David A. Bandel
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I don't think I've often turned on the TV to watch the news to be entertained. In fact, now I look forward to the news. No, the news girls don't have new dresses with plunging necklines (although that's entertaining too), it's the President Martinelli show.
I strain to hear if there's any new news on the President's goings on, and run in to watch. He's out with the people, but usually if he's there, the people he's seeing don't want to see him.
It's really amazing. Ricardo Martinelli has always been a businessman, not a politician. He owned one of the largest, most successful supermarket chains in the country (Super 99). I'd heard stories from employees regarding Martinelli. He hated to see any employee just standing around doing nothing. In fact, if they stood around looking like they were unemployed, that usually became a self-fullfilling prophecy. And of course as a businessman, he hates thieves.
Well, I've never seen a country (even one as small as this) run like a business. But that's what I'm seeing here. President Martinelli is out at all the hot spots putting people on the spot. And getting results.
Politicians are, well, politicians. They want to appease everyone. And the minions working in the government are afraid of going after "heavies" who have the ears of politicians. After all, politicians want to stay in politics which means staying on folks good side so they can get reelected.
President Martinelli is not interested in remaining in politics (or so it seems) so he's taking the heavies head on -- not leaving it to his quaking minions who will back down or only tell these folks used to having their way they "shouldn't" do something.
I've watched the President putting up signs saying "Property of the State" to let folks know they can't continue a construction they decided to do (without permission) on state land. Just the other day President Martinelli was asked a question, and his answer was "everyplace we touch, out comes pus", a reference to the legacy of his predecesor. He obviously means to stay the course.
A country run like a business. Well, I guess I've heard of stranger things. But this approach appears to be having results. It's working here because most of the biggest problems are concentrated in Panama City, and the country itself is small. Don't know how well this would work on a larger scale (bigger country), but Latin America is full of small countries. Even ones with a lot of area are really small, most people living in one or two large cities.
It would do any number of these small countries well to have a successful businessman running them for at least one term.
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