Torrijos offers conditional apology
PANAMA. President Martin Torrijos denied claims that he or his administration were unwilling to ask for forgiveness for past state abus...
PANAMA. President Martin Torrijos denied claims that he or his administration were unwilling to ask for forgiveness for past state abuses, by giving very general declarations on what he claimed should be a nationwide effort to recognize unspecified past mistakes by the state.
The president’s comments are in response to a series of allegations against the government after it did not explicitly apologize to the family of Heliodoro Portugal, illegally detained and killed during the military regime in Panama.
The apology was ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, a division of the Organization of American States.
Although the government recognized during an event held by the Ministry of Government that the state violated Portugal’s human rights, it never officially asked his family for forgiveness, as the court ruling requested.
Portugal’s daughter, Patria Portugal, who first submitted her father’s case to the Inter-American Court, was not satisfied, and speculations and complaints were quickly fired across the country against the government’s indisposition to publicly and clearly apologize.
Torrijos has now responded by stating he has “no problem in apologizing” in the name of the State and also to recognize what he described as “abuses committed a long time ago,” but with the condition that it is not taken to be a submission to the sanction by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Instead, he said, “hopefully everything is done, more than for the sentence by the Inter-American Court, as a product of the conviction that the country recognizes the errors of the past, it reconciles, it forgives and looks forward.”
According to a press release, the President expressed that the State’s pronouncement has to be given as every Panamanian recognizes the abuses, the pain and the suffering that was lived. Yet he fails to specify what epoch or regime he refers to, carefully omitting any reference to the dictatorship, or the military regime, which the Inter-American Court mentions in the sentence of Portugal’s case.
Besides Portugal, there are several other victims of the dictatorship, which the president’s father Omar Torrijos started in 1968, and which extended until 1989, and there are many other apologies the State has yet to make.