Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli sues cartoonist Hilde Sucre over this cartoon
Martinelli is seeking 100,000 dollars in damages for an alleged offence against his honour. I have consulted Hilde to try to find out the text of the lawsuit and the dates of the trial, but the matter is being studied by the publishing company’s lawyers so she has not been able to tell me more details.
In the scene, the ex-president is shown telephoning and asking for “cuaras” (the popular Panamanian name for quarters). He is wearing a T-shirt with the words“Los pinchazos vuelven” (“The wiretaps are coming back“) in relation to the case of embezzlement of public funds and political espionage for which he was tried and acquitted on 9 August. On Monday, 9 September, Panama’s Public Prosecutor’s Office appealed the acquittal of former president Martinelli.
On his arm he has a tattoo that reads“Los locos roban +” which parodies the campaign slogan with which Martinelli came to government:“Los Locos somos +“.
Former President Martinelli, a lover of lawsuits
The former president of Panama from 2009 to 2014 has a long history of litigation, having so far filed some 20 civil and criminal laws uits against journalists, cartoonists and media executives. He has filed eight lawsuits against Corporación La Prensa alone: seven against the newspaper La Prensa, for publications that appeared between March and May 2019, and one against Mi Diario, for this cartoon by Hilde.
The National Council of Journalism (CNP) and the Forum of Journalists for Freedom of Expression and Information called on the judiciary and the Public Prosecutor’s Office to remain “on alert” against what they consider a “growing practice of abusing the justice system as a tool of censorship, intimidation and persecution against journalists and the media”. Source.
Press release complete from CNP and Fórum de Periodistas on 3 September.
Click to enlarge Image source
Hilde Sucre’s cartoon about the lawsuit. Mi Diario, 7 September 2019
About Hilde Sucre
Hilde Sucre (1977) is a renowned Panamanian cartoonist who started at school to do his first doodles, like most cartoonists in the world. After working for a few years in the world of architecture, he studied for a degree in architecture and discovered his true vocation after his first forays into political and editorial cartooning.
He published his first cartoon in the newspaper Panamá America in 2006, in a section entitled “El Cabezazo”, named after Zidane’s famous header; he also drew for the magazines Siete, Soho Panamá, Al Volante, Cero Kilómetro and draws for the TVN programme Radar, one of the most important opinion programmes, with the humour that characterises him. He currently publishes in Mi Diario, on the country’s political and social events. In short, he has been banging his head for thirteen years now.
See gallery of vignettes in Mi Diario.
Other Panamanian presidents and cartoonists in trouble and complaints
You have to go back a long way in time to find other lawsuits by Panamanian presidents against cartoonists.
2002 – Ernesto Pérez Balladares VS Víctor Ramos “Vic”
In 2002, Ernesto Pérez Balladares, also a former Panamanian president (1994 to 1999), filed a criminal complaint against La Prensa cartoonist Víctor Ramos “Vic” for an alleged offence against honour under article 175 of the Penal Code, for which he could be sentenced to up to two years in prison.
Vic had been a cartoonist for the newspaper La Prensa since 1986. He was summoned on 31 May 2002 to be served with notice of the criminal complaint. He was also informed that he was due to make a statement on 7 June.
Before that, the prosecutor’s office sent an official letter dated 13 May 2002 to the director of La Prensa, Winston Robles. It requested a certified copy of a copy of the newspaper dated 11 April 2002.
*I do not know the outcome of this story but, in the absence of confirmation, it seems that the complaint was either unsuccessful or withdrawn.
2000- Arias Calderón sues Enrique Briceño “RAC” in a cartoon
In December 2000, cartoonist Enrique Briceño “RAC” and the editor of La Prensa were sued by former Panamanian vice-president Arias Calderón for insulting him in a cartoon published in the 30 December 2000 edition of the newspaper La Prensa in which a caricature of Calderón appears hand in hand with a figure representing death with the initials of the political group Partido Revolucionario Democrático (Democratic Revolutionary Party). Briceño was fined one million dollars, with the open possibility of a two-year prison term.
Humorists in Latin America and Spain then mobilised in support of the Panamanian.
1991- Guillermo Endara vs. Joaquín Carrasquilla
The then president of Panama, Guillermo Endarathe then president of Panama, Briceño, brought a libel and slander charge against the cartoonist Joaquín Carrasquilla–(Twitter) arguing that he had disgraced, discredited and belittled him.
The cartoon which can be seen in this videothe cartoon was published in the newspaper La Prensa and depicted the president with money in his pocket as he said goodbye to Colonels Marcos Justine and Rafael Cedeño. Guillerno Endara had previously sued two other journalists.
On 28 June a group of cartoonists united in defence of freedom of expression and the right to express opinions. It was a response to the lawsuit and an act to show their support for Carrasquilla.
In commemoration of those events, Cartoonists’ Day is celebrated in Panama on 28 June, the date of the lawsuit. At the time, I asked Joaquín about this matter by mail and he recalled that the conflict did not last more than a month.
Related. 133 cases around the world.