"If wishes were horses," the Latin American proverb goes, "then beggars would ride."
But what if a beggar lucks out, and is given a horse?
The US Southern Command's Nico de Greef, using another proverb to insist that Panamanians accept his country's non-compliance with a treaty obligation to clean former military sites in the old Canal Zone, told us "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." Against Cassandra's better advice, the people of Troy once accepted similar advice, with disastrous results.
The Moscoso administration, oh so concerned with putting all of the in crowd's most worthless relatives on the public payroll and otherwise depleting the public trust, has neglected to maintain many things. It neglected to maintain fire protection at our airports, so that the International Civil Aviation Organization and the US Federal Aviation Administration have downgraded our air safety rating. It neglected to maintain our police force's helicopters, and intentionally sank another chopper in an absolutely disgraceful presidential helicopter insurance fraud scam. It neglected to maintain security and other public services in the Panamanian communities closest to the Colombian border. It neglected to maintain Panama's independence as a sovereign state, buying into a US "Plan Colombia" that's absolutely against this country's interests. It neglected to charge leaders of the AUC death squad for crimes they committed in Panama, most probably as an intentional aspect of involvement in Plan Colombia.
So when the death squads attacked Panama and assassinated four Kuna public officials, the Moscoso administration had insufficient helicopters to respond to the emergency, insufficient police on the ground to maintain even an occasional presence in Paya and Pucuro, insufficient backbone to charge the AUC leaders who boasted about the attack with their crimes, and insufficient decency to send a government representative to the funerals of the slain caciques.
Now the United States is promising $21 million in military aid for Panama, with undisclosed strings that are easy to figure out. It's a facile solution to the Moscoso administration's failure to protect our eastern border.
Which is reason for Panamanians to consider another old proverb, this one from the Mayas. We need to beware of gifts from the devil.
No, most Americans aren't devils, and yes, most US assistance is good for Panama. But that military aid which is intended to cement the Moscoso administration's alliance with the Colombian Army and its AUC death squad auxiliary is infernal and ought to be rejected.
Bear in mind...
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear --- not absence of fear.
We don't want a bigger piece of the pie --- we want a different pie.
There is a demand in these days for men who can make wrong appear right.
© 2003 by The Panama News
The Panama News