On today’s TeleMetro morning news the commentator was talking about the increase in violence in Panama. TeleMetro is one of the country’s most watched TV stations and the one Lilliam listens to every morning to know what is happening.
The commentator said that currently, Chiriquí is the most violent province in Panama. Let that soak in.
The bread basket of Panama, where the majority of all agricultural produce originates. The home of Boquete, listed in International Living as one of the best places to retire. Chiriquí is the most violent province in Panama.
You have most likely heard the old saying, that it is actions and not words that make a difference.
I have been thinking about that some as a result of the two recent meetings in Chiriquí. The one in David, attended by Panama’s President Varela and the one in Boquete, attended by the Panama’s Minister of Security, Rodolfo Aguilera.
I think there was a large show of new vehicles including off-road 4x4s, talk about increasing police force and other signs which implied action taken.
However, I think there is a need for some different words. The words I am talking about are words changing the law that allows juveniles to be released without punishment, independent of the crime.
The break-in in Potrerillos is a good example. The victim was left for dead during an armed robbery. A 14 year old, that was involved was picked up and then released in custody of the father.
If there is no risk of punishment, I think it is the same as providing an incentive to commit more crime. Adults can recruit young ones, plan the crimes and manage their recruits.
These crimes are not being committed by kids out for a little fun. These are planned events. They study their targets. They watch their activities and schedules. They are prepared.
I hate rumors. But a rumor that is going around is that a gang initiation requires recruits to prove themselves by taking violent action against the victim.
In the Potrerillos case, the victim had told the intruders where the laptop was and where the money was. Following that, the victim was then stabbed and shot and left for dead. Now you can say it may have been so the victim couldn’t identify the intruders. I don’t buy it.
However, evidence from other crimes say that isn’t likely, because they they are prepared to prevent themselves from being identified.
Here are a few photos from security cameras of a house in the highlands of Chiriquí. You can tell from the photos that they know there are cameras and they wore masks.
The intruders in the photos were frightened off, but the next time they may not be. The person that provided these stills had analyzed the videos and suspected that the intruders may have had been wearing protective vests. Now that is a frighting thought. They come armed and even prepared for the the owner to be armed.
I talked to the individual at the residence with the video security. More details were provided. One of the individuals was a female and shotguns were in their possession. The individual said that the house was continuously being observed by strange cars. Some license tags have been provided to the police.
I hate to be a party pooper, but I don’t think the recent meetings in Chiriqui will have any effect on the increase in crime we have been witnessing. To me it is all talk to ease the minds of the public and reduce the noise that affects tourism.
I have talked to Panamanians and they effectively say talk is cheap when it comes from elected officials. This is the same as in the U.S., but for those of us that have chosen to live here, it is very serious. In the U.S. at least they have facilities to take delinquents and don’t release them to their parents.
Changing the way the laws are written and holding juveniles and adults accountable for their crimes can have an effect. And for adults that are taking advantage of the current laws and managing juveniles, they should be held to an even more serious level of punishment.
I hate to be a prophet, but I think it is going to take a series of serious crimes followed by a real protest of the residents (both born here and immigrated here) of Panama to cause change.
My intent in writing this post is to keep raising the awareness of the problem. Ignoring the problem isn’t going to fix the problem. Officials saying they understand the concern, but they can’t do anything that would violate UN guidelines is not doing anything to help.
I don’t care how many vehicles you put on the road. I don’t care how many additional police you put out looking for criminals. If the criminals are captured and released, you have done nothing.