(Image: the watermelon riots, Panama, as depicted by Americans)
Those silly expats! Remember the Pacific coast gringos and their vigilante groups against crime? Right, the crazy potbellied Hawaiian shirt militia types that would keep the beach colonies safe from brown skinned Panamanians looking to steal their garden furniture.
So now they hold regular meetings where retired law enforcement types further fuel the paranoia of their gringo expat flock. Recently they had one at Loco’s Backyard Grill. Two former cops (they call themselves "law enforcement experts"), Perry McMullin and Jim Rizik (the latter dabbles in the wonderful world of online pharmacies as well), explained that there are constant threats, EVERYWHERE!
Read the story on the Playa Community website under the most moronic headline ever, "Take A Stand Against Safety" (see update below):
Awareness is the best form of defense in assuring safety in all situations. “Whenever I’m out shopping I see gringos oblivious to what’s going on around them,” Perry said. “They seem to be walking around in a bubble.” He went on to describe a scene where a couple comes out of El Rey walking through the parking lot followed by a cart boy pushing their groceries. The couple is chatting away totally oblivious to everything around them. The groceries are put into their car and after tipping the boy they jump into the car and take off.
Never once did they look around the see if they were being followed, or if the car had been broken into, tampered with or a tire slashed. A common trick for criminals is to put a knife through a tire then follow the driver down the road and when the car pulls over, the thief offers to help. Once the thieves have them alone they steal their valuables, beat them, take their car and leave them stranded on the side of the road.
Imagine! How irresponsible of people to just walk and chat when coming out of a supermarket when they should plan this stuff like a military operation from the minute they leave the gated compound to when the gates lock behind them again! No wonder you hear so many stories about how people have been robbed like this, like, at least 20 cases every week! Here's how the
braindead knucklehead expat fake cops law enforcement experts would like you to go about your shopping:
Wherever we go Perry suggests that we need to watch each other’s back. One person could escort the cart boy to the car while the other person stays back to assess the situation from afar. Once the person near the car is sure that no tampering has been done, he signals to the other person to come. Then they both get into the car, lock the doors and drive off safely making sure that no one is following them.
Of course you'll die young from a heart attack because of the stress caused by the anxiety of making it home safely from those high-risk shopping trips, but hey, at least you still have those twenty bucks in your wallet!
Also: Don't ever help
your fellow Panamanians the enemy when they are in trouble! Get away as fast as you can, it might be a terrorist trap!
Another trick is for a criminal is to approach a vehicle in an isolated area and tap on the side of the car indicating to the driver that their tire is flat. If this ever happens don’t stop just keep driving to a well-lit area where it’s safe to stop and investigate the situation.
You know, dear reader, the only thieves we see here are these fake "law enforcement experts", these complete frauds, these sufferers from some paranoid mental disorder, who try to rob you from your peace of mind, your peaceful co-existence with your local neighbors and your general sense of safety, so you'll buy into their racist power games and of course Don Winner's stun guns.
On the other hand, if you're dumb enough to fall for this crap you deserve it, all of it, and that includes the robberies and the Panamanian response to your racist bullshit.
UPDATE 19/4/2013: The Playa Community website changed the headline of their story to "Taking A Stand Against Crime", without explanation or even a thank you to us, for pointing out how idiotic it was to have a story headlined, "taking a stand against safety" (the URL still shows the old headline though). Well, you're welcome, Hawaiian shirt brigadiers!
These ” law inforcement experts” are only experts in one thing: taking advanage of their gullible gringo neighbors. This seems to be a common element of the evolving “gringo ghetto” mentality in Panama.
There is a bright side to this: Gringo’s thinking of retiring here will be scared away. Bye bye the International Living paradise.
International Living is a “Se vende” publication a media print puta
I will be looking around for those crazy gringos watching me at the stores and parking lots now. Creepy!
Ya know. After reading your article, I felt I needed to respond. Firstly, I’d like you to know that I’m a woman of color – an African American woman from the U.S. I moved here, opened a business and am loving my life here. I speak Spanish – not perfectly – but would certainly say I’m 80% close to being fluent. I’ve experienced racism all my life, including during four years in the U.S. Army. Neither are my two beautiful adult daughters strangers to being discriminated against based on the color of their skin. Wanting to get away from being discriminated against was one of the primary reasons I chose to leave the United States. I share this information just to give you a bit of background regarding who I am and in hopes that you don’t conveniently dismiss my sentiments as merely “racist” as you seem to be very fond of doing.
Before I go “Another Further,” I’d also like to state that I am not friends with Don Winner, so please do not propel the apparent vitriol you feel towards him, onto me. I met him once briefly. I don’t know him and I don’t know you. What I do know is that my youngest daughter was here visiting me for the Christmas Holiday and my house was robbed on the second day she was here – just before Christmas. My lawn mower or lawn furniture were not stolen. I only wish that would have been the extent of my home invasion. Instead, these thieves taped my daughter up in the bedroom, threatened to rape her, taped my husband up and punched him, threatened them both with guns, trashed my house and left my very small dog to roam the streets. This happened in broad daylight. As if this violation were not enough, they took pictures of him with his own cell phone as he was hog-tied and lying on the floor of his workshop. I arrived home from my store to find all of the above. I ran all around my house and backyard wondering where I was going to find my husband lying dead.
Then, the night Rancho Las Toros was robbed, my employees and I were all supposed to go but I begged off because I had other plans. However, one of my employees did attend with her mother and father. She was a part-time employee and a really wonderful, trilingual young teen-aged girl who I care very deeply for and think of as a daughter. She was thoroughly traumatized by witnessing the stabbing of the chef and the robbery. Additionally, she was fearful of her life and personal safety and was afraid to go out in public because the robbers knew who she was. Also one of the young ladies in attendance was taken outside not once, but twice, and had her undergarments pulled down, and was threatened with rape. Another young lady was badly beaten.
So, since I feel I narrowly escaped being present for two robberies which occurred where I was supposed to be present, I hope you can understand why I take your sarcasm towards such experiences as being totally offensive and insensitive. For the record, I do not own any Hawaiian shirts. But if I did, that would be my right to wear whatever I choose. The people you are making fun of just happen to be my friends and my customers. Therefore, I also take offense at you insulting either their age or their fashion choices simply because they are concerned for their safety. Frankly Sir, to insult their clothing is seriously petty and very, very immature.
From what I’ve seen and heard and experienced, none of us moved here to hurt or discriminate against anyone. But neither did we move here to BE hurt. So when someone does get hurt, pardon me, but I don’t feel that’s a laughing matter. Just because we are expatriates, does not mean it’s okay to invade our homes, tie us up, take all of our valuables, stab, shoot, or punch us, or kill our beloved pets (as is what happened in this latest robbery). I have the utmost respect for hard-working Panamanians and like-minded people of any color, race, or creed. In fact, I only employ Panamanians and continue to be deeply touched by how loving, honest, and hard-working they are. However, when people behave like the ones that are traumatizing us, invading our homes, and killing our dreams, pets and businesses, well simply put, they ARE scum – Panamanian or otherwise.
Further, you might not agree but I feel everyone has a right to protect themselves and their loved ones from danger by any means necessary. Without a doubt, if I had walked in while my house was being robbed and had a firearm at hand (which, by the way I’m well trained to use), I would have shot those robbers cold dead without a second thought. I challenge you to honestly say you would do differently were you to walk in and see your wife and kids tied up and beaten, and your dogs poisoned to death and the thieves standing over one of them laughing and taking pictures. In case you have not been informed of the details of any of the robberies in the Beach community; in each of these cases, people were threatened with guns. So, if I follow your logic correctly, it’s okay for the “Scum” to brandish firearms while they rob and torture us, but if we choose to arm ourselves with firearms, we are behaving irrationally and becoming a militia? If I’ve misunderstood your point, please accept my apology. But that is what I understand as being the gist of your point.
Clearly, crime is a problem everywhere. Not just in Panama and not just in my community. But make no mistake, were I still living in the United States and my neighborhood was being TERRORIZED (Yes! I said it!!!), I would do everything I could to take my community back including, but not limited to, attending a brainstorming meeting in an effort to come up with some solutions and ideas for staying safe. I was present at that first meeting and I can assure you, that was the tone and the intent. Sir, I’ve lived in ghettos in the U.S., and know what it is to take a community back. This is all we are trying to do, and I don’t feel it’s either fair or ethical for you to ridicule us for our efforts.
Whatever crimes Don Winner may or may not have committed were not the focus of our meeting. And for that matter, neither was he. I can relate to you not liking him and all, but sheesh! This issue is not about him. At least not in my mind nor in my life because he was not the one who invaded my home or held my daughter, my husband, or my employee and her parents hostage. Let me say this again: Please understand that in our community, Don Winner is not the issue. However, the safety of our families, our businesses, our employees and our friends most certainly IS the issue. If that makes us racist and/or bad people, So be it. I can live with that…
You must be able to defend yourself. I have a legal gun permit. And I have been accused many times of acting like a crazy with my gun. These are all false accusations by Gringos trying to force me off of our beachfront property. But, not one of the accusers can produce a time, a date, a photo, or a video. NOT ONE. Why, because it never happens. Do I carry a weapon on my property, Yes. Do I have a right to carry a legal weapon on my property, Yes. Has the weapon made a factor in not being assaulted, robbed, killed, Yes.
Now, do I enjoy having to carry a weapon, No. Do I like feeling that I have to be watching my back all the time, No. Do I enjoying being put into a dangerous situation by GRINGOS trying to steal my property, No.
I have no faith at all in the law enforcement of Panama. I have no faith in the Public Ministry of Panama. I have no faith in the judicial system of Panama.
However, I do have faith in my International Arbitration Claim against the Republic of Panama as to violations of the Bilateral Investment Treaty between the US and Panama in which Article II, Section states in plain and clear language. The Host Nation much provide Full Protection and Security to the investment of the other party.
So, I am going to call like it is with my situation GRINGOS trying to steal my property.
Those Gringos involved as third party nationals and named within International Arbitration Documents.
Well written, you sound like a cool lady CCW, but I gotta say, there’s still no excusing the Hawaiian shirts.
Well, of course I do not wish for anyone to become a victim of a crime and I’m sorry to hear about the ordeals you and your loved ones had to go through.
Yet I highly doubt that the advice given by those supposed “law enforcement experts” to turn a visit to el Rey into a military operation will change much other than further the kind of siege paranoia that these people are creating. Crime IS on the rise in Panama. It’s mostly Panamanians that suffer from it. And if you move to a wealthy beach enclave in a country with such discrepancies in wealth and a legal system that’s rotten to the core, this kind of crime is to be expected. And Panama is still a lot safer than other countries in the region.
I also resent the implicit idea of these vigilante organizers that rich expats are somehow more deserving of security than the people who live outside their gated communities or expat havens.
I find it interesting you mention Don Winner. I don’t own a gun, but if I did he would be dead – like you, I don’t take harrassing and stalking of my loved ones lightly and I’m a pretty good shooter. I’m glad I didn’t get to shoot him though – it’s only a matter of time before he gets what he really deserves.
As for the Hawaiian shirts, I reserve the right to make fun of those and ridicule their owners as much as I want. I find it bizarre to hear them talk about militias and guns and being victims of crime while walking around in a third world country wearing an outfit that down here communicates, “I’m a dumb gringo with money”.
The Canadians do not think so:
Hear Hear Mr. Falgout. I agree with you 100%. Every human being has a right to defend themselves no matter the race of the aggressor. Unfortunately it seems that Mr. O does not agree. Again, I challenge him to respond as to what he would do were it his wife or daughter whose panties were pulled down twice then threatened with rape. What would he have done if he owned a firearm and walked in on such a scene? People have a God-given right to defend themselves Sir, and wanting to be as equally armed as are the “Scum” who rob our houses and traumatize our families, does not make us either vigilantes, crazies or racists.
During this last robbery in San Carlos, the family was threatened with guns and made to lie on the floor with blankets thrown over them while they were being robbed blind. Now, were that your family Mr. O, what would you have done? Wouldn’t you be pissed off? Wouldn’t you be willing to attend a meeting in hopes of keeping this from happening to any of your friends and/or neighbors? And if so, do you feel you would deserve to be ridiculed for doing so? Okay. I’m a certified and bona-fide clothes-horse and on most days, I’m impeccably dressed. So, okay. I’ll admit. Maybe the Hawaiian shirts are a bit much. But really. Who gives a damn? Don’t we as a community, who are being robbed on a regular basis of everything we hold sacred, have bigger fish to fry than the fashion choices of our neighbors?
I forgot to mention that in my opinion, simply disagreeing with another person, group, or point of view, does not a racist make. Because if it did, then when I receive the inevitable tongue-lashing from Mr. O, since I’m a Black woman, wouldn’t that make HIM a racist? See my point? Just because someone wants to protect themselves against home invasions, or don’t want others stealing things they’ve worked and sacrificed many years to acquire (including peace of mind), does not make them a racist, a crazy, or a vigilante.
My thoughts are with you and your family. Be careful.
“During this last robbery in San Carlos, the family was threatened with guns and made to lie on the floor with blankets thrown over them while they were being robbed blind. Now, were that your family Mr. O, what would you have done? Wouldn’t you be pissed off? Wouldn’t you be willing to attend a meeting in hopes of keeping this from happening to any of your friends and/or neighbors?”
I would most certainly not run up to the bedroom to go look for my gun. Having a gun at home in such a situation is pretty much useless. I’ve been attacked once by two guys in the street and I fought them off; they didn’t get anything. I feel protected by the fact that I blend in, I speak the language, I don’t exploit maids or gardeners, I don’t flaunt any wealth, I don’t act as if I’m better than the locals and I don’t dress ridiculously. I also refuse to go about my daily activities as if they’re a military operation just because some self-proclaimed “law enforcement experts” say so, or to enter some paranoid siege state of mind because bad things happen to a small amount of people. Oh, and I never go to any of those expat meetings, ever.
You have been victimized terribly. I can feel for your situation as I suffered immensely in my 11 or so years in Panama. It was bearable before 2005 but deteriorated rapidly afterwards.
I have been shot at (drive by stye), robbed in broad daylight, robbed by employees, blackmailed with false prosecutions and on and on and on. However, I did operate a dangerous business in a dangerous area. I imported buses (diablo rojos), trucks and heavy equipment and made the mistake of financing them. When I started to put liens on houses and repossess equipment the violence started.
I can tell you from experience (I wholeheartedly agree with James) that the police force, Ministerio Publico, and the courts are entirely corrupt, inept and inhuman beyond belief. The civil courts function a little better because the banks and businesses that rule the country demand a little bit higher standard. But no one give a shit what happens to the criminal suspects innocent or not.
What is my advice to those of you on the beach? Cut your loses. It is time to leave. The rot has spread out of the capital and criminals have learned that Gringos are easy pickings. Not because they are not armed but because no one really cares if they are robbed or victimized. The police sure don`t.
Buy a gun and you will have one more thing that the criminals want. It is incredibly nieve to think that if you are known to have a gun the bad guys will stay away. Obviously you haven`t met any of them or have been watching too many Clint Eastwood movies. They will consider it sport to go after you. You play right into their bravura. They are not afraid of the police, why should they be afraid of a old retiree from Upstate New York. You mentioned that the army trained you to use a gun. Hopefully they also trained you that a gun is useless if you are taken by surprise.
Let`s say you arrived home to the situation you described and shot and killed a serious criminal. You will be the target of all his associates that will gain status by killing you.
If he is only a low level criminal then you will be the victim of his family as they will file criminal charges against. Of course without merit. That will cost you tens of thousands of dollars and perhaps weeks in jail. The penal system is so corrupt that the prosecutors will take the case with absolutely no merit just to be able to blackmail you themselves. Everyone is in the game. Believe me I have experienced it on two occasions.
The murder rate in Panama has more than doubled since 2005. The system is sliding into greater and greater corruption. Martinelli has destroyed the last remnants of rule of law. Extrajudicial killings by the police are starting. If you are a law abiding citizen and don`t like violence then you need to leave Panama. This is not exaggeration. It is just and informed observation based on personal experience taking into account the early signs and the inevitable trends.
If you really want to tough it out and stay; move to the country, live cheaply, look poor and don`t bother with any business. Living on the beaches, immodestly (compared to your employees), operating a business and being involved with the local population (worse as the stereotypical generous and virtuous patron that every employee resents to the core) is a guarantee of being victimized constantly. Ganging together for protection will only alienate the good Panamanians. To the bad ones your attempts at getting tough will be a joke. Your already outgunned.
Mr. Faustino I feel for you. You were in a dangerous situation. My respects.
Yesterday while working my land I had intruders. Two gangbangers, I got into a safe defense position behind a mango tree dropped to the ground and gave orders in Spanish to halt, hands in the air. At that time both persons reached into their pockets. Still in a safe defense position I watch one pull out a gun. Once again the orders were given in Spanish but with an added my gun is Fucking Way Bigger Then Yours. Hearing that they both run away but one dropping the gun. After keeping a safe and watchful distance I made sure it was not an ambush. I then went over and then picked up the gun. Turned out to be a POS little 22 revolver with NO BULLETS.
I am thankful I did not fire my weapon and shoot them.
I thank my Military Training in civil disturbance as to not firing a round off at these two gangbangers. The threat was there but I had the advantage in the situation.
1. Element of surprise
3. Defense Position
4. Orders Given in Spanish
5. A cool head
The gun was thrown into the river since calling the police would have been a waste.
Call it a trained response from my army training but I find myself always watching everything when out in public. I even watch rooftops, high windows, etc. I do not walk along the walls of buildings but out in the street away from hidden door ways and alleys. I find myself looking for things out of the ordinary, such as unattended packages, backpacks, luggage, people that just do not seem to fit in. This seems automatic for me.
The main objective for me is no confrontation. I know that the more distance the less violent the situation.
Be safe out there. But use your head and keep out of harms way!
All above what you said is true and I totally agree
You make some very, very good points and have certainly given me food for thought.
Thank you kindly Sir, for responding in a civilized manner. My point of contention and the reason I felt I needed to speak up, was that I found your insults and ridicule of victims of serious crimes to be deeply offensive and incredibly insensitive – thereby adding insult to injury.
To both of you, I very much appreciate your sentiments regarding the trauma my family experienced. I certainly did not share that information in hopes of getting sympathy because in my opinion, no matter our race, ethnic origin, etc., we are all members of the human race and deserve each others’ mutual respect. Especially when we are victimized either as individuals, groups, or races.
That being said, I do enjoy your site Mr. O.
Attention all US National Investors. I you are US National Investor, remembering that an investment is NOT define in the Bilateral Investment Treaty between Panama and the USA as to Article I of said treaty. You have international rights that the Republic of Panama has agreed to those rights as to Ley 12, 1983. hereandafter known as the BIT.
Panama has agreed to provide all US National Investors in Panama with FULL PROTECTION and SECURITY for their investment which of course includes protection from physical harm as stated in Article II, Section 2 of the BIT.
I have put Panama on Formal Notice of International Arbitration and as such I am also pushing the US State Department to implement Article VIII of the BIT in which it is very clear that Panama has a major problem implementing and understanding their responsibilities as to the BIT.
You are invited to send me your horror stories as to the lack of FULL PROTECTION and SECURITY and FAIR and EQUAL TREATMENT omitted by Panama. I will then send those to US Congressman Jo Bonner of the Great State of Alabama who will be addressing this issue to the US Trade Ambassador. It will be very helpful that you also send the same information to your congress member.
Mr. Faustino if you are a US National you are covered under the BIT.
CCW you are a US National and have a business here in Panama so therefore you are covered under the BIT and you have rights that Panama can not deny you.
The more US Nationals we get on-board for state to state arbitration the more power we have as US National investors. We must address this issue and this is a great way to do this.
You can find the BIT at http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/43582.pdf
Remember this is only against the Organs of the State of Panama, not third parties or third persons, unless the third parties and third persons were acting as organs of the state as defined by international law.
Responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts
adopted by the
International Law Commission
at its fifty-third session (2001)
Conduct of organs of a State
1. The conduct of any State organ shall be considered an act of that State under
international law, whether the organ exercises legislative, executive, judicial or any other
functions, whatever position it holds in the organization of the State, and whatever its
character as an organ of the central government or of a territorial unit of the State.
2. An organ includes any person or entity which has that status in accordance with
the internal law of the State.
Conduct directed or controlled by a State
The conduct of a person or group of persons shall be considered an act of a State
under international law if the person or group of persons is in fact acting on the
instructions of, or under the direction or control of, that State in carrying out the conduct.
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org