David A. Bandel
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Well, I said I had several updates to post. Some, like this one, are a real pleasure.
In the past, as the government passed laws or other problems came to a head, there were always those who opposed. Most of the opposition came (and still comes) from a vocal minority of leftest extremists. The FER-29, a militant left-wing group from the University of Panama, and the SUNTRACS and FRENADESO groups (principally under-educated construction workers) lead by Genaro Lopez.
While some would argue the point, it's rather obvious to me that Genaro Lopez is an extreme leftist, bordering on the Maoist ideology of MLM (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) which advocates revolution through violent confrontation.
In fact, most confrontations provoked by SUNTRACs, et. al., have degenerated rapidly into violence. These folks take to the streets and take the streets. Getting around is difficult at best, and it pays to have an ample supply of food, water, entertainment, and even something to relieve yourself in, in the car, because you're not going anywhere. The police prefer to just make a perimeter and not let folks try to pass.
Well, last week, when the SUNTRACS decided to block some streets, the police ran in and grabbed about 40 of the demonstrators and sent them off to a correctional facility for 4 days.
President Martinelli said: "you block the streets, you go to jail". I was picking my jaw up off the floor while watching news coverage of the jailed workers as they were released, and I started to applaud. Demonstrations planned by SUNTRACS and FRENADESO were put on hold to evaluate the situation and find an alternative means of protest.
And it's about time. Any group of a dozen or more with a gripe found the best and fastest way to get official attention was to block the streets. Hardly a good first option. And while it is often difficult to get officials to pay attention until the media shows up at a blocked street to get the story, there are other ways.
But what needs to happen is have a responsive government rather than a stonewalling goverment. And as much as I believe President Martinelli would like to make that happen, he's swimming against the current. OTOH, this president has been doing that since his inauguration, and will likely leave office doing that. It's politically incorrect here, and has cost him, but it is a tough decision, he's made it, and seems to be sticking to his guns. Good for him.
David-Martinelli gets tough
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