Retaliation Is Necessary

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Not being a diplomat, I can only make a simplistic analysis to try to understand why our governments have refused to apply retaliation measures to those states that have publicly expressed disdain for our country and for Panamanians.

It is about time we take this as a personal affront. Being Panamanians is not crying out loud singing Patria de Rubén Blades, but demanding that the Government defend the dignity and interests of our country.

And if it does not, we must become aware and refuse to buy products from the countries that denigrate us the most, such as France, which keeps us on a unilateral discriminatory list and is the biggest cheerleader for the European Union (EU) to discriminate against Panama.

Are French yogurts, cheeses and perfumes really indispensable? Consume the national for the love of God and more in these times of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Have a beer or national rum and leave the French wines.

The retaliatory measures, even if they do not have the desired commercial or diplomatic effects immediately, send a clear signal that the country that feels affected has dignity and is willing to defend its interests and those of its population.

Panama cannot be intimidated by the constant and ruthless attacks by the EU and its bureaucratic hordes from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The prominent Panamanian professor of International Law Alonso E. Illueca, in an article titled De Retorión y Contramedidas (La Prensa, February 27, 2019) hit the nail on the head: “That is why, when making a decision between the countermeasures and retaliation, the State must carry out a cost-benefit analysis, as well as assess whether the response would constitute an internationally wrongful act or an unfriendly measure.

This entails weighing how much countermeasures and retaliation can aggravate the controversy, and that these privilege politically and economically powerful states or organizations, since, due to the imbalance of powers, the effects of these measures may be minimal. In no way does this imply a failure to defend the national interest. Unlike,

Our country has adequate legislation to carry out the retaliatory measures necessary to be taken seriously on the world stage.

I refuse to accept that they treat us as a fifth category country. Let’s leave the inferiority complexes. Law 48 of October 26, 2016, in its article 8, establishes a list of tax, tariff, immigration, labor measures, among others that can be applied by the Executive Branch.

What will not be effective? Who knows, but at this point, doing nothing is worse.

The ones that Colombia applied to us worked perfectly. In exchange for forcing us to exchange financial information, the “brother” country publicly branded us as accomplices in the tax evasion of its citizens, money launderers and established tariffs on textiles in the Colon Free Zone (ZLC).

Panama complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO), won the rulings, Colombia ignored it and they achieved their mission. Someone to explain to me how the controversy with France will escalate, for example, if they apply tariffs to their products in protest.

The Government of Panama, by not daring to apply retaliation or other countermeasures, allows Europeans to continue profiting from private and state businesses in Panama, without the slightest fear of reprisals.

If the government insists on using diplomacy (as if we were internationally recognized for being skilled in this science) then let it take the argument that Panama is doing the job and that only an international body like the United Nations (UN) -where all countries have a voice and vote – it must determine whether or not the minimum standards of transparency and exchange of financial information to which we have committed are met.