President Martinelli Addresses Panama After Repealing Law 72

The President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, yesterday tried to put a close to a chaotic week which left four people dead. He gave a conciliatory speech inviting people to seek peace following serious confrontations in Colon in protest of Law 72. The law would have allowed the sale of land located in the (tax) Free Zone of Colon.

The press conference was broadcast on Panama’s national channel on Sunday, October 28 to a public anxious to see what the Head of State would say after a silence previously broken by only two concise tweets. These tweets were sent during his official visit to Japan which coincided with this crisis.

The Telemetro [es] website summarised parts of the President's speech:

“Tengo el corazón triste, por las vidas perdidas, los heridos, y los bienes saqueados, triste porque en vez de avanzar retrocedimos” fueron parte de las palabras del mandatario quien expresó que se derogó una Ley cuya explicación no llegó a todos. Recalcó que“la violencia nunca debe ser la vía para resolver nuestras diferencia, por el bien del país y de los panameños, estas confrontaciones no se pueden 

“I have a sad heart for the lives lost, the wounded, and the looted goods, sad because instead of moving forwards we have moved backwards ‘ were some of the leader’s words. He also said that the law which was repealed had not been explained to everyone. He stressed that“violence should never be the way to resolve our differences, for the sake of the country and of Panamanians, these confrontations cannot happen 
President Martinelli of Panama

President Martinelli of Panama by Flickr User LuisCarlos Diaz, CC BY-NC 2.0

During the speech some Panamanians on social networks demanded the resignation of the President, while several ridiculed the lack of apologies, and others saw a real opportunity for peace.

For El Joe (@hilmerj28) [es], for example, the President taught his opponents a lesson by delivering a conciliatory message to the Panamanians:

@hilmerj28: “@gonzalezbmariac: Buen mensaje @rmartinelli demostro mensaje conciliador Panama y los colonenses!” triste los lagartos opositores no crees?

@hilmerj28: “@gonzalezbmariac: Good message @rmartinelli message proved conciliatory for Panama and the people of Colon!” sad for the reptiles in the opposition, don't you think?

But for others, such as Zeus Delgarte (@ZeusDelgarte) [es], the speech was too short:

@ZeusDelgarte: Mejor hubiera hecho twettcam RENUNCIA MARTINELLI MENTIROSO

@ZeusDelgarte: It would have been better to have had the RESIGNATION of LIAR MARTINELLI

For Luis Castillo (@Luis03Castillo) [es] the speech was the same that has been used in other governmental crises where everyone is guilty except the Government:

@Luis03Castillo: El discurso d @rmartinelli fue el mismo q uso tras de la crisis de bocas y los gnobes. Lo dije en la mañana culparan a todos, menos a ellos.

@Luis03Castillo: The speech of @rmartinelli was the same that he used after the crisis of Bocas and the Gnobe [Indigenous people]. He said in the morning that everyone was guilty, except for themselves.

The Minister of the Presidency Roberto Henriquez (@RCHENRIQUEZ) [es] saw in the speech sincerity and the chance for reconciliation:

@RCHENRIQUEZ: Ley 72 derogada.Discurso sincero y conciliador del Pres. Martinelli. Ahora vamos a organizar el dialogo con las fuerzas vivas de Colón.

@RCHENRIQUEZ: Law 72 repealed. Balanced and sincere speech of the Pres. Martinelli. Now we are going to set up a dialogue with the civic leaders of Colon.

In contrast, opposition Deputy Beby Valderrama (@BebyValderrama) [es] believed that the speech was simply an opportunity to clean the Government’s hands of the matter and not ask for forgiveness:

@BebyValderrama: 9 días, 192 horas, 11,520 minutos y 691,200 segundos 4 muertos, + de 42 heridos y en 5 min pretende enlodar a todo el mundo y no pide perdón

@BebyValderrama: 9 days, 192 hours, 11,520 minutes and 691,200 seconds 4 dead, 42 wounded and in 5 min he aims to tarnish everyone and not ask for forgiveness

Although the speech called for reconciliation, reactions in social networks have been diverse and conflicting. Perhaps this is not the last we have heard of this controversial law.

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