[Links are to Spanish-language pages, except where otherwise noted.]
Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli has once again provoked the ire of netizens following comments he made on national television ostensibly to clarify certain recordings published in La Prensa newspaper which linked his son to the Italian corruption scandal surrounding Valter Lavitolla and involving Panama's government [en].
The scandal arose over allegations that Martinelli and various members of his goverment accepted bribes for the construction of prisons in Panama. The prisons were never actually built, and Lavitolla was arrested in Italy and charged with corruption.
On October 10, the President made it clear on his Twitter account that the ‘soap opera’ being written by La Prensa was about to end, as he had in his possession evidence to disprove any conspiracy.
Novela italiana del opositor La Prensa tendrá su último capitulo el jueves con nuestro comunicado que dejará en evidencia la conspiración
— Ricardo Martinelli (@rmartinelli) October 8, 2013
Thursday is the last chapter in the Italian soap opera of the adversarial La Prensa when our press release will lay bear the conspiracy
— Ricardo Martinelli (@rmartinelli) October 8, 2013
On the Telemetro network, President Martinelli, true to his controversial and aggressive style, did not offer up the anticipated proof, but he did clarify that it was all an ambush against him and his family:
“This is a fight between Italians stealing from one another; it is a fight at the highest echelons of Italian society,” declared the Panamanian head of state, adding that he was not surprised that they had implicated his son as a reprisal for not having been awarded a contract.
RPC Radio tweeted a few of the President's choice words. In one of them, he can be heard asserting in a vulgar manner that he did not need so much as a plugged nickel from them, a real, referring to a 5-cent coin.
“Yo no necesito un fucking real de esta vaina, lo digo con la frente en alto #CasoLavitola “- @rmartinelli — Rpc Radio (@rpc_radio) October 10, 2013
I don't need so much as a f***ing plugged nickel from them; I say it with my head held high
It was this way of speaking that seemed to outrage many Twitter users. Tito Herrera, for example, thinks this kind of interview is discouraging, but at the same time reveals people for who they are:
Estas entrevistas me deprimen y a la vez me gustan por q la gente pueden ver como se sale el cobre … #Emputado #FuckingReal #Panama
— Tito Herrera (@TitoHerrera) October 10, 2013
These interviews depress me and at the same time I like them because they show people for their true colours… #Emputado #FuckingReal #Panama
Aurelio Barria asks the president for more dignified language:
Los ciudadanos nos merecemos mas respeto en el lenguaje dl señor Presidente, elevese por favor, q es eso de q “no necesito un fu%&ing real”?
— Aurelio Barria Jr (@yeyobarria) October 10, 2013
As citizens we deserve more respect from the language used by our president, please raise the level, what is this “I don't need a fu%&ing real“?
Others, as is the case for Thais Llean, are more pragmatic and recall that Ricardo Martinelli became president because of a democratic majority—that he was the leader chosen by Panamanians even though part of his campaign slogan involved boasting about being “crazy”.
#Panamá ahora te quejas??? tú tienes la culpa! Votaste por él! Incluso cuando te dijo q estaba loco,lo celebraste! No era mentira! Vergüenza
— Thais Ilean (@thaisilean) October 10, 2013
#Panamá now you complain? You're the one responsible! You voted for him! Even when he told you he was crazy, you enjoyed it! It was not a lie! Embarrassing
Ursula Kiener concludes that Panama has a president of unprecedented vulgarity, and she complains of the poor role model for the people of Panama:
Es oficial tenemos al Presidente más chabacano de la historia. Dando los peores ejemplos con su comportamiento y vocabulario.
— Ursula Kiener (@UrsulaKiener) October 10, 2013
It's official, we have the crassest president in history. Giving the worst examples with his behaviour and his vocabulary.
Vivian Moreno asks whether the vulgarity is necessary:
..Y por que tiene que ser tan vulgar, en serio, sufren mis oidos de escucharlo y se me retuerce el corazón al recordar que es el PRESIDENTE!
— Vivian Moreno (@Vivimayari) October 10, 2013
…And why does he have to be so vulgar, seriously, my ears are ringing from listening to him and my stomach churns remembering that he is the PRESIDENT!
But there were also those who saw the humour; Abraham Bernalcorrea suggests that Martinelli's interviews should have a live audience:
Toda entrevista de Martinelli debería tener un público para que en el fondo se escuchen las carcajadas
— Abraham bernalcorrea (@totobernal) October 10, 2013
All Martinelli's interviews should have a live audience so we can hear the cackle in the background.
The satirical program Proyecto Criollo poked fun at the way the government responds to all scandals saying that they are lies and insulting, but without ever providing clarification:
Todo es mentira, estúpidos. Lavitola, Finmecanica, Cemis, PECC, Visas de Chinos, Van Dame, HP1430, etc. Todo es mentira, siempre. Punto
— Proyecto Criollo (@ProyectoCriollo) October 10, 2013
It's all lies, stupid. Lavitola, Finmecanica, Cemis, PECC, Chinese visas, HP1430, etc. Everything is a lie, always. Period
Edilberto Gonzalez, however, asks a valid question: despite the outrage provoked by the President's words, it is difficult to know what the rest of Panamanians think, those who don't participate in social media.
¿Y el grueso de la masa votante qué pensará, aquellos que no tienen tuiter?
— Edilberto González T (@egtrejos) October 10, 2013
And the bulk of voters, what do they think, those who don't have Twitter?