I just received this email and would like to ask the assistance of anyone that can provide contact information for Ruben Blades or other assistance for the residents of Playa Las Lajas because of the recent problems with the river San Felix.
It is sad that the officials of this area have such little concern for those people that are in trouble and are basically turning away after promising help.
This should raise huge flags to all people (Panamanian and foreigners) that are investing life savings in Panama and it appears that Panama is doing nothing to help in this time of need.
Linda’s email follows.
Hi Don Ray,
I was wondering if you or any of your readers might know of a direct method of contacting Sr. Ruben Blades, the Minister of Tourism for Panama. A group of very concerned property owners (both Panamanian and foreigner) from Playa Las Lajas, Distrito de San Felix urgently need to contact him regarding the current situation regarding the rio San Felix.
In recent weeks, a sandbar has formed at the mouth of the San Felix River, diverting the flow of the river back inland. The new river course has taken 1 house, 8 lots and is literally at the doorstep of another 2 houses. If the river continues on this new course, it will within in a matter of 2-3 weeks destroy properties & homes of more than 25 Panamanian families, Playa Las Lajas’ fledgling tourist industry as well as considerable foreign investment.
This has been declared an emergency situation by the Autoridad Maritima, MOP (Ministerio de Obras Publicas), SINEPROC and the Governor’s office. However, our efforts to obtain government funding and equipment has come up against a brick wall – his name is Ing. Luis Lombardo, the Provincial Director of MOP. On Friday July 28th, Governor Virgilio Vergara ordered MOP to provide emergency funds to bring in heavy equipment, but we were advised by Ing. Lombardo on Monday, July 31st that MOP will be providing absolutely nothing.
In the meantime, our group has raised funds among ourselves and has hired contractors to build a retaining wall as well as attempt to re-open the original river channel. The wall is holding, but we are unsure if our efforts to re-open the channel will be successful. We are running out of funds, but more importantly, we are running out of TIME!
If you or your readers have any suggestions on whom to contact and how, we’d be happy to hear from them.
Thanks, Linda & Stan
PS – The media has been contacted and there have been newspaper & television reports almost every day for a week.