Former President Ricardo Martinelli feels disappointed by the Americans, who during his term helped without hesitation despite the fact that these favours, he says, cost him threats from other governments. The president had such a close relationship with Washington that he thought they would never leave him at a time when he felt threatened. He took them to come to them to get shelter. But he never thought that he would be 'thrown into a prison'.
In a formal letter addressed to the Department of State, dated May 14, and revealed by his lawyer Sidney Sitton, Martinelli lists his duties for the operations he carried out, mainly to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA for its acronym in English ), or the way it tilted Panamanian foreign policy in favor of the United States during the peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
The four-page note is shaping up as one of Martinelli's first direct battles against the US Department of State to prevent his extradition to Panama, after having made the decision to withdraw appeals in the courts of that country. Martinelli will be subject to the department led by Mike Pompeo, who will decide on his extradition.
The letter reveals sensitive information, in terms of intelligence and bilateral cooperation, which could act as a boomerang in its intention to sensitize Washington about its process. The Americans are usually very reserved in this matter, and the facts are now public.
The former president begins with the complaint of being a political persecuted who was his former vice president, whom he accuses of having fabricated charges against him to hurt his political career and attack his family. "The goal is to disable me politically in 2019," he says.
He immediately mentions, in a tone of complaint, that he chose to go to the United States instead of Italy (a country that does not extradite his nationals, like him), since he was invited by the highest officials of the government when he needed his help. 'After years of friendship, I did not expect to be thrown out of a US jail.'
He then attributes the influence that the former US Ambassador had in Panama, without mentioning it, who not only gave a hand in the process and investigation but also did everything possible to make it happen.
When CIA requested that the North Korean vessel that was crossing the Channel from Cuba be stopped, "I did not split up. I did the inspection of the ship where weapons, missiles, planes were found, which violated the embargo imposed by the United Nations. '
He recalls that before confiscating the ship, he was called by the president of Cuba, Raúl Castro, to threaten him that if he stopped the ship he would suffer serious consequences. There Martinelli does not waste time and takes advantage to highlight the close relations of Varela with the Cubans.
In one of the paragraphs, he reminds the State Department that when he followed the instructions of the CIA, after having confiscated the ship, coincidentally the president of the United States was being accused of spying on other heads of state, such as Angela Merkel of Germany and Dilma Rousseff from Brazil.
After the incident of the ship, Martinelli says that the vice president of the United States told him that they had taken the Castro threats seriously and that if required, he could go to the United States without fear. 'I had the impression that I could trust the promise of such distinguished officers, I was wrong,' he says.
The former president also reported that on one occasion, the CIA asked him to rescue an ex-Italian officer who had been convicted of killing several Islamic terrorists. This led to a special operation to safeguard the Italian and deliver him to the CIA, is an Italian citizen. "The ambassador of Italy and other authorities called me to threaten me with emphasis that he should face serious consequences for preventing the Italian authorities from capturing him as one of the most wanted fugitives," he says.
Then he talks about the needs that the FBI had in Panama. One of them, expand the database of the 'facial recognition system' installed at Tocumen International Airport. Added to this, remember that he wanted to put 19 radars that would be connected to the Southern Command to avoid drug trafficking to the north, but the government of Varela cancelled it. Since then, he says, the amount of drugs that have entered the United States has increased by 300%.
He also makes them see that during his administration he captured several Mexican, Colombian and the son of the president of Suriname.
Among the favours he did to Washington, he brought out the vote in favour of Israel at the United Nations, which is why he was declared 'non gratis' by several Arab organizations, particularly Hezbollah, which has a huge presence in Panama through some senior officials of the current government.
Martinelli was very sure that in the United States he would have a refuge, because once again he was reiterated when he went to the headquarters of the CIA, in Langley. It was at a private lunch where they reiterated to him that when he needed protection from the government of Varela or from others, he could go to them.
'My political career is far from over, this process has made me a martyr. My popularity in Panama has increased, "Martinelli warns, cherishing the possibility of becoming a man that Washington will have to deal with in the future.
Martinelli shows his anger at the attitude of the former US ambassador in Panama, John Feeley, who recently told the 'New Yorker' that he 'made a great effort to have Martinelli arrested' in Miami.
In the letter to the State Department, he says he would have liked the former ambassador to investigate further before opening a vendetta on Twitter and giving statements, something unusual in these charges.
The curious thing is that these statements, judging by the date of the note, are wielded before the article of the 'New Yorker' was published.
His spokesman, Luis Eduardo Camacho, told La Estrella de Panamá that the former president had been motivated to coordinate with the prosecutor Adam Fels and file the first appeal: the withdrawal of the appeal against the request for detention for extradition purposes presented by the Supreme Court of Justice of Panama.
The document presented to the Eleventh Circuit of Florida states that "President Martinelli has consulted with the prosecution and it does not oppose reparation. To avoid doubts, the petitioner will continue to challenge his extradition through other means and is not accessing the extradition request. '
On the last page, Martinelli says he was 100% pro American and he learned that extradition processes are not attached to a due process, that the United States looks at the form rather than the substance. "After what my country and I have done for the US, I thought that they would not be involved in the personal vendetta that Varela has against me. They have detained me in a jail for so long, and I have to defend myself with the claws of a case that the government has made, "he argues.
He ends by saying that he was betrayed by Varela and that if he is going to be extradited to Panama, he asks that it be done expeditiously, in accordance with the bilateral Treaty.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Courtesy of Adelita Coriat (La Estrella - Panama)