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Current events and items of interest in Chiriqui and Panama

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Hallelujah

This is a recent performance of Leonard Cohen's beautiful composition Hallelujah by friends Yella and Tom Werder, Yella's niece Samantha, and her boyfriend Seth Green    

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Why are anti-corruption success stories still the exception?

Corruption is a very noticeable issue here because most of it happens secretly but becomes a big deal when exposed.  In other countries it's more routine because it's thinly disguised as lobbying, consulting, and unlimited campaign contributions. This is a good article as to why efforts are failing to eliminate corruption. Why are anti-corruption success stories still the exception? After decades of fighting corruption, measured by hundreds of new (or renewed) commitments, institutions and laws, as well as by millions of euros spent, success stories are still the exception, not the norm. This raises the question, what does and does not work in fighting corruption? In their book Transition to Good Governance (2017), authors Muniu-Pippidi and Johnston analyse ten countries that successfully reduced corruption. Their conclusions could give anti-corruption campaigners sleepless nights, because anti-corruption measures are not necessarily what explain their success. For example, the authors found no evidence to support the widely held belief that placing restrictions on political party finance contributes to reducing corruption. More shockingly, the authors argue that some anti-corruption instruments “might even prompt more illegal practices or measures that can be applied everywhere”. The book concludes that structural aspects, such as political agency and modernisation of the state, play a significant role in determining whether anti-corruption efforts are successful or not. It seems the desire to abuse entrusted power for private gain is stronger than any governance system. A second piece of research undermines the argument that correlates decentralisation and reduced corruption. ‘Decentralisation, Multilevel Governance and Corruption’, developed by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in collaboration with the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in Bangladesh and the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in Nigeria, shows that local elections and forms of government do not necessarily imply less corruption. Not only is corruption a consequence of poor decentralisation implementation, it also shapes local forms of decentralisation. Two important conclusions can be drawn from these studies: corruption not only adapts to particular circumstances, but the circumstances may also adapt to established corruption dynamics; and measures that exclusively target corruption do not always make a difference. Is corruption an infinite game that we are playing with finite rules? In his latest work, Simon Sinek explains war and corporations in terms of a finite vs. infinite game, which can also apply to corruption. In a finite game there are fixed rules, an agreed objective, and winners and losers. In an infinite game, the rules may change, the objective is simply to perpetuate the game, and there are no clear winners or losers. The only thing that players can do in an infinite game is drop out — either when they run out of resources or lose the will to keep playing. Applying these concepts to corruption, it’s clear that corruption finds its way by changing the rules, overstepping them or taking new forms as the world evolves. Corrupt individuals do not necessarily set out to win against those opposed to them, but instead to perpetuate or to create a status quo to increase their privileges or financial gain. Corruption could be considered an infinite game. Anti-corruption as a finite strategy For mainstream anti-corruption programmes, corruption represents an enemy to defeat. The effectiveness of these programmes is usually measured by the extent to which corruption is reduced or eliminated. In practical terms, the dominant approach in the last few decades consists of making the cost of corruption higher than the benefits by strengthening laws, increasing the scrutiny capacity of institutions, reducing the discretion of public officials, and increasing institutional transparency and accountability. These factors are based on Klitgaard’s corruption formula: Corruption = Monopoly + Discretion — Accountability. These are indicators of a finite anti-corruption strategy with clear objectives to defeat corruption. Instability in the game Following Sinek’s approach, when a finite player plays against an infinite player, the game is unstable. In business, a finite player could represent a company driven by its desire to beat the competition. Conversely, an infinite player is a company motivated by its vision of the world and its interest in making better products or providing better services in order to achieve that vision, regardless of the competition. In this scenario, the infinite player cannot be defeated by a competitor because becoming better is an endless endeavour. This causes the constant frustration of competitors trying to beat them, who can only continue playing the game until they either run out of resources or lose the will to keep playing. Similar to corruption, in an infinite contest new players will always emerge. What can anti-corruption programmes do? The way to play an infinite game is to make decisions based on values — which are infinite — rather than solely based on interests — which are finite. Anti-corruption strategies that take an infinite approach not only advance concrete and necessary measures against corruption, but also focus on perpetuating the values opposite to what corruption represents. New approaches like promoting integrity and behavioural change suggest this direction. In these cases, corruption is not the root of the problem, but the consequence of having specific values and vision. The benefits of an infinite strategy An infinite strategy focuses on what we want (societies run ethically and with integrity) rather than on what we do not want (corruption). The infinite strategy is not about taking away the ‘benefits’ of corruption (for those who find benefits in it). Instead it is about giving legitimate alternatives to achieve what corrupt individuals ultimately want (a better life). In pursuing an infinite strategy and experiencing the benefits of this vision, corruption may not be defeated, but eventually it may run out of the will to keep playing the game. https://voices.transparency.org/why-are-anti-corruption-success-stories-still-the-exception-9a30e5f4cf39

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

The Darien Gap: A Desperate Journey to America

This terrific 30 minute CBS film documents the journey of migrants through the Darien Gap.  As well as intimidating jungle footage, the film demonstrates the desperation and determination of global migrants who risk their lives making this trek. ? ?    

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Mission Statements

These testimonial statements were made several years ago by a couple who volunteered at the Mission in Volcancito. In my opinion, they are worth reviewing. I personally knew several well intentioned people who journeyed each year from the U.S. to volunteer their vacation time helping out, but they became disillusioned and quit coming. Our testimony of what we know of the “Mission”-  Part 1- Events of 2014 A.  Our names are Gary and Debbie Pearcy.  We are composing and presenting this testimony in parts together, however Debbie is the writer.  Gary retired in 2013 and we moved to Boquete.  Having visited the “Mission” beforehand, we thought it would be a great place to serve and offer our skills, and we were excited to start.  We volunteered Monday-Thursday at the “Mission” from August, 2013, until August, 2014, when allegations of sexual abuse by the “Director” came out.  We also attended church there on Sundays and the last six months team-taught the youth class.  We continued attending church there until we were verbally banned from the “Mission” property by “Director’s Wife” in a meeting in her home in Boquete on December 6, 2014.  We did not receive anything in writing.  We did visit the church briefly before services started on Mother’s Day, December 7, to tell the families and youth we had worked with that we had been banned.  We have not been back to the property since. B.  We understood “Mission Director and Wife” to be supported missionaries from a church in Indiana, U.S.  We understood from volunteers and their website they had been offering medical, dental, and many other support services to the people of the Boquete community for 14 years. C.  “Mission Wife” left Boquete abruptly, visibly upset, the first week of August, 2014.  She left some keys, class materials, and other items with us saying she “could not stay here right now.”  “Mission Director” left Boquete for the U.S. the last week of August, 2014. D.  In conversations on the phone and in person in late August and early September, 2013, “Mission Director’s Wife” stated to us that she knew “Director” had been sexually molesting minor girls during their entire time in Panama.  She said there had been “a million accusations of sexual abuse” against him.  She said she was not going back to him because of this.  Further “Wife” said there was an investigation started and she had filed a denuncia against him in Panama City.  E.  In a meeting with “Wife” and the four pastors of the “Mission” church on September 4, 2014, the head pastor said in tears this was the “fourth time” accusations had come out publicly concerning sexual abuse of minors by “Director”.  The head pastor said a former pastor saw “Director” “kissing girls” from the comarca who were staying at the “Mission” dormitory.  Each time the “Director” said the accusers were “crazy”, and the accusations were dropped. F.  On Sunday, September 7, 2014, “Director’s Wife” spoke in tears to the “Mission” church, saying that abuse has happened over the years in this church, and that it was now going to end.  Afterwards, several women of the church came forward and prayed for her.  About 250 people were in attendance, including the local Panamanian doctor and his wife who volunteered at the clinic, and the “Mission” dentist and his visiting nephew.  “Mission” dentist’s nephew recorded what “Wife” said on her laptop. G.  In mid-November, 2014, three girls (one indigenous and two Latina) filed denuncias of sexual abuse by “Mission Director” in the Boquete personeria office. Girl #1- stated the abuse occurred in 2002 when she was age 12. Girl #2- stated the abuse occurred from 2010-2011 when she was age 14-15. Girl #3- stated the abuse occurred in 2014 (up to “Director’s” departure) when she was age 14-15.  Two of these girls were “employed” by “Director” during the time of their abuse.  Two of the girls’ parents were employees of the “Mission”. H.  The manner of establishing evidence for this case was conducting a medical and psychological exam on one of the girls, which by conclusion of the examiner did not “prove” that “Director” had sexually abused this girl, and therefore it was determined there was not sufficient evidence and there was no case.  In May, 2015, the entire file with the three girls’ denuncias and denuncia of “Wife” was returned to the Boquete Judge from the fiscalia in David for stamp and signature that there was no proof, and the case was “provisionally closed” pending new information. I.  “Mission Director” returned to Boquete in May, 2015, for one week.  He then returned permanently to Boquete in late July, 2015. Debbie and Gary Pearcy, 28-2-16   Our testimony of what we know of the “Mission”-  Part 2- Statements of “Mission Director Wife” and others A.  In a meeting in November, 2014, with “Mission Director Wife” in her Boquete home along with five other local residents, including “Mission” dental assistant and husband and a Panamanian “Mission” volunteer, “Wife” showed everyone the office across from their bedroom where she said “‘Director’ frequently helped girls with their homework until late into the evening after she had gone to bed.”  B.  Two daughters of an employee of the “Mission” told Debbie Pearcy (in early 2015) that they had received homework help from “Director” in his home when they were young, but that “Wife” was always there.  One of these daughters has a daughter who “Mission” dentist’s wife told us was the result of a “rape in a coffee field” by an unknown person. C.  “Mission Director’s Wife” stated that in 2007 three denuncias of sexual abuse were filed against “Director” by three sisters ages 8, 10, and 12, the daughters of a staff pastor.  She said “Director” paid the attorney and/or medical examiner $50,000, and also paid the father.  She said the medical exam done on the oldest girl came back “inconclusive” and the case was dismissed for lack of proof.  She later said she found these denuncia(s) in her house. D.  “Wife” stated that one of the daughters of another “Mission” employee admitted to her that she had had a long-term sexual relationship with “Director.” E.  “Wife” stated there is a girl on the comarca who she believed had been sexually abused by “Director” whose family had been given a lot of money by “Director” over the years, including a payment “Wife” delivered to them to buy some land.  Debbie Pearcy met this girl and her mother in early 2014 when they stayed overnight at the “Mission” in one of the classrooms and asked “Director” for a ride back to their home the next day. F.  “Wife” stated she believed “Director” was “grooming” the 12-year-old daughter of a third employee “to be his next victim.”  “Wife” said “Director” had taken the girl recently to buy groceries for the family, and was probably “getting [her] used to his touch.”  Gary and Debbie Pearcy warned said girl’s father, and he said “Director” wasn’t this way at the beginning. G.  “Wife” stated there were two young girls coming recently for “homework help” from “Director,” and then they suddenly stopped coming. H.  “Wife” stated “Director” was very “patient” and “methodical” in pursuing minor girls. I.  “Wife” stated the entire “Mission” board had resigned several years ago over “Director’s” inappropriate behavior with girls.  She said “Director” “would cry” and “insist he must have time alone with girls to train them.” J.  “Mission Director Wife” said “Director” would probably wait until his attorney said it was safe to return to Boquete, and then he would come back and continue, as he did after previous allegations. K.  “Wife” at first stated she would be going home to file for divorce.  Later she stated she would like to see “Director” “admit he has a problem and get help” before she would consider reconciliation. L.  “Wife” stated “Director” was “the love of her life.” M.  “Wife” stated her relationship with “Director” was “like two drug addicts.”  When they get back together it is “like getting a hit.” N.  “Wife” stated “Director” had her on antidepressants/drugs most of the time, but that she had stopped taking those at the time of these allegations when “Director” was in U.S. O.  “Wife” stated “Director” was a “scary person without trying to be, but could be very scary when he tried.” P.  “Wife” stated “Director” had been verbally abusive calling her horrible names their entire marriage. Q.  “Wife” decided to go back to the U.S. and meet with “Director” at Thanksgiving, 2014.  She emailed us about two meetings with him, one that was “extremely amicable, and we stuck to the issues.”  About the second with “Director” and his “counselor,” she said she planned to “answer any questions the counselor may have for me that will help [the counselor] to deal with [Director’s’] issues.” R.  In 2015 we contacted by email the former president of “Mission” Board who was still listed on the ministry website.  She responded back the following: “I resigned from the Board years ago, every member of the Board at that time resigned with me. …. Because of the $$$, I am not sure anything can stop this but God. … So many, many lives, both here and there have been hurt. … When the Board dissolved we had no one who would admit.  The two girls I felt were being used were ready to admit and he gave their father a house to live in and that ended that. … His Daughter… is fully aware of the problem and has much more recent information than I do. … [Wife] and [Wife’s daughter] and son in law also know and are in Panama.… Actually just a few years ago [Wife] succeeded in getting a girl to tell and the authorities made [Director] leave P. and he was gone for a long time. [Director’s Daughter] was also involved in this and so was the church at B. They did their best. It just didn't work for long….” S.  In 2015 we also contacted “Mission Director and Wife’s” home church in the U.S.  The elder who responded stated: “Our understanding prior to receiving your email was that one legal claim had been asserted against [Director] in the past, but that he had been exonerated by the Panamanian legal system. We had also spoken with the [Director and Wife] and their children and received assurances from them, including from [Wife], that the allegations of abuse were not true.”  Debbie and Gary Pearcy, 29-2-16   Our testimony of what we know of the “Mission”-  Part 3- The 2014 sworn testimonies A.  Two of the three girls stated the “Director” and “Wife” offered them transportation to school and help with school supplies and other resources when they first came to the “Mission/Church.” B.  Two of the three girls stated they were sexually abused in “Director’s” home.  Two of the three girls stated they were sexually abused in the “Mission” clinic.  All three girls were either employed or did occasional work for “Director” at his house or at the clinic. C.  Two of the three girls stated a parent was employed by “Director” and they feared for them and their jobs in reporting “Director’s” abuse. D.  All three girls expressed concern that their father would find out about abuse or a problem with their father. E.  Statements of Girl #1 in her declaracion jurada, November, 2014- Stated she stayed the night at “Director’s” house, but “Wife” was always there. Stated she tried to stay away from “Director” after sexual abuse. Stated that “Director” had a sexual relationship with another girl at the “Mission” from age 13-15.  She said the relationship was obvious, that the girls’ parents spoke to her father about it, and that “Director” gave benefits to this girl’s family that the other families didn’t receive including, “house, food, almost everything,” for which they didn’t have to pay. Named two other girls from the comarca who stayed at the “Mission” dormitory who rejected “Director’s” advances and who could speak to what happened there.  One of these girls “Director” reportedly “ran off” back to the comarca.  Stated “Director” “wanted to have control of all girls” staying at the dormitory. Named another pastor who was over the dormitory who could speak to what happened there. F.  Statements of Girl #2 in her declaracion jurada, November, 2014- Stated “Director” went from a “boss and worker” relationship to a “friends” relationship by asking more about her life with her father and family, giving her sweets and hugging her and kissing her on the forehead, and then continued on to sexual abuse even after she said “no” more than once. Stated “Director” had a very “strong character,” sometimes “shouting at any person,” including herself, sometimes “angry for several days,” “throwing things,” and “making people afraid.” Stated some time after she left employment at the “Mission,” “Director” came to her house several times asking her to forgive him and return to the “Mission.” Stated she had not wanted to tell what happened with “Director” because “he has a lot of money” and “can buy anyone” and “is a manipulator.”  Further she said she thought “no one would believe her,” and nothing had happened when the other girl had made a denuncia against “Director.” Stated she told “Wife” the whole story in August, 2014, and “Wife” believed her. Stated “Director” texted her after she told “Wife” and said “thanks a lot for damaging his future, that of his family, and of all the people that are benefitting from the ‘Mission.’”  He also texted her later that those are “personal sins between him and God.” Stated she witnessed “Director” was alone with another minor girl he employed in the “eye clinic” with the door closed almost every afternoon, supposedly “helping her with her homework.”  Once Girl #2 walked into the clinic and saw “Director” embracing and kissing this girl. Named the same girl as did Girl #1 who told her she had had a sexual relationship with “Director” when she was a minor, which resulted in a pregnancy that she had to abort. Named another girl (daughter of another employee) who may have been sexually abused by “Director” who told her years ago she didn’t want to tell because no one would believe her. Named another girl who had stayed in the dormitory who “Director” was with inside with the door closed. Stated girls who stayed in the dormitory were not allowed to have a boyfriend, or they had to leave. G.  Statements of Girl #3 in her declaracion jurada, November, 2014- Stated she worked at the “Mission” so she could pay for things she needed for school. Stated that relationship with “Director” and “Wife” progressed from work, to offer of things for school from the school supply container, to complements by “Director” and him “watching her a lot,” and then sexual abuse. Stated she told “Director” she did not want to participate in sexual activity. Stated she heard that “Director” was involved with other girls, and that “Director” “impregnated someone and that girl had to have an abortion,” but that she did not know about it herself. Stated “Director” told her before departing in August that he “had to go to the U.S. and that he wasn’t going to return, that [Wife] had realized what was happening.” Stated after “Director’s” departure she had to retrieve her computer, which was in his house, from “Wife.” H.  Statements of “Mission Director Wife” in her denuncia, August, 2014- Stated Girl #2 told her about sexual abuse of “Director” and that “everyone is afraid of [Director] in this situation.”  Stated Girl #2 told her about girl who had gotten pregnant by “Director” and “Director” had given her an “injection to induce abortion.” Stated she had “heard rumors that [Director] had sexual relations with minors, but she didn’t believe it because one time when he began to touch a girl in public, she called his attention to it and [Director] said he wouldn’t do it again.” Stated that she “saw that [Director] gave temporary work to girls and gave them gifts equal to their responsibilities, that he was close to them, and several times they had discussions that she was not in agreement with his actions.  But she never suspected that there would be sexual crimes.” Stated Girl #1 was “one of [Director’s] favorites who he liked to have with him.”  Stated two of the girls told her “Director” “manipulated them psychologically.” Stated “[Director] is a person with a lot of power and influence with people in a wide range of social spheres,” that “he is a manipulator therefore some people are afraid of him.” Stated they operated a dormitory for indigenous girls in order to help them with expenses for education from 2005-2009, and that “Director” may have “taken advantage” of this assistance to needy people “to get to girls.” Stated she wanted “this situation of sexual abuse of young girls to be investigated and stopped.”  Debbie and Gary Pearcy, 1-3-16   In this section of our testimony concerning allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Boquete “Mission Director,” we will report what we observed of said “Director’s” behavior with minor girls and others during our time there from August, 2013, until August, 2014.  Taken alone, these may be red flags.  However, taken in light of all the other testimony previously given, this behavior is consistent with someone who could be abusing girls.   When we came to work at the “Mission,” no one told us anything about previous allegations against “Director” of sexual abuse.  If they had, we would have been much more watchful and would have found these behaviors to be concerning.  As it was, he had apparently such a good “reputation” and the involvement of the local community, the expat community, and church groups who came, that our vision was skewed at first.  But this is what we saw and heard in our year there.   Finally, we want to say that our purpose in presenting these posts to the community is for the protection of young girls, as well as the community as a whole.  Many girls access the “Mission” property, including students from the local primary school having classes there, children who come to the clinic for services with or without their parents, children who attend church there, and children who attend special events.  We believe there is more than enough testimony that “Director” should be at the least monitored, if not investigated further.   We are Christians, so we do believe that “justice” is ultimately in the hands of God, even where authorities and men routinely fail.  Nevertheless, God has given us the mandate to “live rightly.”   “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8  If we wish to be in right standing with God, we must admit our failure, receive His offer of forgiveness through His Son, and start anew in following His commands.  Those commands include, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Matthew 22:39, and, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.  Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked,” Psalm 82:3-4.  We pray this community and leaders will do right and protect its weakest members from any and all forms of abuse.    Our testimony of what we know of the “Mission”-  Part 5-  Observed behavior of “Mission Director” A.  We began volunteering at the “Mission” in August, 2013.  Gary Pearcy was usually at the “Mission” 9-4, Monday-Thursday.  Debbie Pearcy was at the “Mission” in the afternoons, Monday-Thursday, and Friday afternoons once a month to show a movie.  Gary helped in the shop area with whatever was needed, and eventually started a carpentry class one afternoon a week for boys ages 11 and up.  “Mission Director Wife” asked me (Debbie Pearcy) to help kids with their homework in the clinic office while “Director” was gone in the U.S. because it got “tiresome” for her.  I also helped every Sunday afternoon after church in the clinic. B.  Upon “Director’s” return he did not speak to me (Debbie Pearcy) much and did not ever request me to do anything.  In September, 2013, I offered to start an after-school program teaching basic skills and having activities for primary school students.  “Director” said that was fine if I did it in the kitchen/dining building across from the clinic.  Those attending my class were seven daughters and three sons of “Mission” staff, and three or four kids from the community, all ages 8-12. C.  We observed that “Director” frequently helped young indigenous girls and high school age daughters of “Mission” staff who came with their “homework” in the afternoons in the office of the “Mission” clinic.  When we went in the clinic for something, we sometimes saw “Director” sitting at his computer with the girl(s) next to him.  “Director” was often in the clinic alone helping girls with homework, or with a young girl who was employed in the office.  We did not ever see “Director” helping boys.  We did not ever enter the separate eye clinic building. D.  “Director” interacted with four of the young daughters of staff in my class, smiling at and talking to them, and giving them cookies and coffee in the clinic.  “Director” gave school supplies, shoes, and clothes to these girls when they requested them.  “Director” often took these girls home to the staff housing in his car after my class in the afternoon and after church Sunday evenings. E.  One time I saw an eleven-year-old daughter of staff lean briefly against a twelve-year-old boy working on the computer, and “Director” snapped at her and said, “Stop touching him, he’s not your novio!” F.  Once I walked in the clinic office to ask “Director” a question.  I saw “Director” at the computer helping two young indigenous girls (around age 8 or 9) sitting beside him.  His body was turned towards them with his legs open and his knee nearly touching the girl closest to him.  The girls were staring at him with their eyes blinking, not moving.  G.  We observed Girl #3 assisting “Director” with patients every Sunday afternoon at the clinic.  He often helped her with “homework” afterwards on his computer, and was often the last one there with her alone when we left.  “Director” often picked her up for Sunday evening church, and always took her back himself. H.  We observed Girl #3’s manner when at the clinic was docile, not ever saying much, following “Director” around or waiting in the exam room for him, doing exactly what he said to do, even with a glazed look in her eyes. I.  The last Sunday “Director” was there before returning to the U.S. (24-August-14), he cancelled the clinic after church.  We observed that he was alone in the clinic with Girl #3 for awhile until he left with her in the front seat of his car. J.  “Director” frequently talked about the problem with young boys/men who hung around the church and “Mission,” wanting to have sex with the young girls.  We witnessed him get out of the car and chase a boy away from the property once.  Another time we witnessed him go and speak to two young men who had come to the church service on Sunday, and the two young men got up and left. K.  We were told by a “Mission” staff that his oldest daughter is not allowed by “Director” to stay at the “Mission” property.  This daughter had two children, father unknown, at the “Mission” when she was age 13-16, and then “Mission Director Wife” told us she “ran away.”  This daughter returned from Panama City to be near her mother when she delivered another child in 2014.  We witnessed “Director” tell the staff person that the daughter could not stay at the “Mission,” and the girl delivered her baby with her brother on a finca across town.  The staff also told us this brother was run off from the “Mission” by “Director” previously. L.  “Director” received lots of calls on his phone and texted frequently through the day, every day we observed him.  It was difficult to have a conversation with him, due to him receiving constant phone calls and texts.  He often got a call and suddenly left what he was doing at the “Mission,” saying someone needed a ride somewhere.  He often took trips to the comarca for unknown reasons.  “Mission Director Wife” and “Daughter” told us over the years “Director” had frequently received phone calls and suddenly left, even in the evenings. M.  We often observed women and children waiting on benches outside the clinic for medical care.  Many times “Director” just looked at them and then left, leaving no one to see them.  During the week we saw “Wife” treating as many or even more patients than “Director” did. N.  One of the last Sunday night services “Director” did before leaving in 2014, he did a teaching on the “power of demons,” and ended with this story, translated into Spanish by the regular Panamanian interpreter.  “Director” said that one day on the comarca a young girl came home from school, changed her clothes, and went down to the river to wash.  Something came up behind her, grabbed her, threw her down, and raped her.  Afterwards the thing ripped her in two and left her there.  “Director” said nothing about how he knew about this story, when it happened, or what happened afterwards, but looked at our shocked faces for the effect and ended the service.  “Director’s” son-in-law, oldest granddaughter, and the usual indigenous and non-indigenous adults and children were present.  “Director’s Wife” and “Daughter” were also present but stepped outside with two of his grandchildren before he told this story.  Debbie and Gary Pearcy, 3-3-16   Our testimony of what we know of the “Mission”-  Part 4- Statements and actions of “Mission Director’s” staff A.  We spoke to a staff of the “Mission” concerning allegations and he said about working for “Director,” “What am I supposed to do?  All the pastors do that on the comarca.”  This staff later gave a sworn statement on behalf of “Director” saying that everyone was sad that there were not any “Mission services” as before. B.  This staff person’s wife said to us, “If [Mission Director] and [Wife] do not return, who will pay for my daughter’s school?” C.  We spoke to a former employee and church attender of the “Mission” who said, “You can’t tell these families what they can or can’t do with their daughters,” and, “[Director’s] sin is between him and God.” D.  Another employee we spoke to said, “I hope I don’t go to jail.” E.  One of the “Mission” pastors said to us, “Even if [Director] is doing that, it is in God’s hands.” F.  Another “Mission” pastor said to us, “If the ‘Mission’ closes, I will have to go back to the comarca, and where will my kids go to school?” G.  The mother of one of the girls who filed a statement in 2014 told us she was visited twice by the rather gigantesque “Mission” bus driver who accused her daughter of lies and slander against “Director” and told her she needed to get a lawyer, and later that “they” wanted to meet with her. H.  Last fall this same bus driver and another “Mission” staff visited a neighbor of the “Mission” to question him as to why he was talking to us. I.  A friend of “Director,” also a Boquete resident, was made power-of-attorney by “Director” in 2014 to handle his affairs in his absence.  We were informed of this by “Director’s Wife” and we also received an email from this individual identifying himself as “Director’s” legal representative.  We were told this power-of-attorney spoke to the “Mission” church on December 7, 2014, on behalf of “Director,” but we did not witness this. “Director’s” power-of-attorney sent us three emails questioning our support of girls and “Wife.”  We are sorry about the the offensive nature of these emails, but these demonstrate his (their) attitude towards the local people.  Following are excerpts from two of these emails: “Director’s” power-of-attorney email excerpt #1-  “In parting, let me outline some cultural phenomena ingrained in Panama , be it Latino or Ngobe. First of all, is the definition of a lie. A lie is not a lie if it is told to a trusting , believing, unsuspecting person ; a lie is only a lie if you, upon hearing it, you know first –hand that it is untrue; otherwise you’re at liberty to spread whatever malicious , vicious gossip, slander, falsehood, etc you can conjure up without restraint. Number two, Panamanians engage in this activity as a SPORT; deceiving, cheating, stealing and lying is not only acknowledged as “NORMAL’’ it is CELEBRATED !; the person claiming the biggest ‘con’ , swindle, deception or predatory act is awarded fame as the Champion Hustler of the week. Not only is it Normal and a Sport, they also have a NAMES for it…….”bochinche “ (sp ?) , meaning malicious gossip & “juego vivo’, for a swindle. I mention this because, in some regard you have naively let yourself to “be had’ by an unscrupulous culture. “One of the biggest failings that ‘newbies’ make is thinking, these sociable , smiling people may be uneducated & poor, but… really… they’re just like me. ! Wrong, Wrong , Wrong ! ! They are not like you and me ! … they are fundamentally dishonest , deceptive, despicable, decadent amoral heathens without a social or moral conscience who think lighting a candle for “The Virgin” allows them to sin with impunity. “I’d be surprised if you’ve been here for more than 12 months yet but I’ve been getting this education for 8-9 years ( and [Director] longer than that) & it’s why I reject many of these devilish bastards ! So, better wake up , do not believe routine lies you’re told & see these morally “handicapped” [ie, degenerate] people for what they really are. Especially before accepting their lies and accusing and destroying innocent and godly people !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  “Director’s” power-of-attorney email excerpt #2- “For their part, the “molested girls” are manipulated false accusers without witnesses or medical evidence who indulge in their culture’s amusement & “moment of fame” that comes with devilish gossip. Molestation allegations likely also bear the imprint of a culture in which these girls may have already experienced commonly occurring incest at home & sex with boys that serves to enhance their sexual “awareness” at a young age.”  J.  We attended a church not far from the “Mission” one Sunday last fall, and this power-of-attorney came the following week to visit the pastor and say that he knew we had been there, and that he wanted to know what we said to him (the pastor).  The pastor called and told us this and said, “be careful, they are watching you.” Debbie and Gary Pearcy, 2-3-16   In this section of our testimony concerning allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Boquete “Mission Director,” we will report what we observed of said “Director’s” behavior with minor girls and others during our time there from August, 2013, until August, 2014.  Taken alone, these may be red flags.  However, taken in light of all the other testimony previously given, this behavior is consistent with someone who could be abusing girls. When we came to work at the “Mission,” no one told us anything about previous allegations against “Director” of sexual abuse.  If they had, we would have been much more watchful and would have found these behaviors to be concerning.  As it was, he had apparently such a good “reputation” and the involvement of the local community, the expat community, and church groups who came, that our vision was skewed at first.  But this is what we saw and heard in our year there. Finally, we want to say that our purpose in presenting these posts to the community is for the protection of young girls, as well as the community as a whole.  Many girls access the “Mission” property, including students from the local primary school having classes there, children who come to the clinic for services with or without their parents, children who attend church there, and children who attend special events.  We believe there is more than enough testimony that “Director” should be at the least monitored, if not investigated further. We are Christians, so we do believe that “justice” is ultimately in the hands of God, even where authorities and men routinely fail.  Nevertheless, God has given us the mandate to “live rightly.”   “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8  If we wish to be in right standing with God, we must admit our failure, receive His offer of forgiveness through His Son, and start anew in following His commands.  Those commands include, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Matthew 22:39, and, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.  Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked,” Psalm 82:3-4.  We pray this community and leaders will do right and protect its weakest members from any and all forms of abuse.  Our testimony of what we know of the “Mission”-  Part 5-  Observed behavior of “Mission Director” A.  We began volunteering at the “Mission” in August, 2013.  Gary Pearcy was usually at the “Mission” 9-4, Monday-Thursday.  Debbie Pearcy was at the “Mission” in the afternoons, Monday-Thursday, and Friday afternoons once a month to show a movie.  Gary helped in the shop area with whatever was needed, and eventually started a carpentry class one afternoon a week for boys ages 11 and up.  “Mission Director Wife” asked me (Debbie Pearcy) to help kids with their homework in the clinic office while “Director” was gone in the U.S. because it got “tiresome” for her.  I also helped every Sunday afternoon after church in the clinic. B.  Upon “Director’s” return he did not speak to me (Debbie Pearcy) much and did not ever request me to do anything.  In September, 2013, I offered to start an after-school program teaching basic skills and having activities for primary school students.  “Director” said that was fine if I did it in the kitchen/dining building across from the clinic.  Those attending my class were seven daughters and three sons of “Mission” staff, and three or four kids from the community, all ages 8-12. C.  We observed that “Director” frequently helped young indigenous girls and high school age daughters of “Mission” staff who came with their “homework” in the afternoons in the office of the “Mission” clinic.  When we went in the clinic for something, we sometimes saw “Director” sitting at his computer with the girl(s) next to him.  “Director” was often in the clinic alone helping girls with homework, or with a young girl who was employed in the office.  We did not ever see “Director” helping boys.  We did not ever enter the separate eye clinic building. D.  “Director” interacted with four of the young daughters of staff in my class, smiling at and talking to them, and giving them cookies and coffee in the clinic.  “Director” gave school supplies, shoes, and clothes to these girls when they requested them.  “Director” often took these girls home to the staff housing in his car after my class in the afternoon and after church Sunday evenings. E.  One time I saw an eleven-year-old daughter of staff lean briefly against a twelve-year-old boy working on the computer, and “Director” snapped at her and said, “Stop touching him, he’s not your novio!” F.  Once I walked in the clinic office to ask “Director” a question.  I saw “Director” at the computer helping two young indigenous girls (around age 8 or 9) sitting beside him.  His body was turned towards them with his legs open and his knee nearly touching the girl closest to him.  The girls were staring at him with their eyes blinking, not moving.  G.  We observed Girl #3 assisting “Director” with patients every Sunday afternoon at the clinic.  He often helped her with “homework” afterwards on his computer, and was often the last one there with her alone when we left.  “Director” often picked her up for Sunday evening church, and always took her back himself. H.  We observed Girl #3’s manner when at the clinic was docile, not ever saying much, following “Director” around or waiting in the exam room for him, doing exactly what he said to do, even with a glazed look in her eyes. I.  The last Sunday “Director” was there before returning to the U.S. (24-August-14), he cancelled the clinic after church.  We observed that he was alone in the clinic with Girl #3 for awhile until he left with her in the front seat of his car. J.  “Director” frequently talked about the problem with young boys/men who hung around the church and “Mission,” wanting to have sex with the young girls.  We witnessed him get out of the car and chase a boy away from the property once.  Another time we witnessed him go and speak to two young men who had come to the church service on Sunday, and the two young men got up and left. K.  We were told by a “Mission” staff that his oldest daughter is not allowed by “Director” to stay at the “Mission” property.  This daughter had two children, father unknown, at the “Mission” when she was age 13-16, and then “Mission Director Wife” told us she “ran away.”  This daughter returned from Panama City to be near her mother when she delivered another child in 2014.  We witnessed “Director” tell the staff person that the daughter could not stay at the “Mission,” and the girl delivered her baby with her brother on a finca across town.  The staff also told us this brother was run off from the “Mission” by “Director” previously. L.  “Director” received lots of calls on his phone and texted frequently through the day, every day we observed him.  It was difficult to have a conversation with him, due to him receiving constant phone calls and texts.  He often got a call and suddenly left what he was doing at the “Mission,” saying someone needed a ride somewhere.  He often took trips to the comarca for unknown reasons.  “Mission Director Wife” and “Daughter” told us over the years “Director” had frequently received phone calls and suddenly left, even in the evenings. M.  We often observed women and children waiting on benches outside the clinic for medical care.  Many times “Director” just looked at them and then left, leaving no one to see them.  During the week we saw “Wife” treating as many or even more patients than “Director” did. N.  One of the last Sunday night services “Director” did before leaving in 2014, he did a teaching on the “power of demons,” and ended with this story, translated into Spanish by the regular Panamanian interpreter.  “Director” said that one day on the comarca a young girl came home from school, changed her clothes, and went down to the river to wash.  Something came up behind her, grabbed her, threw her down, and raped her.  Afterwards the thing ripped her in two and left her there.  “Director” said nothing about how he knew about this story, when it happened, or what happened afterwards, but looked at our shocked faces for the effect and ended the service.  “Director’s” son-in-law, oldest granddaughter, and the usual indigenous and non-indigenous adults and children were present.  “Director’s Wife” and “Daughter” were also present but stepped outside with two of his grandchildren before he told this story.  Debbie and Gary Pearcy, 3-3-16   In this section of our testimony concerning allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Boquete “Mission Director,” we want to clarify what resources are utilized by the “Mission.”  We had heard that “Mission Director” funds the majority of the costs of running the “Mission” himself.  Until nearly the end of our year there we were under the assumption that the “Mission” provided a place for volunteers and groups to work and serve the local community at no cost to them, because it is a “Mission,” a charity.  We thought that the “Mission” was under a church group or trust.  “Mission Director Wife” told us that she and family had been pushing “Director” for years to make a plan to pass the “Mission” on to some other person or organization for it to continue after they retired.  Therefore, we want to share with the public what we now know of the “Mission’s” ownership and donated resources.  While this part of our testimony does not directly relate to allegations of sexual abuse of minors, it does serve to inform the community of how its support and that of many volunteer groups who came to help Panama over the years have enabled the “Mission” to operate.  This testimony also clarifies the operational status of the “Mission” as an organization. Our testimony of what we know of the “Mission”-  Part 6-  “Mission” support A.  “Mission” ownership- “Director” told Gary Pearcy and another volunteer concerning the “Mission,” “Everything you see here is mine.” In legal paperwork we received from “Mission Director’s” attorney, it was stated that “Director” is the “legitimate owner” of the “Finca,” with four (4) property numbers listed.  It further stated that on these properties “can be found a number of improvements consistent with construction effected by [Director] with his own economic resources, as well as buses utilized for transporting people in connection with offered health services.”  “Wife” told us that “Director’s” properties are valued at about $1.5 million. “Director” said to Gary Pearcy when working on the septic tank for the staff housing on his property, “I think I am going to tear all this down and build condominiums for my children’s inheritance.” “Director” showed Gary Pearcy an aerial photo of the original two or three buildings on the “Mission” property before “Director” came.  “Director” explained how “he” built out and completed the remainder of the “Mission” buildings as seen today.  B.  “Mission” non-profit status and oversight- “Mission Director Wife” told us that the “Mission’s” U.S. non-profit 501(c)3 status had been revoked a year or two ago for failure to keep up with the reporting.  Therefore they were using a friend’s 501(c)3 to receive donations.  A GuideStar report available online confirms that “Mission’s” “exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS on February 11, 2013 for failure to file a Form 990/990EZ/990N/990PF for 3 consecutive years.” (accessed 7-3-16) “Mission Director and Wife” home church stated in an email to us that the “[Mission] has been the sole initiative of [Mission Director and Wife].” As previously noted, per “Director’s Wife” and former “Mission” board president, the board of directors of the “Mission” was disbanded several years ago. The same GuideStar report referenced above lists “Officers/Trustees” of the “Mission” from 2005-2007 as “Director’s Wife,” “Director’s Daughter,” “Director’s” attorney, and one other couple in 2007. C.  “Mission” sources of revenue-  Volunteer/church groups-  From the end of 2013-2014, we saw six groups with between 6-30 members, as well as various individuals, that came for about a week and helped around the “Mission.”  “Wife” told us there were many more groups that came in their early years there.  According to two church groups we have documentation from, they paid the “Mission” $30.00-$35.00 per day/per person to volunteer, and paid for all the materials to work on the “Mission” buildings and do other activities.  Nearly all groups we observed stayed in the “Mission” dormitory and also “Daughter’s” house, the eye clinic, wherever they could find room on the “Mission” properties.  “Wife” told us in the past groups also stayed in their home.  Examples:  Church #1, Letter regarding 2014 trip-  “We [twelve member team] were able to bring various donations that our [church] collected in the amount of $500.00.  We brought school materials and medical supplies to help [Mission] as well as children’s clothing. Among the items were: Medical:Advil/Motrin/Ibuprofen:  adult and kidsTylenol/ Acetaminophen:  kids, Prenatal vitamins, Antacids, Topical antibiotic creams (Neosporin, Bacitracin etc), and Topical Anti-fungal/Athlete's Foot creams. Non-medical:Toothpaste, Plain Dark socks, adults or kids sock size 9-11, and disposable diapers, all sizes.  We also brought a donation $150.00 to spend in shoes.  Each of our mission team members paid $35.00 per person.  We stayed 6 days. This amount included meals, accommodation, and transportation to the different schools, and comarcas that we visited.  We left a cash offering of $250.00 with the administrator.”  Church #2, Letter regarding 2013 and 2014 trips- Church representative provided us a receipt for 2013 project expenses paid by them, written and signed by “Director,” which included: “Local School” divider project- total paid $958.07, and “Mission” playground equipment project (for “Mission” staff housing, not for public)- total paid $2756.73. Church rep. wrote:  “cash (for 2014 trip) was paid for the construction and maintenance projects. This cash was paid to [Wife] as [Director] was not present at the time of our departure. As far as room and board we paid $30 per person, per day. We had 32 people in 2013 and 30 people in 2014. The 2013 payment for room and board for approx. $9000 was made at the time of the trip. The $9000 for 2014 was paid to [Wife] however the check was never deposited and later re-issued to [Wife] and her daughter at [Wife’s] request.  [Wife] wanted to use those funds to help pay the staff at the mission during [Director’s] absence (for sexual abuse investigation). There were many other expenses for travel and such.” (Incidentally, shortly after receiving this payment of $9,000, “Wife” and “Daughter” went on a trip to Europe per “Wife’s” Facebook page.) “Mission” was a Bid-4-Boquete charity receiving yearly donation from their annual fund-raising drive, per their website. Per “Mission’s” ministry website (accessed 7-3-16), “Director” receives donations for:  Adopt-a-Project- Vehicles, Medical and Dental Supplies, Containers, Building projects “Mission” sells coffee in the U.S. per their attorney’s coffee website (accessed 7-3-16).  Examples of coffee sold and pricing include: “Director’s” Premium Ground or Whole Bean Coffee- $15.00/bag “Wife’s” Decaffeinated Estate Coffee single-serve pods- $20.00/10 pack Café Bajareque Ground Pot Pack Geisha coffee- $25.00/pack Café Bajareque Ground or Whole Bean Geisha coffee- $75.00/bag Gary Pearcy and other volunteers helped “Director” with work in the community utilizing “Director’s” trucks and backhoe on several occasions for which Gary heard “Director” was paid (we have no documentation of this, but Gary overheard that “Director” was being paid in several conversations). D.  “Mission” donations-in-kind and volunteer man-hours- We helped unload the items that came in the container “Director” shipped in 2013.  They included school supplies, Christmas toys and gifts, shoes, clothes, and medical and dental supplies.  We and some of the other “Mission” volunteers as well as church and charity groups had gathered the donated items ourselves and sent them to “Director’s” home in Indiana for shipping to Panama.  The following items that were utilized, stored and distributed at the “Mission” we understood to all be donated:   Clothes and shoes Medications and medical supplies Eye clinic supplies Use of eye surgery equipment (we understood this belonged to the American eye doctor who came to do surgeries once a year) Dental supplies School supplies Gary Pearcy asked “Director” once about any budget available to purchase an item for use in the shop area (an extension cord).  “Director” replied, “Let me tell you how it works around here.  If you want to do something, you fund it yourself.” We (Gary and Debbie Pearcy) rented a house on “Daughter’s” property our entire year there, for $500.00/month, paid initially to “Director” and later directly to “Daughter.”  We received no payment from the “Mission” but volunteered entirely for free, 4-5 days a week. Other volunteers from the U.S. that offered their services for no charge at the “Mission” while we were there included: Dentist and wife Dental assistant and husband Various others who helped part-time in the shop area and on community projects, and an English teacher who came one afternoon a week On the “Mission” website are listed “Building Projects” that groups can donate to and help to build, including:  dormitory for students, eye clinic, mechanics work area.  We observed the church and volunteer groups who came doing building/painting of “Mission” staff housing playground equipment, painting/repairing/building out “Mission” buildings (including “Daughter’s” house), and sometimes doing projects at the local primary school.   Below are some comments of churches as to what they did while serving at the “Mission”: Church #1 Letter- “We served in different capacities: painting one of the mission houses, teaching a group of children who came everyday in the afternoon for Bible and English lessons, going to town and around the community to teach Bible lessons and also doing lice treatments in a local school.”    Church #2 Youtube postings (accessed 7-3-16)- “This video is about Panama Mission Transport Overhaul - Watch as [team member] gets a Land Rover up and running after two years - dry docked.”   “Some never before seen video from our week in Boquete, Panama. Included are scenes of a Ngobe family's outdoor kitchen, work on constructing from scratch - playground equipment, our ladies painting a Ngobe family's "container" home, mission director making a playground - leveling decision and more.......” Church #3 website (accessed 7-3-16)- 2011 trip- “There is plenty of work to be done in the medical and dental clinics as well there are always several vehicles that need repair work”  2012 trip- Day 1- “We spent our first day touring the mission site, sorting school supplies, clothing and medicine.  The men helped move a few thousand pounds of coffee that is ready for processing.”  Day 3- “Some of the projects from Saturday include helping to get things in order for the start of school by unloading large containers full of items, moving and storing beds and other things that were temporarily housed in one of the classrooms, and even disassembling old water fountains that were no longer useful.  …The two youngest gentlemen on our crew, … worked for hours shoveling dirt to fill in near the swing set where children play….Several of the men went above and beyond the call of duty on this day by repairing the church sewage system,…Today, our third full day here, was a long, full day of working on projects to help support the Mission here.   …  The big task of painting the front of the church sanctuary was started and mostly completed.  When it’s all done, the entire front will be a clean, pure white color: …A number of the men spent the day hauling gravel and cutting wood… Some of the younger members gathered trash that collected around the coffee plantation.  Other tasks included clearing accumulated debris out of what in Spanish is called an alcantarilla del drenaje (similar to a drainage culvert) near the church entrance”  Day 7- “we did a few small odd-and-end projects, and the team sanded and washed the fort in the playground in preparation for painting.  Unfortunately, the actual task of painting the fort will fall to the next group to follow us here.”  2014 trip- Day 4- “This was a busy work filled day of painting playground equipment, painting the outside of the class room building, more concrete work, and working on installing a septic system.”   Day 5- “We wrapped up the concrete work and painting.”     Debbie and Gary Pearcy, 8-3-16   In this section of our testimony concerning allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Boquete “Mission Director,” we want to delineate what services we observed that the “Mission” does and does not offer.  This testimony is related to Part 6 of our testimony concerning all the support the “Mission” receives from others in providing services, and addresses the perception the community has of all the “good” done by the “Mission.”  We have heard this repeatedly, almost as a justification and reason to overlook what may be going on with sexual abuse by the “Director.”  But upon our closer observation through a year volunteering there, not only do we realize the “Mission” may be a cover for sexual abuse of minors by “Director,” but in fact “Mission Director” is not doing the good that is presented. The “Mission” ministry website states, “Give to Panama - The ongoing need for funds is, like any mission, great.”  The “Mission’s” mission statement as given on the GuideStar report (generated 6-3-16 is: “To assist in the evangelization of the Christian faith in Panama through the support of missionaries....”  The website that sells the “Mission’s” coffee through an LLC run by “Director’s” attorney states that the company “buys coffee from the [Mission farm] at retail prices then resells the coffee in the United States. The proceeds, less costs, are returned to the Mission in materials, medicine, and money.”  It appears this business has been operating through the present (website is dated 2016), even during the “Director’s” absence and interruption of “Mission” services beginning August, 2014, due to investigation of “Director” for sexual abuse.  This website also has online tax-deductible donation options to give up to $1,000 or more to the “Mission.”  Both the ministry and coffee websites call the “Mission” a tax exempt 501(c)3 charity organization, and list or link to the former Board of Director members who we were told was disbanded years ago.  If you present yourself in the community and on the internet as a charity who receives financial payments and donations of time and resources for specified services provided to the needy, you are responsible to do those services and report publicly and truthfully on your organizational status and use of said resources.  Anything short of that is fraudulent. Our testimony of what we know of the “Mission”-  Part 7-  “Mission” services A.  Following are services we observed the “Mission” offer from August, 2013-August, 2014- Church services and events– A church service was held every Sunday morning with transportation provided by “Mission” to Ngobe and Latino people around Boquete.  The local pastoral staff (Ngobe and Latino) conducted the services and preached.  “Director” sometimes preached in the main church service, and also taught the youth class until asking us to do it in May, 2014.  “Director” also taught the Sunday evening service in English with Spanish translation. Baptism services- Baptisms were offered in a local river twice in our year there.  In both cases, “Director’s” scheduling of baptisms coincided with when church groups or visitors were there. Vacation Bible School (VBS) was held once in the year conducted by visiting church teams, and children and some adults were bused in from the comarca by the “Mission. Medical services- After church on Sunday, those who attended the service could receive clinic services and be seen by the local Panamanian doctor who came from David or “Mission Director Wife.”  Patients were given medications and sometimes referred for further care.  “Director” saw some patients, including pregnant patients wanting an ultrasound, and “Director” also pulled teeth in the dental clinic.  Approximately 20-30 patients were seen most Sundays. During the week, “Director” and “Wife” treated patients when they were there (around 5 patients).  We observed “Director” leave Ngobe women and children many times sitting there waiting outside the clinic because he had something else to do.  “Wife” treated many of the patients in the morning, and also sometimes transported ill babies to the health clinic or hospital in David. Every Tuesday morning “Director” conducted eye exams with his Panamanian interpreter.  Approximately 10-20 patients came, but we do not know what services they received.  We understood that the “Director” selected patients from these eye exams and eye exams he did on the comarca for cataract surgeries done by the eye surgeons who came once a year. “Mission” dentist and dental assistant provided dental clinics Sunday after church, two-three days during the week, and in the local schools.  We did not help with these clinics and do not know how many they saw. In January, a group of eye doctors came from the U.S. and did about 120 cataract surgeries.  These doctors used their equipment that they had shipped in before on “Director’s” container. Teams of volunteers who came were sometimes taken by “Wife” to local schools to wash kids hair for lice. Education services- “Director’s Wife” and sometimes Debbie Pearcy gave school supplies from the container to children requesting them, primarily children of “Mission” staff. “Director’s Wife” distributed donated school shoes and sometimes uniforms to children/families requesting them.  Backpacks and school supplies that came in on the container were distributed in January when families were brought in from the comarca for the VBS and eye doctor teams. “Director,” “Director’s Wife,” and Debbie Pearcy helped children with homework after school, which usually consisted of finding and printing out research articles and pictures from the internet. “Director” made classrooms at the “Mission” available to the local public Pre-Kinder and Kinder classes, and also later in the year three classes from the local primary school. “Mission Director and Wife” and sometimes staff provided rides home for many primary school children after school, including one group who lived on the finca next to “Director’s” neighborhood.  Later in the year, “Director” began sending out one of his buses to pick up and take home children who attended the local primary school.  “Director” also had a staff person drive the “Mission” van to take children of staff (only) to and from the high school. A “Mission” staff’s wife told us “Director” was paying for one of their daughters to attend university in David.  “Director” picked up this girl and took her to the bus stop at 5:00 in the morning.  He asked us to do this for him twice when he was gone in the U.S. B.  Following are services listed on the “Mission” ministry website (accessed 9-3-16) that we did not observe being offered by the “Mission,” August, 2013 and following.  At the very least, much of this information as listed on the website is very old, though it is dated 2016, and is still being used to gain donations.  At worst, these services were never done or attempted. “preachers who serve congregations that spread throughout the comarca”- We met two pastors from the comarca who came to the “Mission” once or twice in the year for the VBS and health services.  These pastors had very tiny church buildings with a few members coming, and did not even have Bibles or hymnals.  “Director” told Gary Pearcy he discontinued support of his comarca preachers recently because they were lying about the numbers attending their churches.  Certainly it could not be said that churches are spreading throughout the comarca due to the “Mission,” rather support services had been eliminated. “year-long training program in Bible study…taught by two local ministers, missionaries” -  Did not occur in our time there.  We were told that “Director” had stopped having these training meetings at the “Mission” recently.  “operates several buses Sundays and through the week for meetings” – Did operate buses for Sunday morning church service only, but not seen to operate through the week for anything else except special events and school transport later in the year. “three-day meeting of all the Christian churches on the comarca” – Did not occur while we were there, did not hear of it occurring in recent history. “mobile clinic on site at one of the [comarca] churches. Patients arrive from far and wide.” - Did not occur while we were there, did not hear of it occurring in recent history. “One need now is for house parents to work with our female high school students,” “semi-permanent dormitory style housing for students from the far throws of the comarca who wish to attend high school” – Dormitory was closed since 2009 per “Wife”. Adopt-a-Project- Containers- “are used as housing for the institute families or perhaps to house the clothing store or something else.” – There was no housing for Bible institute families or clothing store, these didn’t exist in our time there.  Containers are used as “Mission” staff housing, in construction done by “Director” on “Mission” property including eye clinic, and for storage of donated items. Building Projects- All building projects listed for donations on this website were either previously completed, or we never heard of them or saw examples of them.  “operates a used clothing store. … This ministry provides not only much needed clothing, but also employment and opportunities to learn some basic management skills.” – Did not exist while we were there.  We were told this store was run by a “Mission” staff family and was discontinued some time in the past. “both fruits and vegetables are cultivated for use throughout the ministry. As the mission continues to grow, so will needs in this area.” – Did not exist in our time there.  We were told this was discontinued some time in the past. C.  We were not aware until after we left the “Mission” that the “Mission” sells its coffee in the U.S. and through the internet.  “Director” and “Wife” never talked about it, nor about any of their revenue-gaining activities.  We never saw financial reports or any reports about the operation of the “Mission.”  Therefore we have no idea how much coffee has been sold by the “Mission” nor at what financial gain.  The coffee certainly sounds great with this description: “Named for the founding missionary, this premium coffee has notes of caramel and chocolate with a very pleasing natural creaminess. Sought world-wide, it is considered among the world's best coffees.” The point again is that gaining any donations or sales through false or misleading claims is fraudulent.  Following are services listed on the “Mission” coffee website (accessed 9-3-16)  that we did not observe being offered by the “Mission”: “The Mission also operates a food pantry."- Did not occur while we were there, did not hear of it occurring in recent history. “The mission actively seeks to ... prevent children from getting pregnant”- ? “The mission actively seeks to ... help keep their families from going hungry”- We are also not sure what this is referring to, as there was no food pantry or food distribution we were aware of. “help them get shelter,” Containers “providing shelter for as many as 40 people.”-  We are also not sure what this is referring to, other than we saw that six families of staff were provided rudimentary container houses on the “Mission” property. “field medical clinic shown here was held 25 miles off the paved road. 250 patients were seen in a single morning.”- Did not occur while we were there, did not hear of it occurring in recent history. “Mission staff often take bus-loads of kids to town for ice cream; a special treat that supplements their incomplete diet of rice and beans.” - Did not occur while we were there, did not hear of it occurring in recent history.  And we are not sure how ice cream supplements an incomplete diet, anyway.  Debbie and Gary Pearcy, 10-3-16      

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

2018 - What Will it Bring Us ?

What kind of changes can we expect to be seeing around here in 2018?  These would seem to be likely candidates. Completion of the Boquete Water and Sewer Project Re-Paving of Local Streets in Bajo Boquete Completion of the Panamonte Bridge Installation of a new Palo Alto Bridge Opening of the Centro Comercial in front of Todo a Dolar Opening of El Faro Kids Park Start on the Green Convention Centre at El Frances Continued Development of Alto Boquete Completion of Federal Mall in David Continuing Flow of Expat Immigrants Anything else come to mind ?    

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Kuna Nega: the other side of Christmas in Panama

Christmas in Kuna Nega. This is a superb photo essay which appeared in today's La Estrella. It provides a glimpse into the stark reality of poverty in some areas of this country. Kuna Nega: the other side of Christmas in Panama a look at the preparations for Christmas Eve in this community located on the slopes of the  Cerro Patacón landfill  Daniel M. Alarco  dmolina@laestrella.com.pa with photography by Mauricio Valenzuela | Xinhua

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

When Good News Goes Bad

Yesterday, when full of Christmas Eve shoppers, there was a big upset in Multiplaza, Panama's most upscale mall. Word got passed around on social media that the President was going to be giving away free Nike shoes there. All a body had to do was show up and ask for the shoes to be charged to the account of Juan Carlos Varela, so hundreds of people arrived for the supposed giveaway, which of course didn't happen. https://www.prensa.com/sociedad/Piden-Juan-Carlos-Varela-Presidencia_0_4924757492.html#.WkAq10CsnIw.twitter

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Rescues from Volcan Baru

About twenty 'excursionists' had to be plucked off Volcan Baru last night around midnight, with the first group arriving to Boquete about 5:00 a.m. What's up with these folks? One guy there appears to be only wearing a t-shirt. Does anyone else feel that these tpes should be heavily fined or sentenced to community service.? These rescues cost money, and a lot of lost sleep, for personnel and volunteers who are putting their own selves at risk. No word as to whether the partiers are foreigners or nationals. https://twitter.com/BCBRP/status/944907296278228992   

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Russia 2018: Selection of Panama will Train in Chiriqui

A link to this great bit of satire showed up somewhere today. Russia 2018: Selection of Panama will Train in Chiriqui The Sele is already training in Boquete to acclimatize to the low temperatures in the face of their first match in Russia 2018 against Belgium Moscow  -  After the culmination of the draw for the 2018 World Federation, it was decided that the Panamanian Selection will train in Chiriqui to acclimatize for what will be their first World Cup appearance. The Panamanian Football Federation (FEPAFUT) commented on the climate of the host country, specifically on the snow storms that hit Moscow, the Russian capital. "We have accepted the invitation of a Chiricano colleague', someone who has lived in the flesh in the Russian climate, who indicates to us that the climate in Russia is nothing compared to what it's like to live in Chiriqui", and he facilitated the stay so that the selection can train in sub-zero temperatures, which according to the Chiricanos are very similar to those experienced in Russia'- said FEPAFUT Many Panamanians present at the drawing indicated that the weather can be an important factor for Panama, which will start the World Cup trying to gain points from Belgium, a team prepared to play in cold weather. The newly convened Gregorio Querini also made comments but did not confirm the date on which the Panamanian selection will train in Chiriqui. The Chiricano stated that the Russian winters are like a summer breeze in comparison to the cold weather of the Highlands Chiricanas.  "It's not for nothing they call them the Alpes Chiricanos", he commented.

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

José "Pepe" Mujica Visits Panama

This week marked the visit to Panama of the wonderful former President of Uruguay, José "Pepe" Mujica, when he received an honorary Doctorate from UP and gave a number of excellent speeches. “Pepe” Mujica: The preacher of transparency Oscar Sulbarán Fri, 11/24/2017 - 23:04     "It's better to pay the price of irresponsibility than to muzzle society" Each one of the speeches made by the former Uruguayan president, José “Pepe” Mujica during his visit to Panama, were focused on fighting corruption. This Friday he participated as a speaker at the XXXIV ordinary session of the Latin American Parliament and highlighted the role the press has against this problem: “the lack of freedom is the greatest guarantee for acts of corruption to prosper. Freedom will not solve every problem but without a doubt freedom helps, in a great way. The journalistic affirmation hurts us a thousandfold, not always responsible, but it is better to pay the price of irresponsibility than to muzzle society if the phenomenon wants to be controled”. During his stay in the isthmus, Mujica was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the University of Panama. He was also received by the President of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela.  

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Boxing: finding a way out of poverty

Boxing: finding a way out of poverty The country of Roberto Durán is still a boxing academy. In Panama City, in Curundú, in a place where a hangar used to be, the “Pedro Alcazar, the rocker” gym now stands. There, underpriviledged youths from areas of the isthmus’ capital come to take a step towards progress daily, through boxing. “There can be a world champion among them because they are poor and they are hungry to get out of poverty,” says Carlos Cruz, a retired boxer who won 37 fights in his career and who today is dedicated to training boxers. “We do not have money but the little that we have we share with them to give them their ticket, to feed them,” says Rigoberto Garibaldi, who now as a coach claims to be the only international medalist in Panamanian amateur boxing. Curundú’s gym is visited by boxing promoters from Colombia, Nicaragua and the United States for being considered a boxing academy.  

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

The Seller of Panama

President Varela is returning from opening the new Panamanian Embassy in China with at least a dozen and a half economic agreements beneficial to business and agriculture. Today he proposed that Panama become China's platform in Central America. Young adults from Panama are being hosted in China on cultural missions to prepare them for ? Varela proposes Panama as a China’s platform in Latin America   EFE Mon, 11/20/2017 - 11:16   Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said on Monday that Panama will play a key role as China's platform in Latin America in investment, transport, logistics and tourism. The country's central position in Latin America and the Caribbean, plus the Canal and the fact that Panama is a financial and logistical hub, with legal security and political stability, "will help us channel a lot of investment from China", Varela said at a press conference where he closed the Beijing stage of the first official visit by a Panamanian leader to the Asian country. Varela went over the main achievements of this trip and noted his confidence that, despite Latin American countries are eager to attract Chinese investment and trade, Panama will attract a significant part of the Asian giant's economic activity in that region. "There will certainly be a lot of (Chinese) investment in the region, but each country has to create favorable conditions" to attract it, he highlighted, and said that he hopes  not only to atract Chinese investment in his country, but also in other countries of the region with Panama as a base. The Panamanian president also considered that the "strategic partnership" between his country and the United States "is fully compatible" with the "approach" to China and its use of the Panamanian platform to "increase its presence in Latin America". Varela recalled that there are Chinese companies that are building a cruise port in Panama, including water projects and housing, or are established in the Colon Free Zone, with investments totaling 1,000 million dollars until the establishment of diplomatic relations in June. "I am sure that many Chinese companies will follow the same route," he said, trusting that "Panama will be the door for many Chinese companies in Latin America". Concerning transport, Varela highlighted the importance of the air "hub" of his country, with connections to almost 80 American cities, that will be reinforced when, starting in March 2018, Air China will beging the first Beijing-Panama direct flight with a technical stop in Houston (USA), which "will boost tourism between the two countries". The president and his delegation also traveled to Shanghai by high-speed train to see first-hand the Chinese system, the largest in the world, and try to apply it to the project of a fast line of passengers and goods to neighboring Costa Rica, from where it could be then extended to the rest of Mesoamerica. Varela said he has been invited to take part in the tourism fair to be held next May in Hangzhou (east), and highlighted that Panama is going to join the multi-destination strategy with tourist countries such as Costa Rica or Cuba to attract the growing number of Chinese visitors abroad. Linked to tourism and the displacement of business executives is the issue of visas, and Varela recalled that very shortly before traveling to China his government approved the flexibility of formalities for Chinese citizens to obtain a visa quickly, "in 24 or 48 hours". He explained that Panama has already presented "an important project" of Chinese funding in those connectivity projects in the region and also of the Panamanian territory with the Asian giant, within the New Silk Routes launched by the communist regime. Panama thus closed its way through Beijing in the first visit of a president of this country to China after the establishment of diplomatic relations in June. Varela said that this process "is going to be a model to be followed by other countries" that still maintain relations with Taiwan. In this sense, Varela said that the decision is "permanent" and "is not connected" to the evolution of economic exchanges. In Shanghai, the Panamanian president will inaugurate the consulate, hold discussions to increase bilateral cooperation in maritime transport, participate in a business forum and hold the PanamaFest, a celebration to promote Chinese tourism in his country. http://www.panamatoday.com/panama/varela-proposes-panama-chinas-platform-latin-america-5794

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

The Relationship between Drug Seizures and Homicides in Panama

People often state that Panama's homicide rate is quite high, (11.8 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2014), but that the majority of murders are drug related. The Ministry of Security published this graph today which appears to show that drug seizures have a direct inverse relationship to homicides committed.  

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Why Bother with Current Events

It's my personal opinion that immigrants to a foreign country should, without losing their identity, make an effort to assimilate. That includes keeping up to date with current events. The value derived is, in part, a better understanding of local people, their culture and governance.  

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Natural Disasters

Some thoughts on the recent spate of natural disasters affecting Mexico, many Caribbean islands, and parts of the southern U.S. We complain here about power outages that last longer than a few hours. Many people in the Caribbean will be living without electricity for 4 to 6 months. People who live on islands are trapped and have nowhere to run to. Continuing to allow construction in flood plains and coastal areas is simply stupid. There are people around who knock others here for rescuing dogs. They should be aware of all the  people who dogs have rescued in the last weeks. It's important to be prepared and have some kind of an action plan ready in case of an emergency here. Mother Nature can be a bitch.

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Cobre Panama Mine in Panama

This week President Varela visited the Cobre Panama mine site. This is a mega-project with $5.5 billion worth of investment, as much or more as the Canal expansion. Many mining ventures around the world are run out of Canada and this one is no different. For a time there was a struggle for control of the property and the adjacent Molejon Gold site now belonging to the infamous Petaquilla Minerals. First Quantum Minerals eventually separated from Petaquilla and succeeded in acquiring 80% of of the Cobre properties allowing them to proceed with funding and construction. The area of the open pit mines is located about 20 kilometers inland from the Caribbean in Donoso, accessible by vehicle from Penonome, and of course, is under the gun from environmentalists. President Varela Visits Cobre Panama In January 2019 will be the first shipment of the copper mine in Panama, reported the president, Juan Carlos Varela, yesterday during a tour in which verified the progress in the construction of the plant. The president said the activity generates currently 6.500 direct jobs and once operational, will become a major source of foreign exchange. According to Varela, the revenue from the exploitation of the mine will be located just behind the Panama Canal and tourism. The programming, he said, is that the first boat with mineral exports out of a port of Panama will be in the month of January 2019. According to the president Varela, 'this project ceased to be a speculation to become a reality for the benefit of workers and the national economy'. The project involves the export of 320.000 tonnes of copper, with the company's commitment to reforest 11.000 hectares of vegetation. First Quantum Minerals maintains the 80% of the shares and Philip Pascal is the company that is responsible for the development of the project and for the construction of the plant that, according to the representative, rises with the priority of Panamanian workers. It is expected that already in office, in 2019, to generate more of B/. 2 billion in exports of copper, main mineral; in addition to the export of gold as secondary mineral. http://laestrella.com.pa/panama/politica/varela-visita-mina-cobre-panama/24022679 This is a blurb from First Quantum's 'Cobre Panama' HR website. Cobre Panama is a large open-pit copper development project in Panama. It is located 120 kilometres west of Panama City and 20 kilometres from the Caribbean Sea coast, in the district of Donoso, Colon province, in the Republic of Panama. The concession consists of four zones totalling 13,600 hectares. The project involves three open pits with ore mined and processed by crushing, grinding, flotation recovery, and concentrate dewatering. It has a 30 year current mine life. Copper concentrates will be delivered by slurry pipeline from the concentrator to the filter plant at a new port facility on the Caribbean coast. A road, buried pipelines and an overland power transmission line will link the port facility and process plant. The project also includes the construction of a 300 MW power generation plant at the port. Once the project is fully operational, the mine can produce over 320,000 tonnes of copper a year. Our objective is to achieve the highest standards of operation, at the same time as meeting our production targets – something we’ll ensure by maintaining close engagement with all our stakeholders. During the construction phase we estimate there will be over 7,000 jobs. Cobre Panama represents 16% of Panama’s construction sector over next 2-3 years and once in operations it will represent an estimate of $2B exports per year for 34+ years. Key target time frame: Q2 2017 – 230KV overland power line complete Q4 2017 – set 1 (150MW) power station commences output Q2 2018 – set 2 (150MW) power station commences output 2018 – tailings management facility complete Q3 2018 – process plant construction complete H2 2018 – process commissioning 2019 - continued ramp up http://www.fqmcareers.com/our-locations/panama    

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Scorpion

Up close and personal with the critter we try to avoid. Courtesy of Panama Birds & Wildlife Photos

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Dr. Arnulfo Arias and his Controversial Legacy

This article was published in La Estrella as we approach the 29th anniversary of the death of Arnulfo Arias. Arnulfo Arias and his Controversial Legacy Considered as one of the key figures in the history of political, social and economic life of the country, much about the ideas and personality of the leader and founder of the Panamenista political party remain unknown. If there is a character whose political roots were populist, but who was not able to use that advantage to stay in presidential power, that is, without a doubt, Dr. Arnulfo Arias Madrid, one of the most important pieces of the historical, political, social, and economic life of the country; the Panameñista doctrine still prevails, despite the passage of time. Beyond the political considerations which has obviously placed him within an exclusive circle among more well known Panamanians who may have had a greater impact they have had on the national life in all times, Arnulfo Arias Madrid is perhaps the longest established, most controversial character which Panama has had in the history of the country. Arias Madrid is considered a 'icon' of the Panamanian democracy; born in the household made up by Antonio Arias and Carmen Madrid in the community of San Juan, in the district of Penonomé, Province of Coclé, grew up being part of the elite 'interiorana' in the beginning of the 20th century. He studied medicine in the United States, specializing in psychiatry, obstetrics and endocrinology; his political life began as early as the year 1925, when he returned to Panama. Six years later, he led the Community Action social, political group in 1931 which overthrew President Florencio Harmodio Arosemena. In 1936, he receives a notable influence of European political and social currents of the era, in his posting as Extraordinary Envoy and Plenipotentiary to the Governments of Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark and England. Such closeness, mainly in Germany and France, fostered an extremely nationalist tone in his speech and political thought; ideas that had already been identified by the year 1934, when he was serving as the head of the Department of Health and Welfare. Controversy Arias Madrid always expressed this thoughts openly. Such a stance made him win followers, but also a plural number of enemies in the political and social realms. One of these positions was that of his open opposition to the United States in 1940, in his first presidential term. He pondered the refinement of the Panamanian democracy, through what he termed 'Panameñista', introduced a new Constitution and maintained a fairly open support for the so-called 'Axis powers', with Germany and the position of Adolf Hitler as leader, along with the empire of Japan and Italy.  Of course, the United States saw danger in these positions. However, there is a passage in the history of Dr. Arias that still today is a matter of analysis and disputes. Was he racist? The first thing in this case is to define 'racism' as 'the ideology that defends the superiority of one race over the others'. Mainly in his first presidential term, cut short by a coup d'état in October of 1941, Arias Madrid momentum in eleven months of government showed significant progress in economic, social, political and cultural life; of that management, survive the Social Insurance Fund and the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic. Why are we to explain that? Because they were achievements of a primary management which did not forget for a time the racist bias of the accusing the leader Panameñista. In August 1934, the third edition of the 'Health' Newsletter was published, the editorial note signed by Arias Madrid entitled: 'Eugenics, The Improvement of The Race', where his alleged defense of the Spanish language and made it's learning mandatory for foreigners, exhibiting a xenophobic bias. The editorial mentioned appears in full in the electronic portal www.panamaviejaescuela.com. And since its introduction, the position of Arias Madrid on the matter. In one of its paragraphs, Arias Madrid says: 'For this reason, we see with horror a black cloud of English being spoken in new neighborhoods of our city, and spreading all over the suburbs of Las Sabanas, Pueblo Nuevo, Rio Abajo…  This indicates that a large segment of our people feel the desire to take action against the degeneration of the race, or at least hinder as far as possible, the entry of parasitic races'. The 'parasitic' races referred to by Arias Madrid were: 'Chinese, Japanese, Syrians, Turks, other Orientals, Dravidian and blacks from the Antilles and the Guyanas', which were identified in the Act 6A of 1928, according to the article. The foregoing represents just short lines of this writing, unknown to a many Panamanians, mainly of younger generations, and that leaves the door open again to the controversy surrounding Dr. Arnulfo Arias Madrid. During the second presidential term of Arias Madrid, there was the Decree Law 12, of 10 May 1950, considered the main stimulus to economic activities and industrial promotion. However, there was little success in the development of his economic model in which priority was given to national production (important, but not realized) on imports and the dollarization of the economy, with an open economy, which finally took hold. On the eve of the 29 anniversary of his death, have not yet been revealed all the mysteries around the figure of the former President Arnulfo Arias Madrid; one of them, his thought, and ideology, and if his theory of eugenics had influence in several of his major decisions as President. In the 21st century, Arnulfo Arias Madrid continues to amaze the Panamanians, after his passage from earthly life in which his works and momentous achievements; also thoughts that were thought to be overcome, but that apparently are maintained as unknowns, such as that of what would have happened if your social and political model based on the eugenics would have managed to develop? Even in our days, such a premise amazes and cause fear, at the same time. A LOOK AT THE HISTORY Dr. Arnulfo Arias Madrid took an active political step and at the same time, controversial in this year 1951, Arias Madrid abolished the constitution of 1946 and restored that which was adopted during his first mandate, in 1941. Just eleven days into his third and final presidential mandate, he was overthrown in a military coup on 11 October 1968. On August 10 1988,  Arnulfo Arias Madrid, died at the age of 86 years ago, in the city of Miami, in the United States. http://laestrella.com.pa/panama/nacional/arnulfo-arias-polemica-dejo-pensamiento/24015961/foto/337752#gallery freetranslation

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

36th Anniversary of the Death of Omar Torrijos

General Omar Torrijos was a friendly dictator who governed Panama from 1968 to 1981 and is regarded as a national hero. Today marks 36 years since the death of General Omar Torrijos Herrera This Monday, 31 July 2017 commemorates 36 years since the physical disappearance of General Omar Torrijos Herrera. His plane, a De Havilland Twin Otter (DHC-6) of the Panamanian Air Force, crashed close to the Cordillera Central, between the provinces of Cocle and Colon, in the Republic of Panama. After the death of Torrijos it has been speculated that the General was the victim of a conspiracy. The Omar Torrijos Fundación held several events to remember the figure of Omar Torrijos. The former President Ricardo de la Espriella, will receive the Omar Torrijos award, at the headquarters of this foundation. Trajectory Torrijos with Boris Martínez and José H. Ramos Bustamante, led the 1968 coup that overthrew President Arnulfo Arias. In 1959, he was captain of the National Guard, was commissioned to quell a guerrilla uprising organized by students of the Student Federation of Panama, in the Cerro Tute in the province of Veraguas. In one of the clashes Torrijos was injured. He was the driving force behind the treaties for the recovery of the Panama Canal in the United States, who were later known as the Torrijos-Carter, which were signed on 7 September 1977. http://laestrella.com.pa/panama/nacional/cumplen-36-anos-muerte-generalomar-torrijos-herrera/24015264

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Do Portugal Circus at the Feria

Do Portugal Circus at the Feria in the lot across from the Feria Admin building Monday - Friday 7:30p.m. Saturday - 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. Sunday - 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m. Ticket Price $10.00 - with Coupon $6.00  

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

 

Panama starts to promote "Black Weekend 2017" in Latin America

Panama starts to promote "Black Weekend 2017" in Latin America Tourism authorities of Panama today launched the campaign for the promotion of the first edition of the "Panama Black Weekend", a weekend of macrodescuentos which will take place in September and which is expected to draw at least 25,000 tourists. The promotion of super discounts weekend will take place in the main radio stations and television channels in different Latin American countries such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Argentina, said the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP). It will also be promoted on social networks and in the videos that are projected aboard the national airlines Copa, Air Panama, and Colombia's Avianca and Wingo, said the ATP. The "Panama Black Weekend", which will take place from 15 to 17 September, will be held in a hundred shopping malls all over the country. It is the first time that Panama will get a jump in September ahead of the celebration of the "Black Friday" or "Black Friday", a tradition that began at the beginning of the twenty-first century in the United States to inaugurate the Christmas shopping season and that takes place a day after the famous feast of Thanksgiving. The term "Black Friday" refers to the color of the accounts of the shops, that Friday passed from red numbers to the black numbers by the barrage of shopping. Tourism accounts for approximately 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) of Panama, one of the most dynamic countries in the region, which in 2016 experienced an economic growth of 4.9 %.

Keith Woolford

Keith Woolford

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