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Good Guy Wins Panama Election

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Written by Matt   
Monday, 04 May 2009 18:16
Panama ElectionI was roughly ten years old when my father brought me along to the local police precinct where we stood in line for a few minutes then went into a voting booth and closed the curtain behind us. Holding me in his arms, view my dad simplified the options by calling one candidate good and the other candidate idiotic, shop then allowed me to hit the little red switch. I chose Bill Clinton, who had the same first name as our gym teacher. And while I'm not sure the legality of a ten-year-old boy voting in the United States, if confronted I'd resign behind the veil of democracy, a word that seems weighty and dismissive as if no one really has the right to question what went on back there.  The election at the police station didn't mean much to me back then as I remember feeling overwhelmed by prospect of running into a prisoner. Princeton was a small town with little crime but for some reason, I still visualized the jail cells to be like those I saw regularly on Robin Hood: dark, dungeon-like rooms filled with the kind of monsters that ate children like me. As we walked out of the voting booth, an older woman sat in the doorway with an American flag blanket and conducted an exit poll. I asked her where the prisoners were held. She said she had no idea.

Ricardo Martinelli's triumph over Balbina Herrera in Panama was another election I was not technically allowed to vote in. While I did feel significantly more educated on the candidates, I still found myself wondering where the criminals were until I read an article telling of a gunfight outside a polling area in Calidonia. "Nos preocupa, porque habíamos hecho un acuerdo con las pandillas para que hubiera paz y orden," one official said. "It worries us because we had made an agreement with the gangs to have peace and order today."

My eyes kept on moving down the page but my mind soared into delight at the premise of such an accord. "I'm sorry," I would have said, should I have been the interviewer. "Could you repeat that?" It was like the Pope admitting to a treaty with Beelzebub, asking him politely to just lay low and watch TV for a day or two. I envisioned the electoral lawyer and the gang leaders sitting down for a proper supper to draw out the terms.

"So ya'll want some peas and order, is that it?" the gangsters might say. "We gonna give you peas and order, but in exchange we needs some rounds of ammo and a case of Alize."

"And office chairs," a sidekick thug might chime in. "For our developing corporate empire and such."   

I've always had a habit of waiting for tight decisions to be made or close competitions to be won,  to then get excited about the outcome and celebrate with the winning side. I did this after last year's Superbowl and my best friend punched me in the arm, dislocating my shoulder. I did this after Panama's recent election and surmised that the organic aisle at Martinelli's supermarket chain Super 99 was destined to improve greatly.

"Soybeans?" one of the local squatters in Casco Viejo responded. "You should have just voted for Balbina."  

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by La Mer , May 05, 2009
But what to make of it all?
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written by C. Langcaster , May 05, 2009
I think Martinelli should go name his stores R-Mart in honor of his win and Matt's hunger for more organic goods. What does a Martinelli win mean for Panama tourism? Lots of good things I believe:

1. Business oriented: he will drive Panama tourism in the direction it needs to go - looking at it from a long-term business perspective (not a political one)
2. Pro-US: hopefully immigration will be adapted to allow more American entrepreneurs into the country to work legally.
3. His team: Jaime Figueroa (sp?) is said to be tagged as the next minister of tourism which, according to my sources, is a giant boost for anyone in Panama's tourism industry. This guy is supposedly smart, open-minded, and driven which could push the nation's tourism sector into the stratta it's long been yearning for.
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