As you can see from the photo above, today I visited the new location of the Civil and Family courts for Chiriquí. They are now located in Cadena de Frío. One end contains the public market and the other end now contains the courts listed in the photo above. In my previous post, the area that was vacant is what now contains the court system. The courts moved within the last three weeks.
I was requested by the Embassy to visit the court in reference to a juvenile case. While I can’t and wont discuss the case, I have a few observations that are pertinent that I can share.
First, I could never have participated in discussions for a case like this, when I moved to Panama. Neither the judge nor the social worker I visited today spoke English. Also, when we visited the family setting all communication by the social worker was in Spanish. Some of the participants spoke English, but being able to understand Spanish was mandatory.
Now while many may move to Panama and never learn Spanish, I feel that gaining a respectable capability in the language of the country is required. The language of Panama is Spanish. If you are going to live here, learn Spanish or at least learn as much as you can. Panamanians will respect you more and appreciate your being interested enough to make the effort to learn.
My Spanish is not great, but I can understand the majority of everything I hear as long as it isn’t spoken to fast.
When I got to the offices this morning, I was given the current files of the case. Obviously this was all in Spanish. In 2003, that would have been 2 inches of paper with writing on it that I could not understand. Today, I amazed myself how much I could understand.
Next, I would like to say that I was very impressed with the professionalism and concern that was shown by all involved in this case. The interest of the involved juvenile was their sole focus and they took their jobs very seriously.