A number of prominent Panamanians, individually, and through their entities or associations, have taken offense, regarding the inclusion of companies of the Waked organization in the OFAC list, and have stated that the designations are an affront to "national dignity" and sovereignty. Known in Panama, and in other areas of Latin America as the "Clinton List," due to the fact that it was created during the administration of US president Bill Clinton, the National Bar Association, and other entities, have expressed their anger at the situation regarding certain Waked companies, which are operating under an OFAC License, exempting them from the sanctions, but which will expire in July of year, and may not be renewed.
The legal argument appears to be a denial of Due Process, which is also the position that the Waked organization has taken, in its pending civil lawsuit against OFAC, in US District Court in Wasnington. The United States has responded with legal authorities that argue that their is no right to Due Process from a non-US entity or individual, who has no substantial connection with, or footprint in, the US. The Waked case could also be dismissed on the principle of national sovereignty, which prohibits most suit against nations, by individuals or business associations.
Panamanians claim that they have no chance to defend themselves against OFAC actions, and some have called upon their government to defend their affected nationals' interests abroad, especially the two media outlets affected, citing freedom of expression, and appealing to Panamanian patriotism in the press.
While the frustration felt by foreign individuals, and entities, when designated in the OFAC list is understandable, the evidence, regarding Waked organization money laundering of Colombian and Mexican drug profits, that the US alleges it has, certainly raises the issue of whether this appeal to Panamanian nationalism is a ploy to distract the public from the crimes that allegedly occurred, and which gave rise to the OFAC sanctions in the first place.
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock
Journals of Monte Friesner