Yesterday we went up to Boquete to listen to a presentation by Ruben Lachman Varela. I had met Ruben in 2003, when I lived in Boquete. At that time, he was doing consulting on the expansion of the Panama Canal. His consulting firm, INTRACORP, is currently responsible for the city planning of Boquete and I understand they are bidding to do the city planning for David.
I met him again when he assisted Natalie when she was writing her thesis on Tourism.
In 2003, Ruben had given me a tour of a hydroponics project he was experimenting with. I was extremely impressed and the photos in that post are worth seeing.
There was a good turnout for the presentation. I took this photo before all had arrived.
Ruben’s presentation was primarily about the economic situation of Boquete, but also presented a concern about whether the four lane road that is being built between David and Boquete will be a dead end road, terminating in Boquete, or whether it is really planned as a “dry canal” passageway to the Caribbean.
On the economic side of his presentation, he showed charts that indicate that both Boquete and Panama are doing well, especially when compared to the rest of the world.
On the “Dry Canal” issue, obviously many of the residents in Boquete would like it to be a dead end road. The concerns that were raised centered around the destruction of much of the national forest that would be required to extend the construction. I think a lot of the concern is that it will also change and affect the lifestyle of those living in Boquete.
One member of the audience, Piero Mercanti, who is involved in eco preservation made a different point. He stated that, independent of future construction of the “dry canal”, there is an enormous amount of forest being clear cut today. He said early in the mornings many truck loads of lumber are being cut. He stated that there had already been a loss of 30% of the trees in the last 8 years.
The loss of trees in Panama is a very serious thing as it will have a great effect on climate, animals that live in the forest, and life of much of the rural population. It is going to require a concerned public to have an effect on what happens in the future.
There are also those that think that there is benefit to those living in the Caribbean side to have a “dry canal”, because it would ease getting to David for goods and medical treatment.
I have learned one thing from living in the U.S. and that is that companies and governments outlive people. If governments or companies want something, their wants will live longer than the lives of those that want the opposite.
The mayor of Boquete also spoke and he stated that the development of the road, from David, was necessary because of the growth in population in Boquete and in areas north of David. He explained that the old two lane roads would not satisfy the increase in the number of cars that were making daily drives between the two locations. He offered to speak at an upcoming Tuesday meeting in Boquete.
Certainly, the Boquete I visited in 2002 and moved to in 2003 is no more. You only have to look at the photos of Boquete I have in the 2003 photo albums to see a fraction of the changes. Boquete is probably the largest tourism draw in Chiriquí and with the help of International Living, one of the most desired retirement locations for people around the world.
The question that has not been answered is “Dead End Road or “Dry Canal?”. What is your take?
Slides used by Rubén, can be seen below.