Friday, May 31, 2013

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute weekly seminar informacion

Tuesday seminar June 4th, 2013 at the Earl S. Tupper Conference Center
Announcing the STRI Tuesday afternoon seminar for June 4th, 2013 at 4:00 pm in the Earl S. Tupper auditorium:  

Speaker: Adam Berrey, University of Pittsburgh
Title: Organization and Growth among early complex societies in Central Pacific Panama (250 BC – AD 1520)
Upcoming seminars:  
June 11:  Ryan Chisholm, National University of Singapore
Title to be announced
June 18:  Eduardo Velazquez
Title to be announced
June 25:  Mark Guiltinan, Penn State University
Title to be announced

GeoParadise: Ngöbe Tribe Community Project

GeoParadise: Ngöbe Indigenous Community Project.

Using money raised at Tribal Gathering 2013. We are financing and helping in the construction of a foot-path for the children and their school in the Ngöbe Community Rio Oeste Arriba, Bocas Del Toro, Panama. Thanks to Oreba, who held workshops on cultivation and uses of organic cacoa at Tribal Gathering 2013 for organizing this project. We will post more pictures when the work is complete.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Terra Expo at the AtlaPa Convention Center, Panamá City

Terra Expo 2013

WHERE:  ATLAPA Convention Center, Panama City

WHEN: May 31st through June 2nd, 1:00 to 9:00 p.m.


DESCRIPTION: Terra Expo is a trade show that provides information on sustainability in all aspects of modern life. Exhibitors will present technologies, products, services and concepts aimed at reducing our environmental impact and offering green solutions to everyday problems. Businesses, organizations and individuals are invited to attend and learn more about sustainability and its importance. Activities include exhibitions, conferences, workshops, music, arts and culture and a kid's area.

Traffic in Panamá City

New Room Panamá:
DAILY TRAFFIC jams in Panama City appear to be here to stay and are in the opinion of one business authority, a sign of “progress”.
Simultaneous construction projects in the city, from the subway to flyovers, underpasses and the sewer system, with seemingly little planned coordination, have increased awareness that Panama is following many cities in the world and becoming a traffic hell.
The completion of the infrastructure projects and the opening of the Metro subway may ease the jams for a while, but the real problem is cars.
Data from the Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT) shows that in 2010 there were 550,000 cars circulating in Panama So far in 2013 the number has increased to 900,000.
The growth in car sales the last three years is mainly due to easier credit by local banks.The Panamanian Credit Association (APC) reported that for the first four months of 2013, there were 99,000 Panamanians with car loans, compared to 87,000 in the same period of 2012, representing an increase 14.4%.
Another reason why car sales have increased is the poor public transport service that exists in the country says CentralAmericaData.
In the view of John Bennett, president of the Civic Committee of Transit at the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDA), the increase in cars in the country is the result of a population which is developing and increasing their ability to acquire assets that meet their transport needs. "It's a sign of progress," he added.
"Creating parking spaces, improving technology on highways, eliminating unnecessary police roadblocks and increasing the speed limit on many roads are some of the approaches that Bennett is undertaking in order to improve traffic flow," said an article in .
Increasing the speed limit seems an unnecessary step, as  city drivers seem to be oblivious to posted limits. Outside  of rush hours the Cinta Costera and neighboring Avenida Balboa becomes  speedways, and no one seems to slow down as they move on to the overpasses with 30 and 40km signs. Try traveling at that speed and you will be either run over by a truck or deafened by protesting horn punchers in a hurry to find a washroom.
There is a desperate need for parking lots, but they need to come with a cultural change and enforcement of “no parking” regulations You don't have to look far to find  cars parked under “no estacionamiento signs, a few meters away from parking lots.
When the Metro subway opens we might look forward to some reductions in traffic jams, but again we have a “culture” question similar to what used to be called "keeping up with the Joneses."  In Panama, for many, it's "If you have a car show it," and to hell with the cost of gas while idling away the hours in a traffic jam. And somehow I can’t imagine all those Prado drivers sitting on the subway next to their employees. I hope I’m wrong.
Anyhow, by year end there will be another 30,000 or so additional vehicles on the road, to show that Panama is progressing.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Arthur Porter arrested in Panama on fraud charges

From ¡Politics:

Arthur Porter arrested in Panama on fraud charges

MONTREAL  — The former head of Canada’s spy-agency watchdog has been arrested abroad and faces fraud charges.

Arthur Porter, who has been wanted for months in connection with Quebec’s corruption scandals, was arrested along with his wife Pamela by Panamanian authorities.

The pair’s detention was announced in a statement by Quebec’s anti-corruption police watchdog, which said the arrest was carried out with the help of the RCMP and Interpol.

Porter had been appointed head of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which monitors the work of CSIS, by the Harper government in 2008.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Porter’s alleged criminal acts had nothing to do with the work he did for the Government of Canada.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Panama Canal expansion could benefit Southwest Louisiana, USA

American Press:

(wikimedia commons)<br>

Panama Canal expansion could benefit Southwest Louisiana

Last Modified: Saturday, May 25, 2013 7:25 PM
By Eric Cormier / American Press
Gulf Coast industry leaders await completion of the $5 billion Panama Canal expansion, which will cut travel times and transportation expenses to ship products.
Companies that handle liquid natural gas — of which billions of dollars in facility construction is based in the Lake Charles area — could be among the biggest beneficiaries of the canal project since they would be able to get to large Asian markets if the American government allows more LNG exporting.
Kevin Keenan, an attorney who specializes in LNG shipping for international law firm Baker Botts in Houston, told the American Press that the canal project will have a huge impact on America.
“On a Tokyo-bound delivery a U.S. Gulf Coast project can save as much as 15 days each way going through the Panama Canal, as opposed to crossing the Atlantic and transiting the Suez Canal or going around the Cape of Good Hope,” he said.
“With today’s charter rates exceeding $100,000 per day, that’s a round-trip savings (before paying canal dues and not including fuel savings) of $4 million per delivery. Some might call that a game-changer.”
Once expansion is completed, the Panama Canal could have about 80 percent of the world’s LNG traveling through it.
The expansion project is expected to be completed in 2015.
According to a new release from the Canal De Panama, “The new locks will see the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) prepare for the first post-panamax transit, which will require more complex operations planning systems for the larger vessels that will transit the waterway concurrently with those employed for the present canal locks. The new locks and wider channels will allow the introduction of new segments such as large LNG vessels, amongst others.”
Bill Rase, executive director of the Port of Lake Charles, said the canal project is a good one.
“You hit the canal today and have no other ships in front of you, then you can go through and save 15 days. If you are ship number 40, you may have to sit two or three days to get through and those are added to the 15,” he said. “So with the expansion, the waiting time should drop a huge amount. That is where you save time and money.”
Rase stressed that cheap natural gas has driven the multibillion-dollar investments in Southwest Louisiana. Added to that are the local pipeline infrastructure and deep ship channel.
“You wouldn’t see companies investing just in LNG facilities, for example, here. Basically, moving their product is not a major concern on those companies’ parts. Everybody is looking for the best thing to do.”
No matter how important the Panama Canal will be in coming years, the question that has yet to be answered is: How many LNG transport ships will be available after liquefaction facilities start operating?
Now, more than 130 ships transport millions of metric tons of LNG.
“They will require ships. Either those ships will be procured by LNG buyers under FOB (freight on board) sale and purchase agreements or by the project sponsors selling into ex-ship SPAs (simplified purchase agreement),” Keenan said.
“Either way, I believe there will be a tremendous demand for new-build LNG carriers over the next several years.”

Sunday, May 26, 2013

American Society Installation Dinner

For information on the American Society of Panama, contact: 

Ran Runnels - The Hangman of Panama!

From the internet, I had heard this story about a Texas Ranger in Panama for years, finally I found his name and then found this story on the internet:

Ran Runnels - The Hangman of Panama!
By Robert N Apold   

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Ran Runnels, a former Texas Ranger, was hired by the Howland and Aspinwall Company, which was building a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama. His services were need to rid the area of a ruthless band of cutthroats who were robbing and murdering countless gold seekers crossing the Isthmus on their way to and from California. Runnels was given a free hand in dealing with the problem.
Ran Runnels - El Verdugo de Panama

When gold was discovered at Sawmill on the American River in California on January 24, 1848, the news spread rapidly and the rush to California was on. There were three basic routes for the gold seekers living in the eastern part of the United States to get to California. The Overland Route, required crossing the great plains and deserts of the West. Another was the Cape Horn Route and involved sailing around Cape Horn and the Straights of Magellan in South America, which took 6 to 12 months and covered a distance of over 13,600 miles
The easiest alternative was the Central American Route, which entailed sailing from cities on the eastern coast of the United States to Central America, crossing overland to the Pacific Coast and  then continuing by ship to California. This was the quickest and easiest of the three routes with distances of about 5000 miles and taking between 1 to 2 months to complete.
There were three primary ways to accomplish the Central American route. The most difficult and longest was the Tehuantepec Route. This route started on the Gulf of Mexico at the town of Barra and required crossing by foot, mule or horse through Mexico.
Another was the Nicaragua Route. This required sailing from the east coast of the United States to the San Juan River on the Atlantic coast, up the river to Lake Nicaragua at the town of San Carlos and then to the Pacific Ocean. The Nicaragua Route was about 4,900 miles and took from 2 to 3 months to complete.
The third alternative was the Panama Route. This route required sailing from the east coast of the United States to the mouth of the Chagres River in Panama, proceeding by boat up the Chagres River to the town of Cruces, traveling overland to Panama City and catching a ship bound to San Francisco. The total distance for this trip was about 5,200 miles, with about 50 of them in Panama. This trip would take about 1 week to get to Panama from New York, 1 week crossing Panama, and another 2 weeks sailing from Panama to San Francisco. Once the Panama Railroad was completed in 1855, the trip across the isthmus would take less than a day, and the whole trip, from New York to San Francisco, could take as little as 30 days.
During the first years of the Panama Railroad construction, efforts were plagued by Panama’s remoteness and tropical climate, diseases that decimated the work crews and highway robbers who preyed on his passengers. William Henry Aspinwall, a well-known capitalist and member of one of New York’s leading mercantile families, was one of the founders of the Panama Railroad. Aspinwall realized the completion of the railroad depended on establishing law and order. He needed a forceful individual to rid the area of the criminal element. He asked the sheriff of San Francisco, California, Colonel Jack Hayes, to recommend someone. Hayes said he had just the man to deal with the highwaymen - Randolph “Ran” Runnels.
Runnels had been a Texas Ranger, the Texan rough rider group famous for establishing law and order over the Indians and outlaws who controlled that part of the U.S. Wild West. He had a reputation as one of the toughest of the Rangers and had served under Colonel Hays as the head of a pack train, using horses and mules to haul supplies during the war with Mexico.
In the fall of 1850, Runnels, was visited at his ranch near San Antonio, Texas, by an official of the Howland and Aspinwall Company. The official told Runnels that his company was attempting to build a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama. He had come to offer Runnels a unique proposal and had been recommended by Colonel Jack Hays. According to Hays, Runnels was highly qualified for a mission of great importance on the Isthmus of Panama. The Yankee Strip, as the Isthmian crossing was called, was ten miles wide and 40 miles from sea to sea and it was one of the worst, miserable pieces of jungle wilderness on the face of the earth. To cross from the Atlantic side to Panama City on the Pacific, one had to travel several days by native canoe up river, a river full of snakes and crocodiles. Life-threatening diseases were also a serious danger. Runnels was also told that the company was trying to transport gold across the Isthmus by pack train and at the same time was attempting to build a railroad. To make matters worse, the company’s efforts were being harassed by the fiercest group of murderous cutthroats and highwaymen ever to confront travelers. The company needed a man with Runnels qualifications who had the courage, confidence and ability to deal with these rogues.
Outwardly, Ran Runnels didn't appear to be a tough enforcer. A writer who had met Runnels while visiting Panama provided the following description, “The casual observer would not mark anything very formidable in the delicate organization of the bold Ran. He is of short stature and of slightly-built frame. His hand is small and looks better suited for a lady's kid glove than to handle a bowie knife or revolver. His boyish, well-combed head and delicate features indicate little of the daring spirit of the man, but there is a close resolute pressure of the lips, a commanding glance of the eye, a sinewy wiriness of the limbs, and an activity of movement, all of which are in character with his bold determination and lively energies.”
Although Runnels was considered a Godless man in his youth, he changed dramatically one night while listening to a sermon by the Reverend Jesse Hord, a famous preacher, and made a clear, Pentecostal conversion. No matter what violent acts he performed later, he did them in the sure knowledge that he was saved.
For the next two years Runnels farmed the family acres and waited for a new adventure. He was asked to lead a party of settlers to California during the gold rush, but he was not interested. When the Howland and Aspinwall official approached him with his Isthmus proposal, Runnels agreed, immediately packed his belongings and kissed the tearful womenfolk goodbye.
In 1851 when Runnels journeyed to Panama, there were five United States Mail Steam Line vessels plying regularly between New Orleans and Chagres--the Alabama, Falcon, Mexico, Pacific and Philadelphia. Eight other steamers operated from New York to Chagres. These 13 ships, boasting a total capacity of 5,000 passengers, were in constant movement to and from the Isthmus.
Runnels arrived in Panama aboard the 891-ton steamer Falcon and he and his fellow passengers crowded into longboats which rowed them to the railroad company dock. Once ashore, they tried making arrangements for transport to Panama City.
Through the influence of the railroad company agent at Yankee Chagres, Runnels obtained a prized seat in one of the new lifeboats of the Isthmus Transportation Company, which had just begun service on the Chagres. The lifeboats, imported from the States, carried a dozen or more passengers and were easier to handle and offered a faster, more comfortable ride than the bungos which the other passengers had to settle for.
At Gorgona, Runnels left the lifeboat in exchange for a mule. His party met with no mishap on the jungle trail, but most of the members were apprehensive of outlaw attacks and test-fired their arms often, to make sure they were in operating condition.
As darkness fell on the second day after leaving Gorgona, Runnels and his party entered Panama City. After turning in the mules, the group scattered to seek lodgings. Runnels went at once to the American Hotel.
After settling in the hotel, Runnels made a visit to the United States Consul, William A. Nelson. The American consul told Runnels what he knew of the lawless exploits of the highwaymen and murderers on the Isthmus and gave him a secret commission to punish them by any means whatsoever.
Runnels' orders were to enter into the mule express business on the Isthmus and while using this enterprise as a cover, he was to secretly organize a force to wage war on the band of cutthroats known as the Derienni. New mule express companies were formed almost daily, so the formation of Runnels cover company aroused no suspicion. To drum up business and appear legitimate, Runnels ran advertisements in the Isthmus newspapers. Mules were a scarcity on the Yankee Strip but Runnels appeared to have a knack for finding them. However, the general public was unaware that arrangements had been made for each of the major express carriers to donate mules to Runnels' Express Service.
With his Express Service operating successfully, Runnels chose approximately 40 of his employees and swore them into the secret organization called the Isthmus Guard. These men were a mix of Yankees, Chileans, Peruvians, Mexicans and other individuals whose true nationality was difficult to identify. The forty men of the Guard were not very impressive in appearance. They were a bare-footed, coatless, harum-scarum looking lot and resembled more Ali Baba's forty thieves than the honest guards they were. However, with Ran Runnels at their head, they would soon rid the Isthmus of robbers and keep thousands of unruly laborers in wholesome subjection.
Runnels was fluent in Spanish and had no difficulty in communicating with the men. Between trips along the trail, he and his men hung about the cantinas and plazas of Panama, Gorgona, Cruces and Yankee Chagres, listening to gossip and identifying known highwaymen. Identifying them was relatively easy because their criminal actions were so flagrant. In his office, Runnels received information gathered by his agents and compiled a list of names and descriptions of the Derienni in a big black ledger that he kept locked in his safe
During this time, the highwaymen continued their activities. At night, the sound of gunshots could be heard in the nearby jungle and the next day mules without riders or packs would turn up at Gorgona or Cruces. The Derienni massacred boatloads of travelers on the Chagres and looted their dead bodies. Buzzards circling overhead indicated where the massacres had occurred..
The highwaymen harassed the gold trains with such impunity that several of the large shippers threatened to transfer their business to the Transit Route through Nicaragua. As a result, the US Consul sent Runnels a two-word, unsigned message that said, "Strike soon.".
One spring evening in 1852 Runnels and his Isthmian Guard descended on the towns of Cruces, Gorgona, and Panama City and began arresting members of the Derienni in saloons, gambling houses, brothels and imposing residences. The vigilantes were masked and made no explanation for their actions and quickly captured 37 of the Derienni.
Later that night, the Isthmus Guard hanged the entire group on the inner side of the sea wall known as the East Battery. The bodies of several wealthy and prominent businessmen dangled alongside those of highwaymen.
Runnels' dramatic and swift justice brought sudden peace on the Isthmus. Most of the ringleaders of the Derienni had been eliminated with this one dramatic stroke. The trails grew quiet. The gold trains traveled safely through the steamy jungle, no longer harassed by the highwaymen.
The employees of Runnels' Express Service continued the business but in their spare time they frequented the bars and gambling halls of the Isthmus. At the docks at Panama City and Yankee Chagres, they scrutinized new arrivals closely, occasionally selecting names from passenger manifests, which they reported to Runnels for inclusion in his big ledger.
Although William Nelson and the other businessmen on the Yankee Strip were confident that the crime wave on the Isthmus had been broken, Runnels was not as optimistic because he knew of at least fifty men still at large who had engaged in murder and banditry in the past. Runnels had no reason to believe they would not resume their banditry.
That summer a cholera epidemic broke out. As a result, many travelers died on the Isthmus trails. The mule trains, guarded only by scanty crews, made the crossing without armed interference and even single travelers could walk the entire way unharmed as long as they did not contract the cholera.
With the arrival of the dry season, the cholera epidemic subsided but at the same time banditry and murder along the trails began to increase. At first only the single traveler or the pack train straggler on lonely stretches of the trail had to be worry about being robbed, but then the armed attacks became more daring and overt. Gunfire flashed from the jungle thickets and masked riders harassed the main bodies of the pack trains. Even the towns were not safe. In the fall of 1852, bandits stormed into a crowded barroom in Gorgona, robbed the gambling tables, and withdrew under a hail of gunshots that killed four patrons.
In October of 1852, a paymaster for the Panama Railroad Company was attacked as he walked along the tracks near Bohio Soldado and was robbed of a gang payroll amounting to $300. Wounded seriously and left to die, he was able to reveal the identity of his assailant before expiring. The paymaster's killer was a recent arrival on the Strip from Cincinnati named Timothy Copeland. This outlandish attack on a railroad employee on company property called for immediate action and the US Consul ordered Runnels to apprehend and punish Copeland.
On his arrival in Aspinwall, Runnels learned that Copeland had also robbed and murdered a prostitute at the Maison del Vieux Carre, a house of ill-repute. Runnels found out that Copeland, “a tall male with a white, cadaverous countenance and pale eyes staring from under the brim of a misshapen black hat,” had not left town. He was still swaggering around the streets and drinking in the saloons. Copeland, on hearing that there was some talk of lynching him for the murder of the prostitute, reacted by brandishing an evil-looking dirk and challenged anyone to try.
Runnels and two members of his Isthmus Guard found Copeland in one of the saloons. The three were carrying blunt, double-barreled buckshot guns and as they entered the saloon, most of the patrons scrambled for exits. The buckshot guns, the size of small cannons, could sweep the room clean of practically everybody.
Copeland asked Runnels with drunken bravado, "What are you going to do with me?"
Runnels, after taking Copeland's pistol and dirk, told him that he must accompany them to the Maison del Vieux Carre . Copeland protested, but Runnels insisted. With his arms bound, Copeland was marched to the house of prostitution where he was identified as the man who had gone upstairs with the murdered girl. Some jewelry found in Copeland's pockets was identified as having been the property of the girl.
Copeland again asked Runnels what he was going to do with him and Runnels told him in a matter of fact manner that he was going to hang him.
Copeland then broke down and begged for his life, saying that he had come from a good home in Cincinnati and asked for mercy in the name of his elderly parents. Copeland was marched by his captors from the Maison to the railroad area behind the long shed-like wharf. They were followed by a growing crowd. Runnels fashioned a hangman's knot and looped it about Copeland's neck. He attached the other end to a derrick-like hoist operated by a steam engine that was used to raise heavy pieces of equipment.
Copeland fell to his knees and begged the crowd to prevent Runnels from taking his life. The onlookers responded with jeers and catcalls.
The Reverend Isaiah Cranston of Providence, Rhode Island, who had arrived in Aspinwall that very day on the schooner Mary Ellen, stepped forward to intercede, but after being shown evidence that Copeland was guilty he realized it was useless to plead for mercy for him.
Runnels then grasped the lever that operated the steam engine and Copeland was hoisted slowly into the air and slowly strangled to death. Copeland's legs were not bound and one of the crowd remarked that he did a fancy fandango.
Not long after Copeland's execution there was a hastily called meeting of the Isthmus Guard in the back room of the Runnels Express Service in Panama City. News had just been received that seven miners returning home from California had been brutally murdered and robbed on the jungle trail between Cruces and Panama. A vote was taken and a decision reached. Runnels brought the ledger from the vault, consulted the list of names and made assignments. That night another mass roundup was in progress. When the sun rose over the Panama City sea wall next morning it revealed the bodies of 41 men hanging by the neck from the timbers projecting from the wall. This time no prominent individuals were included in this group. These were the riffraff swept up from the back alleys of the towns and the thickets of the jungle trails.
The second mass execution was applauded by the Star & Herald, an English newspaper, as “a work of civic merit and even as a manifestation of the Monroe Doctrine.” The native-born Panamanians were not quite so enthusiastic. As Runnels rode by, they avoided his gaze and kept their distance. Behind his back they referred to Runnels as El Verdugo - The Hangman.
Railroad construction and the arrival of gold rush travelers launched the town of Cruces into a center of activity again. The builders recognized that they needed the Las Cruces Trail for access during railway work and began building an improved the road. George Totten, the engineer in charge of construction, paid laborers 80 cents a day with a backpay promise of and additional 40 cents a day to each who stayed on to work on the railroad.
Observing all the new activity around him, the mayor at Cruces sought an opportunity to enrich himself. He decided he could use his official authority to force the railroad company to pay the workers the full $1.20 a day from the very beginning. He would make a profit by receiving an honorarium from the workers. He collected one dollar from 150 workmen based in Cruces and waited for Totten to arrive on one of his regular inspections. When Totten showed up, the mayor threw him in jail and sent word to railroad headquarters on Manzanillo Island that he would release Totten when the pay raise was announced.
Two days later, Runnels and his armed riders galloped into town to take control of the situation. As he reigned in his horse at the construction foreman’s shack, Runnels shouted out that the workers had 60 seconds to get back to work. As the men scrambled for their picks and shovels, Runnels grabbed a sledgehammer and headed for the jail. While his men held the soldier guards at gunpoint, Runnels smashed the lock and released Totten. They proceeded to the mayor’s house, found him cowering under a bed and dragged him to the main square, where Runnels publicly flogged him and left him tied there with a note in both English and Spanish saying: “This man was punished for interference in the peaceful and legal business of road building. Next time, he and anyone who helps him will get killed.” That ended the labor dispute at Cruces.
By the time that Runnels and his Isthmian Guard had accomplished their mission of ridding the isthmus of the dreaded Derienni and establishing order among the work force, the Panama Railroad was finished and thereafter crime very rarely affected the railway. The last thing that is both well and definitely known about Runnels in Panama was his role in the 1855 Watermelon Slice Incident. That anti-American riot that began when a gringo named Jack Oliver refused to pay for a watermelon slice he ate. When the vendor insisted that he pay, Oliver pulled a gun, a third person tried to disarm him and the pistol went off. All Hell broke loose and at least 15 people were killed. The riot was racially oriented, which grew into a series of mob attacks on white people in general and Americans in particular. The violence subsided when Runnels and his men arrived on the scene and those who might have acted otherwise in his absence concluded that it wasn’t such a good day to die after all. As a result of that incident the US Marines invaded Panama some weeks later. It would be the first of many American military interventions in Panama.
Not much is know of the activitiies of Runnels in the ensuing years.  He did marry a niece of the governor of Panama. On March 30, 1859, he was appointed U.S Consul to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. He left the post on October 15, 1861, some say because of Confederate sympathies during the American Civil War. He became U.S Comercial Agent at San Juan del Sur on December 21m 1874, and retired on Mar 26, 1877. He died of consumption on July 7, 1877 at Rivas, Nicaragua, and is buried there.
The End

Note: Much of the material for this story was derived from a variety of sources on the Internet and are far too numerous to list. Many thanks to all those who made this information available.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

History of the El Panama Hotel and surronding area

History of El Panama

Back in 1946, Panama was a quiet, uneventful city, having less than a million inhabitants and a social life that was nearly non-existent as compared to the activity of current day. At that time, a group of visionary businessmen decided to buy a plot of land of more than 60 hectares in the area known as “El Cangrejo,” — land owned by a Panamanian lady who resided in Paris. 

These businessmen bought this land for a ridiculously low price — quoted at 0.10 or 0.15 cents per meter. At that time, the President of Panama was Mr. Enrique Jimenez, who upon hearing of these negotiations, asked the buyers to donate part of this large terrain to create what is now the University of Panama.

He also asked them to sell six of their best acres to a company named “Hotel Interamericanos” in the best location at a cost of 0.50 cents per meter. This became the corner of the area where the first large hotel at that time would be built: El Panama.

Approximately $6 million dollars was the total investment to build this hotel, plus $900,000 as the initial working capital. American architect Edmond D. Stone, renowned for his remarkable designs of several buildings around the world, started this project, while Engineer Fred Severand, a Norwegian naturalized American citizen, took charge of the construction. 

Eventually, Stone was recognized with the gold medal for design in the 55th annual exhibition organized by the Architectural League of New York for Hotel El Panama.

Progress Report on the Panama Metro

NewsRoom Panama:
The  construction of the viaduct for the first line of Panama’s Metro subway is complete and the first three trains are en route by sea to the city.
The last two 166 ton "U" beams for the overhead section of the 13.7 kilometer line were put in place late Thursday night., May 16. There are 382 of the beams in the section. The line runs from the Albrook Bus Terminal to the Los Andes shopping center. The first “U” :beam was placed in July 2012 on Via Transistmica.

Metro Secretary Roberto Roy said recently that the total project, which will cost a total of $1.8 billion, is 82 percent complete.

Work will now focus on the installation of rails and the overhead power system.

The first three train cars have been shipped from the Alstom plant in Barcelona to Panama City.

Over the coming months, the French multinational Alstom will send the 16 remaining trains for the new line, which will begin operation in 2014, reported the company.

The subway line will feature t3 stations. Work began on the project in 2010, .
 The French group Alstom leads the group of suppliers of electromechanical equipment, with responsibility for engineering, integration and commissioning equipment and systems.

Alstom will supply a total of 19 trains, totaling 57 cars, as well as traction substations and a signaling system. Each train is equipped with air conditioning, video surveillance, information systems and specific areas for people with reduced mobility.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Eating places in the Coronado, Panamá area

Coronado Area Restaurants:
Cholo’s Mexican Restaurant – Cholo’s has a variety of delicious Mexican dishes with excellent friendly service. If you are coming from Coronado, turn right onto the highway and then take the next left (being mindful of the missing grate over a hole in the turn lane. The restaurant will be about a block in on the left hand side. The TripAdvisor website has more information.
La Ruina – A very affordable restaurant offering excellent food and many fish and seafood selections. My personal favourite is the Corvina Entero (whole deep fried sea bass). The flesh is delicious and succulent without being at all greasy. Turn into Gorgona from the Panamerican highway and follow the signs to the Playa Serena or Bahia condominiums. Before reaching either of the complexes you will come to an intersection and La Ruina is on the right hand corner.
Picasso Bar and Restaurant – Excellent pizza restaurant that is branching out into new types of food including Thai,. Go into Coronado, turning at Ave Roberto Eisenmann (where the Super 99 and El Rey grocery stores are) and go past the security booth going into Coronado. Picasso’s is on the left corner where the sign for the Coronado Golf club is. See the Picasso website for more information.
Every Wednesday Picasso’s has a Happy Hour in the bar from 4 – 6 pm and it is a great place to meet people. Most people arrive around 5:30.
Gourmet Pizza – Reputed to be the best pizza in Panama City and now located a few blocks from the Coronado Bay. Turn into Coronado from the Panamerican highway where the El Rey and Super 99 grocery stores are located and follow through into Coronado, going through the security gate. The restaurant is just after Picasso’s on the right hand side. It is easy walking distance from the Coronado Bay.
La Luna Rosa – Reasonably priced, good pizza and pasta restaurant just two blocks away from the Coronado Bay. Turn into Coronado from the Panamerican highway where the El Rey and Super 99 grocery stores are located and follow through into Coronado, going through the security gate. The restaurant is just before the Coronado Bay on the right hand side.
El Paraiso – While a little further away, El Paraiso has a good selection of foods and it also has a couple of theme nights. If you are looking to meet people, Friday nights feature Salsa Friday from 7 pm on. Drive past San Carlos about 4 km and turn right on the road leading to El Valle. El Paraiso is located 3 km past the turn off on the left hand side of the road. There is lots of parking available in their parking lot.
Trattoria Italiana – Voted the best place for pizza in Coronado according to The restaurant also has other pasta options available. Trattoria Italiana is located on the right hand side of Avenida Roberto Eisenmann (the turn off the highway where the Super 99 and El Rey are located), behind Todo al Carbon on the way into Coronado, just before the San Fernando Clinic.
El Rincon de Chef – A reasonably priced restaurant with varied menu including chicken, steaks, pasta, and seafood. Located in Coronado on the right hand side of Avenida Roberto Eiseinmann (the turn off the highway where the Super 99 and El Rey are located), about 4 or 5 blocks south of the Panamerican highway.

Los Camisones, Pan American highway (typical Panama food +), 1.5 hour drive west of Panama City or about 15 kilometers past the entrance to El Valle, KM 104, north side of the Pan Am Hwy, look for a small sign, it’s easy to miss. The restaurant is on s short one lane road up a hill.
Las Ruinas Restaurant (typical Panama food +, American chief & owner), Boquete, Chiriquí province, see:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Schools in Panama City area

Schools in Panama City area:

The International School of Panama (ISP) Website:
Balboa Academy: Cuidad del Saber (Clayton), Website:
King’s College (School), Cuidad del Saber (Clayton), Age 3 – 9 (each year higher grades will be added), British system with UK qualified teachers.  see: or contact:
Lindsay Carmody
Head of Admissions
King’s College Panama
The British School of Panama

Tel: (001 507) 6378 4265
Metropolitan School, Cuidad del Saber (Clayton), former Canal Zone Website:
Oxford International School, (OIS) Via Espana Website:
Panama Pacifico Academy, Howard area, see:
The Episcopal School in El Carmen Website:
St Mary’s School in Albrook Website:  
Crossroads Christian Academy in Cardenas Website:

Monday, May 13, 2013

U.S. Navy League meeting in Panamá

Panama Navy League meeting:
We are delighted to have Dr. Stanley Heckadon join us for our monthly dinner tomorrow, May 14th, 2013.

Please RSVP to this email address before 12:00 noon today. If you have already received a response to your confirmation, no need to reply to this email.

Dr. Heckadon's distinguished career spans over 30 years with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Currently, he is Director of Communications and Public Programs, Coordinator, Galeta Point Marine Laboratory, Colón , Panama.

His latest book, "A Creole from Bocas del Toro: The story of Carlos Reid," will be the subject of his talk.  The STRI website says this about the book's subject:

"Dr. Heckadon met Carlos Reid —a black English-speaking Creole turtle fisherman, farmer and preacher— by chance in the 70´s, when, as field anthropologist with the Panamanian government, he was gathering data on the lands of the Guaymi or Ngöbe people. He had planned to search the local archives, but soon learned that the provincial history had vanished during a thunderstorm that set the documents on fire. Looking for sources, Heckadon was directed to Reid, who had lived and traded among the Guaymi.

Fascinated by his accounts, Heckadon recruited his young bride Sonia soon after their wedding in 1976 to take notes and stay with Carlos and wife Bea. Reid saw Heckadon as an emissary of God and spent long hours with him, telling his tales. When the book started to take shape, Heckadon read his notes to Carlos and his peers, a tailor, a carpenter, a boat maker and other Creoles of the community. When he finished... "There was a silence... Then a round of applause."

Please join us for this unique and extraordinary story.

Time: 7:00pm
Date: May 14
Place: Le Meridien Hotel
$30 per person including glass of wine

Kind regards,

Hunter Schultz
Panama U.S. Navy League

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May Opera & Champagne Night in Panama City.

Access to beaches in Pedasi, Panama problems


 “FOREIGNERS” who have bought land in the Pedasi district of Los Santos have closed of  public access to over 20 beaches.
A Denunciation has been presented byAugusto Lopez, a spokesman for the affected residents of the sector stating that the 20 closed public easements, have not been declared as such by the Ministry of Housing and Land (Miviot ).
Lopez said that public access roads, have been used for decades in the Pedasi district other parts of the AzueroPeninsula to reach beaches, but many of them have been blocked by foreigners who bought land private adjoining the rodways.
Lopez said that if the authorities do not act the population in a few years will not have access to the beaches of the region.
Since 1999, when the area started to interest foreign investors, unidentified persons entered the 22 meters coastal zone and began clearing, leading to conflicts over road closures and access to the  beaches.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Panama Electrical Problems

From the Panama Prospective blog:

Government cuts energy consumption and businesses are in alert

We are currently in the most extended dry season that I have experienced in Panama over the last 7 years and it has everyone concerned.  We badly need rain to support our hydro electric plants as our supplemental fossil fuel plants cannot run indefinitely. Here is an article in Panama America
The reservoirs feeding the country’s three major hydroelectric plants approached their minimum level of operation, while the government announced measures to reduce energy consumption and the business sector declared alert.
The situation could lead to energy rationing or blackouts if it doesn’t rain during the next five days in the areas where the reservoirs are. Over 41% of the country’s energy supply depends on hydropower.
After the Empresa de Transmisión Eléctrica (ETESA) suspended the energy exportation, the central government announced measures to cut power consumption by changing the schedule of public workers and reducing the use of air conditioning in the different institutions.
The situation was confirmed yesterday morning by the President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli. But the president said it is a momentary thing.
The new schedule for central government workers goes into effect on Monday May 6, and their schedules will be from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Through the executive Decree 298 it was ordered that all government agencies must turn the air conditioners on an hour after they start their working day and turn them off two hours before the work day is over.
The Presidency Minister, Roberto Henriquez, said the goal of these measures is to reduce the energy consumption of the Government between a 5% and 7% as their first preventive measure. It was also ordered to have all of the neon signs in all government institutions off at the end of the work day. The Government also asked the other branches of government and private enterprises to adopt energy saving measures.
Yesterday, the private sector expressed its concern over the issue, but did not announce measures to reduce the energy demand of the country given the current situation.
“Without energy you cannot sustain the country’s growth,” said Gabriel Diez, president of the National Business Council (Conep).
“We are depending on machines that might stop working at any time when a machine is damaged, repairing it is difficult,” he said.
Merchants argue that the existing problem is due to the lack of new generating plants.
“We see a potential crisis alert, but there is shortage in the thermal campus because the bidding processes have not been done timely and appropriately,” said Fernando Aramburu Porras, member of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE).
Last night, the only business association that called for the implementation of energy saving measures was the Chamber of Commerce.
José Luis Ford, president of the group, said “from the private sector, being the largest users of energy, we will support with as manyenergy conservation measures as possible, within our reach, for the benefit of the country”.
In this sense, Ford urged companies to adopt voluntary arrangements, such as shutdown of neon signs, regulating the temperature of air conditioners and other initiatives to contribute to saving energy and reducing energy consumption in order to prevent blackouts in the future.
“Facing this possibility of power rationing, companies should monitor the correct operation of their plants and ensure these have sufficient fuel for their performance,” said Ford.
The Inter Institutional Energy Committee, formed by many business associations, considered it is essential to promote public policies to provide long-term solutions and increase local and foreign investments in the energy sector.
Ivan Barria, chairman of the Energy Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, said the private company has the ability, through their many emergency power plants, to fill part of this gap.
“But, if we use emergency generating plants, the production costs would be higher, so there must be an incentive offered to those private companies who would activate their emergency plants,” he said.
According to Barria, this problem was predicted by the lack of construction of new plants for the year 2015. However, he said the crisis came in 2013, so there was an error in their forecast.
“I think there has been a lack of planning on buying energy and for the construction of new plants, which had to be built at the rate at which the country is growing,” he added.
Meanwhile, Victor Urrutia, an expert in the energy market, said the problem lies in the ability of the country’s supply.
He stressed that in order to motivate the offer there must be an open and stable scheme, rules must be followed and there must be legal certainty, “because the investments are expensive, but the investor will get involved if he sees a fair chance to compete.”
In the long term, the only solution to the problem is assuring and promoting greater investments, said Urrutia.
“Now we have fallen short in the amount of water in reservoirs, which could affect the reservoirs, and there is the danger that any of these plants could stop working,” he warned.