Even before they are being given total immunity for crimes they commit, Martinelli's police and immigration officials are already behaving as if they're members of the infamous Zetas narco gang. In Pedasi, a town in the Azuero pensinsula that is to be a center of the tourism industry, the gorillas of our mafia government conduct raids on homes, arbitrary arrests, extortion and other harassment. Read the story of a Panama Guide reader for the full scoop:
"On Saturday, May 29th, Patrick O’Brien and I drove out of Pedasi and headed to Limon to purchase some groceries. Along the way, we picked up some surfers heading to Playa Venado. We pulled into Limon and were confronted by a roadside stop manned by Immigration Officials. These people were stopping all vehicles and were asking for identification.
Patrick and I were asking for an explanation and received no answer. We handed over our US driver’s licenses. These representatives were wearing plain clothes and had a name tag hanging off a shoelace around their necks. We continued to try to get some information as to what was going on, and we received no response. Patrick tried to explain that we lived in Los Destiladeros and that we could provide passports and visas if they would let us go get the documents from our homes. We were instructed that we could not leave. I have been coming to Panama for over 7 years and have never before experienced an immigration checkpoint. These people had now retained several people and were not answering any questions. They were in plain clothes and were not accompanied with the police. I was beginning to think this was some sort of money extortion scheme, and certainly felt that my rights to be in Panama were being violated.
I got out of my vehicle and confronted the lady asking for an explanation. No attention was given. I contacted my attorney Damaso Diaz Ducasa, but he was not available in this moment. I contacted another attorney, Berta Sanchez of Gray & Co. I quickly explained the situation to her and asked for her assistance in talking to the woman who seemed to be in charge of this operation. This lady refused to speak with my attorney.
Now by this time I was very angry and demanded my identification back. She pulled it out and reluctantly offered it to me. I grabbed the ID and shouted at her that this was no way to treat a visitor to Panama or even a Panamanian. Patrick and I drove down to our homes and picked up our documents and returned to Limon to present these documents. When we arrived, the officials had left the scene who were now accompanied by the local police. We were told that they were looking for us and had plans to arrest us. Note that these officials still have Patrick’s identification, a document that he needs to legally drive in Panama.
We told the local chino operator in Limon that if the officials wanted to find us that they could do so by coming down to Los Destiladeros. Later in the afternoon, we received a phone call from an employee of Sitio in Playa Venado. She informed me that Immigration and the police had just arrested and took the owner, Nahik, and the same surfing tourists to the jail in Las Tablas.
The next day I heard some more disturbing stories about people being detained in the Las Tablas jail. They were handcuffed to a pole, were not allowed any communication, and were told they would have to stay there over the weekend. Kirk Johnston of the Limon Cafe has since told me he was very offended by the Immigration people coming into his private office to look around.
Cliff, of Pedasi, was at his home over this past weekend, playing cards with some friends. The police showed up at his home and demanded identification. Three of the people didn’t have these documents on them and were arrested. Cliff objected and he too was arrested. He tells me he spent two days in a jail cell, handcuffed to a pole, with no ability to communicate to a lawyer. Other stories are beginning to circulate as well."
Quick question: Weren't they trying to promote tourism in that area?