Are You Getting Worried About Martinelli?

FAQ: Are You Getting Worried About Martinelli?

Friday, January 07 2011 @ 08:52 AM EST
Contributed by: Don Winner
Views: 69
By DON WINNER for – Received via email this morning: “Hi Don, I really enjoy your news. Great stuff. And your ideology seems to match my own pretty closely.

I am growing concerned about the current Panamanian president. He seemed so good at first, and he is doing some good stuff. But lately he has been concentrating power in very disturbing ways. Is this a return to dictatorship? Good deeds aside, the idea that the “ends” justifies the “means” is dangerous. I am currently reading “Divorcing the Dictator”. (I am sure you have read it. Very disturbing and fustrating, esp concerning US’s dirty role.) And I get this real sense of deja-vu (sp?) when I read the news.

I realize you probably can’t spout off too much on-line about the gov’t, even though I think you are very brave and, how shall I put this,… tenacious.

Anyway, I know one must be careful, but any hint at your current “alarm level”?

Thanks and keep up the good work! – Mark”
Everyone Has The Same Concerns: Panamanians like strong rulers. When Ernesto Perez Balladares was the president his nickname was “The Bull” and it was well known that what he said, went. On the other hand after former president Mireya Moscoso took over, she was seen as a very weak willed individual who was being manipulated by others in her administration, and that made people generally uneasy and somewhat worried. With Martinelli, there’s just a little doubt about his grip on power, mostly because of his alliance with the Paname├▒ista party. There is the potential for other lower level players in both the Paname├▒ista party and Martinelli’s Cambio Democratico party to force wedges into cracks in the alliance – however both Martinelli and Juan Carlos Varela (the next president in 2014) are smart enough to hold it together, no matter what.

But Worried? Nah… I actually landed in the Republic of Panama for the very first time on 10 July 1987 – which turned out to be known as “Black Friday” – the first large scale demonstration against Manuel Antonio Noriega. I lived through the final years of the military dictatorship in Panama, and since then I’ve been watching as democracy in Panama slowly has taken roots and grown into what it is today. Martinelli needs as much control as possible for practical reasons, however he’s way too smart to slip over into something that’s as abusive and dangerous as some kind of a dictatorship. No, in Panama Martinelli’s power comes from the people. He still has approval ratings in the mid 60’s to low 70% range – and that’s why he can do what he wants. The people generally like what they are getting from him, and all I can say is “Thank God” he’s a center-right pro business pragmatist at heart. Normally “popular” leaders in Latin America are whack-job communists – Hugo Chavez for example remains in power because the very poor people keep voting for him.

With That Having Been Said: Martinelli should hire a handful of outsiders to slap him back into reality every now and again. This move to make it a crime to say bad things about the president is a really bad idea – no matter how well intentioned. In the international community it will be received in the wrong way, no matter what. But whatever – if he screws up too bad then the people will throw them out and the PRD will come back into power, right? I see no moves whatsoever to do away with the basic underlying fundamental tenants of democracy in Panama. Martinelli’s grip on power is firm – and at this point we can just hope he’s a benevolent leader.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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7 Responses to “Are You Getting Worried About Martinelli?”

  1. Popova says:

    on August 11, 2011 Most of whatever you acautrlite happens to be supprisingly accurate and it makes me wonder the reason why I hadn’t looked at this in this light previously. This article truly did turn the light on for me personally as far as this specific subject matter goes. However at this time there is one particular issue I am not necessarily too comfy with so while I try to reconcile that with the central theme of your issue, permit me see exactly what the rest of your readers have to point out.Very well done.

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