Saturday, June 30, 2012

Conference Touts Panama a Center for Global Trade

Old Post Card of Miraflores Locks, Panama

Conference Touts Panama a Center for Global Trade
The 9th annual Global California conference took place at the San Jose, Ca., City Hall where 15 experts presented their unique perspectives of the Panama FTA, the doubling of the capacity of the Panama Canal by 2014 and their combined impact on California's business community.

Led by keynote speaker and former Ambassador to Panama, Juan Sosa, logistics, free zones, tax issues, real estate opportunities and finance methods  were some of the topics discussed with a focus on the impact of the expansion of the Canal for California companies to all  global markets.

Please see presentations from all the speakers at

Monterey Bay International Trade Association
PO Box 523
Santa Cruz, California 95061
Tel. 1 + 831-335-4780

Friday, June 29, 2012


WITH PANAMA", by award-winning journalist HINDI DIAMOND, is available
for you to purchase by sending her an order via email to:

The book gives a real inside glimpse into what life was like for you,
your parents and grand-parents when The Canal Was a territory of the United States, from a person
who lived it. Diamond writes about her exciting adventures in the
Canal Zone and Panama, covering late-breaking news for THE PANAMA
AMERICA. She traveled almost 40 miles a day (with an
UN-air conditioned car) to cover the Canal Zone District courts; the
Canal Zone police happenings, The Theater Guild, and the colorful
people who helped maintain the Panama Canal until it was turned over
to Panama.

Her close friendships with the Zonians is reflected in her stories
about them, and you might find some of your friends or family included
in her 80 photos printed in the book.

Besides all Canal Zone activities, she writes about famous people that
came to our shores. President Eisenhower presided over the lst Summit
of the Americas in 1956 which saw every leader of Latin America in
Panama in a historic meeting captured for The Panama American;
Argentine dictator Juan Peron found exile in Panama and was caught by
our intrepid reporter writing his memoir in his underwear at the
Hotel Washingtonand and the exclusive photo was published in LIFE
Magazine. When ex-King Leopold of Belgium was lost in the San Blas
jungles, generating frantic appeals from his country, again Diamond
was the only reporter/photographer who flew there and found him. The
book is dotted with inside stories and anecdotes which were published
around the world.

This reporter was the "spokeswoman" for Zonians in their fight to urge
Congress to grant them a 25% pay differential, which they received,
and she aired their grievances in the Panama American since they were
not allowed to strike. You might find friends or relatives in the
colorful stories that dot the pages of her book GRINGA.

Besides presidents and dictators, she presents a never-before told
story of Americans living in a foreign country that formed an extended
family of several generations who lived through riots and revolutions,
government control and new and exotic cultures and emerged as a
vibrant group who treasured their years on the Isthmus. Their lives
and accomplishments must be preserved for future generations.

Read intimate glimpses of legendary ballerina MARGOT FONTEYN, who
married Roberto Arias, former Ambassador to England and came back to
live with him in Panama. Read about actor John Wayne's infatuation
and frequent visits to Panama, and other famous show biz vips like Bob
Hope, Jimmy Stewart, and others who came to entertain. Included are
interviews and photos of world-wide leaders, Golda Meir, Eleanor
Roosevelt, Queen Elizabeth who graced our shores.

Labor leaders in the Zone; cops and judges in the Canal Zone court,
Gorgas Hospital doctors get their stories told, Panama musician, Lucho
Azcarraga, and even the infamous Barkeep, Max Bilgray of the
well-known Tropico Bar on the Atlantic side, (who was the first to
know everything that was going on in town and shared it with our
reporter) was featured in her story published in TIME Magazine. You
might see some of your friends and relatives on the pages of GRINGA.
It is a lively book filled with exclusive stories and anecdotes of a
time gone by that must be preserved.

Hindi has received numerous honors, including the distinguished Gold
Presidential Amador Guerro Award for excellence in journalism from
the President of Panama in 1997; the first American, and first woman to
have this honor bestowed on her for her news coverage in The Panama
American and abroad as a foreign correspondent for TIME/LIFE, UNITED
PRESS, NEWSWEEK and other publications. She was President of Women in
Communications and is presently Vice-President of the S. Florida International Press Club and appears in Who's Who of Distinguished American Women.

She also keeps active by teaching Writing and Media at Florida
International University, has ghost-written 12 books for people in
various fields of endeavor and helps aspiring writers to record their
life stories.

So get your copy of GRINGA now for $19.95 by sending your request to
Hindi Diamond, 100 Golden Isles, Apt. 914, Hallendale, Fl. 33009 ***
and ENJOY reminiscing about your exciting, colorful life in the Canal

Vigil planned for Orange County, California woman missing in Panama

Orange County Register News, Published: June 28, 2012 Updated: June 29, 2012 1:11 p.m.

Vigil planned for O.C. woman missing in Panama


  DANA POINT – The family and friends of an Orange County woman missing in Panama are holding a march and candlelight vigil Saturday evening at Salt Creek Beach Park.

In September, Yvonne Baldelli, 42, moved with her boyfriend Brian Brimager, 36, to Carenero Island, one of a group of islands that make up the archipelago province of Bocas del Toro on Panama's Caribbean coast.

Panamanian authorities have reclassified the case of Yvonne Baldelli as a homicide. Baldelli, 42, went missing on Nov. 26 along with her two dogs, according to her family.
Where: Salt Creek Beach Park, 33333 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point
When: Meet at 6 p.m. in Salt Creek Beach parking lot; march begins at 6:30 p.m. on Pacific Coast Highway; vigil begins at 7:30 p.m. in park.
Baldelli had recently been laid off from her job with Sebastian International and Brimager's Marine Corps service was coming to an end. The two wanted to live together on the beach, said Lauren Beyer, Baldelli's niece, something that is cheaper to do in Panama than in Orange County.
The couple rented an apartment, and Brimager played the guitar in bars for tips, according to news reports. Baldelli, according to her family, has a passion for sewing and an eye for fashion and hoped to sell her work on local beaches. Baldelli also acted as a manager of sorts for Brimager, getting him gigs at local spots, Beyer said.
Witnesses at the place where Baldelli and Brimager were staying, known locally as Casa del Sapo, reported the couple had a violent relationship and frequently fought, according to Alexis Muñoz, director of the Panama Department of Judicial Investigation.
Beyer said her aunt frequently called or emailed family members. Her last correspondence came in late November, Beyer said. She was last seen on Carenero Island on Nov. 26.
According to news reports, Brimager told acquaintances Baldelli had gone to Costa Rica with another man, and he planned to return to Southern California. He was back in the United States by mid-December. There is no record of Baldelli leaving Panama, according to news reports.
Baldelli's family has been in Panama searching for her, and Panamanian and U.S. authorities have conducted multiple searches of the island. In the months since the search began, the FBI has joined the investigation, assisting Panamanian authorities in looking for trace evidence at the home where Baldelli and Brimager stayed.
Within a few days of returning to the United States, Brimager became engaged to and then married another woman, according to news reports.
An wedding registry entry for a Kristin M. Werkhoven and Brian Brimager states the two met in Washington, D.C., at a karaoke bar in 2004 and had a daughter in 2010. Here is an excerpt from the entry, which has since been deleted:
"Brian got out of the Marine Corps in November 2011 and went on a vacation to Panama to detox from the Marine Corps. Now Brian is a professional father during the day and a professional student at night. We were engaged on 15 December and on 31 December we had a civil ceremony to legalize our marriage. We look forward to seeing many of you at our wedding on the 4th of July in Cabo San Lucas!"
Panamanian police have named Brimager a person of interest in the case, and in mid-May declared it a homicide investigation.
Saturday's vigil and march is to increase awareness about Baldelli's disappearance, Beyer said. Salt Creek was selected because it was a cherished place for Baldelli, she said.
"The investigators think that she's gone," Beyer said. "And I don't think that they believe it was an accident. We want to find out what happened to her. We want to find out where she is. ... We want to bring her home."
Contact the writer: or 949-454-7377

Top 9 Most Influential Foreigners in Panama, ref Panama Report


Top 9 Most Influential Foreigners in Panama

PDF Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Monday, 18 June 2012 13:22
influentialPanama's growth over the past decade is very much a byproduct of its immigrants who have relocated in search of new challenges, profitable ventures, and lifestyle improvements.
From bloggers to incubators, experienced professionals to homegrown entrepreneurs, Panama has imported numerous high-flying individuals over the past few years, all of whom are making indelible marks on the new place they call home.
The Panama Report has selected 9 of Panama's most influential expats to give readers an idea of how foreigners have made a substantial impact in contemporary Panama.
Forget about slides to click through. Presented in no particular order, these are the movers and shakers responsible for one of the fastest growing hotbeds of international talent in the world. All in one place!

Trey Bohn Panama1. Name: Trey Bohn 
Age: 37
Title: President, Vista Group Corp.
If you’ve ever contemplated who’s behind some of the more ingenious PR initiatives in Panama over the past few years, chances are, Trey Bohn is somehow involved.
After spending the better part of a decade in media positions at The White House, Trey relocated to Panama in 2010 where a consulting contract with the Panamanian government landed him in a position to directly influence the nation’s tourism growth. A graduate of Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech, Trey’s instinct when it comes to international media has proven instantaneously beneficial to the Republic of Panama just two years after his arrival.
Trey’s landmark achievements in Panama include sealing a 3-year partnership with Ironman, the world’s most iconic triathlon brand, spearheading Panama’s first sustainable sport fishing developmental program on behalf of SENACYT (Panama’s Science, Innovation, and Technology Agency), as well as leading a team of Hollywood producers, directors, and financiers who would go on to secure a billion-dollar media production company, in turn putting Panama’s entertainment industry (local filming and production of feature films) officially on the map.
It’s fair to say that as the world continues to learn about Panama’s fledging sustainable and authentic tourism industry, Trey Bohn will most probably be behind the curtains pulling at the strings.

Lief Simon Panama2. Name: Lief Simon
Title: Co-Owner, Live & Invest Overseas
It’s hard to talk about Panama’s profound rise in popularity amongst expats over the past decade without mentioning the name Lief Simon.
Like the face of a generation, Lief and his wife Kathleen Peddicord moved to Panama from Paris, France (“no place to have a business – too much red tape and employee taxes”) because it had everything they needed.
After a tenure as Real Estate Director with International Living (a hugely influential cog in the Republic of Panama’s retirement boom), Lief launched Live and Invest Overseas, a resource for living, investing, and retiring overseas while simultaneously starting a real estate project of his own, Los Islotes located on the Western Coast of the Azuero Peninsula. His influence in the world of the expat communities, beyond just Panama, is that of an international thought leader.
Aside from Lief’s keen eye for real estate deals and straight-shooting advice, few would argue that any one individual has more successfully branded Panama as a retirement and investment destination. In fact, you sometimes get the feeling that if Lief wanted to carve out a new world-class destination or identity, he probably could do so over the weekend.

KunaYouthKimberly3. Name: Kimberly Hall         
Age: 30
Title: Founder, Create Invest
In the midst of large-scale industrial growth, Panama’s underground art and culture scene is progressively chugging along thanks, in large part, to Atlanta native Kimberly Hall. Kimberly is almost single-handedly revolutionizing the way Panamanians – at both an individual and corporate level – embrace their own entrepreneurship.
Kimberly arrived to Panama with extensive experience in private equity and finance after graduating cum laude from Vanderbilt University in 2004. She since established Create Invest, a development platform for local and creative art-oriented entrepreneurs.
Kimberly’s Create Invest team is contracted by large corporate companies who create and execute internal business plans that grow, evolve and improve existing businesses. On the non-profit side, her company partners with local creative entrepreneurs and organizations to help develop projects that foster progress in the community, something Panama is sorely lacking.
Kimberly’s influence in Panama isn’t purely business-based however. In the recreational realm, she has a hand in most major plays, festivals, concerts, and art exhibits, including the renowned ArtBlock alternative arts festival of Casco Viejo.  Which is to say, there isn’t one foreigner in Panama who’s more important to the nation’s development as an artistic hotbed than Hall who, at only 30 years old, is agreed by all to have influence beyond her years.
Lee Zeltzer Panama4. Name: Lee Zeltzer
Title: Blogger, Boquete Guide
Visitors to Boquete might easily mistake Lee Zeltzer for just another gringo walking down the street. After all, in one of Panama’s highest-density expat destinations, Lee basically looks the part. But in doing so, they would be overlooking one of this eco-town’s most authoritative and respected voices.
At the end of a seven-year quest to move from the United States, Lee found himself in Boquete where the lifestyle seemed to be more about making choices of his own (rather than having them made for him). Having relocated in 2006, Lee was part of a first major generation of influential Boquete transplants.
Lee first started, a blog of his adventures in a foreign land, which gained a cult-like following. This gave way to, a virtual community that took on a life of its own as a way for locals and tourists to share unbiased experiences about this soon-to-be renowned retirement destination.
Besides just being a thought-leader in the world of everything Boquete, Lee is something of a model expat in the community as well: he’s been both a volunteer at a handful of foundations and voted (now twice) by his Panamanian neighbors to the local water board (“a lofty position.”). This lead-by-example mentality has earned Lee a great deal of respect from locals and foreigners alike in Panama. According to another prominent Boquete resident, “When Lee talks, the neighborhood listens.”

Kelly Berube de Caro Panama5. Name: Kelly Berube de Caro
Age: 32           
Title: Buena Vista Bar & Grill
Sometimes, you don’t have to be a “person of influence” to be an influential person and Kelly Berube de Caro may be the perfect example. Sometimes just being a model contributor to the community earns a foreigner her might.
After graduating from Michigan State University in 2002, Kelly embarked to be a deckhand on a friend’s boat throughout the Caribbean. When she landed in Bocas del Toro, the plan was to return to the USA and begin a “real life.” But as you might have imagined, that never happened.
Kelly’s Buena Vista Bar & Grill on Isla Colon may be the nerve center of her commitment to Bocas. By hiring exclusively locals (representing 9 individual families) and promoting wholeheartedly the local economy, Kelly immerses herself intentionally and constantly with locals.
But Kelly’s influence goes beyond just a landmark grill: the past 10 years have seen her heavily immersed in BESO (Bocas Educational Serice Organization), a series of free ballet and jazz dance classes for local kids, and her youngest daughter’s public school PTA where Kelly, the foreigner, plays Vice-President. She is also the host of a famous Halloween party that brings together the community in many more ways than one.
It’s wouldn’t be unfair to say that if something is going down in Bocas – a party, a charity, a new business opening…etc – when Kelly Berube de Caro gives a shout out, pretty much everyone will know.  If you ask Kelly what her mission is in Panama, she’ll tell you it’s “to learn what she can from others,” but ironically, to her neighbors, it’s most oftentimes the other way around.

Jacob Ehrler Panama
6. Name: Jacob Ehrler
Age: 33
Title: Editor, The Visitor/El Visitante
If you’re a foreigner in Panama and you don’t know who Jacob Ehrler is, you’ve probably been living under a rock. As the Editor of El Vistante, Jacob is Panama’s human keystone, connecting and sustaining two cultures – the local and the imported – on an unfaltering and unbiased weekly basis.
After visiting Panama, from Manhattan, for Carnival in 2001, Jacob continued visiting the isthmus several times a year because he had a hunch something big was brewing. And he was right. 2007 saw him make the plunge to relocate permanently, hitting Panama at a developmental sweetspot amidst its fastest growing decade of the modern era.
This timing, fueled by Jacob’s drive and personality, saw him emerge as an authority on all things Panama: a leader whose influence stretches far beyond the pages of the nation’s largest English-language newspaper.
In the world of foreigners who have moved to Panama, you get a lot of quacks. You get a lot of obscure individuals running or hiding or getting lost. But then there are the few select times that you get massively normal playmakers.  In the end, just about everyone in Panama has been influenced by Jacob Ehrler, whether they realize it or not. Fortunately for us, his judgment and his principles are about as good as they come.

Harmatz, Smetana, Saxe Panama7. Name: David Harmatz, Daniel Smetana, & Daniel Saxe
Title: Owners & Founders, Hostel Heike, Luna's Castle/Relic Bar,
You’d be hard-pressed to find a foreigner in Panama worth his or her salt who wouldn’t agree that these three sub-30 Bay Area entrepreneurs have blazed a trail for Panama’s consumer future as we know it.
Harmatz, Smetana, and Saxe, friends from high school and college, make for the prototypical Panama success story. After buying a hostal in Bocas del Toro (Mondo Taitu) and revolutionizing the party-hostal theme, they then opened a second just blocks away (Hostal Heike). Next, moving to Panama City for their third (and most impactful) project – the now famous Luna’s Castle and Relic Bar in Casco Viejo – this trio became influential not because they talked a good game or were born with four aces. It was their work ethic and insistent honesty that propelled them into the Panama spotlight (whether they wanted it or not).
Nowadays, the boys tend to look a little more corporate at work in their apartment living room-cum-technology headquarters. As founders of, an online coupon business, they are responsible for helping Panama transition into the digital age, by creating the first profitable business model of its kind in Panama.
Yet as mainstream as their projects are received by Panama's general public, still sporting unkempt beards and flip flops, the three have clearly not forgotten some of the benefits of entrepreneurship.
Many might see Panama tourism, nightlife, and technology as related through separate spheres. But Harmatz, Smetana, and Saxe use their skills and instinct to unite them in unique ways and across different cultures, an influence that will continue to impact Panama – both for locals and foreigners – across many generations to come.

David Henesy Panama8. Name: David Henesy
Age: 56
Title: Founder, Henesy Rodriguez Group
It may not be expected to see a foodie on a Most Influential list, but David Henesy is capable of enormous things. It is his knowledge and his vision – after nearly 30 years of operating hotels and restaurants internationally – that are responsible for something of a culinary transformation in Panama. David is, both literally and figuratively, changing the way Panamanians and their visitors look at local food.
In addition to what hundreds of his diners might experience at La Chesa or Market or La Posta or Elephant Grill on a nightly basis, Henesy’s Henesy Rodriguez Group is an influential community leader as well.
Under David’s direction, HRG partners with organic farms in the interior, uses an internal recycling system, is part of the Smithsonian’s Futuro Forestal reforestation project, and sources around 80% of its ingredients locally: all cognizant efforts to minimize its carbon footprint and to support Panama’s local agriculture.
Sometimes, being influential in Panama means showing others how businesses can be successful, both financially and environmentally, not on paper but by example. David’s example, if it hasn’t already, will be the template for many generations of upscale restaurants in Panama for years to come.

Don Winner Panama
9. Name: Don Winner
Age: 50
Title: Owner,
Whether tracking down serial killers, translating local news articles, investigating mysterious diseases, or simply promoting beach mixers, Don Winner is the undisputed king of influence when it comes to foreigner-related current events in Panama.
Assigned to Panama in 1987 while serving in the US Air Force, Don decided to stay after retiring in 2000, working for several years as a contractor. When his contract ran out in July 2005, he started the website to provide timely and accurate news and information in support of the English speaking community of expats in Panama. Apart from homerun cameos on most major news stations in the US, Don’s bread and butter is connecting expats with things they should know about in a foreign land.
Boasting visitor numbers that reach upwards of 6 million, Don’s brainchild the Panama-Guide is a constantly updated feed of news and analyses from the foreigner perspective. His unabashed style has earned him a loyal following (and not to mention, plenty of enemies) so his influence is unrivaled when it comes to disseminating information or rooting for a particular cause.
Whether in business or retired, foreigners in Panama inevitably want Don Winner’s advice. In turn, this makes his opinion wielding as influential as they come.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Canada Club action packed schedule to year end

CanadaPLUS Club action packed schedule to year end

The CanadaPLUS Club has discovered a former professional actor and director among their 250 members who will be taking over the direction of  Murder Mystery Dinner Theater.
The event with a three course meal and wine is and,  a murder, is set for mid September.
The casting sessions for Last Call at Chez Mort  will be held  in Bella Vista (off Avenida Balboa) on Saturday and Sunday July 7-8 at  2 pm.  There are eight speaking roles (two women six  men) and four parts for mimers. Previous acting experience is a bonus, but it is also an opportunity to get your feet wet  at an enjoyable three night event, with dinner and wine included.
To register and get details of the location call 6619- 6890 or email . Make the subject Murder Mystery) This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Other upcoming  CanadaPLUS Club events you might want to mark on your calendar  are Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner with music, entertainment and of course turkey dinner with all the fixings on Saturday October 6,   “Welcome Back Snowbirds”   a time to greet all those fleeing the Northern winter on Monday November 12 and the  Carols By Candlelight Festival and Concert,  Sunday December 16.  You will be reading a lot more about all of them.
The CanadaPLUS Club is open to all nationalities and already has members from 23 countries. In addition to a discount card it makes group health insurance available at unbeatable rates.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Panama ready for world stage

Panama ready for world stage

By Michael Preston
Panama arrives in Austin on Thursday evening as one of three newcomers to the IFAF Under-19 World Championship stage.
In 2009, having beaten the Bahamas, 52-6, in Panama City, the Panamanians lost a qualifying game to Mexico, 26-0, in front of a 5,000-strong capacity crowd the Estadio Roberto Tapatio Mendez Mexico City and missed out on qualifying for the inaugural junior event, which was played in Canton, Ohio.
Three years later, Panama takes up the tournament’s fourth seed under head coach Raul Arosemena. A 41-player roster selected from tryouts attended by more than 80 hopeful players will face Austria on Saturday in the tournament’s opening game. Kickoff is 9 a.m. CT at Burger Stadium in Texas’ state capital.
The youngest player on the roster, Adolfo Altamirano, is 16 years old, while the majority of the squad enter age 17 to 18.
“We expect to face strong rivals with more experience in terms of games who are more physical and technical than our team,” Arosemena said.
“But our boys have enthusiasm, desire and the mental agility to be able to cope with the commitments of this tournament. The speed and elusiveness of our athletes will complicate things for our opponents.”
President of the Panamanian American Football Association Guillermo Suarez added: “We could not have made this visit to Austin without the support of the national government and the office of the first lady, Marta Linares de Martinelli, and several Panamanian companies and businesses.”
Panama is no stranger to international competition, having debuted in 2000 at the NFL Global Junior Championship played in Atlanta. The national team program returned to that stage in 2007, capping the event with a 14-6 win over France in South Florida.
Panama’s most celebrated player, who represented his country in 2000, is defensive lineman Frank Davis who after playing college football at the University of South Florida became the first Panamanian to ever play and then start a game in the NFL when he lined up for the Detroit Lions.
Read about Panama’s sendoff from home as they left for Texas under the guise of the nation’s sports media at and

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Panama Pacific beaches

Panama Pacific beaches, some of the prettiest beaches in the world, can be seen 50 to 110 kilometers west of Panama City, one to two hours driving time. The Panama Highway dips down close to these beaches starting at Punta Chame to Playa Blanca. Gorgona is a combination of rough cliff sided beach area with volcanic black & white sands to Playa Blanca with some of the whitest sands seen on beaches anywhere in the world.



Santa Clara

Santa Clara

Farallón, DeCameron Resort
Farallón, DeCameron Resort
Farallón, DeCameron Resort

El Palmar
El Palmar

El Palmar
Farallón, DeCameron Resort

Farallón, DeCameron Resort

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Panama and the United States Soon to Be Free-Trade Partners

Panama and the United States Soon to Be Free-Trade Partners
The long-awaited free-trade agreement between the United States and Panama should go into effect sometime in October, according to government sources. At a recent meeting at the Apparel Sourcing Show in Guatemala City, the assistant U.S. trade representative for textiles, Gail Strickler, noted that everyone in Washington, D.C., anticipated the trade pact to be up and running in October. The trade accord was signed into law by Congress last Oct. 21, but certain tax transparency issues in Panama had to be resolved. Panama has also changed a number of regulatory barriers to trade in agricultural goods.


Political uproar in Panama--From the Boquete Panama Guide

Panama President Ricardo Martinelli: 
Born in Panama City, Ricardo Martinelli is the son of Ricardo Martinelli Pardini and Gloria Berrocal Fabrega. He completed his secondary education at Staunton Military Academy in Staunton, Virginia in the United States. In 1973, he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Arkansas. He later earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the INCAE Business School.

From the Boquete Panama Guide:
Political uproar in Panama, what does it mean to you.
Posted: 20 Jun 2012 07:06 AM PDT

If you have been following the local news or read you are aware there has been a political tempest occurring in Panama this week. The Wall Street Journal even published an op-ed piece on the uproar.
Simply stated what is happening is as political as anything currently happening in the US. Ricardo Martinelli the President of the Republic of Panama was elected with a union of his party, Cambio Democratico (CD) and the Panamanista Party. When elected his party did not have a majority of the legislature and he needed a collation government. The Vice President, Juan Carlos Varela was head of the Panamanistas and was also appointed as Chancellor, the position that runs Panamas international affairs. Slowly the President managed to convert non CD legislators to his party and when he felt he had the leverage he terminated his union with the Panamanistas. He then fired Varela from the Chancellor position, this left his Vice President as an outsider and outspoken adversary of Martinelli. Varela is hoping to be elected to the presidency in 2013.
In his three plus years as President Martinelli has done some good things, some bad things and allegedly some corrupt things. He, like each President elected since the US invasion in 1989 has functioned under a constitution created by the prior military dictators of Panama. This constitution makes the executive, the President, a virtual dictator for five years and prohibits their re-election.
Some of the good things Martinelli has done have alienated a lot of people. One I know through first hand exposure is the changes in the Education system. Panama has a very poorly ranked public education system. In the last three years Panama has seen a scarcity of skilled labor, Panamanians who were educated in the public system do not have the skills needed to do todays jobs. The effort to redo the educational system has been significant and the model being used is the system in Costa Rica, a well ranked system.
In another program modeled after a success in Brazil, the government is paying parents to keep their children in school, providing text books, laptop computers and providing money to pay the matriculation fees that prevented many students from attending high school.
This has alienated teachers who have been forced into longer hours, more training and less vacation all with only a small increase in salary. Still if the effort is continued for years it will raise the education level of all Panamanians. In my opinion this is all good even though it removed a month of Mayras vacation time, it is a small price to pay for the future of a nation.
Other huge infrastructure projects like the Metro bus system and Metro rail system in Panama City are also to be applauded. These have people upset also. The Metro bus system which is replacing the Diablo Rojos has been slow to reach the same level of frequency as the death dealing private buses of the past. One reason is the scarcity of bus drivers. Many Diablo Rojo drivers were excluded from driving the new buses due to their driving records, many had to be imported from Columbia, something that makes some locals angry. The new changes in the immigration law are to provide for skilled labor, something Panama needs desperately.
I was in Panama City just a couple of weeks ago and the traffic is the worst I have ever experienced there. The construction of a sewer system for the city, massive construction in Casco Viejo and the new rail system have the roads tied into knots. This is upsetting a lot of people, but wait a few years and there will be an upside.
This and other major projects are also happening under a cloud, the cloud is the expense. This government has forced businesses to install new equipment to facilitate tax collection. It has borrowed heavily and needs to pay the bills incurred. It has also let many large contracts without bids, raising the specter of collusion and corruption.
What brought about the current crisis? Politics and an effort to slow a consolidation of power. The President had requested a special session of the legeslature to approve some some changes. He wants to sell some governmental assets, the government currently owns a minority interest in electrical generation and Cable and Wireless. In addition there is a clear effort to fill the Supreme court with more judges loyal to him. For more details on the issues check Don Winners .
There is fear among Panamanians I know, fear about Martinelli, it runs along political lines. In a country where about 40% of the working population has a government job, the primary concern is jobs. Many positions high and low are political appointments and do not survive governmental changes. Those who benefit from the government, support the government; those on the outside want in.
Is the government corrupt, I suspect it is, so is every other government I have ever known. I grew up in New York City and was taught that the definition of politician was corruption, that never changed in anyplace I ever lived.
We, the expat community can only watch from the sidelines. This government has changed a lot in Panama, some good like infrastructure, some bad, based upon the need to pay for the same infrastructure. There is no escaping that the things needed to move a developing country forward are costly and someone needs to pay the price.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Golf in Panamá

Coronado Golf & Beach Resort, 1.5 drive west of Panama City,
DeCameron Golf Course, located at the DeCameron Resort, Farallón Beach, 2 hour drive west of Panama City. Panama City Golf Course
Santa Maria Golf & Country County
(Future/Planned), Costa del Sol, between Tocumen International Airport & Panama City,
Summit Golf Course: located about 35-40 minute drive north of Panama City on the road to Gamboa & by-past to the transmission highway,
Tucín Country Club & Resort, west bank of the canal (site of the old military course HoRoKo for the join bases Howard Air Force base, Rodman Naval Station, Kobbe Army post--all located on the west bank of the canal) & when the U.S. had the Canal Zone),
Vista Mar Golf Club:  1.7 hour drive west of Panama City., : Panama City, San Miguelito area  Email me, for the URL to the golf facilities, when I copy & paste them the links end up scrambled at the bottom of the text??

Jay Lo in Panamá

Jay Lo has the media buzzing:
Jennifer Lopez Sparkles in Nude Catsuit at Panama City ... - Celebuzz
By Lance Debler
Jennifer Lopez flaunted her famous curves in a sparkling see-through catsuit when she opened her “Dance Again” world tour Thursday night in Panama.
Jennifer Lopez Rocks Panama in Sheer Bodysuit |
By Staff
Singer Jennifer Lopez left little to the imagination on Thursday when she kicked off her “Dance Again” tour in Panama City.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What Key West, Forida & Panamá have in common.

Like Key West (called west, because it is west of south Florida), many people don’t realize Panama is oriented east/west & that the canal axis is southeast to northwest (or visa versa). The sun rises out of the Pacific, at least on the Pac side of the isthmus, I grew up as a kid seeing the sun rise out of the Pacific in the mornings. The following article is from Geographic Travels.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Many Americans have a poor mental map when it comes to the Americas. Many think South America is right under North America when it fact South America is much further east (Pittsburgh in the eastern United States is almost exactly north of Quito, South America's most western capital city.

Because of this alignment Middle America is forced to stretch eastward as it extends south.
Panama: It's East and West of the Canal, Not North or South There was once a commercial that mocked all the different types of coffee a coffeehouse forces customers to choose from. Two of the choices listed are "Panama: north of the canal, south of the canal." (editorial note: there are many Panamá coffees in Panama now, more new one every visit. Duran coffee is probably the best known & widely consumed in Panamá. My wife recently found a Panamá coffee in Cosco produced in Chiriquí province ~~ Lou)
For some reason I thought of this commercial as I was going through an old atlas when I saw a map of Panama. I wondered why and then it hit me: bad geography!

This extent is to such an extreme that Panama does not run north to south but east to west. Math proves this point and debunks the north/south myth. Of the portion of Panama west of the canal, 15,000 square miles (39,000 square km) are south of the southern most point of the canal. Only 7,000 square miles (18,000 square km) are south of the canal on the western half. So if one is "south of the canal" they are more likely to be west of the canal, not east!

Note: The Isthmus of Panama, where the canal runs through, is the thinnest (narrowest, editorial comment ~~ Lou) point connecting the Americas and is therefore the physical geography border of North and South America. Everything west of the canal is North America while everything east of the canal is South America. Physical, Panama is in both continents. 
(Ed note: Panama is due south of Miami approximately 1000 miles)

The Ancon Theater Guild aka "Little Theater" has been in business since 1950 with a history of many great performances.   The next product information is shown below.  Entrance is a $15 donation.  For additional information see:

Godspell at the Theatre Guild of Ancon
July 5th, 6th, 7th at 8pm
July 8th at 3pm
July 12th, 13th, 14th
TGA Opening Night GALA - Thursday, July 5th

Based on the Gospel according to Matthew and featuring a sparkling
score by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell boasts a string of well-loved
songs, led by the International hit "Day By Day". As the cast performs
"Prepare Ye The Way of The Lord", "Learn Your Lessons Well", "All For
The Best", "All Good Gifts", "Turn Back O Man" and "By My Side" the
parables of Jesus Christ come humanly and hearteningly to life.

Cast: - Simon Tejeira - Nick Miles - Danielle Miles - Lisa Post -
Brooklyn Sample - Fernando Dreyfus - HB Twohy - Carina Weber - Carmen
O'Neill - Ronny Sucre - Andres Clemente - Melanie Lee

Director: Melanie Lee
Musical Director: Alfonso Lewis
Asst Director: Brooklyn Sample
Choreography: Melanie Lee

For reservations:

About me, Louis "Sparkie" Seldon

Pedro Miguel Locks, Pacific side of the canal

About me: I was born in Panama. I went to school there thru 10th grade leaving in 1960 with my grandparents to live in Florida & completed high school in the other Panama City, Bay Country High School, FL in 1962. I flew in the United States Navy for 7 years, worked for the Federal Aviation Administration for 23 years until I retired in Ft. Lauderdale in 1998 with 30 years U.S. Government Service. I worked for American Airlines as a simulator instructor at the flight academy near the DFW airport, retired in 2008 and live in Keller, TX near the DFW airport.

Sobre mi: Nací en Panamá. Fui a la escuela no por grado décimo en 1960, dejando con mis abuelos a vivir en la escuela de la Florida y completado de alta en la otra ciudad de Panamá, la Escuela Bay High Country, Florida en 1962. Volé en la Marina de los Estados Unidos por 7 años, trabajó para la Administración Federal de Aviación durante 23 años hasta que me jubilé en el pie. Lauderdale en 1998 con 30 años de servicio del Gobierno de EE.UU.. Yo trabajaba para American Airlines como instructor de simulador de vuelo en la academia cerca del aeropuerto DFW, se retiró en 2008 y vive en Keller, Texas, cerca del aeropuerto DFW.
Diablo Point Spinning Club, Pacific side of the canal.

Panamá General Information

The Isthmus of Panama forms a bridge between South and Central America, and borders Costa Rica to the west and Colombia to the east. Panama City has flights to and from all Central American countries and both North and South America. Major US airlines such as American, Continental and Delta fly to Tocumen Airport in Panama City on a daily basis; COPA Airlines is the national airline.
Panama uses the US dollar as its currency. Don’t be confused by its official name, the Balboa—bills are exactly the same. Panamanian coins are of the same value and size as US coins, which are also accepted.
The climate in Panama varies very little throughout the year. There are only two seasons: the dry season, from January to mid-April, and the rainy season, from mid-April to December. Temperatures usually range between 70°F and 90°F, but it can get a little cooler in the highlands, especially in the province of Chiriqui.
Spanish is the official language, but many people speak English as a second language. The country’s population of almost 3 million reflects a history of mixed ethnicities, due largely to the significant influx of immigrants that arrived during the construction of the Panama Canal. In terms of religion, the Isthmus is predominantly Roman Catholic, but there are some small groups of Muslims, Protestants, Hindus and Jews.
The capital of Panama is a modern, thriving metropolis, with plenty of restaurants, shops and entertainment. Among its main attractions are the Casco Viejo (or Old District, new name for a combination of 3 barrios, El Chorrillo, San Felipe & Santa Ana), Panama Viejo (or Old Panama, dating back to the 16th Century), the Amador causeway and, of course, the Panama Canal Tourist center at Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side, the beaches, best ones are 1 - 2 hour drive west of Panama City & the many old Spanish Forts that are in Panama.. For shopping, head to Via España or to one of the new shopping malls, if you want to avoid the heat. Also there are two Artisan Centers (Flee Markets) in Balboa.
Panama 's economy is based on the service sector, which accounts for three-fourths of the country’s GDP. Besides the Canal, Panama City boasts an important international banking center, while Colon City, on the Caribbean coast, is home to the one of the largest free zones in the world.

Playa Farallón, DeCameron Resort at sunrise, 2 hour drive west of Panama City.

Fire in Rio Abajo, Panamá

Rio Abajo is a very poor slum area east of downtown Panama City ~~ Lou:

55 Families Left Homeless After Rio Abajo Fire

The Minister of Housing and Zoning, Jose Domingo Arias, said today he would be meeting today at 10:00 am with a social and engineering team of the institution to evaluate the options they might provide to those who were left homeless by the fire in Rio Abajo. "We will evaluate the area to see if they can be located in the same sector, the problem would be the land because there is no room to build new buildings, however we will not rule out all possible options to provide assistance to these families," he said on TVN Noticias. He added that the team from this entity will be responsible for evaluation of the families who spent the night at the homes of other relatives or in a hotel, paid for by the office of the Mayor of Panama City. Approximately 55 families lost all of their belongings yesterday, after an old building, known as the Corotú barracks, was entirely consumed by the flames of a fire reported yesterday in Calle 13, Rio Abajo. (Panama America)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Internations network group get-together in Panama City

Dear Panama City Members,
We are delighted to invite you to the InterNations Panama City June Retro Style Get-Together!

Join us at Perla Latin Bar for some great 80s and 90s music, delicious drinks, and tasty pub food - totally cheap too! So come and escape the heat, grab your 90s style Hammer pants, and have a good time with your fellow expats and global minds!

Albatross members join for free and a choice of two different welcome cocktails and the ever popular 2 × 1 in Mojitos and Sangria await all attendees!
InterNations Panama City June Retro Style Get-Together !
Location:Perla Latin Bar
Date:Thursday Jun 21, 2012  19:00
Host:Diana Storin, Marcela Chevarria, BC - InterNations Ambassadors Panama City

Karate contest in Panama

JKA/WF Guyana Karate team haul in 13 medals at Panama
June 14, 2012 | By KNews | Filed Under Sports 

The JKA/WF Guyana team that competed at the just concluded JKA/WF America 2012 Karate Camp and Goodwill tournament from June 7 – 10 in Panama City returned to these shores stacked up with 13-medals, a happy and more experienced unit.
Competing at this tournament for the 4th consecutive year, the
Proud Faces!!! The successful Guyana team displays their silverware won at the JKA/WF America 2012 Karate Championships held in Panama City.
10-member Guyanese team captured 5 Gold, 6 Silver and a Bronze medal. The team, drawn from the JKA/WF Guyana – (National Park Dojo HQ) comprised of 5 senior competitors and one Coach along with four young athletes.
According to reports, the Panamanian atmosphere was tropical, similar to that of Guyana and on competition day team Guyana was in high competitive spirits.
Competition got underway in the boys division (white to orange belt) and 7 year-old Camiel Melville (8th Kyu) placed 1st in Kata and 2nd in Kumite. Eleven year-old Loren Black (7th Kyu) placed 1st in Kumite and 1st Kata in her division; both Melville and Black competing against mainly Panamanians in this division.
Thirteen year-old Xavier Arjoon (1st Kyu Brown belt) defeated all his competitors which included Panamanians, Costa Ricans, Americans and Mexicans to grab the top spot in both Kata and Kumite. Arjoon’s division also had a merger of brown and black belts and he made light work of them all.
It was then the turn of 15 year-old Shaqueel Amin (1st Dan) who faced seasoned competition from Panama and the USA and like his colleagues, made his mark by copping silver medals in both Kata and Kumite.
Shermon Kyte and Marlon George (both Shodan – 1st degree black belt) had their work cut out for them too as this was a huge division with many entrants but they delivered against seasoned competitors of higher ranks despite being new comers to this division.
Marlon George took bronze in the Kata competition against the Panamanians, Mexicans, Venezuelans and Costa Ricans. Continuing in the adult category, 61 year-old Godfrey Taylor met competition from the USA, Panama and Mexico in the over 45-year division and was lauded for his strong performance.
Competition climaxed with the team Kata event, and Guyana again penetrated this category as Shankar Singh, Marlon George and Shermon Kyte (all 1st Dan – Black belt) put together a strong Jion to gain Silver despite the other regions being very competitive.
JKA/WF Guyana came in for high praise from JKA/WF America official Mr. Yasuaki Nagatomo who at the Country representative meeting stated that Guyana is the role model for excellence, making particular mention of the Country’s efficient level of administration, documentation and pro-activeness.
Nagamoto noted that this is a Region that he is pleased with and have invited the Chief Instructor Sensei Christopher Chaves to take his 5th Dan testing at the next International event.
The JKA/WF Guyana Committee and team is expressing thanks their main sponsors, Courtney Benn Contraction Services Ltd, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Hand-in-Hand Mutual Fire and Life Insurance and mother company Cellular Planet Inc. along with Demerara Distillers Limited and Geddes Grant for the instrumental roles they have played in the success of the team.

Restaurante Las Ruinas Boquete, Panama

We have Fresh Purple Yellowfin Tuna that just Came in today....its is BEAUTIFUL!!
We have a Few Live Lobsters served with a Lemon garlic Butter
Hot out of the oven......Meatloaf with Brown Gravy served with Rice & Onion Strings

This Saturday Night if you are going to the BCP to see Yella sing, we have a SUPER SPECIAL FOR YOU!!

Show us your Ticket and Receive a $3.00 Discount on a Yellowfin Tuna Dinner!
a $2.00 Discount on one of our Aged Filet Mignon Dinners.....YUM!!

See you here!!
By the way, See us at the Bistro on TV this Sunday Morning Channel 21 at 9 am!

New at Las Ruinas....
SPICY Fish & Chips with a Kickin' Mexican tartar sauce
Pulled pork & More!!

Restaurante Las Ruinas BoqueteIn front of Brisas BoquetenaHours Tuesday through Sunday 11:30 am to 9:00 pm507 6677 4289