By Kenneth Rijock
PANAMA CITY, Panama -- Panamanians, facing a perfect storm of problems, with the Panama Papers documents leak and other financial scandals, have responded with an action straight out of the 1960s: a life-size effigy, made up to look like the American Ambassador John Feeley, was burned in Panama City. The event took place during a patriotic parade, commemorating a national holiday, Martyrs' Day, during which riots protesting the Canal Zone occurred.
Observers of the Panama political scene believe that the return to nationalism is a knee-jerk reaction to Panama's many troubles, which include the utter failure of the current government, elected on a reform platform, to implement an effective program to combat the rampant corruption the country suffers from.
They also note that anti-Americanism boils just below the surface on the Panama City street, some of which manifests itself in the targeting of American expats by financial criminals, and the inability of aggrieved American businessmen to obtain any justice in Panama's notoriously ineffective and bribe-centered court system.
The various financial scandals have resulted in a marked decrease in the amount of new business coming into Panama, and is perceived, wrongly, as American in origin, partly because of the effects of massive Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions imposed on money laundering grounds.
Kenneth Rijock is a banking lawyer turned-career money launderer (10 years), turned-compliance officer specialising in enhanced due diligence, and a financial crime consultant who publishes a Financial Crime Blog. The Laundry Man, his autobiography, was published in the UK on 5 July 2012.