In case you didn't know: The Pacific coast of Panama, from Chame to, say, San Carlos and Playa Blanca, is going through a crime wave. Last Friday night, we understood from Eric Jackson, armed men invaded restaurant Rancho Los Toros, robbed about a dozen people and stabbed at least one other. The police, as usual, nowhere to be found and then, also as usual, not terribly interested in solving the crime.
This comes after earlier reports of a series of home invasions, burglaries and armed robberies by seemingly well organized gangs.
Are these beach communities unsafe? It seems that indeed they are. The entire strip of land between Chame and Playa Blanca has been the scene of endless real estate developments, new shopping malls, mega swimming pools on the beach, money laundering scams by arms traffickers and their pimps, and whatnot. Truckloads of wealthy foreigners and Panamanians bought up the ever more expensive lots and villas - if they hadn't been fleeced by ponzi schemers - and that process took place in harmonious sync with increasing resentment among the locals who saw little to nothing of the promised jobs, wealth, and other such trickle-down nonsense. So, apparently there are those who have decided that guns and knives are great tools to make that trickling down process happen after all, for fun and profit.
None of this has stopped developers from coming up with increasingly bizarre schemes, however.
Our attention was called to a picture posted on the Facebook timeline of one "Cholos Comida Mexicana". It depicts plans to build something like a Cinta Costera in San Carlos. The caption reads:
"imaginar! esto es alrededor del turicentro, parking, restaurantes, tiendas, carril bici, alquileres, zona para conciertos y eventos. Podemos construir una calle con un lazo que las personas pueden conducir hacia arriba y hacia abajo para mostrar los coches, y un lugar que sea seguro y divertido para Panamá para disfrutar de los fines de semana, y un lugar donde podemos estar orgullosos de turista para visitar, y todo de que esto ayudaría a San Carlos convertido en el destino toursit próximo en Panamá"
A great place where people can drive up and down to show off their cars? A sort of a coastal strip mall? Solving whatever beach clean-up issues there may be by poring concrete all over the place? Ah, but there is more explaining from "Cholos" in the lengthy discussion that followed:
"here the beaches are being trashed, there is no parking, and due to the beaches being trashed and people parking everywhere, the homeowners, rightfully so, are limiting access to the beaches, gates are the norm, and access to the beach will soon be gone, the only place for people to go to the beach are being trashed since the local government is not being repsosible for the trash pickup, there are no bathroom, so people go on the beach, there are no retaurants so people bring food, and no trash means the trash goes right on the beach. i cannot tell you how many times i go to thebech and trash is everywhere on monday morning, and the homeowners gardener is cleaning up the beach, a public are with services is what is needed, sucks to say because i love the beach here, but this is a reality in a developing country"
Why anyone would think that beaches get cleaner by having a road on them is beyond us. But then one Chris Gregory weighed in:
"i think it is a great project. it opens the door for businesses , jobs, and entertainment at the beach. I love the idea."
So there we are again with the same old worn out promises of jobs and progress and wealth trickling down. Which then doesn't happen. And then comes more crime and we're full circle again. But let's stay positive here, dear readers: At least those daring tourists seeking adventure on the Pacific beaches will be able to fly there cheap, yet in style!
Headed towards a high end Veracruz, soon Diablo Rojos will unload on week ends.
And yes, the police stay huddled inside their cuartels here in the interior ni want to answer the telephone, they never patrol anywhere or anything, stop none of the local suspects only sopla at the mini supers.
The other problem will be that build this big road around San Carlos and draw all this vehicular traffic, guess what happens to roads with lots of traffic. They begin to wear and need repair. And I just KNOW that the powers that be in San Carlos will be right there to properly repair the San Carlos Cinta Costera when it begins to fall apart.
This sounds like another boondoggle to line someone’s pockets at taxpayer expense. If you want to keep the beaches open, forbid people from putting up fences and insist that there be rights of way to the beach. I do agree that they should put portable toilets and showers on the beach but leave the damn concrete to Il Duce’s boondoggle.
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I am in San Carlos right now and just found out about all this. This is our first time in Panama and had a great time until this came up. We were planning on going to Rancho Los Toros tonight. Clearly that would not have worked since the chef is in the hospital. Nobody wants to talk about it; everybody wants to keep this hush hush. We were at a huge expats get together last night at Picasso, and can you believe not one person mentionned a word to us about it. I had to find all this out tonight when my wife looked up the restaurant to see how late they were open. This needs to be clearly expressed on all the big travel sites (Expedia, Tripadvisor, etc). This would have been a much bigger deal if one if the American expats had been the one getting stabbed.
What makes you think there is no trickle-down effect? You don’t see construction workers, shop assistants, gardeners, taxi drivers and many, many other employment and small business opportunities? If some people are to arrogant to do honest work, can you really blame developers, businessmen and rich foreigners for that?
I have been working since I was 11, my wife left her parents’ house to start working when she was 12. Panama is a great country in many ways, but you can’t deny the fact that far too many people here lack work ethic.
Now I’m off, back to work.
Well, you should take into account that in Panama, it’s not just trickle-down that’s being promised, but full mega-blasts right into the first world.
In 2000, for example, the handover of the Canal would solve all Panama’s problems, or so we were told. The country would instantly develop into a Democratic version of Singapore. Yes, they really said that.
When that didn’t happen, it was the real estate, construction and tourism boom. Heaven would descend on Panama. Everybody would have jobs and benefit. We’d all become rich through massive trickling down, trickling sideways, and trickling everywhere.
When that didn’t happen, it was the Canal expansion. This, they said, would generate hundreds of thousands – yes, they really said that – of jobs, bring wealth everywhere, propel us into first world prosperity for all, Jesus would walk on water again through the new locks and we’d all eat Angus beef every day. Broken families would be reunited. Children would get the best education on earth. None of that happened either.
So, what have they got to show for themselves after thirteen years of hype? Cab drivers, some construction workers, maids and other minimum wage labor. I am sooooo impressed!
So, it’s a catholic country, they always promise more than they can make up for. Be a good catholic, be a good Panamanian, drink some seco, and forgive 😉
(Did you really take those promises seriously, I mean, really?)
No, of course I didn’t take those seriously. But it wasn’t about me, it’s about Panamanians and you can’t just lie to them forever with stupid promises and projections.
If you are not part of the loop here in Panama you will not make it.