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Panama: Statements After the Chaos Unleashed by Law 72

The impressions of Panamanians and foreigners living in the country were immediate after the chaos unleashed by the approval of Law 72. This law, without consultation, promoted the sale of land in the Colón Free Trade Zone, a source of income for the country and this province that practically lies in ruins after having gone unnoticed by the government. The protests against the law have left four dead and dozens injured and detained.

The blog Otramerica [es] describes the chaos that caused President Ricardo Martinelli to announce the he will appeal the law:

El Gobierno pierde el control de las calles de Panamá: Saqueos en Calidonia y en la Central, choques entre antimotines y manifestantes en la Plaza Cinco de Mayo, un colapso del centro de la capital de Panamá y el miedo a un desborde de la violencia social, han hecho que el Gobierno nacional cambie de posición por enésima vez en las últimas horas… Las imágenes no concuerdan con la ‘postal’ ideal que Martinelli trata de vender en cada uno de sus viajes al exterior y en sus populistas discursos en casa.

The government loses control of the streets of Panama City: ooting in Calidonia and in the Center, clashes between riot police and protesters in the Plaza Cinco de Mayo, a collapse in the center of the capital of Panama and the fear of an overflow in social violence, they have made the national government change its position for the umpteenth time in the last hours…The images are not in line with the ideal ‘postcard’ that Martinelli tries to sell on every one of his trips abroad and in his populist speeches at home.

While Erick Simpson Aguilera of the blog Pma507pty [es] says the following:

Balance de la Crisis en Colón: Tres vidas segadas; perdidas millonarias en los puertos de contenedores, zona libre, comercios, y turismo (puertos de cruceros); la buena imagen internacional del país que tanto nos ha costado construir, vulnerada por la exposición mediática en cadenas noticiosas internacionales que le han dado amplia cobertura a los disturbios en Colón, han sido el saldo de una crisis que pudo evitarse, si tuviéramos -que no es el caso- un gobierno responsable que vele por el bienestar nacional y mida sus actos con prudencia y altura de estadista.

Statement on the Crisis in Colón: three lives cut short; millions lost in the ports of containers, free trade zone, businesses, and tourism (cruise ports); the positive international image of the country that has cost us so much to build, violated by the media exposure in international news networks that have given widespread coverage to the disorder in Colón, have been the balance of a crisis that could have been avoided, if we we had -which is not the case- a responsible government that ensures the nation's wellbeing and measures its acts with caution and statesmen's height.

Erick also shared several videos [es] such as the following, which was produced by Abel Aronátegui:

Meanwhile, Lee from the blog Boquete Guide shares his impressions in the post “A black eye for Panama”:

What made the day bad was not the fact the people took to the streets, that happens here, too often. Taking to the streets is a way to get the government to listen to the people they are supposed to represent. The people of Panama are vocal when they feel the government is ignoring them. The bad part happened when the protests turning into looting and violence.

Several people have concentrated their analyses and reactions on President Martinelli's actions. Erasmo Elías Muñoz Marín from the blog Entre el Fuego y el Hielo [es] compares President Martinelli with the obscure character that inspired Bram Stoker to write the novel Dracula.

Martinelli un personaje de terror moderno: El Presidente es un vampiro moderno, que no absorbe sangre de la gente, sino dinero, vidas, tierras, y su sed de poder llega a tal punto que ha contaminado a sus secuaces para que actúen de forma tan irracional como la de él. Desde la crisis de Changuinola, pasando luego por el tema Ngbe Bugle, el conflicto minero y hoy día los recientes hechos por el interés de vender la Zona Libre de Colón, en dos años y medio ha logrado más muertes, y lisiados permanentes, por la represión estatal que todos sus predecesores juntos, bañando de sangre su gestión, llenando de rencor, luto y dolor a cientos de familias panameñas

 Martinelli is a character of modern terror: The President is a modern-day vampire that does not absorb human blood but rather money, lives, land, and his net of power has reached the point that it has brainwashed his followers to act in a way as irrational as his. Since the crisis in Changuinola, later passing through the Ngobe Bugle region, the miner conflict and now the recent issue caused by the interest in selling the Colón Free Trade Zone, in two and a half years has achieved more deaths, and permanent injuries, by state repression than all of his predecessors combined, bathing his management in blood, filling hundreds of Panamanian families with rancor, mourning, and sorrow.

The blog Bananama Republic titles its post “Martinelli amateurism causes chaos and violence”:

It could very well be that the value of the CFZ land can be put at much better use for Panamanians, or for Colon, than by just collecting rent on it. If that is the case, Martinelli should have explained it, presented his plans, convinced everybody. But he never does, because all he and his goons want to do is steal.

Finally, on October 30th the blog Panama Guide reported that “the climate of anarchy is subsiding”:

It feels like the corner has been turned on the crisis this morning. Officers of the National Police have been scattering the “protesters” (criminals) who have been looting stores, breaking windows, and mugging people all over town. There was a brief focus of activity where it all started near the National Assembly building, with the police all clustered around the Assembly in a defensive perimeter. Once the looting started the police officers started to push back, and it's taken them a couple of hours to regain control.

The photo shown in this post is a screenshot from the video [es] produced by Abel Aronátegui

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