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(English) The Faint of Heart

By Carlos Ernesto González Ramírez

Some people lack the courage to attempt great things, or they shy away from situations that seem beyond their capability. Normally, these people do not even have the initiative to explore the limits of the opposition, a fear based solely on perception, rather than on a sober analysis of reality. These are the people history has dubbed the faint of heart.

Wikipedia states that “fear is an emotion characterized by an intense, usually unpleasant feeling, caused by the perception of danger, real or imaginary, present, future or even past. It is a primary emotion that derives from the natural aversion to risk or threat, and can be seen both in both animals and humans.”

The great empires of history have always exploited this feeling, and these people, to impose their will without having to take any type of effective action to achieve their goals. With the mere appearance (or threat) of action, they make the fainthearted panic and subject them to their imperial designs. This is the tactic employed by the United States, through the OECD, against Panama, in order to force our country to submit to its interests and end the Panamanian financial center, which competes with the financial centers of the United States in its own “backyard”. Fortunately, to date, Panama has proven it is not fainthearted, maintaining a firm position in defense of our interests (as it has throughout its historiography).

Since the debut of the OECD blacklists, Panama has done nothing but grow: in its financial center, in its services exports, and in the level of foreign direct investment in our nation. In other words, to date, the OECD has been a paper tiger, unable to affect Panama.

That said, and with a clear understanding that, as a nation, like it or not, we must maintain relations with other governments, Panama has the responsibility to be a good world citizen, however, keeping the national interest above all else. For this reason, Panama has pursued treaties that avoid double taxation as the most appropriate mechanism to comply with the requirements of those nations that have adopted unilateral measures against our country (measures that have had almost no impact, as I pointed out).

Therefore, the Panamanians should not be concerned with what the OECD says or does not say, for, to the extent we advance more of these treaties, the effectiveness of this private organization of powerful nations, and new instrument of imperial domination, will decrease even more than it has since 2000, when it labeled Panama a “tax haven”.

To this we must add the undeniable fact that the measures that some countries have taken against Panama are contrary to international law and their obligations regarding Panama before the WTO. In this issue, I must admit, our governments have behaved as the Shakespearean fainthearted.

Instead of asserting our rights, for a mistaken concept of international relations, we have done what no other country does: renounce the civilized and accepted international mechanisms to defend our economic interests. The irony is that this waiver is specific to the most important activity in terms of its participation in our overall economic architecture (financial center), but did not pertain to banana exports or the Colon Free Zone, two cases in which Panama has taken the European Union and Colombia to WTO courts (winning both times).

This, however, may soon change. The National Strategy for the Defense of International Financial Services adopted by the Government includes the initiation of actions within the WTO. If Panama initiates a WTO suit against a discriminating country and triumphs, as the law portends, then the OECD threats will eventually fade into the history of failed imperial measures, for they were addressed at those with the courage and backbone to defend the interests of their nation.

It should be noted that, beyond our rights, freedom and the defense of individual liberties is on our side. Panama, with the performance of its financial services and jurisdictional exports, has facilitated international business, providing protection and a risk-free environment to those who are victims of their confiscatory and unfair governments. In other words, it has preserved freedom.

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