Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 22:58:05 -0500 (CDT)
Mireya Moscoso's apartheid administration
By Eric Jackson, The Panama News, 9 August 1999
In the front sections of yesterday's and today's editions of La Prensa (Panama), they had the photos and short biographies of her ministers (today) and deputy ministers (yesterday). Even for those who don't read Spanish, these articles are quite instructive.
We're talking about all whites, except for one cholo. No blacks, no indigenous, no Asians.
Mireya has drawn almost her entire administration not only from Panama's white seven or eight percent white community, but from narrowly "politically reliable" white folks at that. Even South Africa's PW Botha had a more integrated cabinet than that.
Of particular note is President-elect Moscoso's appointee for Canal Minister, Ricardo Martinelli. Mr. Martinelli served in Toro's cabinet, as Social Security director, but was ousted after a strike in which doctors, nurses and other health care workers made his removal one of their demands. Martinelli, who owns the Super 99 supermarket chain and a number of other businesses, was deep into this "we're going to run government like a business"* routine with public health system workers, and it appears that he'll deal with canal workers from this philosophy too. In that case, look forward to several years of tense labor relations between canal workers and management.
* Of course, when politicians anywhere say "run the government like a business," they almost always really mean to run the government for the benefit of certain private business interests, usually their own.