You have to hand it to Bloomberg Philanthropies. They are very good at finding public servants willing to exchange their statutory obligation to be impartial for a pat on the back and a pretty bauble. Like the Where’s Wally books, you never know where they may turn up next.
The latest target of Bloomberg’s ongoing programme to influence government policies in low and middle income countries is Panama. Yes, the Panama where COP10 will be held later this year. That Panama.
The country’s National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (ANTAI) has accepted a complaint against Dr. Reina Roa, Coordinator of the National Tobacco Control Commission of the Ministry of Health (MINSA).
The charge is that the Panamanian Coalition Against Tabaquismo (COPACET), of which she is founder, has accepted a Bloomberg Philanthropies Award for Global Tobacco Control as a reward for successfully designing public policies favoured by the world’s biggest privately-owned anti-harm reduction lobbyist.
Dr. Roa is now being investigated by Panamanian authorities for “administrative irregularities” over what is a clear conflict of interest in her role as an “independent” adviser to the Ministry of Health. For it is difficult to imagine Dr. Roa being particularly eager to present both sides of the debate on harm reduction to her government while being celebrated in this way, is it not?
For those who may believe they have read this story before, you may be thinking of The Philippines. In 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies were caught red-handed giving grants to the Philippines FDA to not only influence its future policy, but to physically draft and file a parliamentary bill to be presented to the country’s legislature.
Or perhaps you may be thinking of any number of other countries where Bloomberg front groups have been attempting to meddle in government policymaking, such as Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia, Ukraine, Bosnia, and Vietnam. Take your pick.
One must wonder why Bloomberg’s acolytes are going to such lengths to interfere in government affairs in so many countries, often putting the reputations of public officials at risk and leading them to break their constitutional and legal obligations. Is it not a waste of their time and resources if truth and objective science is on their side?
Or maybe, just maybe, this colonialist manipulation of smaller countries is precisely because Bloomberg Philanthropies are worried that the little guys on the world stage might see through the propaganda and act in the public health interests of their citizens, and that just would not do, especially in advance of COP10.
We trust that Dr. Roa will keep that award polished while she is being questioned on perceived lack of due impartiality by Panama’s authorities. In the meantime, we will watch out for the next far-flung government to be visited by Bloomby’s minions and their fistful of dollars.