Panama Papers reveal a lack of awareness

Aubrey Carr/Staff Writer


“Interested in data?” was the sentence that began the financial and political mess that has been dubbed “The Panama Papers Incident.” An anonymous informer going by the alias “Jon Doe,” submitted the inquiry to Süddeutsche Zeitung, a paper based in Munich.

The Papers are confidential documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca and connect hundreds of wealthy and powerful persons to offshore shell companies. According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the documents contain 11.5 million records over 40 years, making it the “largest leak in offshore history.”

Shell companies can be perfect for tax evasion, amongst other sketchy and illegal financial pursuits, although it is not certain that there is necessarily any illegal activity in this incident, since the act of placing money in offshore companies alone isn’t against the law.

The papers, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, reveal the “offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials,” namely: the British prime minister, David Cameron, associates of Russian president Vladimir Putin, the prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko and the king of Saudi Arabia, Salman.

Icelandic prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, resigned April 5 after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, working alongside other news organisations, mentioned his name in articles and a planned mass protest took place in Reykjavik where, according to Financial Times, a crowd of over 22 thousand people gathered– seven percent of Iceland’s population.

The Panama Papers story has been an explosive one, even The Miami Herald is running a series exposing the details– yet, discussion about the issue hasn’t seemed to make any headway in student conversations.

A small survey I conducted, along with some class discussions I had with my peers, suggested that many FIU students are not as aware of current events as they should be.

The New York Times offers students free copies of the daily paper Monday through Friday, but it is unclear how many students take advantage of this and have the time to devote to reading it. It is our responsibility to update ourselves, but with many of us working part-time or full-time, in addition to completing our academic demands and extra-curricular activities, finding the time to sit down with a newspaper or watch the news is difficult.

In another survey, students said they got their news from a multitude of sources that ranged from reading the local paper to browsing social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

Angel Diaz, a junior, who had not heard about the Panama Papers, suggested that displaying the news on the multiple screens across campus should be the priority, rather than showing ads for food or photo slide shows.

There was an instance when Ben Carson announced his endorsement of presidential candidate Donald Trump that the television screens in the Graham Center Pit broadcasted the news. Students stopped – or at least slowed down – to gather around and watch, which could foreshadow success of converting The Pit from a photo gallery to a news source when there aren’t events occurring in the space.

Though the renovation of The Pit seemed nonsensical last semester, the addition of the television would be a perfect catalyst to get students quickly caught up on current events on their way to class or while eating nearby.  

A different news outlet could play every day so all political perspectives are explored. When on commercial breaks, perhaps we could use the time to display ads for upcoming lectures and events.

Even if it’s merely a matter of catching a glance at headlines, it might spark a Google search by a curious student or inspire a class discussion.

Updating oneself on current events is an extremely important component to being a global citizen, as FIU so promotes. The University should, then, do everything possible to make this component more obtainable and its students must take advantage of every opportunity provided.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


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