery schemes. They see that as a test of how tough Varela will be on corruption.
But this is nonsense. The test is if Varela will go after corruption among his own party members, among the people in his own government. And he already failed that test; instead of shunning these shysters he makes them minister or allows them to run for mayor.
A BRIGHTER NOTE
All this is of course great news for Satan. We just called him for a comment, and he told us that he was happy to learn that Alcibiades Vásquez Velásquez apparently can be bought. "It should be no problem to outbid that god-guy should it come to that," Satan told Bananama Republic. Happy Halloween everybody!