"Punch a Venezuelan and get a discount at the bar"
Inspired by the xenophobic bile spouted by PRD legislator Zulay Rodriguez and by the experience of super-ninja fighting woman Linda Lecca - she was told "Panama for the Panamanians" when she wanted to ask a waitress something - we immersed ourselves on the twitters to find out who the bananazis really are.
After all, the xenophobia in Panama is first and foremost an online affair. A manifestation on the Cinta Costera last weekend against immigration drew not even a hundred people.
So, what did we find?
MEET THE LAWYERS
First of all, we got yelled at, for simply disagreeing with the xenophobes, by lawyers. Take for example one Andrés Pérez E., who on his twitter feed talks about how he wants all foreigners to obtain visas so that "undesirables" can be rejected or expelled. In a similar fashion we heard from Samuel Samuels, who once ran for legislator, and who proposed on Twitter a $120 fee for entry visas for foreigners. One Scott Toledo Motta, meanwhile, kept going on and on about how foreigners need to "respect" Panama if they want to be here, at the same time using every swearword on the book to describe these same foreigners. He also told us to get out of the country.
We also had an encounter with someone called Oscar Ramos Chue. His facebook profile claims that he is an administrator and "entrepreneurial coach" for law firm Ramos Chue & Asociados (their website is down) and something called La clave del exito. In that capacity, he teaches people to abandon negative thoughts, or so the profile says, so they accomplish positive things in their lives. You know, mental programs and stuff.
Ramos Chue & Asociados celebrated its anniversary a couple of years ago. On a PR website, they touted themselves as a "prestigious law firm" and posted some pictures of the festivities with "upstanding" guests. Go have a look, here. Oscar Ramos replied to our disagreement with Panamanian xenophobes by calling your reporter a "racist." Go figure.
Why are lawyers and law firms, who should be familiar with the fact that there are laws and treaties that make visiting or residing in Panama a right, and not a favor as so many of them portray it to be, jumping on the xenophobia bandwagon? The answer is, "money." We found this message, retweeted by Miguel Antonio Bernal, who is one of the authors of the crusade against the Crisol de Razas immigration program:
You see, to qualify and sign up for residency under Crisol de Razas, you don't need a lawyer. And the lawyers don't like that, because immigration in Panama is very bureaucratic and corrupt and complicated and many lawyers make good money offering their connections and back door access to foreign clients. So instead of simplifying procedures, they want more rules, more visas, more complicated dealings. That it takes firing up a fascist movement to accomplish that is apparently not an issue for them.
The vast majority of bananazis on Twitter, however, are online hooligans who hide behind anonymity to spout their fascist bile and threaten people. Someone going only by the name of "Eduardo" announced that he was going to have your reporter deported and even placed him on some wacky image with other "deportable" foreigners. Hilariously, he cc-ed his tweets to US president Barack Obama whom, we're sure, is now on top of the case but unfortunately did not join the Twitter brawl. Another profile, named "Soy Panameño," told us that, "SINO TE GUSTA MI PAÍS TE LO DIRÉ ASÍ: LARGATEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!"
The discourse of the fascist xenophobe hooligans is, of course, extremely limited and circles endlessly around the same "arguments":
- Foreigners need to "respect" Panama and Panamanians, can not criticize anything and should be grateful for that if they want to visit or stay;
- Panamanians, on the other hand, can say and do anything because it is "their" country;
- Anyone who doesn't adhere to these rules needs to be denounced and deported;
- If you don't like it here you should just pack up and leave;
- The xenophobes pretend that they represent the entire Panamanian population;
- "Panama for Panamanians";
- Most of them are religious fanatics and homophobes on top of everything else.
As said, all these cholofascists operate anonymously. They think that that allows them to make all kinds of threats, like one "C..Gomez" who told yours truly: "ya t vi la cara y donde t cruces conmigo t parto la boca x bocón parásito largate para tu país d mierda"
We suggested a time and place to meet up, but Mr. or Mrs. Gomez backed away from that.
KICKING AND SCREAMING
Your reporter was not by far the only subject of the hate, bile and aggression of the Panama fascist battalions. Since a couple of days, these wingnuts have targeted the Dunkin' Donuts branch in the MultiPlaza mall. Without presenting a shred of evidence, they allege that the management discriminates against Panamanians and calls them "cockroaches:"
So, if you are a foreigner running a business in Panama, or you hire foreigners, you better be careful of the anonymous hordes on Twitter!