Time For A Rant

As the title says, I am not a happy camper.

First, there are YouTube videos, going viral, that show Latin American children using foul language protesting a U.S. politician. I don’t care what your political affiliation is, this is just disgusting.

And the fact that many of these foul mouthed videos are being supported by English speaking internet sites, forums, FaceBook and network TV, bothers me as well.

Political disagreement can be done in a respectful manner. Using children, in their formative years in such a video, scorches my mind. In my opinion, this is akin to brain washing youth using youth.

Another, speaking out against this video, was on NING. The poster was called out for it not being relevant to Boquete, but I disagree and support the author’s premise. These videos are creating a divide or increasing an existing divide.

Other children will see the children, in the video, as heroes and role models. This creates more anti-American hate and can translate into crime against American Citizens in Latin American countries.

Which leads me to my Second Rant. Those of us, who live full time in Chiriquí, have seen a dramatic increase in violent crime, often committed by minors. I will give Richard Detrich credit for writing a post on Crime and Punishment.

However, I feel, after reading his post, that he took the easy way out and downplayed it’s importance by saying crime is growing everywhere in Latin America. While I don’t disagree with that, I believe that Panama has a chance to not be like the rest of Latin America. It just needs to review and change penalties for Minors committing violent offenses. I live here and plan on continuing to live here and it is very important to me.

Richard played back the Panama government speak, that Panama can’t do anything because Panama’s laws are based on a UN treaty. Do you think Singapore gives a flying flip about a UN treaty. A gang member creating a crime like those being created in Chiriquí would be executed or get life in prison in Singapore.

Richard did include a write-up, by a respected member of Boquete taking issue with Panama’s UN position, but I would like to see Richard take a stand. He is in the tourism business and a resident of Chiriquí and should voice the concern of his neighbors. His word on the Internet would have an impact. It is easy to take a back seat, if you think you are not effected. I feel the effect everyday, when I go to Hospital Mae Lewis

It is my position, that nothing will change until Panama feels that its tourism and property values are impacted. Panama citizens are concerned, but they don’t have the ability to voice discontent like Richard does. I feel very lonely being one of the few places voicing concern and asking for change. If this discussion dies, nothing has a chance of being done.

Which leads me to my last Rant. Boquete Ning was created to be a place where people could go and learn about life in Boquete, the best known retirement location in Panama. You could read about the good and the bad. Often, voicing concerns about the bad brought change. It even caused the capture of crooks. Now, the new JLM management has put a filter on NING and wants information to be of a positive nature, especially when it comes to Boquete.

The world in not perfect; neither is Boquete. Crime exists around Boquete just as much as any other place in Chiriquí. In fact, there is added incentive for gangs to look for eligible targets in Boquete because of the growth of the gringo population. If you didn’t know, Panamanians think all foreigners (i.e. gringos) are rich. To be fair, Panamanians are being targeted too, but they tend to be more savvy and have multiple levels of protection.

More information about current crimes, information about suspicious activity, and other items that might promote awareness should be posted on NING. It could save a life.

Instead NING lets non-Panama related nonsense dominate the front page such as this rant.  It has nothing to do with Panama and belongs on a site devoted to politics, not a site dedicated to Boquete and Panama.

To moderate a site like NING, requires a mature person with a brain and that does not exist at the present. I am angry because of what was lost, when the new management took over. NING wasn’t perfect before, no site is, but it was far better than it is now.

My Rant is over.

32 thoughts on “Time For A Rant

  1. You are correct Don. It is sad to watch Ning dissolve into nothing. Lee is either laughing or rolling in his grave. Shame on the new “owners”. Maybe the old Ning wasn’t always nice, but it was real (most of the time).

  2. Before and during our move to Boquete, ning was a huge asset. Now it’s a whitewashed shadow of its old self that’s dying a slow death. They claim “6000+ members” but most of those 6000 have moved away, been kicked off or dead.

  3. I am a new follower to Chiriqui Chatter but I have been wintering and vacation in Chiriqui for 8 years. It is so sad to learn of the crime among the youth. You are absolutely spot on that when there is no punishment for crime it will become an epidemic. I believe this Un Treaty bunk is a cop out. If not then Panama must submit a change in the change. I will no longer look for a winter home to purchase. I love Panama and her people but facts are facts. It is a danger we must recognize.

  4. Ohhhhh. Kkkkkkkk, Don. rants noted. I would suspect that the anti politician stuff is being encouraged by a major political party in the U.S, – not too hard to figure out who. That is compounded by their domestic “news” outlets giving this stuff much more weight than it deserves. That means, IMHO, that this particular guy is scaring the beejusus out of them – and rightly so. But, it is the new normal in politics which now seems to also revolve around the candy man effect – who will give ME the most stuff. Forget the stirring speeches of the past -“ask not what your Country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country.” If it is any consolation, Canada just voted in a candy man…..

    As to crime in Chiriqui, it needs to be addressed both at the Country level and Internationally. I am quite surprised that there has not been any travel advisories issued, the situation we have right now would seem to me to warrant something.

    .ning, well, it is a mess and it appears that it is circling the drain. Too bad, I personally enjoyed my jousts with some of the other members. I cancelled my membership and now only glance at the new content every day or two, it is that unimportant to me now. A very sad situation, but one the new owners must wear. I defended them in the early days (give them a chance) but no longer, if I need pablum I know which aisle of Rey’s it is in.

    See, start a rant and others follow. Think I’ll sit back and enjoy a good Scotch.

  5. You are absolutely right that the laws regarding the punishment of criminals, regardless of their age, will not change until there are economic repercussions like lost tourism, gringo homeowners and business owners selling/abandoning their homes and businesses, and a big wide spotlight on the former beauty and safety that once was Panama. Keep on telling it like it is. We stand with you on this, Don.

  6. You will not see a reduction in crime during your lifetime until some of the gringos begin carry guns and shoot the malientes. Police action in Panama is a joke.

  7. Ning’s Ambrean cut off posts on the report of someone from Frances Arriba whose finca was ripped off, after a few, mostly irrelevant, comments, but s/he allows the whacky ravings you link to and allows a discussion of the post that’s more about the mental problems of the poster than the content of the post. Very odd and I am guessing Ning used to have more readers under the old administration, even with the frequent snarkiness that was found there.

    It is time to face the fact that the Ning site is much less useful than it used to be… unless you need an alternative to Googling “chicken recipes”. Other sites, like yours, will likely take up the slack, if there is demand. I bet your eyeball count has increased.

  8. For those of you blocked from ning, here is the post about the theft in Frances Arriba, which Ambreen closed for discussion…

    The new moderator, Ambreen, of the expat website, Boquete.Ning closed this discussion soon after it was posted. Since Lee died a few months ago, we’re still left in the dark who the new owner is, and what their secretive agenda is. They certainly don’t want anyone to know about the crime statistics here. What thoroughly thoughtless individuals the new owners are, whoever JLM is.

    Robbery in Frances Arriba,, Posted on November 4, 2015

    “Just giving everyone in our area a heads up. We were robbed last night. Not our house but the farm property. They stole our chickens, (5 total) our 2 geese & all my horse equipment that I kept in the stable (halters -1 black, 1 blue & 1 hot pink – lead ropes, 3 total & my horse grooming stuff) The police were notified & a report was done. I walked the property with my worker & we found boot prints & the place where the barbed wire was cut. We also found the trail they used. We are adjacent to a property that is unoccupied & overgrown. The trail led to Frances Abajo. It looks like they were staking our place out for a few weeks based on the evidence. Our shepherd was a little groggy this morning (he sleeps outside) and no appetite so we think they might have given him something. Thank the goddess they didn’t hurt him!!! Please keep an eye out for anyone in your areas that all of a sudden have geese as these I am told are not taken for food and fetch a good price. We have flood lights, etc. on the house, plus 2 other dogs that sleep inside & the house is very secure but that didn’t stop these F**KERS from taking whatever else they could get. & we were home when this happened & didn’t hear a thing. Be careful my friends, it is a different world we live in nowadays!!!”

    After the following comments, Ambreen closed the discussion, blocking further comments.

    “I am not trying to demean your experience, but I think a definition of robbery is in order. After reading what the definition of “Robbery” is, you may understand the type of response you may get from the Police.
    Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear.[2] Precise definitions of the offence may vary between jurisdictions. Robbery is differentiated from other forms of theft (such as burglary, shoplifting or car theft) by its inherently violent nature (a violent crime); whereas many lesser forms of theft are punished as misdemeanors, robbery is always a felony in jurisdictions that distinguish between the two.”

    “Yes Gene this is simple theft.Big bankers have cheated people for hundreds of billions in the USA. None of the CEO’s went to jail. Only in Iceland the banksters and politicians went to jail. We had a fire armed robbery at our home late July in Santa Lucia. Life threatening. I am far more concerned about the USA government bombing, killing millions of people in the world.”

    Ambreen, “So sorry, be safe and secure~ Security is so important in the world everywhere today.”

    The original poster of discussion, “I am so sorry I used the wrong word Mr. Lawrence and alarmed the community. Never mind people it was just a theft – no biggie & I apologize if I caused anyone undue worry.”

  9. If I may offer up a different perspective.
    Anyone who happened to see the TV coverage of the Tuesday and Wednesday parades in Panama City might have seen the president present the flag on Tuesday to a young Kuna girl who excelled in her education. Then Wednesday the flag was presented to an ex-gang member who turned his back on crime and succeeded in becoming a worthy member of society through participation in the Safe Neighborhoods program. Being chosen to accept the flag is extremely prestigious to a Panamanian and I applaud the president for singling out who he did and making them role models, showing that there is more to be gained through education and society acceptance than there is through crime.
    I too back the movement of making adolescents responsible for their actions, but has the ex-pat community asked the question of what we might do to aid the president’s mandate of education and youth rehabilitation? We are seen living in gated communities, driving new expensive cars and perceived to be portraying superiority. How do we show that we are here to give and not take? Maybe it could be offering to speak in a classroom to explain how education helped us get where we are, or helping with vocational training.
    Just a thought

  10. I agree 100%, with supporting the young. That is why I often volunteer to participate in English classes and have helped a couple Panamanian university students with their thesis.

    I certainly don’t think that the punitive part of reducing crime is all that is needed. The U.S Embassy has been instrumental in helping with the rehabilitation programs.

    Still, I don’t think there will be significant change in a lot of the youth’s actions until there is punitive side too.

  11. Good thoughts….how can we help? That’s where our heads need to be. Hang in Ray. You get our communal hug. You have always gone beyond the extra mile. Now all of us have to step up to help. Each of us have unique talents….lets mobilize them to help.

  12. We met with Don in late August as part of our trip to Chiriqui to check it out a second home location. Plans were to come back for a couple of months in early 2016 and again for the June-Sept. period. The security situation has riled us in spite of being experienced expats having lived in at least 8 countries–some truly dangerous like Columbia in the 80s. Other conclusions that we have written about already on this site are Healthcare (access to quality urgent care), unrealistic property values ( too high seller expectations and we not limited, just value oriented–so we’ll rent only). Last point is that the cost of living is certainly not cheap as the dream merchant sell it. (COL not our motivation, having lived for years in Australia). We agree about ning entirely and yes, Lee would be very sad at the outcome.

    To go from here the Pols will have to be hit in tourism—write to the sites that sell pablum, perhaps they will not have the loss of free expression as with Ning. This may impact the Pols. As has been said, you allow the UN Treaties to supersede local laws at your peril.

    The current politically correct kneejerk US bashing comments are also interesting comming from US expats—if the home country is onerous—give up your citizenship! Or stay protected by the UN world government and watch out for terror everywhere including boarding up behind bars in Chiriqui homes afraid of the malaentes!

  13. Don, I have great respect for you and your “rants”. Many people think about things and do nothing more. You put it out there for anyone who wishes to read and respond to. I feel your anger and frustration. We all have read about what happened to Marion, but you face it every time you visit and help her and that is truly first hand. I appreciate you wanting to awaken in your readers the need for changes in Panama and changes in how we view our own security.
    I appreciate the time and effort that Linda Pedersen has exerted in raising awareness and gathering support via a petition and questionnaire and raising money for Marion’s care and also hear the frustration in her words. Thank you!

  14. I stopped visiting .ning shortly after Lee died…its not the same, even though I had ‘some opinions’ about .ning before…now its on my ignore list

  15. Don Ray, all of us are in your debt for what you do in the community and your tireless efforts helping those in need. It is also good to know that the U.S. Embassy is pro-active in support of the Safe Neighborhoods program and taking the initiative to work towards aiding the Panamanian government’s objectives with youth issues. The question is what about the other embassy’s in Panama? The ex-pat community is diverse in origin and we pay taxes to the country of origin, however those of us who live here only have what is offered by the embassy to show for those tax monies. Are all the embassies offering to lend a hand? Wouldn’t this be the first step in protecting their citizens? I also believe solidarity among nations to aid what the host country has put in place would give credence for the movement of wrong doers having to face punishments that befit the crime.
    My apologies for using your blog for an issue that until recently would probably have been offered up as a discussion on Ning. But it seems as though the forum is headed for discussion topics that only promote one syllable responses!

  16. Hi A.J.

    I really really can answer your question. I don’t know what the other embassies are doing. I do know that the British Embassy was interested in Marion and contacted her daughter and even sent me a nice “thank you”.

    The only reason I am a little familiar with the involvement of the U.S. Embassy is from the Warden’s meetings I attended in the past. My hope is there will be another Warden meeting before too many more months and I will ask what coordination occurs between embassies. A good question to ask.

    However, I know that in many such areas, the U.S. Embassy can only consult and advise, but it has zero influence in what ultimately is done. As with all advice, it can either be taken or ignored.

    That is why I feel that the individuals living here have to figure a way to make it important enough issue that the Panamanian government realizes it is to their benefit to affect change.

  17. There’s no intention to undermine or deter grassroots actions, just to encourage embassies that speak on behalf of countries and carry big sticks to step up if they haven’t already. I also understand that the only decision makers are the Panamanian government , but when many hands offer help with what they have put in place doesn’t it make it more difficult to reject proposals that hard line actions are also required in administering to those who chose to ignore help and fall foul to criminal ways?

  18. I understand A.J. and didn’t mean to imply that, in case it came across that way.

    I would say that all residents, that have Embassies in Panama, could write their embassy and express concern for Panama’s current position on minors and violent crime.

    The more awareness by all embassies and their talking to their counterparts in the Panama government. may be able to influence change. It certainly can’t hurt.

  19. Regarding the shocking YouTube video, I understand the point that the producers are attempting to make to be that the subject of these young people’s vitriol is essentially a rubber satchel filled with a lukewarm vinegar-water solution.

    It is interesting to me that these young people seem extremely unlikely to involve themselves in the pursuit of criminal activities, as they seem to be quite well educated — their proclivity for plain American idiom notwithstanding ….

    It is the absence of outrage from this audience at their low-hanging-fruit target that I find intriguing and quite telling.


  20. I looked up some stats. In Panama in 2012 there were an estimated 1600 juvenile gang members, In the same year, there were an estimated 850,000 gang members in the USA. Panama has about 1% of the US population. 1% of 850k is 8500, so if Panama was “as safe” from gang activity as the US, it would have 5 times the number of gang members.

    In other words, it is debatable whether the US has anything to teach Panama about how to deter kids from joining gangs, and I would guess that Panama would be about as receptive to US suggestions, as the US would be to Panamanian suggestions about how to reduce gang membership.

    While I am not denying that there is a problem, I am suggesting that Panamanians know that there is a problem and are changing things… even if the changes and their effects are not as fast as many of us would like.

    It makes sense to offer help (as the US embassy apparently has done). It doesn’t make a lot of sense that a place with a lot of crime (at least compared to Europe and Canada) has a system that is going to work better in Panama than it works at home.

  21. Just to help me properly understand Alan, please clarify, “I looked up some stats. In Panama in 2012 there were an estimated 1600 juvenile gang members, In the same year, there were an estimated 850,000 gang members in the USA. Panama has about 1% of the US population. 1% of 850k is 8500, so if Panama was “as safe” from gang activity as the US, it would have 5 times the number of gang members.” As a qualifier you use the word “juvenile” describing the 1600 estimated Panamanian gang members in 2012. Are you comparing apples to apples and also without stating it saying that the US had an estimated 850,000 “JUVENILE” gang members? Or is that total gang members including adults which would make the percentages above incorrect or apples to oranges? Please help me understand this more clearly. I’m also interested in the site you used. I looked up the information myself and was overwhelmed with the swings in numbers from site to site. Much appreciated.

  22. Hi Alan,

    I am not sure why you felt motivated to criticize the U.S. and imply it is not qualified to pass on experience to Panama related to gangs. I further don’t understand why you would feel that Panama would not be receptive to listen to U.S. experience.

    From what I remember of the briefing I was in, Panama asked to visit, and were taken to the U.S. to visit, the locations where these practices were in place.

    Statistics can be used by anyone to prove anything and in this situation I feel your analysis has no value. You have no idea what the statistics are for the locations in the U.S. using these programs. Those would be the only statistics of value.

    You don’t present a better idea of what Panama ought to be doing or who it should be listening to. Do you think Panama is capable of coming up with viable ideas on their own?

    The fact is, in as small populated and very rural province, such as Chiriquí, a small number of gangs traveling around the province (David, Dolega, Concepcion, Boquete, and Volcan), can create an enormous amount of problems. Death, fear, loss of property, loss of tourism, reduced property value and much more.

    I live here and interested in what is being done here. Anything that distracts from real change, reducing violent crime here, concerns me.

    I am more than willing to listen to your ideas to eliminate the growing crime problem in Chiriquí.

  23. Alan, you conveniently neglected to mention what percentage of American cities have gang activity. Compare that to the percentage of provinces in Panama’ which have gang activity
    I certainly hope you’re not one of the American Doomsday survivalists who want to flee to Panama’ to survive the upcoming apocalypse .

    Btw, what gives you the impression that the U.S. embassy is offering help to the crime problem here?

  24. Lynne, Please don’t try to pick a fight here. He thinks the Embassy is involved in providing assistance to the Panama Government because I said so based on previous warden meetings at the Embassy.

    I want no personal attacks to distract from the problem either.

  25. Don Ray, I definitely didn’t intend to start a fight, only that I am unaware of any measures the embassy has taken to help with the crime problem here.

    Please inform me, if I need to be corrected.

  26. How many wardens are there in Chiriqui? Does everyone know who their warden is? (Hint, if you don’t live in David, Don Ray is not your warden.)

    A good first step would be to contact your warden and have him/her communicate your concerns to the embassy. Getting ALL the wardens involved would send a stronger message than just having Don Ray carry the whole load himself. He already has a full plate now.

    And again, flood the websites hyping Panama as a safe tourist, retirement destination with the truth. If you adversely affect tourism, I can guarantee the government will take action.

  27. I am glad I am old and my husband older and can’t deal with what is happening to all of us. . I can’t believe what we are dealing with, with resolutions not on the table UP FRONT. Whether in the US or anywhere else, we lost the love and life we had in the past as I am 73 and my husband is 80 and dying. In the past 10 yrs., all is going nuts. I can’t even get my husband back to the US for care. What is in store for everyone?

  28. We all want to see less crime.
    In my prior post, I applauded the report by Don Ray that the US Embassy was offering advice/help.

    On the other hand, my point was directed towards posters who seemed to think that America has a society with so little crime that the US somehow has demonstrated expertise, compared to other countries. Crime stats are poor and reflect reporting and definition differences and what is or is not a crime in different countries. I did find an overall up-to-date crime ranking, but there are lots of other ways of slicing and dicing the data: http://www.numbeo.com/crime/rankings_by_country.jsp

    Gang membership per se and who robs and beats and possibly shoots a victim is less important than that it occurs. Whatever the rate, it is always better if it can be lower.

    When I first visited Panama in 2007, one of the things I noticed is that so many homes had the windows and door and patios being barred. I also noticed all the armed guards at banks and other places. I did not need to search crime statistics on the web to know that, compared to where I lived at the time, moving to Panama was moving to somewhere that people did not feel as safe. Any new visitor with their eyes open can see this.

    Crime tends to be tied up in culture and socioeconomic status. My information suggests that the Govt. of Panama is addressing this with their anti-gang programs that is focused on either getting gang members jobs or jail cells. Lots more needs to be done, including change the rules on getting dangerous juveniles off the street, more to protect the population from them than to rehabilitate them, given that jail and reform school teach crime as much as deter it.

    It take time to change a culture and make crime, especially theft and violence, less ‘normal’.

  29. You are correct. Allan. That is a very good point to raise.

    I am continually amazed by people wanting to come here and then complaining about not being able to find a house without bars on the windows.

    No better way of saying to prospective thieves “choose this house”.

    At the current time I think Panama’s initial entrance into gang conversion has been closer to PC. With any program like this there are major expenses and Panama is still one that is very paper driven.The computer age is in its infancy here. That is easily seen when you look at the files of criminal cases.

    The exception is smart phones. I think average is about two per person. The word WhatsApp is most spoken application in Panama.

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