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"The Italian Soap Opera"
This is a discussion on current panamanian impending democratic elections and the effects of current geopolitics on it, I promise no unbiased account and I will start actually writing the proper opening post in the next few hours.
So basic background info: Panama became a sovereign state on 1903, thanks to US intervention, a deal where they got the rights to build the canal and own a strip of land surrounding it, the panama canal zone. Panamanians didn't actually read the deal, the Hay-Buneau Varilla treaty, until 1904. Anyway, on october 11th of 1968 The National Guard deposed the democratically elected Arnulfo Arias Madrid(who was really old by that point, and this was actually the third time he was deposed as president in his lifetime). This Military Coup made Omar Torrijos Herrera (a proggresive dictator (i.e. a left-leaning US backed dictator)) the defacto leader of the nation after he betrayed other top ranking officials in the plan. Since then elections were had, but the president was merely decorative and the elections were also usually rigged. Omar Torrijos died on a plane crash, very mysteriously so. After him there were others but Manuel Antionio Noriega was the last leader of the National Guard and was deposed by the US invasion of december 1980. We all hated the guy, but he was still a CIA operative gone rogue, and the invasion was just a display of extreme violence that left the Panama City in shambles. During 1989, Guillermo Endara was elected president despite Noriega's rigging efforts and that was the inmediate catalyst of the US intervention.
Since then we've had one election for President, Legislator and Representative/Councilman every 5 years.
Presidents in order:
(1989-1994)Guillermo Endara Galimani:
Universally loved by the populace for being the first democratically elected leader after the military regime. Had the task of rebuilding the country and government institutions and the economy. Was pretty successful and his presidency was the one with the lowest percieved level of corruption since then. Has passed away since a couple years back. Went for re-election on 2004 and 2009, failed both times (runner up and last place respectively.)
[Tidbit: Panamanians hate continuity in power, the president can't re-elect until after three electiom cycles after their first term. They also can't endorse a candidate for the election at the end of their term, not even their own party.]
(1994-1999) Ernesto "El Toro" Perez Balladares:
(Nickname: The Bull)
Economically liberal president. Privitized both the Electric company and the Phone company. Something that most people disliked but was better for the economy on the long run. Strengthened the ties of the panamanian government with the US. Tried to reform the constitution to run for re-electrion through a referendum. It failed, hard. There were some allegations of corruption.
(1999-2004) Mireya "Yeya" Moscoso:
Widow of the late Arnulfo "Fufo" Arias Madrid, ran for the 1994 race and lost. Then ran again on the next cycle. She was a maid at the Old Fufo's house, the old fart. That's her only claim to legitimacy, when the guy was many decades her senior. Bad administrator. awful at hiding the overbearing levels of corruption of her administration, plagued by scandals, she left an awful mark as the first female president of the nation. She got to recieve the Canal back on 1999 and to celebrate our 100th anniversary.
(2004-2009) Martin Erasto Torrijos Espino
(Nicknamed: El Muñeco que Pasea, for his frequent trips overseas while in office.)
Ran and lost on 1999. Our pre-emptive answer to Obama in his frequent back-pedalling. Enacted some reforms on Social Security and proposed and passed an expansion project for the Panama Canal, regarded as less corrupt than the two previous presidents although not without scandlas. His policies left panama in a great shape to actually grow during the global recession. However he failed at violent crime, which grew during his term. He also changed the timetable for change in administration from september to july, meaning his presidency was 4 years and 10 months rather than five.
More posts to come soon. And to explain the title.