Falling Down in Panama
Vigilantism is a symptom of disorder.
Kenneth Darlington had been running errands in La Chorrera when another roadblock brought his and the lives of others to a grinding halt. The Panamanian-born U.S. citizen exited his vehicle and started down the highway alone on foot as cumbia music thumped through blown-out speakers, nearly drowning out the cheers and cries of the protestors he was approaching. Behind him was a long column of trapped cars and trucks. Demonstrators for weeks forced parts of the country into chaos, causing gridlock and food and fuel shortages as they railed against the government over its agreement with a Canadian company to run an open-pit copper mine in the Colon province. But what did that have to do with a 77-year-old retired lawyer and professor like Darlington? Something in him broke.
After a brief argument, Darlington fatally shot two protestors, cleared the blockade, and calmly returned to his car. “Vámonos,” he told his girlfriend.
Police arrested Darlington at the scene. Some experts say he might avoid jail due to his age and get house arrest instead.
These incidents are like Rorschach tests. Our perception reveals something about our psyche. What I saw in the inkblots in the news was Panama’s “Falling Down” moment.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Contra to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.