OP ED: James “JB” Bryson
The US State Department Points Finger at Ricardo Martinelli as a Corrupt Politician, as an expat Living and doing business in Panama for over 20 years its almost been a competition between the last 5 Presidents to see which one could be more enriched. The Corruption scandals in Mireya Moscosos terms were numerous, during the Martin Torrijos term he and his closest aids went into office as all basically lower or middle class and all of them came out Multimillionaires and none of them have ever worked again.
Juan Carlos Varela was Ricardo Martinelli Vice President and was involved in ALL of the business dealings involving Corruption and it is well known that they actually parted ways because Varela wanted a bigger slice of the pie.
Then Varela became President and a full blown Political Persecution against Martinelli started which no Ex Presidents had ever done before but there was too much hatred and bad blood between the two of them. Varela basically had one sole goal to destroy Martinelli and all cost and that in and of itself sent the country reeling economically. In order to achieve his goal Varela not only ran the Ministerio Publico (which should have a CHINESE WALL) and not be influenced by the executive branch but also the Supreme Court in a way never seen before since entering the democratic era of Panama.
Today Ex President Juan Carlos Varela is ironically being indicted for the exact same Corruption Crimes that Martinelli has been accused of but he has yet to see any jail time and the US has not put out any statement regarding his being a corrupt individual even though he has a massive suit against him for Money Laundering and also TENS of Millions in Bribes From Odebrech. Where is Blinken in terms of his denouncing Varela? If we’re gonna do this let’s do it right. Varela’s own party members and the new President of his Political Party have certified that the $10 Million reveived by Varela from Odebrech were received during his Tenure and that those funds went directly to him for bribes and never touched the Panameñista Party Bank Accounts. Hmmm Antony Blinken ??
Now the current government which is PRD lead by President Laurentizo Cortizo will by far surpass not by MILLIONS but BY BILLIONS the amount of in theft through corruption. If you add up all of the previous 5 Presidents in Panamá over the last 23 years and what they all together stole it would not equal the theft perpetrated by this government with Gabby Carrizo and his band of misfit ministers all stealing life changing millions and President Cortizo’s brother Roy pulling other levers and switches behind the scenes. This government has not invested in Infrastructure however Cortizo and Gaby Carrizo have spent triple the amount that Martinelli or Varelas Administration spent these are not assumptions but FACTS. Panama’s finances are in now a serious problem. Unemployment is the Highest its ever been in decades and there is absolutely no checks and balances. The PRD Controls the Ministerio Publico, the Court , the Judicial System as well. There is no balance of power and no real law. They are running this country like it is a “Finca/Farm” which belongs to them.
Panama is a country that manages to survive despite its well documented corrupt governments and I hope the next government is at least more responsible. For in not then the end is near for the once “Jewel of Central America”.
Also something else to note the Ex President Ernesto Perez Balladares also PRD lost his Visa to enter the US for being labeled as “Corrupt” but you won’t see much of that in the media.
How Juan Carlos Varela is not being mentioned by US Department of Justice officials amazes me. When his crimes and corruption far exceeded all other Presidents Put together before the Cortizo/Carrizo regime took office. He also (Varela) on his own or Broke off all ties and relations with Taiwan and aligned himself and Panamá with China instead despite the US wishes that Panama stay away from China’s further influence.
I am not defending one or the other President, they’re governments have all robbed but why the “Fixation” on Martinelli and not equally on the Others ?
Varela’s Administrative Budget and placement of National Debt was Higher than Martinelli’s. All the while his administration dedicated its 5Years to stoping all of the basic important projects that’s were ongoing from Martinelli’s administration bringing the economy down to low single digits in growth. Ricardo Martinelli as a matter of fact, spent less but had record Economic Growth and lowest unemployment in the country’s history and real estate and Tourism boom that most Panamanians today miss very much. Even myself as a resident and entrepreneur wish Martinelli was at the helm of this country again so we could see some progress which we have not seen now in almost 9 years.
Martin Torrijos, Mireya Moscoso, Juan Carlos Varela have been involved in enormous corruption scandals and made fortunes in their time in office. This is no secret, I am not saying anything a waiter at a local restaurant or a taxi driver doesn’t know first hand and express with much disappointment. There is no denying there was corruption in the Martinelli government. But why is the US Dept of Justice only shining the spotlight on him when all of the President’s before and after him have not only been as corrupt or more but even more ironically their administrations and policies have been a total economic failure as icing on the cake.
Thats a good question for the US Embassy as well as the Dept of Justice to Answer?
I am a US Citizen with over 20 years of doing business and/or making Panama my home. Here in Panama everyone and their mother knows all of this in great detail. If the US State Department really wants to crack down on corruption from former and current Panamanian Presidents then let’s play fairly and put them all in your list(s) and your Press Conferences because they have all been the same and there is no one here in Panama that isn’t crystal clear on that being a matter of fact.
That’s my 2 cents! The rest of this media circus is only going to hurt the country. I am far from an influencer but I do like to make predictions. This I can say with certainty, no matter what you throw at Martinelli it is only going to make him more popular. This simple exercise I do when I go out to eat or jump in and uber may or may not be relevant but I ask very light and friendly who should win the Presidency in 2024 and 4 out of 5 with no hesitation say El Loco without question! They call Martinelli El Loco for his humble and charismatic personality and there’s no doubt he’s a bit crazy to some but more likely just misunderstood. Those 4 out of 5 believe he loves Panamá and would lay down his life for Panamá. They don’t only say we want him back in the Presidency they say we NEED him Back so Panama can get back on the same track it was on until Varela and Cortizo have derailed things. The national debt has risen to crazy numbers and set the country back at least 20 years.
So I’ll end my rant with a question and a comment. Why is the US not speaking out against all of these past and current administrations? Only attacking him is like endorsing the others. I can understand not going after Cortizo and Carrizo yet. They have to maintain an even strain whilst they’re in power. Their time I’m certain will come. But I’m abaft by not treating the others also as personas non grata.
In the end I’m convinced that short of Martinelli’s untimely death or by somehow breaking the Constitution and not allowing him to run that Martinelli is indeed the next President of Panamá. And the US will have played a part in it. He is smart he is loved and he is revered by Panamanians. Maybe not the rich but the ones who have the voting power. Just like Lula who after prison in Brazil was just again elected so will be Martinelli. You don’t have to be a genius to see it.
So let me leave you with this. We have a former US president that “grabs pussy” and incites riots. A CURRENT one whose son is on video doing lude acts and illicit drugs. ALL of these Panamanian presidents past and current that are THIEVES beyond reproach. After all the smoke clears, WHO did actual time in US prisons for the alleged crimes? WHO paid back any funds that were shown to be ill-gotten? WHO was tried in court and exhausted the legal system in BOTH the US and PANAMA? And WHO is going to be the next President of Panama. I’ve always stated Martinelli may not be a saint. But he is a man that does not run away from the fight, and that is what Panama needs. That is what Panama wants. And THAT is why he will WIN by the biggest legal margin ever taken.
And if I’m right…………….and I usually am, I wouldn’t want to be a Varela.