As most of you know, that have followed Chiriquí Chatter for some time, I try to stay away from things in Panama that I consider political in nature. My main goal has always been to try to reflect what it is like to live in this beautiful country.
There is a Chinese Proverb which says, “May you live in interesting times.” We, who are living in Panama, are experiencing that proverb in full force.
I feel it is difficult for an outsider to understand what is going on. Much of what is presented by the media is not presented without bias. That is better understood these days because of the Internet and it is not something that is unique to Panama.
Still, it does make it difficult for foreigners that have moved to Panama to digest. One typically wants to trust the local news and believe that truth will win out.
Since I have moved here and intend for this to be my final frontier, I would like to think that Panama’s best days are in front of it. The current situation is putting much of my past optimism in a tittering position.
I am not a Panama historian and only have gut feelings about what is going on. I don’t intend on sharing my opinions because of my limited time here. However, I do have some cautions for others that are new to the country like me.
If you are not perfectly fluent in Spanish and have not immersed yourself within the country and culture, then try to avoid voicing your opinion. Facebook can be a great thing, but only if the “wiser” write and “willing to learn” read.
What I will say is that everyone needs to exercise extreme caution so that you don’t wind up being collateral damage. Avoid going anywhere close to protesting areas. It would be a good time to have some emergency provisions. Keep a low profile.
Hopefully reason will win out, but when underlying political factions find it to their advantage to have chaos, then chaos will continue.
I have asked several Panamanians, that I trust, for their opinion of the situation. The feedback from those that I consider well educated is one of grave concern. That is why I believe it is extremely important for those living here as guests of the country to avoid the temptation of throwing allegiance to one side or the other.
The one individual that gave me the best synopsis, wrote the following:
This is a long story, in fact too long to cover it here. I’ll try to squeeze the content in a few sentences. Martinelli is a rich man who turned against his own class supporting the humble social classes of Panama. This had never happened in this country since it was born. He has made made many enemies both from the right and from the left. The Panameñista Party is angry because he dismissed Juan Carlos Varela as the Secretary of State, many rich businessmen who paid no taxes, the PRD party which lost the last the elections, and the communist labor unions of Frenadeso and several Communist education unions.
The Ngnabe Buglé Indians have been manipulated by the radical left to topple Mr. Martinelli’s regime and take over the country. This has been organized for several years. The media has cooperated with them (TV-2, Canal 4, Telemetro, and La Prensa). They are constantly attacking the President. The owners of these communication companies were forced to pay corporate taxes. Some examples are Copa Airlines, the banking industry, the Colon Free Zone, the liquor industry and Bobby Eisemann an important stockholder of La Prensa.
Former governments received generous political donations from these strong economic groups and exempted them from paying taxes. Martinelli stopped this romance.
If Martinelli is dethroned, I’m afraid Panama we go backwards at least forty to fifty years. All its gains will be lost and the Panama Canal could fall into left wing political parties hands. I’m closely monitoring the situation. It doesn’t look good. More riots are expected during the week.
This is my personal perspective of the situation and I don’t like it a bit.
Again, I don’t like to get into the political side of Panama in this blog. However, the current protests that are going on are affecting everyone in the entire country and I can’t ignore it.
Mail forwarding companies are not working. Gas stations are without gas. Medical supplies are missing. Food products are being prevented from being distributed. Tourists have been held captive. The David airport is packed. Buses are not moving across the country. The Paso Canoas border is closed. This is a country under siege.
I hope this is settled soon, but I am not as optimistic as I would like to be.