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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. 5 points
    As I write this, I am shaking my head. Another site hacked, this time one that hold passwords for thousands of people. What I am commenting on is a service called One Login. It is a password manager service. The idea is to keep all of your passwords in one place and have a program or app on your phone keep track of them so they can all be very long and different. You only need to remember the one password for the service and the rest is done for you. Well, OneLogin was broken into by hackers and all of the passwords, including the keys to unencrypt them, were exposed. If you have this service, you have already received an email about it. For the people that do not have that particular password manager but do use a similar service I would like to caution you with a bit of reasoning. The old saying is "Don't put all your eggs in one basket". A password manager does exactly that. It puts everything valuable in one place. You are then trusting some company to keep the passwords to all your valuable information safe. Consider this... if you are a hacker, it would make sense to attack the place where there are hundreds if not thousands of passwords rather than trying to get just one password of yours. Personally, I solve the problem of having different passwords on different sites by making a formula out of them. It is a rule that I apply to each website when they want me to create a password. If follow the rule, then each site then gets a unique password. I do not need to remember the password, instead I can recreate in my mind by remembering the simple rule. Here are a few examples: Let's say this is my formula to make a password for any web site I visit: First two letters of each word of the website name, followed by the year I was born, followed by a $ and then my initials in lower case Wells Fargo = WeFa56$DP Ebay = Eb56$DP Chiriqui Life = ChLi56$DP As you can see you end up with both upper and lower case letters, numbers, and a special character ($). That meets all the recommendations and it is unique for each website. Now when I visit in the future, I just think the rule out and I can figure out my password without having it written down or stored in a password manager. You can add other things and mix it with your own variations to make your formula unique. Perhaps you want to use the first initial of all your kids names or maybe the last two letters of the website name. The idea is to create a simple rule that lets you create a password for each site and makes it unique. Keep the rule the same for every site and it will have enough variations to make a different password each time. By doing this, you no longer need the password manager service and all of your accounts will not suddenly be exposed with a single failure should it get hacked. It is something to consider. I have always said a password manager works right up until the company disappears or gets hacked. When that happens, you do not have to deal with a single exposure, you have to deal with EVERY site. In today's world, that can easily be 100s. Now... about saving the passwords in your web browser so you do not have to enter them each time - I will let you consider the risks when your computer goes into the shop for repair ! Stay safe and enjoy the day
  3. 5 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.
  4. 5 points
    The problem is that Panama has not made any clear cut rules, it is all very wishy washy. The best way at this point is to hear about others experiences crossing the border, either by land or air. People have been attacked trying to tell their experiences, and that has shied people away from telling their stories. Maybe if this stops we can gain some insight. It has been said before 5 months have passed to stay out 30 days and you will be let back in, but if you reach your 6th month staying out for 30 days won't let you back in. If that is the case when can you come back, 6 months, a year? No one knows. It has also been said that if you have been border hopping for 2 years, you can't come back in. If so, how long before you can come back? It has also been said that if you are in the process of applying for residency to show a letter or paperwork from your lawyer and you will be let back in, but will you really be able to, is this good enough? Hopefully some will come forward and tell their experiences so others can benefit. If you have been border hopping for awhile at this point if I were to do a border hop, I would treat it as if I wouldn't be allowed back in just in case. Have someone caring for your pets, let your landlord know you may not be able to come back, maybe go so far as packing up all of your things or selling them.
  5. 4 points
    Thank you, Doug and Jo, for all your work on this Healthcare Resources program. I believe this information is helpful and at times very necessary when we have a medical problem. Good job!
  6. 4 points
    The newslady agrees that all persons submitting an email for distribution should identify themselves. She is working on a way to universally enforce this desire. Short of proof-reading, editing, and correcting every email that comes in, there doesn't seem to be a way to make people think about how to submit an informative, well written notice. Too many people dash off a couple of sentences on their smart phone and send it in to be put into almost 2000 email inboxes. Shows a disrespect for the service.
  7. 4 points
    Dear Chiriqui Lifers, I recently read a rather long and convoluted forum posting about something or other, and there was a lot of stuff in it, and some back-and-forth, and much "quoting", then followed by much "re-quoting", which was either construed or mis-construed, and then there was a bit of a rhubarb, with postings and ripostes, and it seemed as though some feathers were ruffled and a bit of fur flew, and there was the requisite "blah-blah-blah", and an imbroglio instigated investigation of intolerance, and civility was verging on civil war, with families and friendships torn akimbo and the very essence and stuff of life itself and all that is honorable and good and holy and treasured and revered and celebrated and valued was suddenly vulnerable and threatened and at-risk of being rent asunder .... ... and suddenly! -- our fearless Moderator stepped-in, and the entire thread was arrested and incarcerated and sentenced to the dust-bin of history, and roiled waters were calmed, and Mean Mr. Trouble was banished, and peace descended upon the land, and the "New Dawning of the Age of Chiriqui Life" commenced, and it was good. BUT! As a verified "Inexpert User" of this forum, I am compelled to take great personal offense at the following quote: "However, this topic is going awry." As the Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Sole Member of the Official "wryawry Fan Club", I take great offense at the flippancy of the above quote, and this has "triggered" me, and now I shall be forced to retreat to my "safe space" in order to contemplate the grievous and egregious insult, and consult with my Legal Team in order to strategerize retribution and the likelihood of significant monetary redress. NOW THEREFORE: Let every Member of this Forum be put ON NOTICE that personal insults such as these WILL NOT BE TOLERATED and that AS OF THIS MOMENT this writer plots serious and profound REVENGE!!! You will all be severely punished with love, wryawry
  8. 4 points
    This sounds like a very warm gathering of friends and family. Have fun and enjoy the turkey and fixin's. This topic caused me to go into a bit of nostalgia about my first visit to Canada. I was working for Hughes Aircraft Company back in the 70s and 80s and 90s prior to my first retirement. I was traveling on company business, probably around 1984, although it might have been 1985, and was in Europe. While there I got an urgent message that I needed to go to the Toronto area for a short noticed meeting. The company travel office changed my travel documents, and upon departing Berlin, I was headed to Toronto. It was October, and our travel people did not know that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in October. Duh! I arrive in the Toronto area, expecting to go into meetings the next morning, only to be told upon checking into the hotel that it was a Thanksgiving weekend. That turned out to be a wonderful experience for me. Here I was in Toronto, on company business, but having everything delayed for a short period. With my rental car, I drove outside of Toronto, to the north, and the weather was simply beautiful. I recall stopping by a park and river landing area, got out of the car, walked around, could smell the smoke of charcoal grills, etc. One couple in the near distance had some classical music (Mozart and Chopin) playing. It was heavenly. I have never forgotten my first experience in Canada. Friendly people, wonderful scenery, and feelings of peaceful harmony surrounding me. (BTW, the business meetings that were delayed were successful as well, and I did travel several more times to Canada, both on business and personal time. I like Canada, and Canadians.) Wishing you all the best on your special day of giving thanks for the many blessings that you have had, currently have, and hopefully will continue to be enjoying.
  9. 4 points
  10. 4 points
    " Nearly 80% of soldiers admitted to these hospitals ( in the Crimean War 1854 ) died from infections from being in the hospitals, not from their original wounds. Florence Nightingale helped to dramatically change these issues with improvement in hygiene and sanitation in hospitals, which helped drop the rates of infections. After the war, Nightingale set out on a campaign to modernize hospitals. She had a large influence on hospital design and nursing practices used today. " 1854 was before the discovery of germs ( ...bacteria, viruses etc. ) being the direct cause of infection. To see this pile of rotting infectious material (no doubt covered in flies) in the Republic of Panama in this day and age is criminal. This to me should be brought to the attention of the World Health Organization. I am astounded by it. Alison
  11. 4 points
    The question is ignorant and insulting. Who cares what the answer is.
  12. 4 points
    I think it is just human nature for one to find ways to justify difficult decisions and then vent to relieve the stress and frustration. I am one that is leaving Panama and while I could easily list a number of things I dislike or seemed senseless here in Panama, I am sure I could just as easily find faults in my new destination once I have lived there for an equal amount of time. All my life I have made a major move about once every 10 years and I could easily list faults and express frustration with each location. My personal decision to move on is based on what appears a better option both personally and financially. While Panama finally tipped the scale for me in a different direction and while some past experiences here in Panama played a part in predicting the future, I can't say I have any great displeasure with Panama as a whole. I could probably list just as many pros as cons. There are certainly things I will miss here and will likely be back to visit clients and friends. It does feels like there are a larger number of expats leaving at this time or at least a bit more than the normal turnover we have seen each year. I am very skeptical about how concerned Panama is about the number leaving the country. I am sure they are more concerned with other issues and the expats leaving is probably just a side effect of other policy decisions. If Panama teaches you anything, it is that everything changes constantly (both good & bad). It can change at a moments notice... or even with no notice at all. Rules and laws here seem to be only enforced when a situation becomes untenable. Typically enforcement is done for a short time and then, as with everything here, it changes again. Seemingly random and sometimes without good reason to those of us that are used to laws and regulations being hard and fast.
  13. 4 points
    Agree. That said, I didn't retire here to die early on the road. That was not part of the package I signed up for. One would expect average driving skills...or maybe a bit below. I could deal with that. What we witness is way way below average to the point of absurdly dangerous, and frankly I just don't understand it. It is what it is, I understand.
  14. 4 points
    I enjoyed the article. Far too many people were enticed to move to Panama because they were led to believe they could live above their means here. Those people have been gravely disappointed. Other people didn't do enough due diligence about what you should expect from roads, utilities, and emergency services here. They have been gravely disappointed. Other people didn't understand the bureaucratic complexities for all things from immigration to car registration. They have been gravely disappointed. But, the people who come here and can go with the flow and adjust their expectations will find a beautiful country with some wonderful people. There is an old saying that one man's trash is another man's treasure. Our decision to move here was a good one.
  15. 4 points
    We stopped in this church yesterday on the way to Penonome. Religious or not it is truely amazing. It's the first pueblo the spaniards established according to the locals. In 1520 they landed there. You can't see the Pacific from town but it is very close. Most of the church and most things inside are original. The stone wagon wheels are the best things displayed to me. In three years the church will be 500 years old! There is a huge original bronze statue there also. We got there at noon, walked in and they were baptizing kids. We stayed for the service. I'm not catholic but enjoyed the service. My girlfriend is catholic and she was amazed also. She had never seen this church and she is a Bouquetena. I did a blog on this before and it is worth mentioning again. If you're bored----take a ride to Nata. Nata is located between Santiago and Penonome----about 180 miles from Boquete more or less.
  16. 4 points
    I don't know how libel law in Panama is adjudicated, but I can say that if a legal system does not hold that truth is an absolute defense to a charge of slander or libel, it is not a justice system at all. It would be a system serving only the corrupt and powerful. If truth is not a defense, then anyone may successfully sue for being offended.
  17. 4 points
    Pondering this I can only reflect on thoughts Bill and I had when we first decided to reside outside of the USA for our retirement. Laws change, procedures change and the climate of life changes ..and possible more so in foreign countries. We were also aware that in spite of all our research we may have missed something. We knew that it might not be easy and at times frustrating but decided we would weather whatever transpired. It's been 10 yrs and some things have in fact changed and we did miss a few things we should have known I guess but we are happy here. Very happy. We've had some fun times navigating bumps in the road in fact !
  18. 4 points
    'Burocracia' by Rosa Marques, was a different entry on the subject in the Notodo Filmfest.
  19. 4 points
    You are welcome to go to the Prosecuters office at any time and look through the records yourself. They are open to anyone, they are PUBLIC FOR ALL TO SEE.
  20. 4 points
    Very well said. And life is not stress free even in one's country of origin. People who thrive after a move "abroad" are those who adapt quickly to change and view the move as an adventure and opportunity to learn. Others? Well, the stress is too much and they return to their country of origin at an enormous cost, as Brundageba said. When I moved to Volcan 13 years ago and began the enlarging and extensive remodeling of an old Panamanian house, I had never lived in such "primitive" conditions in my life. The work took at least two years. And the growth of Volcan and conveniences that exist today did not back then. Yes, there were some stressful times (still are), but it was an adventure (still is) and I never regretted moving here. I'm still very grateful for my life here in Volcan. And a learning experience? One thing I've developed here is a LOT of patience! I have a wonderful employee and although I pay him very well, no way could I pay someone in the US to do what all he does. Then there is my beloved family of 18 dogs (okay, okay, sometimes they are stressful) and my work with the spay/neuter clinics. With the clinics and the rescue of dogs, I have found my true purpose in life. I would never have found that in the US. I have learned so much about care and treatment of dogs through the years that I and my employee often help people with injuries and illnesses of their own dogs. Right now is the best time in my life, ever. Too bad that some people swallow the rose-colored claims by the hucksters. One size indeed does not fit all.
  21. 4 points
    This is an ongoing problem with people who advertise their business or charity event. They get so caught up in their project that they assume everyone knows who they are and where they are. I know the Newslady and she refuses to screen the emails for missing information. This is the responsibility of those who write the news.boquete emails. It never ceases to amaze me how lacking in basic rudimentary knowledge of salesmanship most people are. They put stupid subject lines on their emails (like "please post") and never think for one second that they have to entice the reader to open the email in the first place. They spend 10 seconds slapping out an email on their I-pad and expect 2000 readers to care enough to open it and read it. It's my opinion that if you expect to burden almost 2000 inboxes, you ought to spend some time composing something that is complete, readable, informative and accurate. My dos centavos worth . . . .
  22. 4 points
    Please. A lady is a lady and a gentleman should always have good words and compliments to ladies in a very respectul way. It doesnt have to do with any "dating" situation. It is only being and behaving like a gentleman under the presence of a lady and should not be seen as a personal approach. of any means
  23. 4 points
    To clarify - yes we were both single when we got married. We had a choice of getting married in the US, in Colombia or in Panama. Colombia was the easiest, least expensive and least complicated as far as paperwork. When it comes to a resident visa in Panama, the marriage is only important in the fact that it is needed to prove that my Panama company (Friendly Nations Visa via my Panama S.A.) is what is providing the income. Neither of us are pensionados and she does not qualify for any other type of visa. My point was that in order to get the paperwork to prove our marriage in Colombia, we would need to go to Colombia to get it and upon returning they will not let her enter the country. So the lawyer suggested that if we could not return with the paperwork, then we should essentially lie to Panama and get married here again as if we were single. This goes to my point that yet another so called reputable lawyer's answer is for us it to lie and create false paperwork to get around what should be a simple trip to get proof of marriage. This is the system here. Lie, cheat, get around the rules and play the game. I did it before for 5 years because I was naive. I am smart enough now to know that Panama is going to keep changing the rules with new decrees. What the Panama and the lawyer tell me today will not be what the facts tomorrow. Admittedly we are in an unusual situation. Looking at her passport it appears she has been border hopping for the last year. In fact we were merely dating and travelling between the two countries until we finally got married a few months ago. The lawyer had no answer when I asked what the difference was between visiting often and border hopping. Everything we did for the last year was legal and within the laws, rules and decrees at that time. Our visits were always in one country or the other for at least a month length - not a 3 day hop. Is there a way for us to go thru the system and get her a visa? Yes. The cost is estimated at $5,000+ due to various circumstances. There is no simple way for Panama to look at my residency for the last 8 years and then give her a spousal visa for some additional fee. On the other hand, Colombia looks at me as her new husband and says I can have spousal visa for about $200 (effective immediately) and then permanent residency and dual citizenship after 3 years. The process is a few hours long and my passport is updated within a week or two. As one lawyer told me - Panama sees the border hoppers as a great deal of money if it can just force them into a visa process. And I do not disagree that people should be here legally. I have proudly showed my papers at every checkpoint and admired the country for making sure people were legal. My complaint is that they are punishing the very people who want to go thru the process, such as my wife. Don't get me wrong, I love my life here and I have fought hard to be here legally. As I said in my original post, I am raising the white flag. I have lived here and been a supporting member of the community. I have employed dozens of Panamanians and given to the country in many ways. I have changed as Panama evolved and sought to always be honest and forthright. Panama is asking too much. The lawyer sharks are circling ready to lie and cheat with promises of a simple visa that is just a mirage. I think I will swim somewhere else, thanks...
  24. 4 points
    In my role as one of two U.S. Wardens in Boquete, I have observed first hand the consequences of gringos having no health insurance. Only today I dealt with a case of a man being taken to Hospital Mae Lewis with a heart attack only to be transferred to Hospital Regional when it was discovered he had no insurance. He also had not registered to make his veteran's benefits potentially responsible for some of the costs. I encourage each and every one of you who has opted not to have health insurance to pay a visit to Hospital Regional to observe what your care would be like were you to suffer an accident or illness requiring hospitalization.
  25. 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.
  26. 3 points
    The misspelling was the fault of the newslady and not of Lourdes Miranda. Mea culpa and all of that. Disculpe.
  27. 3 points
    Well consider the folks at the very bottom of the pecking order....the Ngobe who do not have any insurance and are barely feeding the family. What kind of care do they get? They suffer. Many of us who have lived here for nearly a decade care for one or more of these families when they need help, a birthday or Christmas party. The burden is substantial and constant but we realize they have zero options but to ask for help. The family we are most attached to had their father in critical health in the ICU of the Regional hospital. Finally the hospital told them to take him home. They hauled him home and nursed him until he died . Meanwhile they started to dig his grave in his backyard..imagine that. We helped pay for the hospital and the wood box. Same thing happened with their daughter hit by a car. They carried her home with forced discharge and nursed her themselves. She recovered ( brain damage). Another 2 yr old child in that family we helped bury last year. In January another needs reconstructive surgery to his knee ( failed previous surgery and he's now a cripple) ; the child is retarded as well. Long list. Keeps us humble and thankful for what we have. I
  28. 3 points
    I forgot to mention, you need to send the MINSA form 3 days before you travel. Their hours are 8am-11pm. You will supply your travel information on that form so they are sure to be there when you arrive with your pet(s). also, upon arrival at PTY, you WILL have to put your animal in it's carrier thru the x-ray machine before bring it to the MINSA office.
  29. 3 points
    Took Anouk for her physical check-up with Dra. Chely this morning. Remember when we accepted this beautiful Husky about one plus years ago, this rescue dog had some health issues including raw ears devoid of hair because of flea infestation. So bad that Dra. Chely was fearful the hair would never grow back! With the application of medicine and a lot of work on our part Anouk now has clean and "hairy" ears. Per Dra. Chely's instructions we bathed Anouk's feet daily in white vinegar and water to get rid of fungus and of course there was a problem with poor fur (matty and bad smelling). This morning Anouk got an A+ in all areas including her clean teeth. We give her a raw bone (preferably tan bone, pig) once a week plus dry dog food with a small amount of canned wet food morning and night. "0nly egg white" per Dra. Chely "not the egg yolk" is included at breakfast. Anouk enjoys chewing on a Nyla bone on a regular basis. "Excellent mouth, no dog breath" per the vet. Will admit that Anouk could lose a few pounds. Guess that means more walks and my throwing the ball for her to chase more times. Reckon I better get busy....rain or sunshine 😀. She really is a beautiful dog and a major addition to our family.
  30. 3 points
    Our family is spread throughout Texas, and specifically our youngest daughter, our siblings and cousins live along the Gulf Coast directly impacted by Harvey. They are all physically safe although we have had several friends/acquaintances who have lost homes, cars, etc.. My cousin began having water in her home today with the continued rise of major rivers. Rockport took the direct hit at landfall and is about 70% destroyed. From Wharton County eastward into Louisiana...much remains underwater today and that water is becoming increasingly contaminated. The city of Beaumont lost its water treatment plant and there is no clean drinking water. The cleanup is beginning but will take a very long time. Last report was approaching 50 deaths. Texans are a resilient bunch and will recover. It has been heartwarming to watch the reporting of neighbor helping neighbor. And by neighbors I mean those across the street, those from Austin/San Antonio/Dallas and elsewhere across Texas, and those from Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and other states. We have two nephews involved in the rescue and recovery efforts...one with the American Red Cross who came in from Arizona, and one in law enforcement who came from Lubbock. Our kids spent the day helping a family member salvage what they could from her flooded apartment. To hear the comments of reporters from New York and California who came to help the local stations brought tears to my eyes more than once. We watched ABC13's coverage almost nonstop for a week. One reporter from Los Angeles said that he was used to covering natural disasters like earthquakes and fires, but he had never witnessed the brotherly love he had seen while in Houston. So to answer the question about whether it is really as bad as being reported, the answer is it is much worse on a natural disaster level than you can even comprehend. But the sense of spirit, love, support, resilience, faith, grace (and so many other words I cannot come up with without crying again), are also much more than is being reported by the national news media. Hopefully the US and the world will see and let go of some of the hatred and anger so prevalent in these unsettling times in which we live. #TexasStrong
  31. 3 points
    Having spent 35 years working in laboratories in the U. S. I was I curious about the laboratory testing in Panama, and Boquete in particular. I've used two laboratories in town, and spoken with my doctors about their concerns or recommendations. The following are suggestions for those of you who are used to laboratories in the U. S., there are differences. In the U.S. when you get your blood drawn, or drop off a specimen, you are asked to identify the labels they will place on your specimens. Name, birthdate, ID number of some sort. Then the date and time are written on the specimen. This label is basically a UPC code. With few exceptions, all analyzing equipment in the U. S. simply reads the barcode, sees what tests are ordered, mechanically opens the tube, analyzes, then sends the results to a computer where a human reviews abnormal results and repeats any abnormals. The technologists barely touch the tube other than to assure there is sufficient sample. This is because of OSHA, who forced labs to reduce exposure to AIDS and hepatitis, etc. Normal results are released with no review and go straight into the patient's record. So, for most laboratory testing, it is extremely hard to get incorrect results, as long as you verify your OWN name. Many of the procedures I'm describing here have been in use for the last 25 years. I was a manager at LabCorp in Houston, we received over 50,000 test tubes each day. We had to use these techniques or there would have been no way to type each name in before we even began the testing process. Americans do a LOT of labs. Now, I'll compare with Panama. First, let me assure you, their equipment is relatively modern. Equipment I used in smaller hospitals and labs. Here, they simply do not add on the barcode readers, computer interfaces, automatic test tube openers, and other "safety" and convenience items . The tests procedures are the same. Glucoses are glucoses, the same chemical reagents as are used anywhere in the world. So, why do you care? It comes to two things I've observed. No one asks your name, just scribble it on in light pencil or ink. They also use test tubes here that do not allow for the blood specimens to have the luxury of sitting on the counter, untested, for more than an hour. A glucose that isn't tested within an hour will quickly degrade from very high, to normal or even low. Other analytes, such as potassium will go higher the longer they sit. I cannot confirm the tests here aren't run in a timely manner, but will tell you, my fasting blood sugar has been 105-110 for years. Here, my glucose was reported 76, and surprisingly, that was nearly exactly the same value my husband got that day. Our A1Cs were also identical, mine low for the first time in years. The problem, no doubt, our specimens were misidentified. So, I recommend these three basic things you can do proactively. Ask to confirm the names on your specimens before they leave your sight. NEVER have your labs done on the same day as your relatives with the same last name, if you can avoid it. Look at your results as soon as possible, the same day is best. If anything looks odd for your history, ask them to repeat it, either with the old blood they saved in their refrigerator for 5 days, or ask to be redrawn and retested. The last advice, always drink plenty of water before going in for fasting blood tests. Often they will tell you , nothing by mouth, when water is not only allowed it is necessary to find your veins easily. Black coffee and sugarless tea are also acceptable. I hope to update this after visiting the laboratories located in the David hospitals. They may be altogether different.
  32. 3 points
    Olga Rios' breakfast place is a long time staple for good food, good service, and warm greeting hugs. We were surprised not to find anything posted on CL about Punto de Encuentro, and so decided to fill that gap this morning. Marcelyn and I had breakfast at Olga's this morning. Everything went like clockwork. It all started with warm, genuine hugs upon our arrival. We ordered just one order of pancakes and a side order of bacon to be shared between the two of us. Marcelyn ordered her usual café negro, and I my hot chocolate. The service was prompt, accurate, and the serving was huge. Even though it was just one order to be shared between the two of us, it still was more than the two of us could eat. For visitors in the Boquete area, I submit that you cannot legitimately say that you have been to Boquete unless and until you have experienced one of Olga's famous (and sincere) welcoming hugs. Breakfast almost becomes secondary. Olga's is open only for breakfast, and this is done seven days a week. Not sure of the exact hours, but I believe breakfast starts at 7:00AM. I guess she closes when the last breakfast patron leaves. Here are some pictures taken this morning. First, the famous welcoming hug (Olga and Marcelyn). Followed by a couple of inside shots of the ambiance. There are no printed menus. Look at the chalkboards just outside the entrance door. An extensive selection, to say the least. The signpost that is street-side. And a shot showing Olga and an employee checking the grounds, and the entrance walkway into the breakfast area.
  33. 3 points
    On the surface, it would seem like a reasonable explanation Keith. But, when your meds arrive with an invoice from a reputable pharmacy with Rx # and doctors name you would think it would be a good start in verification that the meds weren't knock off. But, that's not enough. So, the customs agent asks for a letter from you verifying your identity, cedula, and intent to be the sole user of the meds. You give it, and that's not enough. So, then the customs agent asks for the prescription to be verified by a Panamanian doctor. I don't know yet if that will be enough, but I do know b.s. when I see it.
  34. 3 points
    It may be time to start taking the old Boquete road by turning off the new one at Los Algarrobos. The right lane on the new road was closed for a about a mile getting into David due to construction at the new mall. Traffic was backed up. The good news is that this caused my being late getting to Pricesmart, entitling me to buy beer and wine at 11:00. Even better, Pricesmart actually had everything on my list. On my return to Boquete, both my driver's license and car insurance papers were checked at the Caldera cutoff. I don't know if the officer was bored, if I looked suspicious, or whether this heralds tougher scrutiny in all walks of life. Be prepared.
  35. 3 points
    Dottie: what a great lady you are with a wonderful attitude ?. IMO the world needs more people like you. Our very best wishes to you....and your 18 dogs. Marcelyn & Bud here at CL
  36. 3 points
    President Varela has stated that “we cannot afford for the six-month tourist permit to be used to cross the border and then return, and stay here as if you were a permanent resident”. He said that on March 18. It seems to me that everything since early March has been Immigration trying to figure out how to implement a visa policy which accomplishes that. Yes, the 30 days out of the country rule was stated by Javier Carrillo, the director of Immigration, but that was also several weeks ago. As unsatisfying as it is, I think the focus ought to be on what Panama is trying to accomplish. I rather doubt that Panama is particularly motivated to provide a lot of clarity as to how to circumvent their stated goal. We can speculate that the reason for the new enforcement policy is the flood of non-Panamanians from South America fleeing poor conditions. There certainly is resentment against foreigners coming to Panama, competing with Panamanians for employment, and staying here indefinitely on a tourist visa. There is currently a lot of political pressure on the Panamanian government to do something about that. Panama encourages tourism. It wants to encourage business travel to Panama, as well. Being in Panama for extended periods is not the concern. It is the drain on social services, not the least of which is health care, by the people who live in Panama as if they are permanent residents but are not. And, undoubtedly, there is some resentment of foreigners in general moving into cities and neighborhoods throughout the country which also contributes to that political pressure. I have enormous sympathy for those who live in Panama on a tourist visa, especially those in this area who have made housing decisions, opened businesses, and made an enormous effort to relocate from far abroad. They are almost universally not the burden that Varela says "we (Panama) cannot afford." But devising a policy accomplishes Panama's goal without casting too wide of a net is nearly impossible. It has caught those who are contributing greatly to the country. It has snared those who employ Panamanians. It is devastating to those who can't (for very good reasons) obtain the documents necessary to apply successfully for permanent residency. For US citizens, it has caught those who no longer have suitable fingerprints that the FBI can accept in order to run the required background check to apply for a permanent visa. If the "30 days out of the country" rule if you're approaching the end of a 180 day tourist visa is the current policy at the border is truly a permanent and consistent rule (which I doubt), then it probably will eliminate those who can't afford to be gone from Panama for 30 days every six months. The intention may be that those people who can't afford it will be the ones who are competing for jobs and social services with Panamanian citizens and legal permanent residents. Obviously, the effect is far more broad and draconian than that. The bottom line is still the same. Panama does not want foreigners living here indefinitely on a tourist visa. It would be very surprising to me if the Panamanian government wants to really clarify how anyone can still continue to do so at this time. That's the new reality in Panama. Until it changes, of course...
  37. 3 points
    It's more a matter of how long you need to stay out rather than if you let your stamp expire. The information that people are wanting is if you leave at 5 months can you come back in if you stay out for two weeks or 30 days or 3 days? Also if you leave at your 6th month before it expires are you going to be let back in after 30 days, or do you need to stay out for 6 months or longer? Also does it matter how many border hops you have done in the past?
  38. 3 points
    I agree with Bonnie and interpreted Keith's actions as she did. Keith has provided many items of helpful information here on CL and deserves our thanks IMO. I'm not wanting to take anyone to task, but, please.....let's drop this and move on. More important items in life for us to deal with.
  39. 3 points
    I also understood that clearly. We talked about participating with local authorities in meetings related to things in the districts, attending local cultural events, participating with activities of the local schools, etc. That your presence be noted and felt.
  40. 3 points
    I give up. I'm beginning to think that it's impossible to put all this together, to get a straight answer out of anyone. My sympathies are with all of you trying to get a residency visa. As folks work their way through this process, I hope they will keep the rest of us updated on what procedures are being followed (as opposed to all of those that have been reported).
  41. 3 points
    It's a joy to know Joy and to be around her. Her takeover of the Café in the Hex Room is a lifesaver for the BCP and an assist to the entire community. I wish her every success.
  42. 3 points
    Longtime Boquete resident and former U.S. Warden Price Peterson, also perplexed by the new decree, contacted a friend, Diego Obaldia, who served as director of Migracion about seven years ago. Sr. Obaldia agreed to go to Migracion and seek clarification. Here is his response to Price: Thanks both to Price and Sr. Obaldia for their help with this matter. Neither had an obligation to do anything, but they graciously stepped in when needed.
  43. 3 points
    Why haven't they done that to Martinelli? He certainly deserves it.
  44. 3 points
    Isn't the problem, though, that Panama does not recognize the legality of the marriage? It's similar to the time when most states in the USA did not recognize the legality of a gay marriage that was lawfully performed in one that did. It seems to me that under Panamanian law, you ARE single, and it's not dishonest of you to say that you are. All you are conceding is AS TO PANAMA ONLY, you are single! I don't think Panama recognizes my marriage, either. My wife and I applied jointly to acquire our visas, but I'm pretty sure obtaining them didn't register our marriage. That could be a problem if any of my estate is subject to Panamanian probate. Don't tell my wife that I think I am single here in Panama, please.
  45. 3 points
    Everyone's points are valid. But we pay for electricity (some of us more dearly than others), and it is simply factual that we have come to rely on electricity. I have multiple flashlights within easy reach all over the house, but there are still times when I have to grope about in the absolute dark. This is dangerous, particularly for those of us who are elderly and for whom a fall could be devastating. This danger is multiplied when the lights go out repeatedly. When I arrived home from David about 7:00 last night, the electricity went out just as I was approaching my front door. Were it not for the light in my iPhone, I would not have been able to see to put the key in the lock as there are no streetlights here. Add to this the wear and tear on electrical appliances and light fixtures. Before I got my expensive LED light bulbs, which must be more resistant to surges, I was replacing two or three light bulbs a week during times of electricity unreliability. And, like Bud and Marcelyn, I suspect the recent death of my washing machine to be attributable to surges. I keep my new one unplugged when not in use, as a repairman recommended. I remain of the view that we have a right to expect better service. I intend to file a complaint, and I hope others will too. Panamanians will not because, as some have pointed, they have come to expect poor service.
  46. 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 .
  47. 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?
  48. 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.
  49. 3 points
    I would offer the following in response to the complaints: 1) I've never noticed that the parking in David is abundant. There are quite a few among us who have physical limitations that prevent walking long distances, particularly over the imperfect sidewalks and streets. I find myself bitching about this, too. But I've noticed that only prolongs the aggravation. 2) As to computer skills, there's no one who can help them if they won't help themselves. 3) Same with language and assimilation. Why did they even bother to move here? 4) Boquete is too small to support a movie theater. 5) The best way to meet like-minded friends is not in the local bar. Most of my friendships developed, and developed quickly, by joining charity groups. People everywhere are cliquish. All of us choose to be with those with whom we're most comfortable. That is different, of course, from downright prejudice, but I've run into very few people here who exhibit prejudice toward others without even knowing them. 6) Prices rise over time everywhere. It sounds like at least some of these folks moved here strictly for financial reasons. Poor planning and poor decision. The bottom line is that there is little to nothing we, as extranjeros, can do to change any of these things. (Of course, short term bitching sometimes is cathartic.) I saw this on Facebook today: "When you can't control what's happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what's happening. That's where your power is."
  50. 3 points
    I think the hype is unconscionable. Among its worst aspects are that many people end up in financial ruin after selling everything and moving only to discover living abroad unsuitable for a variety of reasons seldom addressed in the hype. Then, they often lose money or haven't sufficient money to return home. Another issue is that the hype encourages people to expatriate who should never live in a foreign country. In my role as U.S. Warden, I received a call on Christmas Eve about a U.S. expat who had suffered a stroke and, having no insurance, was in Hospital Regional. Her husband, who suffers from dementia, had wandered into a neighbors' house. These folks should be home where family and/or social services would have helped them.
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