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.
"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!