Ya BASTA (Enough already)!!

From……: Maria

Good morning, Don –

I write with the attitude of “Ya BASTA (Enough already)!!” Please, if you think this appropriate, publish it:

What beautiful and forward-thinking our country has shown with all the new 1st World improvements being made in the capital city! The Cinta Costera, the new Metro, the new buses and the plans to amplify Amador are truly marvelous feats. Yet here in Boquete, we are left to live as a 3rd World Country.

The electrical outages we have endured daily since the beginning of the new 4-lane highway should cause shame to Union Fenosa and to our government. Not only do we suffer these outages, but we also suffer extreme surges and brownouts in the current such as to damage our electrical appliances and electronics. Not many people can afford to replace their computer and related equipment, refrigerator, microwaves, light fixtures, telephones, cables, etc.

We try to do our part as conscientious citizens while lowering our demand for power by using fluorescent and LED bulbs, but these surges only cause them to explode. Those that don’t explode burn out prematurely.

Mr. President and executives of Union Fenosa, these problems are causing your people in the Interior much expense which we can ill afford. We are extremely proud of the improvements to our nation’s capital and would value your focus on the Interior as you have focused on the Capital.

We desperately call for your immediate assistance!

The Forgotten People of Boquete

18 thoughts on “Ya BASTA (Enough already)!!

  1. Hi Maria, I agree about all the areas outside Panama City being #2 on the list for improvements/repairs. The last time Boquete got any attention was some road repaving when hometown boy, Ernesto Balladares was president.

    The cash cow for all improvements in the country is tourism and Panama City is the first stop on the tour so “sprucing” up the front yard for visitors is needed. Most of the things you have mentioned do not benefit the average resident in Panama City directly but they contribute to jobs and income.

    Also keep in mind, one half the population lives (and votes) in Panama City, if I were running for office, that’s where I would be spending the people’s money. When the Canal Zone was occupied by 35,000 US military, that was the cash cow. Things have changed.
    jim and nena
    fort worth, tx

  2. I wasn’t planning on replying to this post, but I will. I understand Maria’s frustration. However, the electric outages and periodic water outages sometimes come because the country is trying to make improvements.

    Personally, I was always against the four lane construction as it was envisioned. I still believe a more conservative approach of adding some three lane passing areas would have solved the majority of the problems.

    I can’t imagine how bad it is going to be under future administrations when they decide they don’t have the money to maintain this four lane super structure to Boquete. Besides, it was mostly the gringos and developers that wanted this road. I never did.

    On a second point, while PC has received the most newsworthy upgrades in the name of tourism, David has seen a tremendous improvement in many of it’s residential street areas. In eight years, this is the first time I have seen so much investment in the Country.

    Previous Presidents have seemed to be more interested in filling their pockets than making improvements. I personally applaud Martinelli.

  3. “3rd world?”…gimme a break. If you want 3rd world, visit Somalia (the Horn of Africa) for a few months. Personally, I’ve grown weary of hearing folks refer to Panama as “3rd world”…backwards? yes. Slow? yes. Inefficient? yes. Developing? yes.

    If you’re Panamanian, don’t let the extranjeros convince you that you’re “3rd world”. In my opinion, it is an unfortunate term.

    An extranjero in Boquetelandia

  4. AJ…not sure of your sources..and the numbers do vary. Generally speaking there were 13,000 or less US military in the zone at any given time. An additonal 14,000 were brought in at the end of ’89, bringing the total to well less than 30,000. most of the additionals left in weeks after the operation.

  5. I spent 6 years in the CZ on active duty and it was my understanding that the totality of the US footprint was in the 70,000 range. I’m probably wrong but perhaps that included dependents and American PCC and DOD employees as well as military. I do know that multiple National Guard and Military Reserve personnel were always on the ground contributing to the numbers. This was in part a way for the US to manipulate and augment the total amount of forces on hand on the ground.

    Apparently either Panama or perhaps the Carter Treaty only allowed for a certain number of boots on the ground that were consider Permeate Party (PCS). Having additional temporary Military Units deployed in country on a rotating bases added to the total forces or actual boots on the ground at any given time excluding Operation Just Cause (20-DEC-89 @ 0130 Hrs.) Just my understanding not necessarily fact.

  6. Hi AJ,
    the peak population of military in the canal zone was about 68,000 during World War II. At the time I was there (1968-1971), the number was around 35,000. Many were short-time GIs returning from Vietnam and finishing their hitch in the zone.

    Even using $200/month/GI, that’s $7 million a month to spend by guys who typically are not noted for being careful with their spending. And GIs don’t vote and could care less about improvements to the surroundings. Panama must cash in on tourism while it can.

    I agree with Don Ray and Michael’s comments, LOTS of worse places in the world and hopefully ALL of Panama will benefit from the work going on in Panama City.

    jim and nena
    fort worth, tx

  7. Maria’s totally correct. It’s absolutely unfair that the gringos in Boquete don’t have things exactly the way they were in the places where they came from. After all, we’re paying for things with AMERICAN dollars so we should have AMERICAN services for our money in return.

    And it’s outrageous that the only day we can do any shopping and have those waiting on us speak English is one day a week on Tuesday! NONE of those girls at El Rey, Super Baru, etc. speak a lick of English. And didn’t I read, before I came here, that English was WIDELY spoken in Panama? Good Lord, you go into McDonald’s and ask for a cheeseburger and all you get is “Que?” It’s an AMERICAN company for crying out loud! SPEAK ENGLISH!! Same thing goes for the Colonel, Dominoes and Pizza Hut.

    Well, Maria, don’t forget there are flights headed to the land of milk and honey out of PTY every day.

  8. Oh my Richard. I had to read your comments several times to insure I was reading correctly. You are either a clever writer, sloshing out garbage in the first two paragraphs or a tongue-in-cheek brilliant one in the last statement. I’m not sure which. With that said, may I please respond to both:

    I was in a little store in Pedasi and a first-timer in front of me railed against the nice shopkeeper in English that “I don’t speak Spanish! Why don’t you people speak English? That’s who we are and we are the customer!” I very politely told him to shut up and get out. The fact that “they came from” somewhere means they are no longer in that place from which they came. So, you are not in Kansas any more Toto. Learn Spanish if you are living in a Spanish speaking country. Are you the same one that gripes at all of the Spanish speaking immigrants in the U.S.? You ive in the U.S. for crying out loud! Speak English!!! Look how foolish that line of thinking is.

    Second reply to the last line…….if that is what you are really saying……….one simple word of support…… BRAVO! My hunch is that the last line is your true sentiment!

    ps – The milk is getting more sour every day and the honey is turning to salt.

  9. Actually, Richard’s attack is off the point. My feeling is that Maria likes Boquete and is proud to be living there. It is easy to mistake the intent people’s written words and this appears to be a case in point.

    What I take from Maria’s post is the concern about damage caused to appliances, etc. because of careless work practices used during construction. Unfortunately, this is not a new thing and anyone that has lived close to maintenance road work has seen some of it.

    I have seen electricity disrupted, water outages and more caused by workmen. I don’t like it, but I have learned that it is just one of the warts that comes with living in Panama. However, it does not reduce the amount of joy I have received from living here.

    Maria said nothing about Panama adjusting it’s culture and language to US culture and language. That thought was Richard’s tongue in cheek manifestation.

    I think comments aid a lot in giving foreigners a vision into living in Panama. You can agree or disagree with my or anyone else’s views expressed in Chiriqui Chatter.

    However it is my desire that if you disagree, you attack the message and not the messenger.

  10. Tim and Don caught parts of what I was trying to get across. Essentially it’s this: This ISN’T where we came from. It’s totally different. Stop complaining and DEAL WITH IT! If you can’t, or don’t want to deal with it…GO HOME!

    Regarding language… I lived half of my life in the southeast corner of Florida. In large sections of that part of the country English is a second language. Go to a McDonald’s in most of Dade County and you’ll get the same blank look if you order a “cheeseburger” there as you do here in David, though chances are you’ve got a better shot at getting one in David than in Dade.

    Back there I didn’t care if Spanish-speakers didn’t want to learn to speak English. Honestly. But just don’t come up to me and ask me if I speak Spanish. My response was: “Si, pero no aqui. Es los Estados Unidos aqui. Hablamos Ingles. Quando estoy in Mexico, Espana, Panama, hablo Espanol, pero no en mi pais.” That’s what I hope the Panamanians would say to a gringo here who asks them if they speak English. “Yes, but not here. It’s Panama, here. We speak Spanish. When I’m in the United States, Britain or Canada I speak English, but not in my country.” On the other hand if someone came up to me and said in horribly broken English, “Excuse me do you speak Spanish” my response was “Si. Como puedo ayudarte?” “Yes, how can I help you?”

    I absolutely HATE IT when I hear retired gringos say, “I’m too old to learn a new language. It’s too hard.” Well, no one’s ever TOO OLD to learn ANYTHING. The effort it takes to learn a new language keeps the synapses firing. It helps keep the brain limber and stops it from falling into decay. I’m certainly not FLUENT in Spanish by any means. Probably never will be. But that’s okay, too. I’m PROFICIENT in the language and getting better every week. I can COMMUNICATE and when you can communicate with those around you your whole world changes. When you can communicate with your neighbors (if you live outside of a gated community where you’re surrounded by those just like yourself) THAT’S when you start to really experience the adventure that living in a different country and culture offers. Power outages, brownouts, all that stuff is just another part of the adventure. Irritating, sure, but hey, so what? It’s part of the price of admission.

  11. And Maria’s words of wisdom are that you will likely have to buy a new refrigerator, microwave, TV or other appliance if you do not have a good voltage regulator and surge suppressor in line with your appliances.

    Sarcasm is easily misunderstood, especially when it goes through a Google translator and many that read this blog use Google.

  12. Hi all,
    I guess I misread something as I assumed Maria to be a native Panamanian. Her message is to the President and the electric company officials about the disruption of electrical power. She mentions citizens which would eliminate most of the expats.

    Of course, I could be all wrong, it has happened before. 🙂
    jim and nena
    fort worth, tx

  13. Having read the comments pertaining to Maria, I fully understand her situation.
    The only thing I can say is, living here for more than 14yrs, I haved adapted
    to many situations and am still adapting as there are many things that
    frustrate me because of the way things are done here that I am not used to
    as it is was done better when living in the good ole USA.
    However my adaptation to the ways things are done here has integrated me
    into a more understanding person.
    I spoke very little Spanish when I came here and depended upon several
    people to help me when it came time to do things , as little as paying my
    light, water, bills, etc. Now I am able to do that on my own and I can say
    that it has helped me a lot as now the locals in business can not use me
    for being an American , as before, if you know what I mean.
    Here in San Pablo Viejo, electricity goes out a lot also, but I have not
    lost any appliances because of the pre-cautions that I have taken, and they
    are pretty simple as I only use simple surge protectors as I have 3
    refrigerators used daily, and also a computer with other appliances, and
    therefore protect them as much and as simple as possible.
    I think anyone that comes to live in another country, needs to pick up on the
    language of that country, at the least, as that will make the unbearable , bearable,
    because at least you yourself can explain it to someone.
    Having said all of this , hope everyone here does have a good descent life,
    and things could always be worse than one has it right now.
    Having said this hope all has a wonderful day.

  14. I lived in Palembang, Sumatra in 1957-58 Every three days, the electricity was off. At night we lit lamps and played board games and that is still one of the better memories I have of my family. Hong Kong, 1962 – one hour of water every three days because of extreme drought. Really hot summer. We went to the beach to try to cool off, but no shower upon return to home to get rid of sand and salt! Recycled what water there was for just about everything. It taught me a lot and to this day I cringe at wastage of water. One thing about having to do without: makes you A. appreciate things more, B. you get to learn just how much you can do in spite of what you haven’t got.

  15. I agree with Evelyn as well, and with the comments of the folks who’ve lived in Panama for a while and settled in, in the nice country in which Don and most of his commenters live. Reading Evelyn’s comments about electricity and water outages, I will say that I’ll take electricity outages any day of the week, over lack of water. In ’99, PC shut down almost its entire water system for three days so that the city’s main water intake conduit from Gatun and the Chagras River could be replaced; a most unpleasant experience, especially with two young kids at the time…

    I think that if I saw any American berating a Panamanian for not speaking English, I’d escort them right out of the establishment. Struggling to learn a new language is one thing (and you CAN learn languages later in life), but lack of good manners and common courtesy is quite another. It’s definitely not cool having Americans misbehaving in host countries and making America look bad in the bargain.

    Finally, on the language thing, I worked for a great U.S. Ambassador to Panama 99-01, Simon Ferro, from Miami, and he used to joke that Miami and PC were pretty much the same, the only difference being that more people spoke English in Panama than in Miami…

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