After Panama Papers Bombshell Drops, Latin Americans Laugh to Not Cry

Screenshot of the Panama Papers investigation cover art.

Screenshot of the Panama Papers investigation cover art from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists website.

People throughout Latin America have expressed their indignation on social media after the #PanamaPapers investigation seemingly revealed that corruption remains one of the region's toughest problems.

The cache of documents blew the lid on non-declared resources owned currently or at one time by high-ranking politicians, including President of Argentina Mauricio Macri and public servants connected to the presidents of Venezuela and Mexico among others; powerful businessmen; football stars like Lionel Messi and Ivan Zamorano; and celebrities like Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar.

Online commentary has revolved around the need for transparency and a collective effort to ensure accountability, a daunting prospect in a region where governments and the elite work hard to ensure inequalities stay in place.

But beyond outrage, Latin Americans have resorted to their tried-and-tested way of making sense of the leaks — using humor.


Tweet: [Argentinian ambassador in Panama] Miguel del Sel speaking on the phone to journalists.

Image: -Panama, 2:02 pm
-No, I'm sorry, I can't give any information about Macri's secret illegal accounts.
-Uh-oh, I shouldn't have said it was Macri's, damn!
-I shouldn't have said it was secret, damn!
-Why did I say it was illegal!?
-Oh, it's hot out.

The accounts of @mauriciomacri in Panama doesn't have funds. There's nothing illegal about it. Go on, nothing to see here.

A corrupt president? Do you have any idea how crazy that sounds?

I just lent it my name. I had nothing to do with the company.


The 50,000 pesos from CANACA have been found in the Panama Papers! One hundred bills of 500 pesos, finally solving the mystery of where were they.

Guillermo López Langarica, aka CANACA, was a Mexican YouTube celebrity who accidentally rose to fame after a video interview in which he explained how he was wrongly detained for drunk-driving since he had not ‘crashed yet’. He also claimed the police officers robbed him of 50,000 Mexican pesos (aprox. 2.800 US dollars) he was carrying, explaining he had a pack of a hundred 500 peso bills.

When the Tax Administration Service came to investigate the Panama Papers and were told that [President] Enrique Peña Nieto, [Secretary of Finance and Public Credit] Videgaray, HIGA [a shady construction company tied to a scandal involving the first lady] and co. are in there

[American TV animated series] The Simpsons knew what was going on with the Panama Papers 20 years ago!


In the case of Venezuela with the #panamapapers it seems to be cheaper to publish the list of those who are NOT implicated


[Interior Minister] Jorge Burgos, official plumber at [the president's office] La Moneda currently working three shifts to prevent more names from leaking.

About celebrities

Greetings to everybody who contributed to the crowdfunding to help Zamorano.

In 2014, Chilean celebrities and public figures expressed their support to Ivan Zamorano when news broke that he was struggling with an approximately 3 million US dollars of debt after a major project he was involved in – a vast sports complex in Santiago, Chile – hit upon financial difficulties.

Messi doesn't evade taxes. He dribbles them.

“All about my companies” (2016)
Next Almodóvar movie about the Panama Papers.

Since many mainstream news outlets haven't given the leaks much coverage, and Twitter demographics are different from Facebook, Mexican born @MexicAnarchist commented:

Of course, social media wasn't all jokes. One interesting example was from Mexican group Pictoline, which made graphics of the latest news surround the leaks. For the reactions to the Panama Papers, Pictoline took the words of Guardian columnist Owen Jones and pointed at the importance of not remaining cynical when events like this take place:

Photo: Image shared by Pictoline on their Facebook and Twitter public page

Photo: Image shared by Pictoline on their Facebook and Twitter public page

-So a big chunk of the world's political and economic elite are secretly stashing away wealth while imposing or supporting cuts for everyone else.
-Now I know a lot of you want to respond with sarcastic responses.
-That's exactly the attitude that allows these injustices to continue.
-We end up thinking it's a fact of life, like the weather.
-So don't get cynical, get angry and let's do something about it.

Meanwhile, Panamanian Global Voices author Ariel Moreno commented on his Facebook wall:

Yo siempre he sabido que Panamá era un paraíso…

Viéndole el lado positivo la próxima vez que conozca a alguien que no sepa donde queda Panamá tendré más referencias para darle.

I have always known Panama is a paradise…

Seeing the bright side here: Next time I meet someone who doesn't know where Panama is, I'll have more references to give.

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