Dec 19, 2014

Interesting Interview on TVN with Giacomo Tamburelli

Cable and Wireless is yet again experiencing technical difficulties in Chiriqui, and I'm using my cell phone modem to get the latest news.  Giacomo Tamburelli, the ex-director of PAN prior to Adolfo Obarrio's assumption of the position, spoke with a news reporter regarding his willingness to cooperate with investigations into the suspected theft of multiple millions of dollars from the national public assistance fund (PAN).  Both Obarrio and Tamburelli are under house arrest at this time. 

While the interview and Mr. Tamburelli's responses made great viewing material, I was left with the impression that something continues to be amiss.  Mr. Tamburelli admitted no wrongdoing on his part,  but expressed  willingness to openly disclose any information investigators might require.  He also made overt allegations that the ex-president threatened his wife and family. When the reporter questioned the mechanisms of those threats to his family, he said it had to do with voice recordings. He requested public support and protection for his family.  

The interview was too extensive to translate or summarize in a casual post such as this, but it did seem he was promising to reveal a lot of information that would implicate the past presidential administration in signficant corruption.   He frankly stated that he was at all times under direct orders from Adolfo Obarrio, the ex-president's designee, and that Ricardo Martinelli was now trying to buy his silence. .  The interview was intriguing, but something about this man's aspect and demeanor left me unsympathetic toward him, and doubting the veracity of his accusations. It will be interesting to observe what transpires over time.   

Dec 18, 2014

Another Ugly American Story

The following photos were uploaded from facebook pages and are covered with extensive commentary on  I am pasting and posting here for extended coverage of an event that bears ongoing circulation.  The story related below is taken from statements posted by some of the people involved in the incident. 

The man in the photo walked over to a neighbor's home in Santa Lucia, Volcancito on Dec. 16th and shot through their fence to injure the neighbor's two pet dogs who were inside the yard.  He claims to have done so in retaliation for one of the dogs having bitten his child earlier. The child is reported to have only superficial wounds and was observed teasing the dog while it was out on its daily run. The poor animal was shot in the jugular area and is currently in critical condition.  The second dog received a superficial gunshot wound. The man used an air rifle, which apparently is silent. When the animals cried out from being shot, the owners became aware of the action. The owners spoke with the shooter, Justin Whitney Reinholz, following the incident and asked the obvious questions.   Mr. Reinholz warned them he had killed lots of dogs in the US and that he also had "real" guns and wouldn't hesitate to return to deal with the owners if necessary.  He is seen resting on his gun muzzle and smiling at the Panamanian neighbors through their fence after the incident.

Needless to say there is a lot of outrage in our area---not only from an expat community that has two full time charities plus numerous satellite organizations dedicated to the humane treatment and rescue of animals, but also from an increasingly agitated Panamanian population that has just about "had it" with the growing influx of foreigners and the problems they are introducing.  And to top it all off, December 20th is the anniversary of operation Just Cause, which always seems to pour salt into the unhealed wounds of many nationals.

Animal groups in the expat community have reached out to the owners of the wounded dogs and are offering assistance to get the appropriate denuncias filed for legal action to be taken against the shooter.  Apparently, he also has filed a complaint against the dog owners. He is either married to a Panamanian or is the custodial parent of two Panamanian children, so there are multiple issues related to how his actions are handled by authorities.

As is generally the case with the Boquete.ning forum, opinions and sentiments abound.  Some expats are angry at being "profiled" because of nationality. Others are over the top in demanding a meeting with the mayor for the purpose of getting their sentiments of regret publically expressed.   In my opinion, we need to learn restraint and to stop trying to take over.  We should allow the Panamanian legal, regulatory, and social instititions to do what they are meant to do.  I feel demanding a meeting with the mayor is akin to making still another demand for "special"  attention. Why should our concerns be addressed differently or more expediently than that of any other citizen or resident who has a  regret to express?  

I'm amazed at the sudden concern from expats about how we might be perceived. Perceptions are built over time from ordinary, everyday encounters and interactions.  An incident such as this one can certainly add fuel to the fire, but it alone isn't going to make a generalized negative  impression.  If there is a backlash now, it's not because of this single, albeit horrific, event.  It's because of our behavior patterns in everyday matters. It's about the way we continue to conduct ourselves. 

The governmental and social systems currently in place haven't been given the opportunity to function yet.  The ink is barely dry on the denuncias, and we are already demonstrating what pains  in the  #$%&#   we  expats can truly be.  Will we never learn a little humility, deference, respect and patience?  Have a little trust that things will work out as they should.  It happens here more often than any of us are willing to imagine. I am continuously amazed at how efficient things are here as compared to back home.  

Please, people, just chill.  If you need to do something, express your heartfelt apologies to the dog owners.  That might truly help. 

Dec 16, 2014

Another Successful Concert at the Biblioteca

Director Elsa Castillo deserves kudos for organizing another great musical event at the Boquete Biblioteca---this time a youth symphony orchestra from David.  It's the first of it's kind in Panama, and the musicians, ranging in age from 8 to 21, were incredibly accomplished for their short tenures as part of the ensemble.  According to information provided, some students had as little as 6 months of music lessons and the "senior" participants may have had as much as 2 years. They played 6-7 classical pieces, including selections from the Nutcracker Suite and Dvorak's New World Symphony, then ended the afternoon with traditional Christmas music and one latin calypso rhythm.  They received standing ovations from a pleased audience of both Panamanian and expat attendees.  The orchestra is named after it's founder,  Manuel Obaldía Alvarado, and is better known as M.O. A. for short. 

Dec 7, 2014

Mother's Day Program in Caldera

December 8th is Mother's Day in Panama, and it's a big deal here.  Unlike in the states where Mother's Day is always on a Sunday, in Panama Mother's Day is a National Holiday.   Businesses are closed and entire communities get involved in creating a tribute to all mothers in the country.  There are public programs in local parks and town centers where town officials, local politicians, and community groups give speeches, presentations, and donated gifts to  mothers in the community. Cultural groups and students from local schools often provide either oratory, musical or dance performances, and sometimes food or flowers are distributed to the mothers in the assembled crowds. It's a nice way to make women who are also mothers feel special and appreciated. 

Last night I had to opportunity to attend a Mother's Day Celebration in the little town of Caldera.  It was a humble but uplifting event.  It was impressive to see how the school aged boys of the town were utilized as greeters, ushers and servers. Following the program they were thanked for their assistance. One of the youths responded by saying how pleased he and the others were at being able to be of service.  He expressed their ongoing willingness to contribute to the community.   

It never ceases to amaze me how Panamanians of all ages can spontaneously provide gracious, positive, and constructive commentary regarding any topic or content, if asked. I see it over and over again in television "man on the street" interviews and in public gatherings.  I think it must be something inculcated in their education and upbringing. From the humblest of citizens to the most prestigious, it's something they seem to do instinctively.  

The Mother's Day celebration in Boquete is yet to occur.  It will be a larger and more expensive program with bigger and better gifts for some fortunate mothers.  Usually stoves, refrigerators, and many smaller household items are donated by local merchants. I've never understood how the gifting is organized, but somehow the community is aware of who the local mothers are and they are provided with tickets which later are used for drawings after the performances.  I am hoping to see some of my neighbors win  valuable prices this year.