PANAMA CITY – Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli publicly apologized for calling a reporter a drug addict.
“I was wrong... I shouldn’t have made those comments in the way I did,” Martinelli said in an interview on Radio Panama.
During a press conference last Thursday about a case of suspected corruption, Martinelli reacted angrily to questions posed by a reporter, to whom he said “I don’t know if you’re having problems with your old habit or what.”
“You’ve had drug problems and that doesn’t mean I’m not going to talk to you...I respect you a lot, I like you...I just hope you don’t get messed up with drugs again,” Martinelli told reporter Hugo Famanias at the time.
The president admitted that given his position he should not have reacted that way, but attributed it to a “lack of respect” on the part of the newsman, who, he said, asked him if he wrote the news for a local daily because he had mentioned an item that the newspaper was going to publish the next day.
Martinelli, who has clashed with the press on other occasions, said that it “wasn’t a proper question” and complained that he is the Panamanian president “most often attacked” by the press, which has also never stopped going after his whole family.
Because of the incident with Famanias, the journalists’ union called a march for Tuesday to defend “the dignity and respect for journalism” that will wind up at the presidential offices, and to which all sectors of society have been invited. EFE