Reputation of Panama takes a hit with new NETFLIX film.


OP ED: “JB”– A new movie that centers around “The Panama Papers” will be a PR challenge for the new Cortizo administration, as they look to recede from the sordid reputation that Panama has garnered for many years. I recall in previous movies, such as Ted Demme’s “BLOW” with Johnny Depp, where Panama was portrayed as a place where dirty business occurs often. I can only imagine what will be shown in this film. ______________________________________________________________________________

The vice president of Panama, José Gabriel Carrizo , said Tuesday that his country will overcome the “challenge” that could be caused by the Netflix movie “Laundromat” (The Laundry), a film inspired by the “Panama Papers” and the tax havens.

During the post-cabinet council conference, Carrizo said that “I am sure (that Panamanians) will overcome any challenge, as in this case the movie.”

The official said that, although he has not seen the film, “without a doubt we will be prepared to tell the world that Panama is much more than fraudulent papers,” he said.

The production “Laundromat”, by the American director Steven Soderbergh, narrates the intricate paths of dirty money that passes through the Central American country, center in 2016 of the scandal known as the “Papers of Panama.”

According to a vast journalistic leak at the time, a Panamanian law firm created numerous opaque societies, some of which served personalities from around the world to evade taxes and launder money.

After that scandal Panama accelerated a series of reforms to shield its financial system and the current government tries to launder the country’s foreign image, which appears periodically in lists of tax havens and money laundering, to attract investments.

When the film’s trailer was known in Panama, some lawyers, economists and businessmen criticized the film work on social networks and showed their fear that it would negatively affect the country’s external image.

“The film does not make a difference because in the imaginary exterior Panama is seen as a tax haven,” Enoch Adames, former academic coordinator of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (Flacso), told AFP .

Soderbergh has said that through Netflix it aims to reach a wider audience to become aware of the damage caused by corruption and tax havens.

The film, starring actress Maryl Streep, and actors, British Gary Oldman and Spanish Antonio Banderas, competes for the Golden Lion of the current edition of the Venice Film Festival.

“The problem is bigger than Panama. The problem is the system of being able to hide, evade and launder money in multiple jurisdictions,” the executive director of the Panamanian chapter of Transparency International, Olga de Obaldía, told AFP .

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