A Problem Panama Really Needs To Fix

Trash is one of the problems that Panama needs to fix. This morning they focused on it on the news, but having it on the TV every now and then doesn’t help.

The culture of the country needs to change. It is easy to drive on the highway and see the car in front roll down the window and throw their fast food sack out of the window.

Here is a photo in Cinta Costera, which is a large tourist area in Panama City. People go out on the weekend to have fun and leave their trash behind to be picked up by others.

And this doesn’t compare to others areas in the city or country as shown by the following photos.

When we drive from David to the Frontera, we usually pass several locations on the highway where people have dumped their trash. It isn’t as bad as the photos above, but still is a cultural problem that should be fixed.

Trash encourages mosquitos and mosquitos bring in Dengue and Zika. There needs to be a “Don’t Mess With Panama” campaign so that more people would take an interest in beautifying this country.

19 thoughts on “A Problem Panama Really Needs To Fix

  1. I am in 100% agreement with you. We have friends that recently moved to Cuenta, Ecuador, and I was stunned by how clean the downtown is.in the photos. I would love to see this happen in Pamana But, I guess it really has to start with education.

  2. This is Panama today :

    1) heath system is in ruins
    2) formal education is not existing here, a chiken coop is safer than some school biuldings
    3) the water sytem stinks, so is the idaam
    4) politics needs a 100% overhauling, its dated from around 10000 BC
    5) respect the next person rights, learn how-to
    6) boozers & womanizers since ever are destroying their own culture
    7) the church should mind their own damn business, it keeps the people complete ignorant & fearful of the realities of life
    8) trash system is a real trash
    9) there are more cell phones in Panama than citizens
    10) people should learn how to drive a vehicle properly
    11) sports are a joke
    12) there is no jobs in here (the every day people’s talking) they just don’t want to work
    13) transport is always in trouble

  3. Hello Henry O. You should move to Ecuador soon. what are you doing here? If I dont like where I live, I move. But if you dont move, then you would not have as Don the hobby of critizing everything. We perfectly know what happens here and chose to live here. I remembered when I lived 12 years in California and drove every month from Riverside to Blythe, Needles and Arizona to visit our customers, we saw not only trash but sofas, bottles of urine along the highway. You saw the drivers rolling down their windows and throwing the bottles out. At least this is a 3rd world country but THE US¨,,,,,Not one sofa, many. and matresses too. So please……Your words do not contribute but to satisfy your own frustrations. leave panama soon. Yeah Ecuador is co clean and when mark visited when working with Peace Corps, he was offered food and the flies were all over the food and over people. the meat was full of flies and still they served it and handed it to the guests. . SO CLEAN….. , There are so many topics to talk about but you always pick the same lets criticize the country that we chose as our home… lets do it.

  4. Noris, you might do well to attack the problem instead of the people pointing out the problem. Lilliam recycles, do you? If any of her grandchildren threw out trash from a window, she would correct them. Do you. You are a Panamanian and should be more concerned about this problem especially with all the recent deaths in panama as a result of Zika. Have you seen any of those in California?

  5. I think you are both wrong, Henry and Noris— Why is helping people to better their lives a bad thing? There is not a country on earth that could not be bettered for the good of their citizens. I have a friend in Volcan who is a high school teacher of English. She told me that she talks to the class about the trash problem. She said that the kids seem to understand that it is a health hazard, but then they see their parents litter and they forget about it. This teacher is Panamanian. She said she does not like to see this problem. This is an example of not all the natives being against change. I visited Ecuador for a month a couple of years ago. I was never offered food that was full of flies. I also found it to be very clean. If you are from the US, did you never criticize anything there? I have been in Panama for five years and wild horses couldn’t drag me back to the US. But even though I have grown to love this country, doesn’t mean that there is no need for change. I am quite sure that Don feels the same way. If people become more healthy because of learning a better way, that is a good thing. I don’t understand this parroting of people,”If you don’t like it here, go away.” There is nothing wrong, in many cases with change. It may be possible that with the GDP becoming so increased, due to the canal expansion, there will be improvements in the health care system and other things as well. As for Panamanians not wanting to work, that is as absurd as those in the US saying Mexicans are lazy. I always told people that if not for them out ‘busting it’ in the hot sun, a head of lettuce would cost $5.00. Recently on a post in the news regarding the perceived problem will illegal status of many of them, a woman asked why they didn’t hire others (meaning ‘white’ people) to pick the fruit and vegetables. I worked picking oranges one year in Arizona. My brother, his friend and I were the only ones who were not Mexican, except for one man who had grown up picking. Most Mexicans out picked all of us. I was once a supervisor in a housing development. A young Mexican guy came to work through a temporary agency. I had to threaten to fire him to get him to slow down from shoveling rocks and take a break and drink some water. He didn’t know that as a woman, I was in charge. He said he wanted to keep this job.It breaks my heart to see all the elderly people in Panama still working and walking long distances because they can’t afford the bus.

  6. @ Noris Conrad, well I see that you’re all pissed-off, do I step on your shoes ??
    Knowing that you’re Panamanian that’s enough for me.
    I’m probably a much better citizen than you’re regarding my obligation as a human being even though this isn’t my home, but I always tried my best to help around & make other persons see where there is a major problem.
    Don is a person that I always respect a lot due to his frankness & the major job he’s contributing with to the American citizens abroad, all on his own effort & pocket.
    This person a lots of times try his hardest to help his fellow Americans in any situation.
    Now if you be so kind, could you sent my a air ticket for the way of Ecuador ? by the way my dog’ll like to fly down there too !!!!….. thanks.
    Seems to me that you’re having a log in your own eye.
    Have a nice day,

    P.S : I do have a lot of very interesting hobbies, stamp collections, professional magician,
    edging carpentry, book reading, birds, dogs, camping, mountain climbing, trout fishing, just to name a few of.
    Plus 51 yrs. working as a Precision Tool & Die Maker & the major tool & die US Co’s & Europe.
    In my way of seen things positive criticism isn’t a hobby, I really think you’re confusing things with “gossiping” that’s an every minute matter here.

  7. Ditto that..there are 4 platforms that the next president (or even this one should focus on):

    1) domestic mass transport for people & cargo (nationally. NOT just in the capital)
    2) public school system education
    3) corruption (NOT just Martinelli..across the board) and
    4) the environment (with the first pillar under this being establshing an enforecable system of maintenance, care and penalities).

    I always hear how Panama wants to be the Singapore or HUB for Latin America. Without establishing the basis for these 4 tenants Panama will never arrive at this goal.

  8. @ Daniel, I agreed 100% with you in all your 4 points.
    You’ll see the yrs passing by about it, with negative consequences.
    Its the general culture that isn’t permitting a change.
    ” What is it for me” is way ahead of any duty for the country.

  9. Growing up in Panama I was one of those throwing trash on the streets. This is what I saw others doing hence I did. Also, trash cans anywhere in the city where non existence. After living outside Panama I can see the difference and changed my ways. My children noticed it when visiting Panama and they asked me why. We have to start by educating our kids at home that throwing trash is asking for diseases. We need to be an example. Yes, it is somewhat better now but there is still room to improved. I disagree with some things Henry mentions but in its majority he is right. Do I like to hear it, no, but If we do not recognize there is a problem we can not solve it. Sticking your head in the sand or asking you to “leave if you do not like it” is ignoring the problem. And it should be everyone responsibility. When flood occurs in PC I see people on TV blaming the trash in rivers but, who put it there, we do. No one wants to admit to that. Is always someone else fault or someone else (usually the government) who should fix it.
    When I visit Panama I try my best to put trash away, even saving it I the car or with me until I find a receptacle to dispose it. I get funny looks when I pick up my table in fast food places or food court in the malls. I let other drivers through (despite the opposition from family members), say hello to the cashiers at stores, thanks when some one helps me, say “excuse me” when walking in front of a person in a store or other places.
    If we got rid of the “diablos Rojos”, something I never thought it would happen (and Panama City is not as noisy and contaminated because of it) and have a subway that people actually use, I think the trash issue can be improved.

  10. Well, all the comments are somewhat partially true if not 100%. I’ve lived here in Panama since 1999 and believe it or not, every year has seen an improvement over the previous year. My daughter in H.S. has gone on school trash patrols in Boquete numerous times. Where I live we have municipal trash pickup and the streets a relatively clean. People have their own trash bins for easy trash pickup outside their house. One major cause of trash in the streets, especially in Panama City, is that the trash is not picked up on a timely manner. It accumulates until it is overflowing and becomes smelly and people just lose the desire to do the right thing. This is a municipal problem, not a people problem. Education will not solve this problem, municipalities need to hold their employees responsible when they do not pick up the trash. There are many communities where there is no municipal trash pickup, it would help if a local trash site in these communities were established to assist these people to depose of their trash. In all areas it would help if trash receptacles were placed at strategic locations instead of having the people drop off their garbage bags on the corner for animals to rummage through. Hopefully, people and municipalities will become more aware in the future.

  11. When homeowners are forced to pay for trash collection just like they do for any other utility they will stop dumping their trash in the streets. Enforcing trash dumping using fines will work when laws are written. But laws need enforcement and the police don’t want to. So there you are. The trash problem in Panama is a legislators problem. And they won’t do anything about it because there’s nothing in it for them.

  12. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
    If you are looking for significant improvements per the list of Henry O. don’t expect them in this lifetime, come back to Panama when you are re-born. Least we not forget that what drew most of the expat population here was the cheaper cost of living and pensionado benefits, there were no guarantees regarding quality and no one should have been so naive as to think Panamanians would jump to make changes to satisfy newcomers. Change comes with the education of the pliable minds of the young, but if teachers are trying to promote changes and parents are not following the same path children will be confused. Do schools have something like a PTA where parents and teachers are able to communicate, or do teachers have school time, parent’s home time and the two don’t interact?

  13. I’m old enough to remember a significant trash problem, particularly along the roadways,in the U.S. prior to the national Don’t Be a Litterbug campaign. I agree with Don Ray that this requires a governmental effort at the highest levels and an intensive, widespread publicity campaign.

  14. If you see a problem, try to fix it. Do not complain about it. I have seen groups of folks from some churchs or other groups picking up trash along the highway. Maybe have some programs where there are signs for such and such a group is to clean up a section of the highway. Whatever folks decide. Boy Scouts maybe.

  15. The start of the solution to cleaning up the US roadways was the Beautification Act. The First Lady at the time championed the bill until it became law. The states signed on to enforce federal highways and the movement spread to state and county roads.
    Fines put teeth into the enforcement, changing habits of later generations followed.


  16. I live in a semi-rural beach area near Puerto Armuelles. Here are some things I’ve done to reduce trash locally.
    1) I’ve put up sign in Spanish at the beach saying this is a community property and please take your trash home with you.
    2) I weekly walk a circle route from one beach access road to another, picking up a bag of garbage from the roadway and beach. People are less likely to be the first to defile a clean area.
    3) I pay $5 a month for my garbage pickup and another $5 for the community to use my container and have their garbage collected.
    4) I talk to people who come to the beach and ask them nicely to remove their trash.
    None of this is perfect, but we do have one of the cleanest communities and beaches I have seen.

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