26 de Sep de 2022


The collapse of the system as we know it?

PANAMÁ. Dissidents in general -- whatever the country, whatever the system -- are prone to wishful thinking about the collapse of the o...

PANAMÁ. Dissidents in general -- whatever the country, whatever the system -- are prone to wishful thinking about the collapse of the order under which they live.

At the risk of setting off unresolvable theological arguments, I point to the Book of Revelation as a case in point: persecuted Christians of Nero's time were predicting the apocalyptic fall of the empire they knew.

That sort of calculation is present in virtually all religions, including the secular communist and fascist faiths, especially wherever people's lives are restricted by entrenched and exclusionary self-serving elites.

As has been pointed out to me on a number of occasions by people with surnames like Arias or Vallarino, and by people who maintain the press contact lists for certain party and governmental organizations, I'm not and won't be part of any club that counts by their way of figuring. I'm not all weepy about this, but I am ready for a change.

There are still many things up in the air, but more and more it looks like Panama's social, political and economic order is gravely threatened. Consider:

- From the poor who ride the diablo rojo buses to the rich who tool around town in BMWs, there is a generalized sense that nothing in Panama works anymore.

- Although its formal blacklist has been scrapped, Panama is getting unprecedented pressure from the OECD countries to end its banking secrecy.

- The accumulation of frauds and the troubles of Allen Stanford's empire are passages of a litany that's driving people with money away from offshore financial services in general.

- The alleged management geniuses at the Panama Canal Authority are now admitting that they might have to review the canal toll structure in light of an economic crisis that they claimed could never happen.

- Home invasions, express kidnappings and increasingly dangerous streets are now intruding into the lifestyles of people who thought themselves immune in their aristocratic superiority.

- Barring fraud, disaster or an unbelievable gaffe, we are for the first time in more than a generation about to get a president who's from neither the Torrijista nor Arnulfista factions. Mireya Moscoso trashed her party and five years later it has not recovered from its disgrace.

The PRD, which had looked invincible two years ago, went with an old guard candidate and discovered that only a narrow segment of society has a stomach for that tradition.

Ricardo Martinelli's Cambio Democratico may be a mosaic assembled from the shards of the old political class, but it may also be the harbinger of the old system's demise.

- In Panama City's mayoral race, the two major parties of yesteryear chose badly and both of their nominees haven't been able to make it to Election Day without surprising --- yet in hindsight so very typical --- meltdown scandals.

The way is now open for a very different team, Miguel Antonio Bernal and Grettel Villalaz, to not only try new approaches but maybe more importantly to keep the usual party bosses' hands off of municipal resources.

I have yet to hear choruses of angels, see hordes of devils ascending from cracks in the ground, or notice a quartet of shrouded horsemen.

I do, however, feel the cool breeze of change in the air.