I am sure that you, like me, are saddened to read of the deterioration in the health of Manuel Noriega, ex-dictator of Panama. (What’s next on the career path for an ex-dictator, do you think? Tyrant? Grand Poobah?) According to the Beeb, Noriega has been taken to hospital suffering from a suspected stroke, although the Panamanian Health Minister says that tests show no sign of this. As I fumed in an earlier post, Panama allows convicts aged 70 or more to serve their sentence at home, but so far Noriega has been kept in El Renacer jail, south-east of Panama City, since his extradition from France on 11 December 2011.
So why am I so unforgiving? Well, as you may have guessed, I think money laundering is a rather serious crime. I call it “the enabler”, as it allows criminals to profit from all sorts of other crimes. And when I ask people to define money laundering, and they say, “It’s how criminals clean up their money”, I am afraid that my blood boils just the teensiest bit. To my mind, criminal money is never cleaned. It is always, forever and to infinity DIRTY. It is the proceeds of greed and misery, and no amount of placement and layering and integration should change that. Just as, no matter how soft and cuddly and decrepit our friend Manuel may get in his old age, we must never forget that he murdered his political opponents (calling them “rabid dogs” who needed to be exterminated) and laundered millions of dollars for drug traffickers. I’d suffer from high blood pressure too, with all of that on my conscience.