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VOL. 13 #5 -- Feb. 23 - Mar. 8, 2007
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Isthmian Update

Some of the news in Panama

Drug Money Down
The United States reduced by 78% its drug fighting aid to Panama. Of US $4,450,000, given in previous years the contribution will be cut to US $1-million due to the U.S. government channeling resources to other areas that include Iraq and Afghanistan. This was explained by the head of the Narcotics Affairs Section of the US Embassy, Bryan Walch.

City of Knowledge
With the establishment in Panama of the regional office of the United Nations agency for Human Rights, there are now seven UN regional agencies in the so-called United Nations House at the City of Knowledge in Panama, including the Population Fund and the Program for Development.

State Money Surpluses
The fiscal balance of 2006 will show a surplus of US $88-million, that is to say, 0.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a report of the Ministry of Economy and Finances. The results show a reversal of the negative tendency that had prevailed since 1997. This is attributed to prudent management, responsibility for public finances and fiscal cleaning up.
The National Bank of Panama (BNP) showed a surplus of US $117.4-million during 2006, the highest in its 102 years of operation. This is US $24.8-millions more than the previous year, it was reported by the general manager, Juan R. De Dianous H. At December 31, 2006, the National Bank had total assets of US $3,822.8 million, achieving an increase of US $180.8-million over 2005. The credit accounts receivable was US $1,974.6-million, US $1,202.6-million in private accounts and US $772 million in the public sector.

Shopkeepers Beware
The province of Los Santos was the latest area to come under the scrutiny of the Authority of Protection of the Consumer and Defense of Competition. They counted a total of 24,835 anomalies in stores, restaurants, grocery stores and newsstands in the province. They found 2,877 expired products, 2,311 food products not showing their dates of expiration, 380 articles in a deteriorated state and with no clear dates and some 19,267 products without a price on view.

Women Voters
The director of the Women Voters League of Florida, United States, Dorrit Marks, gave a seminar on strategies for a political campaign by women, technical financing and leadership. Marks is an economist and specialist in development, with 30 years of experience on the matter of civic participation.

Arsenal Seized
The daily newspaper Panama America reported that the National Police Force seized an arsenal in a warehouse, property of a former member of the US Air Force, William Leon Clouton, located in a sector of the reverted canal areas. It was revealed that among the weapons are rifles with telescopic sights, rifles, double-barrel shotguns and munitions for AK-47, M-16 and calibers .22, .35, .38 and .50 weapons.

Mexican Business
Commerce between panama and Mexico last year reached US $560-million, reported the Aztec ambassador, Yanerith Morgan. Panama has become the third ranked commercial associate of Mexico on the Central American Isthmus, after Costa Rica and Guatemala. The diplomat emphasized the growing number of investors including CEMEX, Banco Azteca, Electra, Pycsa, ICA and Cinepolis.

Bay clean up enters second phase

The second phase of the project of cleaning up the city shoreline and the Bay of Panama, which includes the construction of an intercepting waste transportation system and a wastewater processing plant, started recently thanks to an agreement between the governments of Panama and Japan, through the Ministry of Health and the Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC).

HSBC Email Alert
The HSBC Bank, that last year bought the local bank, Banistmo, notified its clients of a rash of malicious e-mails, whose intention is to obtain the pin numbers of its debit cards to steal money from the accounts. An e-mail has been circulating to addresses of clients of HSBC and Banistmo, that is headed "IMPORTANT: or your account will be suspended".

Oil Spill
The investigations into the spill of 5,030 barrels of crude oil in the Chiriqui Grande Bay, Bocas del Toro, indicates that the land area affected exceeds two hectares, with a high probability that the damage caused to vegetation is irreversible. This was brought to light by Beatriz Ho Luck, of the Department of Protection of Environmental Quality of the national Environmental Authority (ANAM). Control and cleaning work has recovered more that 1,000 barrels. Petroterminales de Panama, operator of the terminal called the spill "lamentable" and said it was caused by an accident in one of the valves of the loading system at the buoy whom was moving petroleum from the ship "Petrosvsk".

Child Porn
The Austrian police are investigating a powerful international network of child pornographers. Panama and many other countries are involved, among them Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

The secretary of Panama’s International Affairs of the Attorney General’s Office, Gretta Marchosky, revealed that they are expecting the Austrian authorities to give judicial aid to Panama to determine if there are members of the international network of child pornographers in Panama.

Banana Plague
Adding to the woes of the banana industry, an insect known as the "woodlouse" has been affecting the banana plantations of the Multiple Services Cooperative (COOSEMUPAR) to the point of causing losses of 30% in production, it was reported by the secretary general of the Union of Workers of the Chiriqui Land Company and related businesses (SITRACHILCO), Salustiano Degracia. The union leader blamed bad work of the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MIDA.

Student Drugs
The Minister of Education, Miguel Angel Cañizales, reported an alarming statistic: that 43% of the students of the country consume some type of drug. The statements of the minister were made during his appearance before the Drug Commission of the National Assembly. Cañizales explained the programs being carried out in the schools such as those on drug use.

Carnival Music
About thirty foreign orchestras contracted to play during carnival were paid an estimated US $669,500. The 55 local groups were assigned a budget of US $169,837. The number of foreign orchestras is less than the national but they are taking away almost 80% of the pot.

Power price Rigging?
Investigations are being carried out into 18 electricity-generating companies by the Authority of Protection of the Consumer and Defense of Competition, suspected of coming to an agreement to set the prices of electricity before tenders are called. The measure would guarantee them winning the contracts given by the distributors. The investigation, that has the backing of the Eighth Court is searching for evidence which, if proved could result in fines of $1 million each, reported the daily newspaper La Prensa.

Health Officials Arrested
The director of Pharmacies and Drugs of the Ministry of Health, Pablo Solis, and the former director of this same department in the past administration, Ralph Anderson, were arrested after the Fourth Superior District Attorney’s Office made charges against them for the alleged crimes against public health safety as part of the investigations into the contamination of medicines of the Social Security Fund.

Cable Competition
Four new companies will compete in the cable TV market that is dominated at present by Cable Onda and DirecTV. They are Technical Information Group Inc., Corporación de Frecuencias S.A., Compañía de Comunicaciones S.A. and CTV Redes & Telecomunicaciones S.A..

Investors Queue Up
The Minister of Commerce of France, Christine Lagarde, reported to the Panamanian Minister of Commerce, Alejandro Ferrer, the interest of her country to participate in the large projects of infrastructure in Panama, such as in the fields of energy, transportation, megaport and in the cleaning of the bay, among others. More than 30 French businessmen declared their interest.

New Port for Rodman
The port company Singapore PSA Internationa, the third biggest business of that country will enter the Panama market. According to the Minister of Commerce and Industries, Alejandro Ferrer, it will install a new terminal on the Pacific, in the former US navy port of Rodman (on the west bank of the canal), which it aims to convert into a multimodal facility.

Canal Enlargement
The Japanese Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. will be at the front of financial advising on the project to enlarge the Panama Canal with the construction of a third set of locks. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) confirmed yesterday the contracting of the Japanese bank, after finalizing a process of tender oriented to the concept of best value, and after a detailed economic and technical evaluation.

Contrary to what had been announced, the new locks of the Panama Canal will be built by a single company, at a cost of US $2,140-million. Jorge Quijano, director of maritime Operations in charge of the enlargement project, indicated that the tender would be carried out in the third quarter of this year.

Small Business Loans
Giselle de Calcagno, director of the Authority of Micro, Small and Medium Business Authority (AMPYMY), has placed at the disposal of the finance companies US $2.5 million as a guarantee for loans to micro businessmen.

Kunas Deny Drug Involvement
Criminal hands were not involved in the wave of fires that took place in diverse native areas, assured the Kuna Yala deputy, Enrique Garrido. He claimed that these fires were accidental and rejected that some Indians of that region were connected with illicit activities. He claimed that the natives have been defamed, since many people took happily to the airwaves "to link the Indians to matters related to drug trafficking.

 
 
 

Health tourism

Tips to better enjoy the rising temperatures

Dry season has finally arrived with its vast array of opportunities for outdoor entertainment. However, it is important that visitors take the necessary steps, not only to have fun, but to protect themselves from the negative effects of sunrays and water during this time of year

The following is a list of advice on how to prevent and treat summertime accidents.

Before any prolonged exposure to the sun, be sure to drink lots of water and moisten your skin with body lotion and the appropriate type of sun screen for your skin. A good dose of anti-oxidants (vitamins E and C) is also recommended. Such vitamins are found in fruit juices, salads or supplements.

It is important to note that all types of skin, despite an appropriate care, tend to end up dry after long exposures to the sun. In order to minimize the effects of dryness and irritation, correctly follow the instructions that come along with your sun screen or moisturizing lotion.

Parents should always take special care with children in the sun. One needs to remember that most adult skin cancer cases are associated with a long history of sun exposure which, in many cases, starts during childhood.

According to Panamanian dermatologist Dr. Armando Mocci, children six months or younger should not be exposed directly to the sun and neither should they use any sun screen. Whenever playing outdoors, children should be well-clothed and always be in a shadowed area.

The type of sun screen is directly related to skin color. Darker complexions should use an spf between 15-25, whereas light-complected people should use screens with an spf between 30 and 50.

According to Dr. Mocci, sun screens should be applied in thick layers approximately every hour or hour and-a-half. In Panama, it is best to avoid direct sun light between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

 
 
 

Coffee with Bob and Lineth

New English radio show launched


Radio show hosts Lineth Esquivel and Bob Stiff.

Mornings in Panama have just become a little brighter with the launching of a new radio program, "Coffee with Bob and Lizeth", on Ultra Stereo FM, Monday through Friday from 8 am to 9 am.

The show is a mix of music, restaurant and movie reviews, interviews with various celebrities, businessmen, actors, directors, lawyers, etc…."people who make a difference to the quality of life here in Panama".

Hosts Bob Stiff and Lizeth Esquivel both have impressive backgrounds in the entertainment, information business.

Founder of Teatro de los Niños and now head of his own production company, Duo Productions, Bob is an award-winning writer/director for television and director of several professional stage productions in the U.S.

His theatrical directing credits include "The Cherry Orchard", "Our Town", "night Mother", "Singin’ In The Rain", "The Odd Couple", "Plaza Suite", "Macbeth", "An Evening With Noel Coward" and "Sins of The Fathers", the last two of which he also wrote. He produced and designed the set for the highly acclaimed production of "Mujercitas" at Teatro En Circulo here in Panama in 2006.

Utilizing several different professional pseudonyms, he has written for such popular television shows as "Magnum P.I." "Murder She Wrote" and the syndicated series, "L.A. Heat". Bob had his first motion picture script, "Spider’s Web", starring Stephen Baldwin, released in 2002. Another script is currently being marketed to major production companies in Hollywood.

Now a full-time resident of Panamá, Bob is a part-time story consultant for the "Law & Order" television series franchise, writes a popular restaurant review column for "El Visitante", and is directing a major musical for Teatro En Circulo for August, 2007.

Lizeth has been involved in both radio and journalism in Panama for many years.

She is currently host and producer of "Ultra Café", a morning magazine on Ultra Estereo.

She has also hosted and produced a daily legal program on Emisora Lo Nuestro 102.1 FM with lawyers who solve questions and problems on the air.

Lizeth also produced the magazine "Mujer", a monthly edition that was published and inserted in the La Estrella newspaper and was editor of the their daily page "Expats News".

While working for Hosanna Visión Canal 37 (56 cable) she was executive producer of the radio and TV weekly show "A Viva Voz", an opinion show with public participation. She produced and hosted the morning show "Mañana Jubilosa".

She was producer of a TV show "Veredicto", a weekly program about human rights, giving legal advice on national matters.

Lizeth Founded and directed the monthly publication "El Jubiloso" and the weekly TV programs and daily radio shows of the same name, especially for senior citizens.

She created the first Panamanian web site exclusively made for senior citizens.

 
 
 

The Visitor’s recipe corner

"Arroz con Pollo"

Preparation time: 35 mins. aprox.
Cooking time: 25 mins. aprox.
Difficulty: Medium
Yield: 2 Servings

Ingredients:

1 pound of chicken breast
4 tablespoons of oil
2 pounds of rice
Salt
2 crushed chicken consommé cubes
Water
1/2 cup of grated carrots
1/2 cup of chopped celery
1/2 cup of chopped onions
1/2 cup of chopped sweet pepper
1/4 cup of coriander
1/2 spoon of Chinese sauce

Directions:

Cook the chicken breast with a little water and salt for 20 minutes. Shred the breast.

In a pot put 2 spoons of oil, the rice, salt and the chicken consommé and cook for 15 minutes stirring continuously. Cover with water, boil on small flame until dry. Cover, reduce flame and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Stir with a fork.

Cover and take from flame.

In a frying pan lightly fry the vegetables in the other 2 spoons of oil until soft. Add the chicken and cook for 2 more minutes.

Mix the rice with the chicken and vegetables and add the Chinese sauce before serving.

 
 
 

A "cyber-tribute" to all "Colonenses"

Whether you consider yourself an addict of the history of the Panama Canal or a nostalgic "Zonian" looking for your fondest childhood memories on the Isthmus, you simply cannot ignore the city of Colón. All you need to know about Panama’s Caribbean capital, from the days thousands of Black and Asian laborers laid down the first railroad tracks to the establishment of the Colón Free Zone, is found at www.geocities.com/coloncitypanama. The information is "spiced" with quotes, poems and anecdotes of the city’s founders and early residents, as well as late-19th and early-20th century postcards. The site’s most interesting feature is a rarely-seen, five-second footage of Col. William C. Gorgas (who lead the sanitation campaign of the Canal Zone) riding on a passenger train passing through Colón. The footage’s speed and quality are not bad at all, considering the fact it was filmed circa 1914.

 
 
 

CINE UNIVERSITARIO

FEBRUARY 2007
PRESENTATIONS: 4, 6 & 8 PM
TEL.: 264-2737 Y 223-9324
PRICES: $ 2.00 & $ 1.00

Feb. 24 – 26

MAD HOUSE (DOM DURAKOV) (Russia-France, 2002), comedy by Andrei Konchalovsky, with Yuliya Vysotskaya, Sultan Islamov, Bryan Adams, Stanislav Varkki. In Russian and Chechenian with subtitles in Spanish. During the Chechenian war, the patients of a psychiatric hospital take over a military regiment and a romance awakens between a nurse and a soldier. Based on a true story. Special UNICEF award at the Venice Festival. 104’.

 
 
 

Furore over Penal Code

Three articles of the proposed changes to the Penal Code, which are being discussed in special sessions by the Commission of Government Affairs of the National Assembly, have caused great furore in all segments of society.

The articles, approved in the first debate, impose prison terms for divulging information on third persons without their authorization. Articles 187, 189 and 422 are described by the president of the National Counsel of Journalism, Simón Bolivar Alemán, as an insanity. "They are a block against freedom of speech, above all against the writing of the media", he said.

The journalist Marcel Chéry, of the Front for Defense of Freedom of Speech (FREDELEX), described the decision of the deputies as a "legislative conspiracy" against freedom of speech.

A group of journalists asked for the removal of the articles, but deputy Jerry Wilson, while promising to present the petition to the full sitting, warned, "there is no guarantee that it will be approved".

Meanwhile, the Front for Defense of Freedom of Speech called a protest march to the National Assembly to demand the elimination of the articles.

The journalists were supported by the Secretary General of the Attorney General’s Office, Rigoberto Gonzalez, who described as "fascist and dictatorial" the proposals in the reform of the Penal Code that restrict access to information, and executive secretary of the Office of Anti-corruption, Alma Montenegro de Fletcher who said that, as they are edited, the controversial three articles on the freedom of speech, would collide with the role played by the mass media in the accusation of acts, that on many occasions the authorities cannot divulge because of legal requirements.

A number of civic and political groups made objections to other articles in the Penal Code revision.

Penalties for domestic violence should be more severe and not commutable to fines per day as established in the Penal Code, said the president of the National Network of Support to Children and Adolescents, Roxana Méndez.

The group of Panameñista Party deputies in the National Assembly suggested that implementation of article 74 dealing with the age of offenders would allow condemned criminals, such as former General Manuel Antonio Noriega, to evade justice.

 
 
 

Learning to deal with
"false friends"

By Gabriel E. Leonard
Certified Public Translator

When learning a foreign language, students often run into false friends – pairs of words in two languages that look and sound similar, but bear different meanings. Awareness of this linguistic phenomenom is essential, as it can cause serious problems in translation and inter-cultural communications.

Understanding the cultural contexts in which two words are used can help us deal better with the "false friend" phenomenon. The English word, "suburb" and the Spanish, "suburbio", for instance, have completely opposite meanings and connotations. In the U.S., after World War II, thousands of middle and upper-class families moved en masse to the suburbs (outskirts), a better place to live than the crime-infested, decaying inner cities.

A few of them

English
Actual: exact, punctual
Assist: to offer help
Bizarre: strange, unusual
Constipation: unfrequent bowel movements
Carpet: a type of floor cover
Contest: competition
Destitute: pauper
Disgust: a sickening feeling
Embarrassed: feeling of shame
Exit: the opposite of entrance
Molest: sexual abuse, harrassment.
Record: to log or register
Fabric: clothing material
Spanish
Actual: current
Asistir: to be present
Bizarro:a brave person
Constipar: to catch a cold

Carpeta: a folder
Contestar: to answer
Destituido: removed from office
Disgusto: anger
Embarazada: pregnant
Exito: success
Fastidiar Molestar: to bother, annoy
Recordar: to remember
Fábrica: manufacturing shop

In the Spanish-speaking world, generally speaking, things turned out the opposite way. In Latin America, roughly around the same time, millions of displaced peasants moved closer to the city, establishing slums around large metropolitan areas, while city centers remained fashionable for the well-to-do. In Spanish, "suburbio" (from the Latin sub=under, urbi=city) generally means slum.

People living in the "white collar"communities of Condado del Rey or Cerro Viento in the outskirts of the Panama City area, would be terribly offended if you were to describe their community as a "suburbio". Even residents of lower-class, downtown districts such as Calidonia or El Chorrillo would appreciate if you would call their community a "communidad", "sector", "barriada" or "barrio" (Unlike the U.S.-borrowed term, "barrio" in proper Spanish means "neighborhood," regardless of social condition, which means that the wealthy areas of Paitilla and La Cresta, downtown, are also "barrios").

A misunderstanding like this, of course, would prompt anybody to offer the offended party an apology. In such a case, be sure not to use the term, "apología", as it is another word for "defense", especially when backing or defending an idea or point of view. "Discúlpeme, por favor" ("forgive me, please") would be a better solution. Just remember this is only a warning ("advertencia") which is obviously not an advertisement ("anuncio").

 
 
 

The story of a hat

This is the story of Albert Peters, a native of Nassau, Bahamas, who lived in Panama during the construction of the Canal. At age 21, he read in the papers that the U.S. government was building an ocean-to-ocean waterway and decided he could not miss on such a monumental task. His parents, however, were completely against the venture, due to the poor sanitary conditions in Panama at the time. Nevertheless, the young Albert Peters disembarked in Colón in August of 1906 and immediately found a job as part of a rail track relocation crew.

However, it wasn’t long before his parents fears came true. The young man soon contracted malaria, and was admitted to Ancón Hospital, in the Pacific terminus of the Canal. His stay in the hospital was terrible. His ward was a large army tent filled with uncomfortable stretchers. After a number of days watching hospital personnel carrying away the corpses of his fellow patients, Albert soon remembered his parents’ words, although he managed to get better and eventually re-joined the construction work.

In 1910, Albert got a new job. He was now a diver, working at the hydraulic excavations at Culebra Cut. Assigned to a four-member crew, Albert worked eight-hour shifts in which each crew member spent two hours in the water.


Albert Peters was one of the thousands of laborers from the Caribbean who come to build the Panama Canal.

In those days, Canal workers were paid in a train car that tra-veled along the project’s route. Laborers were often required to form long lines in order to reach the clerk at the car’s window. Once at the window, the clerk would ask laborers to hold out their hats up, where he would then place the money.

One day, while on duty at Culebra Cut, Albert Peters heard the pay car whistle, signaling departure. There was one problem. He was on the opposite side of the cut. "Wait, wait!" he shouted and swam across the cut at an incredible speed. He then struggled to negotiate a rugged hill 12-meters high, covered with mud as slippery as soap.

Exhausted and panting, Albert finally reached the summit and managed to run to the car window, where he presented his hat. His satisfaction, however, turned into embarrassment, as he noticed he was completely naked. Albert then grabbed the money and covered himself with the hat.

Albert Peters worked for the Isthmian Canal Company until 1913, leaving behind his contribution to one of the world’s greatest wonders of modern times. He lived the remainder of his days always wearing a hat.

(This is an adapted version of the story “Historia con sombrero”, which appeared in El Faro, a bi-monthly publication of the Panama Canal Authority).

 
 
 

Road distances

From
Panama
Distance
(Kms)
Miles
Time
hour:min
Tocumen
Chepo
Colón
Sabanitas
Portobelo
Arraiján
Chorrera
Capira
Bejuco
Chame
San Carlos
El Valle
Santa Clara
Río Hato
Antón
Penonomé
Natá
Aguadulce
Divisa
Santa María
Parita
Pesé
Chitré
Los Santos
Guararé
Las Tablas
Pocrí
Pedasí
Ocú
Atalaya
Santiago
Soná
Tolé
Remedios
San Félix
San Lorenzo
David
Boquete
Concepción
Volcán
Cerro Punta
Puerto Armuelles
Frontera
27
57
80
68
105
13
33
54
75
76
93
126
118
123
135
151
186
197
215
218
240
268
252
256
277
282
303
324
245
251
250
296
350
391
369
398
440
480
457
498
514
530
494
17
35
49
42
65
8
20
34
46
48
58
78
73
77
84
94
115
122
133
136
149
166
157
159
172
175
190
203
152
156
155
184
218
243
231
248
274
299
284
309
319
330
307
0:30
1:00
1:15
1:00
1:40
0:12
0:40
0:55
1:10
1:15
1:35
2:05
1:55
2:00
2:10
2:25
2:53
3:01
3:16
3:20
3:40
4:10
3:50
3:55
4:15
4:20
4:50
5:20
3:46
3:51
4:25
5:15
5:40
6:25
4:55
5:20
6:00
6:45
6:05
6:55
7:15
7:07
6:32
 
 
 

The Tourist Police force

These cops help visitors and promote tourism

Photos and research by
Rubén Flores Ulloa.

 

 


Motorized units patrol key areas of Panama City and the Interior.

The presence of Tourism Police may intrigue or puzzle visitors from many countries, which do no boast such an institution. Are they there to deal with tourists who commit crimes or tourists who have crimes committed against them?

Perhaps a little of both, but the truth is that Panama’s Tourism Police are there to help and guide tourists and consider themselves promoters of the country and its tourist industry.


Comissioner Eliecer Aguirre.

The Tourism Police Force, founded in 1992 with 60 officers, has now grown to 170 well-trained men and women who patrol key areas, especially, airports, seaports, malls, popular beaches and popular areas like The Amador Causeway, Casco Viejo and Panama Canal locks.

Members of the force are identified by khaki uniforms, prominent armbands and shirts with "Policia" in bold letters on the back and many speak various languages, especially English, French and even Mandarin.

Tourist police officers are selected from the ranks of regular, trained policemen and also participate in a three-month special course. The Panama Tourism Bureau (IPAT) instructs them on "tourism promotion", while the Panama Chamber of Commerce gives a course on “Treatment of the client”: They also receive some basic knowledge of languages.

The Tourist Police contingent is headed by Major Belkys D. Vega under Commissioner Eliceo Aguirre Director of Special Services of the National Police Force.


Major Belkis Vega.

The services they provide are many and varied. They will rescue you if you get lost in the rainforest - or in the concrete jungle of the city. For stranded souls who lose their documents, the police will contact families, friends or consulates. In case of sickness they will ensure immediate medical help. And they will guide you to the nearest bus stop, bank or pizza parlour.

In the central places the officers go on foot or with bicycles for easy mobility. Motorized units are deployed on roads, especially the Panama-Colon highways along which visitor travel to the Colon Free Zone.

The force naturally works closely with IPAT (Instituto Panameño de Turismo) the Panama Tourism Bureau and the Ministry of Government & Justice, which controls the regular police force, and the Immigration Service.


Corporal Anibal Duarte of the tourist Police pauses on his rounds to greet and direct a group of visitors on a walking tour of the Casco Viejo, Panama’s Old City.

 
 
 

The lost tribe of Dorasques

Did they leave Aztec or Mayan-style buildings hidden in the western jungles of Panama?


Could these petroghyphs yield clues to the discovery of the home of the Dorasques?

Hello Mr. Dell!

I frequently read your column in "The Visitor". Your articles are excellent, congratulations!

In this letter to our correspondent, David Dell, a reader gives The Visitor some fascinating clues to an ancient civilization.

Since I read your article about "Cerro Pando’s Hot Springs " I wanted to send you an e-mail. I visited those places in July, 1999. I remember that was an interesting tour. There were butterflies, birds, squirrels and many kinds of prickly caterpillars on the trees’ leaves and walking on the ground. The road was in very bad conditions. We had to walk for three hours while it was drizzling. We had to pass creeks that cross the road and walk over a trunk. Years later, the road to "Los Pozos" continues in the same condition. I don’t know why the government or local authorities don’t do something about it. This area has a great tourism potential.

Your newest article published on January 26th, attracted my attention specially. I believe those petroglyphs have not been studied as they really need. Since long time ago, people have said there are some kind of ruins or buildings among the forests of Chiriqui or Bocas del Toro, but there isn’t any photographs of those ruins.

I have a book, it’s name is "Un pueblo visto a través de su lenguaje" ("A nation seen through its language"). It was written by Beatriz Miranda de Cabal, one of the best historians of Chiriqui during last century.

In her book, she described the Dorasque/Dorace people, their way of living, language (she included a dictionary of words and phrases), traditions and legends.

Who were Dorasques/Doraces? you could ask. They were indigenous people that used to live in Chiriqui, Bocas del Toro and near Terraba River ( Costa Rica ). They gave Chiriqui its name, not the Gnöbe-Bugle indigenous, like many people believe. They became extinct before 1950. Beatriz Miranda de Cabal interviewed an elderly indigenous woman (the last Dorasque) for her book, but she only could publish it several years later, in 1974.


Juan Gutierrez pointing at the strange stone carvings found at Caldera, Chiriqui.

Beatriz Miranda de Cabal was my grandmother’s godmother and she dedicated and signed the book for her. She handwrote short notes about legends, one of them said: "There are colonial documents that confirm an Aztec village in the Isthmus’ North coast" (in Bocas del Toro). Another one says: "Juan Landau (one of the pioneers of Boquete) found in "Potrero de La Estrella " (between Caldera and Jaramillo Arriba there is the village of La Estrella ) monumental ruins similar to Mayan buildings. I don’t know but I think that she was a reliable historian and she would not write a lie.

I suggest you and your wife to visit Museum Jose De Obaldia y Barrio Bolivar, David, and then go to Fundacion Cultural Gallegos, next to the museum. There, you can ask for Mr. Mario Molina (Historian) or his wife, Mrs. Dalva Acuña de Molina (History Teacher). I think they or another historian could help you to know more about Chiriqui’s past. Before going to explore you should know what you want to look for.

Another suggestion: please, you should not believe people without History’s knowledge. Petroglyphs tell us about real ancient villagers of our lands and that is more interesting than UFO’s and aliens. I think if there is something unusual among our forests. It could be only ancient, forgotten ruins, instead of secret pyramids or treasures that some ingenuous country people imagine for telling to tourists. Anyway, whoever gives the truth to the rest of the world will be famous, like archaeologists or explorers interviewed in Discovery or History Channel.

Mr. Dell, thanks for writing those interesting articles about Chiriqui for "The Visitor".

Congratulations and continue writing!!

Laura Nieto Bruña
David, Chiriquí
www.lauranieto.4t.com

 
 
 

Expat benefit dinner aids Malambo Orphanage, Arraijan

The first benefit dinner of the organization, "Charity Expat Socials", at the City Grill in Panama City raised over $900 dollars for the Malambo Orphanage".

"There was standing room only. Expats ate, met new friends and had fun", said Stuart Greatbanks, founder of the organization.

The next charity event to benefit the orphanage will be at the Beirut Restaurant across from the Hotel Marriot Casino, February 26, starting at 6:45pm. The buffet-style dinner will be "all you can eat". There will be a cash bar for those who want mixed drinks, beer or wine.

The food will include all the Middle Eastern specialties as well as Hindu food and food from Indonesia. Vegetarians will enjoy a wide variety. "This will be a special attraction for those who have traveled a bit and enjoy these cuisines or for those who would like to try something different", said Lynda Greatbanks.

The group will meet in the dining room upstairs which is large enough to seat in excess of 150 people. The sponsor of the event is John Edwards of Private FX. The charity´s goal is to "Give Something Back". All expats and Panamanians are invited and warmly welcome. As usual all funds received are donated immediately to the Nuns who run the Malambo orphanage.

Any individual or company wishing to sponsor an event, can contact:
Stuart Jackson Greatbanks. Tel. (507) 263-2243, stu@gslrealestatepanama.com
Cel. (507) 6674-6492 or GSL Real Estate, Vía España /Eusebio Morales, Panamá, Republic of Panamá.
http://www.gslrealestatepanama.com

 
 
 

Making retirement plans? Consider living in Panama

They are living longer, they are wealthier and travel more than earlier generations. Today’s retiree population constitutes, in fact, one of the top segments of international tourists. But not only are they traveling abroad. They are also choosing to live overseas in increasing numbers.

Panama is rapidly becoming a popular destination for foreign retirees, thanks to the country’s long list of advantages.

Saving or making money is, of course, one of the main concerns among retirees, a somewhat difficult task in other countries of the region due to inflation. In addition to the century-old use of the U.S. dollar, Panama has one of the lowest inflation rates in the world, historically ranging between 1 and 2%.

The town of Boquete (considered by Modern Maturity Magazine one of the best cities for American retirees outside the U.S.) is only one location out of many Isthmian cities where one can live peacefully and at the same time, increase savings. In the last decade, the country has passed attractive investment incentive laws for foreigners in a number of industries, including tourism, one of the fastest growing segments of Panama’s economy.

For example, Law 8 of 1995 specifies that private citizens or companies investing in the construction, furnishing, remodeling or development of lodging facilities with a minimum investment of $50,000 in a location other than the Panama City metropolitan area, will receive, among other things:

  • The exoneration of all taxes or duties on capital.
  • Complete exoneration for a twenty-year period of the import tax due on the introduction of materials, equipment, fixed furnishings and vessels and automobile vehicles with a minimum capacity of eight passengers.
  • A 20-year exemption of real property tax, starting on the date of registration of the company at the National Registry of Tourism.
 
 



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