Well, it seems my concerns about political incorrectness are misguided. I've spoken with a few Panamanian locals about the upcoming Jazz Festival parade during Lent, etc. The overall response was that another parade and party-like celebration is just fine. The best comment came from a Costa Rican man with a Chiriqui-born wife and children. He said that religious matters were observed on Sundays, and that the only people who might take exception to the upcoming spectacle would be "a couple of priests and maybe a few old ladies." It felt as though he were holding a mirror up in front of me! But he had no idea what my personal views were and was just speaking off the cuff, so that's that....
I fear I'm turning into a grumpy old woman, and this is a wake up call. Panamanians have their priorities right. They like to party and they know how to enjoy life. They don't take stupid stuff seriously and they try to be respectful of their fellow man-----unless their fellow man is a grumpy party-pooper. In that case he's on his own. Generally he's invited to join the festivities regardless.
Last Wednesday, there was a standstill in the negotiations between the Ngobe-Bugle community and the current political administration. The Indians went back out and closed the Interamerican Highway at San Felix and one or two other spots. Then a few people off the street were interviewed re: their reaction to the closures. One woman said, "I sympathize with the cause of the indigenous, as does most of the populace. But the road closures at this time---just before Carnaval--is only hurting the populace. The President and his cabinet all have money and can get around just fine. It's the common man who is affected by the traffic jams. It's the common man who won't be able to enjoy the Carnaval festivities." Less than an hour later, the Indians opened up the road blocks and announced they would maintain a close vigil, but not interrupt traffic flow. Negotiations would resume on 2/27/12, and if things didn't take a more positive turn at that time, they would react again with road closures.
As I said, it's important to get your priorities straight. I won't be at the pending parade, because I'm just not into acting silly that way. But I've stopped worrying about being considered an ugly American.