Uncle Doug

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About Uncle Doug

  • Rank
    Advanced Member

Personal Information

  • Real Name:
    Doug Johnson
  • Reason for registering:
    Live and/or work in Chiriqui
  • Location of primary residence:
    In Chiriqui
  • Birth (home) country:

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830 profile views
  1. From what I can tell, being a warden is demanding position, especially when dealing with a subset of the population who thinks the warden should solve any and all problems. While it's an honor to be named as a warden, it's certainly not an honorary position.
  2. I suppose Chiriqui Chatter is coming to an end, as well. Unfortunate.
  3. I guess someone might be confident in three days in asking, " Donde esta el baño, por favor" anywhere in Panama, and then hope the person points somewhere in a general direction. That's about it. Forget about understanding anything said in response. Ask me how my French is. I took a full year of it in college!
  4. 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...
  5. I will put them on speed dial!
  6. Thanks for the responses. I have not asked Mailboxes Etc here in town about it. Nor have I asked Eshop, which is where I normally receive my packages. My understanding of both places is that they have a Florida address where deliveries are received. Those are then sorted and flown by air to Panama City, and then eventually delivered here to the offices in Boquete. That process takes several days from the time the package is received in Florida. Or at least it does at Eshop... Sending something from here quickly isn't very hard. I was hoping to bypass the mail forwarding process altogether and get essentially next day delivery at a Fed Ex office in David. But I will ask at both places to see if I can use either of them for this.
  7. I need to receive a delivery of documents from the US sent by Fed Ex. I realize, of course, that there is no delivery in Boquete and that a Fed Ex office is somewhere in David. I can find the Fed Ex office in David using a taxi, if nothing else. It's fairly urgent, of course... But what would my sender use as an address? Uncle Doug, David, Chiriqui, Republic of Panama?? That doesn't seem like a very good plan....
  8. I used http://www.nationalbackgroundcheck.com/ , one of those on that list, in 2013. Using the US Postal Service from me to them, and the FBI using the same to send me the report, the process took about a month.
  9. I'm not sure what to make of that. I don't think anyone will dispute that you know a huge number of ex-pats in the area, and probably know a lot about others you haven't actually met. We do know there is an immigration policy change regarding the "border hopping" practice. Panama has said so. Many people have been asking specific questions about the mechanics of it for years on local forums in recent years. Many other people have been offering specific answers. I don't know any of those people (assuming they used real names), but I can't think of any reason for them to have been fabricating the experience. We have seen a couple of reports of several vehicles being impounded in recent day at the Caldera police checkpoint. If true, it's hard to imagine it was the result of expired license plates. I see far too many 2014 plates on cars around here. People can get caught up in a hysteria about perceived events. Perhaps many people are worried and writing about something less than it might actually be. After 9/11 in the USA, there was scary "poison powder" everywhere, and last year scary circus clowns were terrorizing towns across that nation, although no clown was ever found, much less arrested. Your observation is very relevant. My completely uninformed guess is/was that this possibly affected several hundred people in the Boquete area.
  10. That's interesting. The SMM is keeping separate statistics for "deportations" and "expulsions." I will speculate that deportations are the physical removal of persons who never had any type of legal permission to enter the country, and expulsions is the removal of people who entered legally, but are no longer in compliance with the terms of their visa. I think there may be yet another category -- people are denied re-entry at the border or at Tocumen. I doubt those numbers are captured in this SMM report.
  11. I don't want to sound like a pessimist here, but it may not be possible to get coherent or definitive answers to our questions. I thought the rules for a Friendly Nations visa were pretty clear when I applied, but it turned out that the interpretation was not consistent at Immigracion, and it varied between the clerks. I spent weeks complying with new requirements that were imposed, only to have a different clerk impose something entirely different. The 4th time was the charm. It's not just a Panamanian thing. Lawmakers in the USA routinely pass legislation without even reading it. Afterwards, other people must attempt to figure out what Congress intended. It can take years for a court to decide. Here, as everywhere, the people who enforce the law or policy had nothing to do with the creation of the new directive. They make their best guesses or do whatever their immediate boss tells them to do. I think we may have to wait months or even longer to see how or if Panama consistently addresses individual cases. The track record will be far more useful than logic or predictions. At least it will for me...
  12. It looks as if the officials made an initial determination that you were a "perpetual tourist", and then applied that to everyone traveling with you, including your daughter who is undeniably a tourist visiting you for just a short time in Panama. Eventually the authorities relented as to her and her friend, but they are certainly casting a very wide net at the border.
  13. Do you know any Russians who can help you hack into the site?
  14. I've seen some websites that put the estimate over 10,000, although as I recall they were including Canadians as well. That's patently absurd to even a casual observer, although I have no idea how many gringos reside in or near David. I'm also amazed that only 297 Americans have signed up for the STEP notices (and certainly some of them are no longer here in Panama but have not unsubscribed to the emails). What would be your best guess as the expat population of Chiriqui, Keith?