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  1. 6 points
    I was asked to contribute to this discussion having experienced firsthand the difficulty in obtaining justice for crimes against perpetrators under the current Panamanian Legal System. Forgive me, this is a long post. I no longer live in Chiriqui but I do occasionally read CL -- after all, I did live in Potrerillos for 15 years. This post is not meant “to put the frighteners” on expats it is more to enlighten and hopefully to bring about realization of the “the way things are”. It is not written in anger, it is written partially to thank those who saved my life and those who supported me throughout my months in hospital and beyond. Strangely enough I do not harbor hatred against the two teens who assaulted me. If it wasn’t for the attack I would not be living where I am now. I exchanged the mountains for the beach and ocean and for the happiness that living only four minutes’ walk away from your only child can bring. But having said that, it is frightening to think that the two teenagers are now at liberty to commit armed robbery again and next time their victim may not survive. I lived in Panama for 15 years, maybe two or perhaps three years after we moved onto our property and into our home I experienced a robbery. This was when things were still tranquilo in this area, when crimes were only crimes of opportunity and when criminal violence was extremely rare. A very presentable man, with new(ish) bicycle came to my house to ask if I knew where a “gringo called Mike” lived. I told him I did not. Little did I know he had been “scoping out” the house through the windows and seen my wallet and cell phone on the kitchen island. He got back on his bike and that was that – or so I thought as I returned to what I was doing in the family room. Several hours later, searching for my phone, I realized it and my wallet, were missing. The robber had apparently returned, entered the kitchen and quickly taken my wallet and cell phone. My dog did not bark as she had seen me talking to the man outside and I suspect had classified him as “a friend”. I had a photo of the man, he had committed several robberies in the area including the home of one of my neighbors. The man lived in David and the David police knew him well from his criminal history. I spent hours at the Municipio in Dolega giving a denuncia. My gardener and a neighbor were also required to go to the Municipio to give statements. I was summoned to the PTJ in David to look through ancient mug shot albums – even though I had a photo of the felon!! People had seen the man catching the bus from David, Dolega and Potrerillos. They remembered him because his bike had been loaded on to the roofs of the buses at times consistent with the robbery. There was no follow up by the authorities, the man was never charged or prosecuted and I heard nothing more from the police. After my husband passed away, I decided to downsize and put my home on the market. A year before the home invasion I was contacted by “Andy Singer” who said he and his Panamanian wife were planning to return to Panama to open a bed and breakfast and that my property seemed ideal for such a purpose. He asked several questions and I directed him to the website for my home where all of his questions would be answered. “Andy Singer” then told me he would like to view my property and could I give him my phone number so he could call me to set up an appointment. Something in my feeble brain gave out a warning signal. I decided to wait 24 hours before responding. In the meantime I checked further, as far as my limited knowledge of technology would allow, and discovered that though the emails were signed Andy Singer, ploughing through all of the extraneous information of the email source I came upon the writer’s address of “Billinlacarcel@...” or Bill in Prison. Another possible future scam for Wild Bill and his then cell mate Ozzie?? Obviously, with funding from relatives and friends, they are able to buy smart phones/tablets to allow them to check out possible future victims, or perhaps this was their way of “having a little fun”. Prison wardens in Panama jails are not law enforcement officers but are hired from outside the prison system. They are open too bribes. If a prisoner has the cash they can obtain whatever they want. This is a well-known fact. I reported the email to Lt. Castillo, who, at that time was head of the police department for Boquete and Dolega and who I had known for many years. He said he would come to my home to verify the email, take printed copies with him and call his contact at the David jail. He never arrived at my home, neither did he send another police officer. There was no follow-up, nothing was ever done. Lt. Castillo retired from the police force several months later. How long has “Wild Bill” been in prison awaiting trial – four, five years? There has still been no trial and therefore no justice for the families of the victims. In defense of the police of Chiriqui (and in the country as a whole), their hands are somewhat tied by the laws of Panama and their interest in the community somewhat dulled by their frequent repostings. It is extremely difficult to form a relationship -- police with citizens or citizens and police -- when the length of assignment to a location is pitifully short. I had many friends/acquaintances among the police community of the Dolega District, they would frequently come to my home to check on my husband and I, sit and chat, have a soda and cookies but I soon learned that a policeman who you thought would be “first on the scene” if something happened to you, would soon be posted to a different town or city. Captain Roberto Espinoza, as Bud himself said “He could retire later this year, but no firm decision has been made at this juncture.” So, he may hold the position of Boquete Police Captain for a year or even less?? Not enough time to build relationships or form a sound knowledge of the community and the people who live in it. The local people are the ones who can help the most with leads and “inside information” which leads to an arrest. To give praise where praise is deserved, the police did catch two of the teenagers who attacked me. I don’t know how long it took, (I was aware of very little at the time), I think they were apprehended very quickly – but – the younger teenager, the one who stabbed me, was 14 years old and because the laws of Panama dictate that a person has to be 18 years old before they can be prosecuted, he received a slap on the hand and was released. Last I heard before I left Chiriqui, he was living with his father in the Boquete area. The second of my attackers, the one who shot me twice, I was told was 17. He was held for several months and the grapevine said that the police were hoping to keep him until his 18th birthday when he could be prosecuted. Now this is all “hearsay”, gleaned from police, translators, interviews, friends – I cannot swear that this is the truth. I have been told subsequent to my departure, that this young man has also been released. So to potential murderers are now back on the streets and living in the community. If these teenagers had tied me up and asked me where my wallet was, where the computer was, where my jewelry was – I would have readily told them but they broke into my house at 2:30 am, immediately stabbed and shot me without uttering one word and only questioned me while I was laying on the floor in a large pool of my own blood. They laughed as they walked down the driveway with their “haul”. They had stolen my cell phone so I couldn’t call for help, but fortunately that laughter I heard as they left made me angry, very angry and the adrenaline started flowing which enabled me to drive to a neighbor’s house, squeeze through a small space by the side of their gate and crawl up the driveway. My neighbor (a Panamanian so no language barrier) called the police and an ambulance. She called other neighbors who arrived in seconds -- the police responded quickly but my neighbors decided the ambulance was taking too long and loaded me into their truck to drive me to Mae Lewis. I owe my life to the Le Borgne’s, the Ferguson’s and the Kolm’s, it goes without saying to Dr. Cattan who performed the surgery and the care of Don Ray and Lilliam Williams after my release from hospital. Several weeks later, my doctor told me that the police had wanted to interview me while I was in Intensive Care when I was semi-comatose and with tubes inserted in every orifice – obviously I didn’t have enough orifices as the doctors had to create even more entry points for tubes. The police insisted on seeing me only to realize I was unable to hear or respond. However, as soon as I was able I was asked to give a statement -- two police detectives and a translator arrived by my bedside. I was released, after being in hospital for ten plus weeks and except for the last few days, with nursing care 24 hours per day. In early January I was required to attend an appointment with the government psychologist – I can only guess she was tasked with ascertaining if I was lying about the attack. Obviously, given the fragility of my appearance, the fact that walking was extremely difficult even with a walker, plus the surgical scar from breast bone to pubic bone, she determined that I had been the victim of a crime. Astute Lady!!??!! As JohnF13 said I was questioned two or three months prior to leaving Panama, I was also questions two other times, once more in the hospital and once while staying with Don Ray and Lilliam Williams. Each time was an ordeal for me, I had to relive the incident. Each time I felt as if I was the one under scrutiny and that there was doubt about the veracity of my story. I also received an “official document” requiring me to see a government doctor who would verify my medical condition. The letter received, which indicated I was to submit to an examination at a date and time to be notified, was dated incorrectly, December 2016 rather than December 2015. Apparently this caused a major malfunction in the machinery that drives the government offices involved in this case. Calls were made on my behalf several times and we made appearances at the appropriate offices twice to ask about the appointment for the examination. Each time we were told “you will be contacted when the doctor can schedule you”. I remained in the country until July 18th, 2016 over nine months after the attack. At no time was I nor the Williams contacted with a date and time for me to appear to be examined by the government doctor. My point is, that I was subjected to interviews and interrogations and psychological examinations at a time when my life and mental wellbeing hung in the balance – all for naught. The investigation team of the DJI was led by another officer I had known previously and who is also from Potrerillos, he had returned to the area after being posted to La Joya and Panama City for several years. He too had been to my home many times. The perpetrators were known, one was in custody, I presume there was evidence from fingerprints and leads on where they had disposed of my possessions (my computer was actually seen to be on-line) and yet I was never asked to identify the suspects either visually or from their voices. Visually I could not have done so, the violence happened too quickly and in the dark, I was then in pain and wallowing in my own blood, but I could have given a definite identification from their voices. I still hear those voices at 2:30 in the morning when I wake up in a cold sweat “¿Dónde está el dinero? Queremos más dinero, ¿dónde está?”. At no time was I requested by any member of the Policia Nacional nor the DJI if I would testify. At no time was it even suggested that the perpetrators would actually come to trial and that my testimony would be paramount in obtaining a conviction. At no time was I told I would be required to testify. At no time was I asked not to leave the country as my testimony would be necessary for the prosecution. In short, yes, the police appreciate brownies, I baked frequently for the police in Dolega and for the police who stopped by my house but, oatmeal cookies, butterscotch pie and brownies will only result in a happy smile from the recipients. The police are understaffed, underpaid and underfinanced. This leads to a lack of motivation to track down criminals or to put their lives at risk when they know full well that the laws of Panama negate any efforts they make to apprehend perpetrators of crime, however heinous the crime might be. The chance that criminals will see any prison time is slim to none. It’s fine to protect yourself, take all the precautions you can but the criminals are becoming smart. Do you have an automatic entry gate?? If not, perhaps you need one. Remember a couple of years ago there were one or two robberies when people were ambushed as they exited their cars to manually open their entry gates. They were then forced to open their homes and allow the robbers free rein. What is really sad is that the one person who could possibly have made a difference and fought for a change in the law and who initially headed protests and meetings, Diputada Athena Athanasiadis, diverted her interest to other, I can only assume, more deserving causes. Initially her anger was stirred and she became involved, I suspect, primarily because I lived only a two minute walk from her parents’ house, the home she was raised in. Her parents are definitely not “on a budget” and can pay for 24/7 security guards – I and most other retirees can not. Unless the law changes, violent crimes will continue to be committed and will escalate with little or no hope of retribution from the authorities on the perpetrators.
  2. 4 points
    I invite you all to take a look at this link from Best Places in the World to Retire: https://bestplacesintheworldtoretire.com/stories?view=entry&id=328 This is a come-on article, advertising that health insurance for tourists is free. This hasn't been true for over two and a half years. Only at the end of the article is there an "editor's note" that this insurance is no longer available. If you were honestly trying to disseminate information helpful to persons thinking about visiting or retiring to Panama, as all these sites represent, why would you publish an article with out-of-date facts? Of what possible good, I ask, is this information inasmuch as it no longer applies? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: what these folks do to make a buck is unconscionable.
  3. 4 points
    As far as the invasion of Marion's home goes and her subsequent attempted murder, I do not think anyone has been prosecured for it even though the police caught at least two of the perps. Just prior to Marion leaving the Country she was called back in by DIJ for a further "interview" and she did mention that she was uncomfortable with the way it was conducted. I would suspect, that since she has gone to Mexico, that nothing further will be done. This was my first (and so far only) introduction to Panamanian detectiving and as a retired police officer I was not terribly impressed. It seemed to me that everything was about "process" and not much about investigation. Lots and lots of police officers on scene, many at the hospital, numerous long interviews done where the preamble to the interview ( both verbal and written) seemed to take much longer than the interview itself. I couldn'd help getting the impression that everything was being done for show. Given that experience, I would not trust the Panamanian police to investigate and prosecute expat crimes. Yes, there are a ton of people in the David jail, but for what, exactly? Seems to me most of them must be on remands waiting for trial, heck if Wild Bill hasn't been tried yet after admitting murders it does not bode well for a contested prosecution. I guess all of the above can be distilled down to "you are responsible for your own safety". Indeed, this isn't Kansas, or Canada, or Britain. Look after youselves and take care.
  4. 3 points
    I know all of us here in Boquete who were living here when the two gals form Holland went missing are saddened and dumbstruck at the same time that a tragedy such as happened to this young woman could yet again happen here. I say this because so much was publicized of the dangers of hiking alone. She was young bright and no doubt saw no danger in a jungle trail off in the middle of nowhere. She most likely may have trusted a person she should not have. I was like that when I was her age. All I can say is I'm sad...period. This is such a shame. My heart goes out to all those who mourn for her .
  5. 3 points
    I also got some private messages validating what I said, but I saw how I could have misinterpreted the comments. That's why I posted the story about the woman who worked at Home Depot, to acknowledge that things aren't always as they appear. I'm glad you cleared that up Bud, because you aren't the kind of person who would blame the victim, so I was puzzled when I read that. That and a couple of similar comments bothered me so much, I finally had to say something, because I was thinking, "Please people, don't go there!". Sorry I misunderstood you.
  6. 3 points
    Bonnie, This was a very interesting report which focused on US funding the effort to reduce narco trafficking and crime associated largely with gun/narco trafficking and gangs in Central American Countries. What I found interesting was a somewhat weak evaluation of the effectiveness of the effort to shower money and assets this way to reduce these problems. Bottom line seemed to be this: Unless each individual country takes initiative to improve the underlying conditions that lend to crime ( improved education, rehabilitation efforts) crime will persist. That report substantiated that. I know there has been an effort in Panama to provide more Juvenile detention and rebab facilities and increase the capacity of jails; but this effort strikes me as weak and limp in view of what we are observing in the last several years. Unless the judicial system in Panama becomes more efficient, the jail overcrowding reduced, the juvenile detention centers with rehab capability increased ....problems will continue. Education and opportunity for underprivileged youth has to be addressed. Foreigners who elect to choose to become permanent residents of any one of these countries, should take a sober look at this situation. If they decide it's their cup of tea, then personal security should be way high on their list of priorities. Crime has gone from stealing a rake you left outside to entering your bedroom at 2:30 am to stab and shoot you in order to garnor a few bucks and your available stuff.
  7. 3 points
    Nine year old kids shooting people are not prosecuted in a large number of Countries. In Canada, the age of responsibility is 12, meaning that a 9 year old cannot be held responsible for anything. Between 12 and 18 youths are treated differently in court than adults, ofter garnering very light sentences for major crimes. Same here, although it is a bit more extreme. Of course crime has gone up from 2000 to now, it very rarely goes down ( people get frustrated and just stop reporting, but that's another story). Any crime is upsetting, but if you expect to live in a Crime free place, then perhaps Panama is not your best choice - but neither is the U.S., Canada, England, Australia, heck, you get the point. There is nowhere in the World you can avoid crime, it is just a fact of life. Quoting individual crimes only serves to induce fear and panic. Yes, they are tragic and should not happen, but in almost all of your quoted cases you will find that a major causative factor was lack of security on the part of the victim. That isn't victim blaming, merely stating facts. The police here are less effective than most, that has to do with several factors including low pay, lousy morale and lack of direction from upper management to name a few factors. Government is doing very little to address these problems, and when the average police officer sees the scale of things such as Odebretcht it is no wonder they get discouraged. We can debate for hours about what "should" happen, but it's not going to. So, two choices, accept that it is what it is and take suitable precautions, or head off for supposedly safer places.
  8. 3 points
    JimandNena, Security is, indeed, the responsibility of the owner/resident. However, I think that your assessment is a little bleak. Yes, any security measure can be defeated but the all take time. The more difficult you make it to get into your premises, the more likely the maleante will go somewhere else. Unfortunately some people have a Polyanna attitude, i.e. It won't happen to me. Others either don't want to, or cannot afford to spend the money to add security systems. In my area the two houses that were invaded had little or no security and, most likely, the bad guys knew that and chose the softest target. Happens all the time with thieves, they are notoriously lazy and will always pick the low hanging fruit. You talk about the level of security as an "unknown", that is not really correct. Stage your house in circles, outer fence, dogs trained not to accept food from strangers (yes, it can be done) inner electric fence, yard alarms, lights, sirens and finally, an interior alarm, although I am not a big fan of those, too little, too late. Then on to personal security, whatever you can handle. Guns, knives, stun guns, high intensity flaslights and safe rooms. Again, yes, all of these can be defeated, but at the cost of negating the surprise factor. Do not rely on police response, they are merely after the fact report takers. Having said all of that, this place is relatively safe but, people being people, they will want what you have. A thief is merely a worker doing a different kind of work. Make it difficult for him and he will look elsewhere.
  9. 3 points
    Reading Marian's post (thank you Marion for taking the time to write and for including so much detail), it makes me wonder if it is safe to sell one's house "by owner". Wouldn't that be a great opportunity for someone to come and rob you, or worse? She said "Andy Singer" wanted to look at her property for sale, and it turns out he might have been Wild Bill, who might have partners in crime on the outside staking out houses for sale in order to rob the owners who are showing it. This is a nightmare tale, and Marian is a mighty brave lady. The criminal "justice" system here is disgraceful.
  10. 3 points
    I received an email from Marion yesterday after she saw this thread. Among other things, she wrote: " In my case the youngest of the intruders (14) who stabbed me was given a slap on the hand and released. The older teenager who shot me twice, I think was 17. He was held for some time but eventually released before he went to trial -- or so I have been told." Further, she wrote: "Perhaps if I felt that "justice would be done" and the perpetrators of the stabbing and shooting would be imprisoned to protect other people, I might still be in Chiriqui. As it was, with one of the intruders released immediately, I felt, after 15 years, that I had to leave. I am now in Mexico, living in Playacar with guard houses at all entrances to this beautiful residential area, renting an apartment in a complex with gates and 24/7 guards -- I never ever wanted to live in a guarded community -- but finally I feel safe." It is the feeling of many, based on experience, that crimes against gringos by Panamanians are not vigorously investigated or prosecuted. Again, no one has come forth with even one example to the contrary even though, over the ten years I have lived here, there have been numerous instances of these crimes. Other crimes appear to be successfully prosecuted and the perpetrators incarcerated, as evidenced by the high number of inmates in the jails here. What kind of message does this send to the criminal element?
  11. 3 points
    People can draw whatever message they like from this experience. I drew three things. One, when you report a crime, be prepared for a long, time-consuming process with which you are unlikely to be satisfied. Secondly, if the Panamanian security forces really want better crime reporting, they need to look at their own procedures first so as to encourage rather than discourage people from filing. Finally, as has been said many times by security-minded persons and organizations here, you are your own best provider of security. I have no reason to believe that Captain Espinoza is not a well-meaning, dedicated law enforcement official. But the system itself is not supportive of his declared aims.
  12. 3 points
    I understand your intentions, S.S., but I think Keith is probably right. Your experience with how to approach politicians is American. It's different here. A good Panamanian friend warned me long ago never to raise "official" issues (jokingly or not) in a social setting as, in Panamanian etiquette, it is considered rude. A friendly visit to the Mayor's office--without a lawyer and media--would be the correct move. And it would be made easier since you already know the Mayor and have found success with this approach.
  13. 2 points
    Please find a PDF format of a PowerPoint presentation on the Trees and Plants of Boquete. Watch for announcements on News Boquete. Note: this 100 page PDF document is quite large (~20MB) and so it may take a while to download. This PDF version has been optimized for web access from its original ~198MB PowerPoint file size, but with essentially no loss in fidelity of the images. Trees and Plants of Boquete - Feb. 2017 - optimized.pdf
  14. 2 points
    I would think the 23-25 million dollars Varlea gave to Boquete for the upgrade of the water system and "new sewer system" will cover the entire project. We were told yesterday that the street repairs and piping would be done in six months for the sewer system. I will NOT BANK on that. PVC, glue and fittings are not that expensive, labor is not high hear, equipment is relatively high, engineering that I've seen so far Can Not be that expensive, management of the project will be a serious cost over run if you have watched them dig up streets two times correcting mistakes. The biggest problem I see after completion will be the junction boxes (possibly collapse). I have seen some of them hand made from blocks. I don't understand why they didn't use a manufactured concrete junction boxes (maybe they are now). I'm afraid the 6 inch feeder lines will be problematic down the road, If it is a forced main which I doubt it will be----then it would be okay. It appears the lines have been engineered for down hill gravity flow all the way to South Bajo Boquete. I haven't seen a construction manager anywhere on the job. A forced main will require back pressure valves and grinder pumps at every entry point to the main lines. If grinder pumps are not used the main 6 inch line will be clogged all of the time. I haven't seen one installed yet. If this is a build as you go project (which it appears to be) there are major problems ahead. On a good note, everyone will have a backup Septic Tank.(hopefully)I watched a small city such as Boquete do a entire city upgrade on the sewer. It was actually a new install. Everything was changed. But, they did it in sections in a logical order. Then they would move onto another section. The engineers on the Boquete project or the construction managers missed the boat on planning the construction. The city's businesses were never thought about or they would have managed the project accordingly. Just an observation. I can live with what ever they do. The only complaint I have is the damage to cars undersides and mechanical issues caused by the wacos. Gravel works wonders for holes. They have teased the public with a little gravel but I have YET to see a waco filled and leveled. Such is life in Boquete.
  15. 2 points
    Major General Albert Stubblebine died a few days ago. For several years he and his wife Dr. Rima Laibow were controversial residents of Volcan. They were both extreme conspiracy theorists and felt they were hiding out in the mountains of Panama but in reality they were developing a commune or cult like development on the outskirts of Volcan. General Stubblebine was known for his work in the intelligence division of the army and was in charge of conducting psychic experiments, the most famous of which was training soldiers to stare at goats until their heads exploded. A character ("General Hopgood") in the 2009 film The Men Who Stare at Goats is loosely based on General Stubblebine as head of the project to walk through walls. TRU TV once did a show with Jesse Ventura (ex governor of Minnesota and ex professional wrestler) interviewing Dr. Laibow. The theme was she flew in from her secret hideout in the mountains of Panama to a small undisclosed landing strip in the U.S. where Jesse interviewed her about her plans to develop a utopian community of followers in Panama. The truth is that the residents of Volcan gave the group so much grief they eventually picked up and moved to Peru.
  16. 2 points
    People All what we are doing here is SPECULATE. We are not conducting the investigations, we are not part of the investigation so all our opinions here are only that... opinions and speculations. I suggest to wait for what the investigations will reveal. Speculating like all here do, I would say that I found very interesting the comments done by Uncle Dog. Strangulation is a very personal way of killing a person. It is something done close to the victim until it is dead. Usually the robbers or maleantes in Panama do not kill their victims unless the robbery turns bad. They do not take additional care of killing a person and dumping the body somewhere else. They usually leave the body where the robbery occurs and run away from the scene. If it is proved that the poor girl was killed in other place and the body was left on that trail then It is more the kind of crime that the person who commited it would like to hide it as much as possible until he/she dissapear without suspect. It is trying to hide the crime. Could be a person close to the victim in the last 24 hours before was killed. Panamanians serial killers are very rare in this country. In my 57 years in this country I have only heard about two cases. I knew one of them because one uncle I did have was the state assigned attorney of the criminal. A sexual crime? It could be possible a Rape that went bad. What if the criminal was not a local person but another expat? Foreign people tend to not trust a 100% on locals but open too much to other tourist and trust on people of their same country. As I said we have to wait for the investigations results. I do really hope this case be solved quickly and sending the criminals to prison.
  17. 2 points
    OK, point taken. First Grade Drawing - PRICELESS! A first grade girl handed in the drawing below for her homework assignment. The teacher graded it and the child took it home. She returned to school the next day with the following note: Dear Ms. Davis, I want to be perfectly clear on my child's homework illustration. It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint surrounded by male customers with money. I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm. This drawing is of me selling a shovel. Sincerely, Mrs. Harrington
  18. 2 points
    Dr Dru gave me laser treatment to a fractured knuckle I got surfing with my kayak. I was back out in 5 weeks. OK here's the knuckle fracture(s). And the pic of me surfing 5 weeks later. Hand is now 100% normal.
  19. 2 points
    I found very interesting the report's conclusion that countries experiencing high crime rates must take responsibility to improve education, employment, opportunity, and rehabilitation. When we or our friends or neighbors become victims of crime, our understandable reaction is some form of "lock 'em up and throw away the key." This report suggests that Panama needs to do more than that, and I agree. Crime needs to be attacked at its roots: poverty and lack of education/opportunity. In the meantime, the government needs to make concerted efforts to get dangerous criminals off the street while the population at large is saddled with the responsibility to take extraordinary security measures.
  20. 2 points
    Hi BlueBird, Adequate security is relative. Certainly if one lived in a solid steel box that might be adequate, if not practical. Your parents should be safe if they have the money budgeted for several layers of security as was listed in this discussion. Those layers won't help once they leave the house or if they are attacked as they arrive home. The point of the discussion is that if an attack occurs, you will not have 911 response even if they subscribe to one of the expat provided hotlines for help. The police are underfunded, rarely have a functional means of transportation, and the follow up investigation is tedious and most often unproductive. The thugs are under aged kids who by Panamanian law can not be jailed with adults. They are released to a parent or guardian or god father and free to commit another crime. There is a non-current web site of crimes and locations for the Chiriqui area: https://chiriqui.crowdmap.com/main It never got much airtime as it pointed out the actual picture of the activities in Chiriqui and made for bad press with the expat run tourist and retirement activities.
  21. 2 points
    JohnF13, Bleak? Here's a partial list of the crimes committed during 2015. Caldera murder and home invasion – August 2014 Food Box robbery – Volcancito 9 year old kid around Super 99 road in David shooting the shop owner Recent robbery in David at the Do It center Home invasion and attempted murder in Potrerillos Home invasion and injuries by pistol in Potrerillos Robbery in Brisas about a month ago (stole electronic stuff) Robbery in Skateworld about a month ago Robbery of people we know in Gualaca a week ago Attempted break in in Palmira Robbery in Potrerillos – $1000 tools taken from a friend’s house – September Robbery at Handicap Center – September A couple robbed of household belongings and 2 dogs, Boquete Armed robbery of the owners of the Fish House in Jaramillo Centro A couple robbed at gunpoint in Santa Lucia An indigenous guy in Jaramillo – sister in law returning from her job in Boquete and was attacked near Romeros (she later died) Beverly Hills Garden – Los Algarrobos – October – robbery of $1500 from staff and clients Los Algarrobos, Panamanian family theft of jewelry and 2 laptop computers – no one home Add the murder of Joe Petrobenko in 2015 and the attempted murder of Richard Moore just over a year ago. It does not seem like a relatively safe place compared to before the start of 2000. With the removal of Noriega, thugs with guns became commonplace and juveniles are exempt from procecution. Add a population of people with a guaranteed income to an area where the locals might make half that amount per month, factor in the little to no response from the police then adjust for the fact that the criminal investigation system is not effective ("as a retired police officer I was not terribly impressed") and what term would be proper to describe what has happened? A key factor in all these crimes is the mistake that the victims have no real way of determining what the thugs THINK they are going to obtain for loot. Bochinche would have all the gringos owning guns, having safes full of cash, the latest hi tech electronics, expensive jewelry, etc. There is some conjecture that the information gained from some victims' phones has lead the thugs to other victims. Text messaging is a great communication feature but it also makes great reading for the bad guys. Even this forum is good intel for anyone wishing to know when all the gringo houses will be vacant while the owners are attending the latest social event in the area. I can change bleak to mildly disturbing but kids with guns killing people without worrying about consequences is serious.
  22. 2 points
    While we are discussing home invasions and unprovoked attacks, let's not forget about Richard Moore, who was shot without warning by three teenagers in his home in Volcancito. So far as I know, no arrests have been made. There also was a second home invasion robbery in Potrerillos during which the gringo resident was severely injured. If Marcelyn was unfamiliar with this history of violence, as she wrote in response to Penny's post, I feel certain that there are many other people who are similarly "in the dark." These issues need to be kept alive for the benefit of newcomers and to remind all of us of the possibility of such home invasions and the inadequate police response which, as Marion suggests, is likely perpetuate them.
  23. 2 points
    Ladies: did you hear about the woman who put her purse on the back of her chair while eating at a local restaurant? A bad guy stole her purse which contained money, credit cards, and identification papers. Tip #1: in a public place keep your purse in sight at all times. Tip #2: And never leave your purse in your car when you dash into a store for a couple of items. You never know who is watching what you are doing. Tip #3: If you are renting the facility where you are living here in Boquete, did you change the door and window locks? Should have. Tip #4: Watch the closing of your automatic gate to make certain no one is "sneaking" onto your property after your vehicle has entered. Good idea to not exit your car until after the gate is closed. No security program is 100%. We are responsible for our own safety. These are some of my ideas on how to keep safe. Other suggestions?
  24. 2 points
    Bob, welcome to 2017. those two Black guys those two big guys those two strong guys those two frightening guys
  25. 2 points
    Good point, Penny. I can't recall any either, even the murder or Joe Petrobenko in Caldera, the vicious attack on Marion Clamp in Potrerillos that left her hospitalized for weeks, or the aforementioned attack in Coronado. This is something that International Living, Best Places in the World to Retire, and similar publications don't tell you about Panama.
  26. 1 point
    Any new news on the new Riba Smith in David? They were supposed to break ground this year but I have a funny feeling that the owners of the new mall in David must have made them a sweet heart deal hence no construction.
  27. 1 point
    A couple of days ago, everywhere I turned, the road was blocked. I kept going different directions, trying to fine a route out of town. There was none. I felt like I was in Groundhog Day or an episode of The Twilight Zone. Finally a road worker directed me to turn around and go the wrong way on a one-way street to make my escape. Go downtown at your peril. Three more years of this? Ouch!
  28. 1 point
    Www.HolisticPanama.Com Holistic Assessments - Homeopathy - Holistic Detoxification Programs - Vibrational Medicine - Bio-Resonance - Liposomal Vitamins & Supplements - Perceptive Counseling - Healing Sessions - and More!
  29. 1 point
    I don't know about you, but I really would like to see a name associated with this type of announcement/ad. I always like to know with whom I'm dealing before making contact. And, yes, I went to the noted website and, after a few clicks, learned who the founder is. But I don't think the customer should be required to do research. (In case you're wondering, I have no personal interest whatsoever in this.)
  30. 1 point
    Brisas is breezy. Tree in the backyard blew over yesterday. Bill got his exercise with the axe...me with the branch hauling. Nice to have a canyon to chuck over the big logs. Ok...now we have a better view !
  31. 1 point
    But I read that President Varela cancelled a trip to Bocas because of pressing business in Panama City.
  32. 1 point
    One small hole into which a ton of money will be poured.
  33. 1 point
    Three of us hiked that same trail last year and had been advised about the muggings etc, from locals!! After having done it round trip we can easily see that being the case. Obviously their is a local system set up to ambush tourist and somehow this last one got out of hand. Hopefully the powers to be will take notice and get these scum out of there! It's another bad rep for Panama!
  34. 1 point
    Well they did. Go back and look. "...it seems she went walking alone and became lost." "One has to wonder why an unaccompanied female would be in such a location."
  35. 1 point
    My first thought was that she had been killed somewhere else, and her body was dumped in this remote spot. Odd that several men on the forum assumed she was a foolish woman who went where she shouldn't have been, got lost, and died there.
  36. 1 point
    I once visited the house, which is in the El Banco area of Potrerillos. Among other interesting features, it has a helicopter pad and a secret room/compartment that, according to the then owner, had not been explored by him. The then owner, Bill Streit, had done substantial improvements to the house, but it still had a very historic look. After Bill's untimely death, the property was for sale for a while, but I haven't heard anything since.
  37. 1 point
  38. 1 point
    I buy it at Do-It Center. My cleaning lady told me about it a few years ago, and I was able to get the liquid version. Lately they only have the powder version. I have never seen the polish. They don't always have it, so if you see it, buy two. They were out of it totally for several months last year. It works great to clean stoves. Powder can easily be changed to liquid by adding water. It seems to work as well.
  39. 1 point
    I like the "Future Organ Donor" definition of FOD -- anyone who ever worked for an airline would know that FOD is an acronym for "Foreign Object Debris". Both of our definitions are appropriate as the end result would be the same. Hope life continues to be kind to you and Gillian.
  40. 1 point
    Thanks Jim and Nena. I have some of that. It's the one thing I haven't tried yet.
  41. 1 point
  42. 1 point
    Pantah has listed some of the incidents in Boquete but it is true that more attacks that we know of have been south of Bajo Boquete. A few of theories may be: a. location of who has the most loot to take, b. established neighborhoods of long-time locals aware of who belongs there, and c. transportation. The most important factor would be a. As Willy Sutton says, "I rob banks because that is where the money is". Expats are targets because they are perceived to have the most loot, be it cash, electronics, guns, whatever. A small plus to juveniles committing attacks is they don't drive so car thefts are down. Yes, "hardening" the target helps but it also indicates a possibly large amount of loot to protect. Why steal often when one large haul could provide lots of loot. The second factor is obvious, maybe. If the thugs are coming from David, the locals will pick them out like sore thumbs. When I walk through Nena's home neighborhood, 6 feet tall, blond, toilet bowl white, I attract quite a crowd. The look on their faces when I greet them in Chircano Spanish is shock, followed by smiles and waves. A stranger walking through the same neighborhood gets the same tracking gaze but receives more suspicion than I cause. This area does not have bars on every window, indeed Nena's parents' house has never even had a lock on the front door. The neighbors know when the house is vacant; they watch it, plus there is no more loot there than the neighbors have. The third factor also involves the thugs' ages. They probably don't drive and if they do they probably don't own a car. Does anyone know how the teenage thugs get to and from "work"? Do they carpool? Maybe they walk to and from David at 2AM to commit the attacks? Maybe they ride their bikes? There is very little public transportation after dark in the countryside so someone is providing pick up and delivery for these youngsters. Perhaps their godfathers give them a ride? Also absent after dark is police patrols. The garita at Caldera isn't effective even when manned. The single police vehicle, mentioned as still operational, listed enough annual mileage to cover all of district Boquete 3 times a day but I am guessing it makes more David runs than anything else. In addition to inadequate police response, and no penalties for juveniles, the lack of public awareness of crime in the area among expats and those considering becoming expats is a contributing factor. I posted a link to the ChiriquiWatch site above. It was an attempt to provide a means for expat victims to alert others of criminal activities as a means to prevent futher crimes in those areas. A few people contributed but the general response was from folks who didn't want the word to get out that there was a problem brewing. Whether it was people trying to rent out homes or apartments, sell cars, or add new members to the local clubs, many people voiced opposition to using the site to the point that maintaining it was abandoned. The administration of the FREE site didn't occur so it isn't current but it does provide a small look into the crimes that were developing in the area. It has been over a year since the big meeting in the park in Potrerillos and nothing since then.
  43. 1 point
  44. 1 point
    Global Bank has CDs paying 3.25% for 18 months. There might be different rates for different terms.
  45. 1 point
    Don Ray in David has posted Marion's ordeal in his blog and referenced Chiriqui Life. http://www.chiriquichatter.net/blog/2017/01/30/another-living-in-panama-guest-post/ Everyone is always responsible for their security. That should be a given. However, the level of security is the unknown part of the equation. Where I live in Texas, I have a storage shed with a couple thousand dollars of equipment. It has no lock on the door, the back yard fence is a deterrent only to stray dogs and honest people and yet nothing has ever gone missing. In Panama, I would be lucky if the whole shed wasn't taken. In Chiriqui, some expats have learned from others' misfortunes and increased their security. Bars on doors and windows are added but they can be removed with fairly little effort or the thieves figure a way to reach any loot placed near the open window. So, alarms systems are added. The thieves cut the power or disable the wiring. So, perimeter fences are built to keep watchdogs as a defense. Dogs are poisoned, a few days later, the break-in happens. Finally, every effort is applied to prevent the thugs from getting near the residence. So, the thieves wait nearby and as the owners exit their vehicle, they are attacked and taken inside. The part of the equation that is missing is: there is no punishment for the thugs doing the crime. Until such time as Panama changes the law regarding minors, the attacks will continue and the targets will be those individuals who provide the most loot from the attack. Gringos are not being targeted; they just happen to have the most loot and the least connection to the locals.
  46. 1 point
    Not to be a stickler, but, aluminum foil replaced tin foil long ago.
  47. 1 point
    As promised I went with my Panamanian neighbor today to pay our garbage bills. Last year mine went up considerably (to $32.40) because I was a gringo. Yes, they actually said that was the reason. This year my bill stayed the same and my Panamanian neighbor's bill rose up to equal my bill. So, no profiling in our neighborhood. However, at the same time I paid the garbage bill for a house in Santa Lucia (Volcancito neighborhood) and that bill was $54 for garbage. I believe the rate difference was because Santa Lucia is a planned community and I live more in a neighborhood. In any case both $32.40 and $54 a year are pretty cheap. Also, many folks think that the rate increase was to pay for the new garbage trucks but I heard today that they were a gift from the government of Taiwan which, apparently, likes to give stuff to Panama. The big difference in bills seems to be the water bills. There are something like 21 different water systems in the Boquete area. My system is the Jaramillo Arriba system which has billed me $16.20 a year for many, many years and we never run out of water. The water bill I paid for the house in Santa Lucia which gets very, very little water was $108/year. Irony !!!!
  48. 1 point
    I have no direct experience but I would go to the DIJ office. Unless anyone else has first hand experience? This might help... from US Embassy web site: Obtain a set of your fingerprints. If you already have a fingerprint card, it must not be older than 18 months to be accepted by the FBI For new cards, provide the original fingerprint card. Previously processed cards or copies will not be accepted. Your name and date of birth must be provided on the fingerprint card. Fingerprints should be placed on a standard fingerprint form (FD-258) http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks/standard-fingerprint-form-fd-258 commonly used for applicant or law enforcement purposes. Include rolled impressions of all 10 fingerprints and impressions of all 10 fingerprints taken simultaneously (these are sometimes referred to as plain or flat impressions that include both thumbs). If possible, have your fingerprints taken by a fingerprinting technician. This service may be available at a law enforcement agency. Taking of fingerprints in Panama is provided by the DIJ (Dirección de Investigación Judicial), located in Ancon, in front of the “Mercado de Abastos”, telephone: 512-2222. You will then have to take the fingerprint card to the Panamanian Ministry of Foreign Relations to authenticate or Apostille the document before sending it to FBI Headquarters so that they will accept it as your fingerprints. The Ministry authenticates the signatures of all the ministries and official offices in Panama except the Ministry of Government and Justice (Including the Public Ministry - Attorney General, Fiscales, etc.) and the signatures of official public translators. They may be reached at 511-4045 or 511-4046 or at fax 511-4061. The fee for the authentication is $2.00, and the hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They are located in the Sun Tower Plaza, Ave. Ricardo J. Alfaro, on the First Floor
  49. 1 point
  50. 1 point
    A little bit of everything. They show a retiree park, a childrens' park , a restaurant , a functioning replica of the Panama Canal......day time activities and night time lights and fancy colored displays. Mighty fancy Bonnie. We'll probably both be dead and gone before it's completed.