Temas Especiales

30 de Nov de 2020

Nacional

Violence comes in many forms

Years ago, Montreal, Quebec, provided, and still does, one of the finest cultural and gastronomic environments scenes on the continent. ...

Years ago, Montreal, Quebec, provided, and still does, one of the finest cultural and gastronomic environments scenes on the continent. It was home for a renowned international jazz festival, a famed symphony orchestra, thriving film and cultural industry and produced the likes of Celine Dion.

It was also the home of a well known mafia family and some notorious motorcycle gangs, and a Panama Star columnist (not connected with either the mafia or the Hells’s Angels). The bad boys provided much grist for a local tabloid newspaper, devoted totally to crime, usually the violent kind.

I’m not sure if the paper still exists, and if it does it must be facing stiff competition from the business pages. As the world’s financial system unravels, more white collar bad guys are coming to the surface. The grand daddy of them all is of course Madoff, with his $50 billion pyramid scam, who has conveniently transferred a paltry few socre millions to his wife to maintain his life style, until they finally throw him into jail and drop the key into the Hudson River.

Smaller potatoes, are Allan Stanford, whose pyramid reached only $8 billion dollars, and then there is our local adopted alleged swindler David Murcia Guzman, the lover of stables full of fast cars, waiting in jail in Colombia to be tried over pyramid scams totaling mere scores of millions.

His activities hit closer to home as he is alleged to have ripped off hundreds of Panamanians, and allegations are flying of ties to local politicians.

Back track to the days of the collapse of Enron, and before that a Panamanian banker who exited the country with a mere $13 or $14 million, and who on his return from a long vacation in Mexico, pleads ill health to avoid spending time in the relative comfort of Renacer prison where he could while away the hours swapping stories with money launderers and narco traffickers awaiting trial.

Have you ever wondered why cartel leaders in Colombia fight to avoid extradition to face trial in the US? It’s because they know that if convicted they will go to a high security prison, and will spend most of the rest of their lives there, with no special treatment, other than paying some fellow cons to protect them from an untimely end.

In Panama, much white collar crime gets the kid glove treatment, ranging from acquittal, to house arrest. While they sit in their mansions, comforted by family and friends, do they wonder about the violence that they may have perpetrated? Not the knee-capping of the extortionists, or death by knife or gun, but the violence of ruined lives, smashed dreams, and frequently suicide.

Every time you read of a major scam, there are scores, hundreds, or thousands of individual tragedies involved.

Over 20,000 lost their saving in the Murcia case, leaving many destitute. The Madoff scandal led to two prominent suicides, and maybe more down the line.

With the Stanford case people around the world as well as Panama are suffering. If you had the misfortune to place your money in a local branch, and went to a Stanford machine to draw funds recently, you would have seen a message warning you to punch in your numbers, and telling you that the bank was not currently operating. In the meantime the branches are closed and all accounts are frozen. Have you ever been stranded without cash when the ATM system is down? Try that for a month as local Stanford customers are doing. Violence comes in many forms.