Other things happening in Chiriqui

There was a recent incident in Volcan where a gringo was driving and struck and killed a 4 year old child that ran in front of his car. This is a sad story anyway you look at it. It is always sad when there is an accident and a life is lost. In Panama, if a death results from a traffic accident, the driver is assumed guilty until proven innocent. Treatment given to the accused is not the same as it would be in the U.S.

In this case it was a gringo driving, but I really think the treatment might have been the same for a Panamanian. At least I hope the gringo was not treated differently, but the treatment I understand he received has been described as deplorable.

This is another perfect example of why a car camera is a worthwhile investment. It would have shown that the child ran in front of the car and from viewing the video, you should be able to get a rough estimate of the speed being driven.

Another recent incident

There are several lessons to be learned from this incident. Recently a gringo couple in Volcan had their three dogs killed. Two were poisoned. The third dog was missing and later turned up dead. Now when dogs are poisoned, it is usually the precursor of a robbery. In this case the robbery was not immediate.

However, a day or so ago, armed robbers entered their house and beat and robbed them at gun point. They notified the police and when the police came they found marijuana plants in the back yard that one of the victims said he was growing to treat his glaucoma.

The police took the victim of the robbery into custody for growing illegal substances.

I notified the U.S. Embassy of both of these cases. I know that the U.S. Embassy in Panama City will be in contact with the Panama authorities within 24 hours if they are notified about a U.S. Citizen being in custody.

Both of the incidents are getting a lot of discussion on the Yahoo groups. I know that emotions are running high and that many are outraged by the treatment by the police in both cases. The Embassy was notified within 24 hours of each incident.

Both of these cases are recent and how they will turn is beyond my ability to speculate. I will say that they second case, having an illegal substance involved, puts the Embassy in a weaker posture.

My Thoughts.

I am sure that the U.S. Embassy will get criticized for not doing more in coming to the aid of its citizens. I hear more criticism for what the Embassy does more than I ever hear gratitude.

Let me give you my point of view on this subject. In my opinion, the U.S. Embassy’s primary responsibility in any country is to protect the relationship of the U.S. Government and the government of the country involved.

Here, the Embassy also has the responsibility to request that all U.S. Citizens receive the same treatment as a natural citizen of Panama. The key word is “request”. The treatment cannot be expected to be the same as the U.S. would provide under U.S. law. Panama rules by Panama law. Surprise.

If treatment is determined to be different for U.S. Citizens than Panamanians. then the Embassy can bring up the mistreatment to the appropriate agency within Panama. To repeat myself, the U.S. Embassy can only request equal treatment. It cannot enforce equal treatment.

I can say from experience that the treatment will not be the same in all cases and the U.S. requests are not always listened to. This is a risk anyone moving and living in Panama has to accept and weigh that risk and its relationship to their happiness.

12 thoughts on “Other things happening in Chiriqui

  1. If you`re growing an illegal substance(s) in any country , I think you are inviting trouble, especially if you call the police to come to your place, no matter the reason for that call.

  2. Before we all let our emotions run high with regard to these cases, it probably would be wise to get all the facts together. Basing our opinions on a video posting (which can be manipulated to show a convenient point of view), is not sufficient for any individual with a discerning mind. In the first case, although it could have been nothing else but a tragic accident, we are lacking solid information about the events that led to the arrest of the driver and the alleged “deplorable treatment” he received by the police. Did he stop to assist the child and waited for the police or did flee the scene of the accident? Did he resist arrest or refuse to cooperate with the police? Did he show a lack of respect toward the police officers conducting the investigation or show an “I am above the Panamanian law” kind of attitude? These questions among others have to be considered before we make a judgement on whether or not such treatment was not warranted. In the second case, calling the police to report a crime, when your are yourself committing one, merits an entry in the “dumbest criminals” book.

    In opinion, I believe the American diplomatic service in Panama does an excellent job assisting U.S. citizens when it comes to legal matters in a foreign country. But what a lot American nationals tend forget is that if they commit a crime in Panama or any other country in the world, your are subjected to the laws of that country. As an individual, you are responsible for your own actions, not your government. They will not issue you a “get out of jail” card or send the Marines to rescue you.

    Don Ray, if you can post a link to those videos, it will be really appreciated. Thanks.

  3. Retread the post. It does not say there are videos. What I did suggest was that a car cam would provide documentation of the accident. Without documentation, all that will exist will be witness reports, which may or may not be accurate.

  4. In Panama any traffic accidents that results in a death require the detention (arrest) of a driver (suspect) for the investigation. In the case of the American driver he was and is not being singled out just because he was arrested regardless of who is at fault, it’s simply the standard protocol (the law) . If you want to second guess anything second guess why you don’t have a Car Camera installed in your vehicle. Do you want to respond to an incident with facts and the ability to prove them or do you want to take risks with you credibility, freedom and innocents? A lack of preparedness on your part does not constitute an emergency on the part of the Embassy or anyone else.

  5. Don Ray,
    After reading your post earlier today, the sentence, ” Both incidents are getting a lot of play on the Yahoo groups”, made me assumed that there was some kind of video recording being played in the Internet. I sincerely apologize for misunderstanding what you meant to say. Your post is indeed very clear in that respect and your points very valid. Again, my apologies.
    David H

  6. Not a problem David. My writing in not perfect and usually flawed. I edited the write up and changed the word “play” which was the reason for the confusion.

    I have become a believer in car cams after seeing several people have accidents and witnesses come up several days later when it was originally reported that no witnesses were there.

  7. Re: Home Invasion part of the story

    I went to Daisy Department Store in downtown David and purchased a $32 air horn.
    It is the kind used on boats and at track meets. The label states it can be heard a mile away. I have it near my front door to use in case I have a home invasion. I also showed it to my neighbors so they would know if they hear it I am in some sort of trouble.

  8. Don, I “responded” to both detention with blankets and in one case food, water and personnel items. I was at the accident site when the officer did the initial investigation. While I am not a accident investigator, I do know the officer and he is a very “straight shoot” no BS. He did a through and comprehensive job, the “person of interest” was treated very well and was not abused in any manner….”Protective custody” would be a good term…he has been released..
    The second individual, while his detention cell was horrid he was not abused, was allowed to call his wife and the Desk Sgt. gave me his personal assurance he would watch over him. I THINK he is out, will find out latter this A.M. ….

  9. It is refreshing when we get an unbiased account of the incidents from someone who was actually present and involved. There seems to be a great deal of misinformation circulating in the internet with regard to this case and some others. It almost seems like there is a group of people out there who have made part of their agenda the continuing fueling of the “them against us” mentality. Their purpose? Who knows.

    Although some abuse may indeed take place in some instances and granted that the Panamanians jails make the toughest American prison look like a country club,
    the problem is probably not as widespread as some people want to make it look.

    Thank you GR for your ” I was there” account of the incidents. As Don Ray said, it surely helps to clarify most of the misconceptions.

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