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Panama: Spanish Journalist Deported

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

Spanish journalist Francisco Gomez Nadal and his companion Pilar Chato were detained on Saturday, February 26 and subsequently returned voluntarily to Spain, according to the newspaper La Prensa [es]:

The journalist Paco Gómez Nadal signed voluntarily, at the National Immigration Service (SNM), a document in which he accepted his repatriation to Spain.

Gómez Nadal and his wife Pilar Chato, also a journalist, were detained last Saturday 26th February, during the coverage of an indigenous protest against the new Mining Resources Code, in the Plaza 5 de Mayo.

Both were arrested – according to the National Police (PN) – for “disrupting public order” and “encouraging the indigenous protestors to close streets in protest at the Mining Code”.

The measure provoked disapproval among some Panamanians, while others were satisfied with it. In her blog Bla, bla, bla de una panameña [es], Arethusa states her disagreement with the measure which she sees as a way of restricting freedom of expression:

En Panamá hay igualdad, sí, pero de opresión. No sólo mandamos a meter presos a nuestros periodistas sino que ahora también deportamos a los periodistas extranjeros cuando discrepan con las arbitrariedades de nuestro presidente Ricardo Martinelli. Antes de deportarlo, debieron contratarlo para darle un seminario acerca de Derechos Humanos a los custodios y policías de Panamá. Sí, porque ahora se creen que son HIGHLANDER, gracias a la excusa barata de que “en el ejercicio de sus funciones” pueden rostizar gente en sus celdas y a otros los muelen a palos mientras protestan.

In Panama there is equality, yes, but of oppression. We don’t just arrest our own journalists but we also now deport foreign journalists [es] when they disagree with the arbitrary actions of our president Ricardo Martinelli. Before deporting him, they should hire him to give a seminar on Human Rights to the policemen and guards of Panama. Yes, because now they believe they’re in HIGHLANDER, thanks to the cheap excuse that “in the exercising of their profession” they can roast people in their cells and beat others with sticks while they protest.

The association of teachers from Veraguas also had something to say on the matter in the blog Estudio1panama [es] saying that Paco was “as Panamanian as January 9, 1964, ‘Martyrs’ Day’“:

Paco Gomez Nadal, como lo hemos dicho otras veces, es tan panameño como el 9 de enero de 1964. Alguna una vez dijo en broma pero en serio, refiriendose a la lucha por los Derechos Humanos, que estaba intentando enmendar lo que sus tatarabuelos conquistadores habían arrebatado a los pueblos de Abia Yala, y Paco ha demostrado su nivel de compromiso consecuente en la lucha por las libertades Democráticas, los educadores gremialistas panameños le hacemos ese reconocimiento.

Paco Gomez Nadal, as we have said before, is as Panamanian as the 9th of January 1964. Someone once said as a joke with a serious edge, referring to the struggle for human rights, that he was trying to restore that which his great-great-grandparents the conquerors had snatched from the peoples of Abia Yala, and Paco has demonstrated the strength of his commitment to the fight for democratic freedoms. We, the trade-unionist Panamanian teachers, pay this tribute to him.

Jairo A. Rojas Garzón (@ombrepajaro) agrees that in spite of what the government says, the true reason for the journalist’s expulsion was the radical content of his articles:

Paco Gómez Nadal Pilar Chato “importunaban los intereses del Gobierno panameño debido a su postura editorial a favor de la causa indígena”.

Paco Gómez Nadal and Pilar Chato “disrupted the interests of the Panamanian government due to his position in favour of the indigenous cause”.

However, other Panamanians, such as Elias Manopla (@eliasman), appear satisfied with the expulsion of the journalist since they consider that his articles and active participation in indigenous rights issues were an intrusion into Panamanian internal affairs:

Adios Paco Gomez Nadal, a joder a otro lado… Ya era hora! […]

Bye bye Paco Gomez Nadal, go and bother someone else… About time too! […]

Gomez Nadal defines himself in the blog Otramérica as a person who does not believe in the idea of developmentalism and who wishes to collaborate with indigenous and peasant groups.

Soy periodista y en el DNI dice que nací en Murcia en 1971. Ahora, unos añitos después, ejerzo el periodismo de forma independiente (porque no como de él), asesoro a periódicos de varios países de la región (porque me dan de comer) y colaboro con comunidades campesinas e indígenas en la resistencia a los megaproyectos económicos (porque no me como el cuento del desarrollismo).

I am a journalist and my identity card states that I was born in Murcia in 1971. Now, a few years later, I practice in independent journalism (that’s to say, it doesn’t pay my way), I advise newspapers in various countries in the region (because they pay my way) and I collaborate with peasant and indigenous communities in their resistance to megaprojects (because I don’t buy the idea of developmentalism).

The deportation upset indigenous groups who agreed to negotiate on the condition that all those detained during the protests are released. In spite of the promise made by President Ricardo Martinelli to repeal the 8th law reforming the Mining Code, some Panamanians such as José X. Martínez (@JXMARTINEZ14) remind us that the issue of the deported journalist remains unresolved:

Derogaron la Ley! pero no se OLVIDEN DE PACO GOMEZ NADAL! LA LUCHA SIGUE! ESTA LUCHA ES HASTA EL FINAL.

They repealed the law! But we must not forget PACO GOMEZ NADAL! THE BATTLE CONTINUES! THIS BATTLE IS TO THE VERY END.

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

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