PANAMA'S most famous performer, the multi-talented Ruben Blades (salsa singer, actor and Harvard graduate), is to run for president next year, representing the Papa Egoro party ('Mother Earth' in the Embera Indian language). The singer praised those 'who dared to dream of the future, who dared to believe in the songs and the words of a musician, of a poet'. But at a quiet party rally, the only singing Blades did was a version of the national anthem.
Blades promised his government would focus on social problems. 'I'm not in this to lose,' he told supporters. 'I am a winner, all my life I have been a winner.'
MEXICO can't quite match Panama for glamour in the political stakes: the ruling party has chosen an apparatchik rather than a pop star to carry its colours into battle. And the choice of Luis Donaldo Colosio as the probable next President of Mexico is a measure of the nervousness of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which fears that it could lose after more than 60 years in power. President Carlos Salinas chose Colosio, 43, because he is a machine politician, a former head of the PRI, and as such knows better than anyone how the Mexican carrot-and-stick political system works. His job is to prevent the opposition candidate, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, from winning next August's election.
Cardenas believes he won the 1988 election and has shown his disgust at being deprived of the spoils ever since by refusing to acknowledge his vanquisher's title of President.
JORDAN'S first female MP, Toujan al-Faisal, has threatened to sue local newspapers if they continue to publish cartoons of her in skimpy clothing. 'We are members of parliament, not movie stars . . . I have not portrayed myself as a model,' she said crossly, following the publication of a cartoon showing her in a mini-skirt with her breasts half exposed and flirting with a Muslim fundamentalist MP, who was offering her a chador (a full-length veil).
It was not Ms Faisal's first brush with the forces of anti-feminism: when she first ran for parliament in 1989, fundamentalists declared her an apostate, asked a court to annul her marriage and grant immunity to anyone who tried to shed her blood.
GOOD news for Beatles' fans: Paul McCartney says he, George Harrison and Ringo Starr will have a reunion in London in January. The singer, who is touring Latin America, said he is looking forward to the reunion, part of a televised homage to John Lennon. The singer, no spring chicken, said he was glad still to be playing and advised young people to 'enjoy life'.