On July 19, 2011, the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, angered Twitter. As usual the president (@rmartinelli) began by tweeting about his current government's goals and making jibes against the opposition. He began criticizing [es] a statement published in the daily La Prensa, which signaled Panama's debt (37%) in comparison to that of the United States (84%).
Sin argumentos, politicos neofitos y el diario del N0 a todo,no dicen que la relacion deuda pib es de 37% en Panama versus USA que es de 84%
He later responded to a number of negative comments, initially with patience, despite being bothered when Osmar Nuñez (@osmaramed) reproached him in a rude manner for the rise in cost of living in Panama. The tweet was erased, but you can see it in the image displayed below.
The president responded to the tweet with words that have sparked controversy: “Respect, hp” (In Panama, the letters ‘hp’ have a vulgar meaning, similar to ‘sob’, son of a b***h in English).
Twitter users did not hesitate to react and created the #respetahp hashtag where, first and foremost, Panamanians were dedicated to speculating the possible meaning behind the letters.
Alvaro Mateu (@alvaromateu) referred to the famous Harry Potter book and film character:
#RespetaHP Respeta Harry Potter
For some time, many speculated that the president's Twitter account had been hacked, but no one from the presidency confirmed this information. The truth is that the tweet disappeared and the president tweeted [es] accusing people of jumping to conclusions, as he had only made reference to the popular wizard, Harry Potter:
Para todos los mal pensados hp es Harry Potter. Gracias
In response to the president's answer, Carlos Ernesto Riera (@CarlosErnestico) asks himself, What did the young wizard do to the head of state?:
Eso es lo malo de Harry Potter por que le falto el respeto a nuestro presidente? #respetaHP
A group of Panamanians created the respetahp.com [es] webpage, where people can supposedly let off steam.
For some, the incident is funny, although for others the president's behavior is shameful. Twitter user Fútbol Extremo (@futbolextremo) believes that despite the what was first said by @osmaramed, the president should not respond by the same token:
Ese señor se pasò con el presidente pero no se debiò igualar,,, que pena!!!!
Nito Cortizo (@NitoCortizo), one of the presidential hopefuls for 2014, noted in his account:
Los políticos tenemos q aprovechar las redes sociales para promover el debate de altura, recibir las ideas, criticas y consejos de todos.
The user that received the insult has increased his popularity from about 20 to more than 800 followers. The topic will surely continue to give people something to talk about over the course of the next few days on the social networks.
Meanwhile, Panamanians continue to wait for the true meaning of the phrase, “respect hp.”