You may not know this, but most Panamanian state agencies are staffed by insufferable troglodytes who have somewhere long ago abandoned the evolutionary process. Some of the most stunning examples of this bit of famous Panamanian biodiversity are the Immigration Service and the cultural authorities.
Case in point: First Biennial of the South in Panama 2013. Something with art. Horrendous website (you can't find anywhere where to go and when; no descriptions of the artists; front page only has stupid ad; English site is done with Google translate, and so on). Too many rabiblanco names on the board, because they think this shows that they are cultured. Having Panama's ruling elite involved in any sort of event organizing is always a disaster waiting to happen - and, we're sorry to say, the rabiblanco women are the worst in this respect- because they are by far the stupidest people in Panama. And the disaster did indeed happen!
On April 8, Chilean artist Bernardo Oyarzún Ruíz arrived at Tocumen airport as one of the participants of the biennial. He was invited by this organizing committee with the too many rabiblancos and yeyes and other impostors.
Now, in any normal country where such events are organized, there would be some sort of thing in place where the organization picks visitors up from the airport, makes sure that immigration knows the guest is an invitee of this festival, you know, a sort of basic festival organizing having it together kind of thing. Easy to do, one would think, with COPA airlines and Tocumen Airport being sponsors of the festival, right?
But this is Panama! Did you know that artists from real Latin American cities consistently describe Panama as "un hueco"? Here's why: When artist Bernardo Oyarzún arrived at the airport, the fine people of immigration asked him what the reason of his visit was. They had no idea about this festival. They did however not approve of the fact that Oyarzún had only $200 in his pocket. So what, you think? Rules, dear reader! He has to have at least $500 or it's bye bye - a rule that is ONLY applied to darker or indigenous looking Latin American visitors, by the way, because Panamanian immigration is a bunch of racists.
So instead of receiving him as the welcomed guest, they held him in custody at Tocumen airport (recently modernized!) and then had the police escort him onto a plane back to Chile.
According to La Estrella, the director of the biennial, Luz Botero, did initially not reply to requests for comment and was not even aware of what had happened. Oyarzún, meanwhile, told the paper that he had traveled to countless festivals around Latin America and beyond and never been refused entry into a country. "It was like talking to stones", he described his ordeal at the airport. Then finally Mrs. Luz Botero found some time in her busy schedule managing her own interests and jet hopping to and fro Miami, and wrote Oyarzún, offering him to pay for airfare if he would come back (economy, no doubt).
The artist, however, declined. He does not want to return to Panama. Wise man.