Ricardo Martinelli

Ricardo Martinelli, of the opposition party Alliance for Change, won the Panama Presidential election by accumulating 61% of the total electoral votes, a good 24% lead over his closest political rival, Balbina Herrera.  It was a rare victory from a candidate considered as having a center-rightist leaning in a country known for its history of voting left-leaning presidents.  One of the primary economic and political steps of his administration would be the $5.25 billion expansion project of the widening of the Panama Canal, which acts their economic motor (Zamorano, 2009, p. 1).  Passed into law in a 2006 referendum, the expansion of Panama Canal got 44% from international fundings, and is projected to create, during the years 2010 and 2011, more than 5,000 much-needed domestic jobs (Zamorano, 2009, p. 1).The coming into power of a U.S.-educated, rightist-capitalist president in Panama would, in most probability, prove beneficial to its economy.  Being in Central America, and having geographic rights over the Panama Canal, world economic powers, especially the United States, would now be more open and confident in forging economic treaties with the new administration.  Perhaps this can be proved by the funding of over $2.3 billion by world financial institutions on the Panamanian government’s project on the expansion of Panama Canal (Zamorano, 2009, p. 1).With Martinelli’s apparent landslide win, confidence seems to be pouring out for his administration.  With his impeccable reputation as the tycoon behind the country’s biggest supermarket chain, the Super 99 Supermarket, common people are counting on him to deliver to the economy, his corporate successes.  As a 46-year old taxi driver, Carlos Rodriguez, aptly stated, “He has had great success as a businessman and now I hope he can do too, a good job in government (Zamorano, 2009, p. 1).Alongside national unity as his main points of concern, Martinelli also aims to improve on the delivery of health services, the improvement on the standards of the education system, improving on the transportation structures of the country, and implementing a sound economic security.  Being a business tycoon, he is also well aware for the need to improve on the policies in order to attract more foreign investments, and the promotion of free trade, most especially with the country’s largest trading partner, the United States of America.  Panama has had free trade agreements during its past administrations, but the U.S. Congress has not been willing to finalize the treaty mainly due to Panama’s past administrations’ questionable labor rights violations and its banking laws that cuddled tax evaders (Zamorano, 2009, p. 1).ConclusionWith the election into power in Panama of a U.S.-educated, western-capitalist type of a President in Ricardo Martinelli, the Panamanian people had expressed their longing for a change from the traditional political way that had dominated their political system for decades.  Certainly, with the enormous amounts that the people have entrusted their confidence into the new administration, things can only get better.  In fast-tracking the Panama Canal expansion project, and through the help of international financial institutions and economic powers such as the United States, economic recovery would probably be only a couple of years away in attaining.The country’s impending implementation of an improved government system to attract more foreign investments and to further promote free trade, along with the reorganization of the banking law, only strengthens the likelihood of a longer term and a more substantial trade relations with the U.S., Panama’s major trading partner at present.The Eclipse of the AmericasIn April of this year, the Fifth Summit of the Americas was held in Trinidad and Tobago.  The newly elected President of the United States, Barack Obama, acting as the leader of the inter-America summit, was in for a surprise.  Venezuelan president Hugo Chaves, a former military officer, handed President Obama with a Spanish-worded Eduardo Galeano’s book, Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillages of a Continent.  Hugo Chavez seemed to have prepared for a two-fold strategy for President Obama: befriend the radiant man, defame his damned country (Feinberg, 2009, p. 1).  In 1994, the first Summit of the Americas was held, its main agenda was the formation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, or FTAA.  In attendance were 34 countries in the Western Hemisphere and other newly-founded democracies eager to include the United States in their national economic résumé (Feinberg, 2009, p. 1).  Every leader of his nation eagerly signed an agreement avowing his active participation for the promotion of regional democracy and justice.With regards to almost all of the economies in attendance during the America’s Fifth Summit of 2009, perhaps the United States alone can be said with certainty as the only economic superpower, which will in most probability, be the least beneficial of all countries concerned; being only interested in national border, drug trafficking, and energy issues, as compared to the billion-dollars worth of economic aids it gives to the other countries.  Hugo Chaves’ tacit allegation that the United States is largely responsible for Latin America’s poverty seemed baseless and irresponsible; unintelligent and ignorant.Chavez’ own sub-group, the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America, or ALBA, had refused to sign the final communiqué, which was the detailed plans of action for the future of the inter-American support system.  It is tantamount to an intentional rebellion or an act of betrayal on the very tenets of the inter-American system founded along with the creation of the Summit (Feinberg, 2009, p.1), thereby making all the five summits since 1994 irrelevant and useless.  One leader note remembering is Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who quipped in support of Chavez, “capitalism is putting an end to mankind, destroying all of us and leading to the end of the world, digging our graves” (Feinberg, 2009, p. 1).  Perhaps his statement would be more accurate if he had also included in one breath, the totality of dollar-aids in billions allotted by the United States to his country, all of which was the product of his much-despised capitalism.Faced with this kind of an unexpected aggression from his supposed allies, newly-elect President Barack Obama certainly showed his superior leadership and intellect to the hostile leaders.  Whereas he could have every right to exchange hostile words to the said leaders, he preferred to maintain his cool demeanor and confidence, hence was more effective in relating the true spirit of the inter-Americas dream that the Summit stood for.ConclusionWith the holding of the Summit of the Americas in April of this year, the fifth in a series which started in 1994, ending in a not-so-good way between the U.S. and a host of other countries headed by Venezuela, it seemed that the summit’s goal was defeated by the controversies.U.S. President Obama showed exquisitely his leadership and intellectual superiority by the respectful manner in which he deftly handled the situation, a simultaneous intellectual coolness and the evident elevation of reason minus the emotion.  To the tirades of the Argentine and Nicaraguan Presidents, President Obama replied:We will be partners in helping to alleviate poverty.  But the American people have to get some positive reinforcement if they are to be engaged in the efforts to lift other countries out of the poverty that they’re experiencing (Feinberg, 2009, p. 1). President Lula and the Brazilian Economic RecoveryBrazil’s economy is at its strongest in decades.  Ever since President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, or Lula, as he is fondly called, came into office in 2003, Brazil has had a trade surplus in every country in the South American region.  Most notable is its trade surplus with the troublesome Venezuela, which has already reached $1 billion.  President Lula has truly gone a long way, from his younger years as a machine-tool worker who spent his years in picket lines, abhorring capitalism; nowadays his administration is the one lending money to the IMF (Margolis, 2009, p. 1).Basically, Brazil’s emergence as an economic powerhouse can be attributed to two factors: First, the protection derived from America’s security umbrella; and second, the advantage of belonging to a region with no credible enemies (Margolis, 2009, p. 1).  These factors had made President Lula’s dynamism and unique leadership style to fully manifest its potentials.  Lula’s successes, however grand it truly is, cannot be attributed to him alone, United States’ peace keeping role in the region had made it possible for emerging economies, such as Brazil, to operate freely within their region and beyond, without a national security threat creeping on the shadows.Brazil’s path to an economic recovery actually began with their former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in the mid-1990’s.  His dynamic style of governance was so successful that finally, after decades of trial and error, inflation finally was halted, and Brazil’s relation with the world financial authorities was returned back to normal.  The former President Cardoso had also managed to acquire a seat in the U.N. Security Council, and swung into full action the Mercosur free trade zone which benefited the entire region of South America (Margolis, 2009, p. 1).However, it was President Lula who had managed to put Cordosa’s method of economic recovery into full swing.  As Donna Hrinak, an ex-U.S. ambassador to various Latin countries explained, “Lula put Cardoso’s foreign policy on steroids” (Margolis, 2009, p. 1).  Resulting from this strategy, President Lula had visited 45 countries since 2007, and on the average had spent one in every five months abroad, thus earning the moniker, Aero Lula (Margolis, 2009, p. 1).  The purpose of having such numbers of foreign travels is to boost economic ties with developing, as well as the powerhouse countries.  Two victories stemming from this stands out, the first being, WTO’s 2004 decision in favor of Brazil, ordering the United States to drop imposed taxes to cotton farmers; and second, the ordering of Europe to end its monopoly of the sugar-beet industry (Margolis, 2009, p. 1).ConclusionBrazilian President Lula had truly made gigantic bounds with its economic recovery programs, that the economic and financial powers of the world have finally taken notice of his successes.  He had also been astute in his dealings with some of his troublesome neighbors, such as Venezuela’s Chavez, not only in avoiding a direct confrontation, but more importantly in making the situation advantageous to the Brazilian economy.However, one must take into account the U.S. factor in providing stability in the region, without which, no country can ever attain a semblance of stability, however dynamic their leaders may be.  Such is the importance that the United States brings into the world scenario; the assurance of a peaceful region, or at least achieving a controlled hostility-status quo, in order for the struggling economies to flourish, and let their leaders focus more their God-given talents to economic growth, rather than in the building of formidable armed forces.The Murder of Rodrigo RosenbergPeace and order in Guatemala is in peril.  The murder of attorney Rodrigo Rosenberg had brought questions on the integrity of the Guatemalan President himself, Alvaro Colom, and his secretary, Gustavo Alejos.  It has the potential of becoming the worst crisis in the country since the end of the civil war in 1996 (Ellingwood, 2009, p. 1).  It has resulted in the calling for calmness among Guatemala’s business sector leaders, knowing fully well of the magnitude this predicament could cause in their fragile economy.Attorney Rosenberg seemed certain of the coming murder.  He, with the help of a journalist-friend, Mario David Garcia, pre-recorded a video wherein Rosenberg clearly stated, “Sadly, if you are hearing or seeing this message now, it is because I was murdered by President Alvaro Colom, with the help of Gustavo Alejos” (Ellingwood, 2009, p. 1).  With the presentation of the said video, evidence would seem irrelevant; the accused would in all certainty be condemned by trial of publicity, both by the locals and the world alike, and perhaps rightly so.According to Garcia, as revealed by Rosenberg during their many counsels, his predicament is solely because of his being the lawyer of the murdered industrialist Khalil Musa and his daughter, Marjorie. It was also exposed that President Colom had offered the position of a directorship of Guatemala’s Rural Development Bank, or Banrural, sometime in March, but Musa declined the offer as he was not inclined to the practice of money laundering and embezzlement activities of the President (Ellingwood, 2009, p. 1).  Rosenberg also exposed President Colom’s associations with big-time drug traffickers, an issue used by his detractors during the elections; and the misappropriation of funds in Banrural, as funding for the first lady’s ghost projects (Ellingwood, 2009, p. 1).President Colom, understandably, in his defense, strongly denied the accusation and requested for a U.N. Commission along with the United States’ F.B.I. to help in the investigation on the matter.  U.S. Ambassador Stephen McFarland, in an interview, stated that an FBI representative was already in Guatemala to assess what kind of assistance to extend to the Guatemalan administration (Ellingwood, 2009, p. 1).  With the inclusion of these institutions on the investigation, particularly the unblemished record combined with the expertise of the United State’s FBI in dealing with matters as such, the Guatemalans, along with the whole world, can be assured of the true and unfiltered unfolding of the circumstances leading to the murder of Rodrigo Rosenberg.ConclusionThe murder of attorney Rodrigo Rosenberg seemed like a political assassination.  From the conclusive evidences suggestive of the motive for the plot, particularly that of the pre-recorded video naming President Colom and his secretary as the would-be perpetuators, to the allegation to the killings of Khalil Musa and his daughter, Marjorie.South America has had its share of unsolved political killings during the last century, most of which remained in the dustbins of the justice system prevalent in the region.  Perhaps with the FBI’s help in this case, the truth and the mystery surrounding this murder will be exposed.  The United State’s top investigative agency has had in the past, countless requests for assistance from different governments across the globe involving cases that involved the very existence of an administration, and, in most instances, FBI has delivered.  President Colom’s tapping on the resources of the FBI only shows the unquestioned credibility and accuracy typical of FBI findings.  Only, the risks might be perilous for Colom in relying on an American justice system—where justice is blind to the influences of the powerful; and the scales are equal for everybody.ReferencesEllingwood, K. (2009, May 15). Guatemala President Faces Toughest Test Yet. LATimes.com. Retrieved May 22, 2009, from <http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-guatemala-video15-2009may15,0,6798581.story>Feinberg, R. (2009, May 5). How the Trinidad Summit Marked the Fragmentation of the Inter-American System. Foreignaffairs.com. Retrieved May 22, 2009, from <http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/65081/richard-feinberg/the-eclipse-of-the-americas>Margolis, M. (2009, April 18). The Crafty Superpower. Newsweek.com. Retrieved May 22, 2009, from <http://www.newsweek.com/id/194604>Zamorano, J. (2009, May 4). Supermarket Magnate Wins Panama Presidential Vote. Yahoo! News. Retrieved May 22, 2009, from <http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090504/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_panama_election>