Hateful rumors can kill
Did some gringo pull a gun on the mayor of Boquete, or attempt to do so? That not well documented allegation went out on Facebook, followed by a stream of commentary about how horrible foreigners are, and more than 12,000 people saw it there. The mayor’s office has not responded to questions from The Panama News about it.
A rumor that is a whole cloth lie can be as deadly as a discomforting truth. It has been that way down through history. Pogroms against the Jews in old Russia, lynchings of black people in the old US South, attacks on Americans accused of child snatching more recently in Guatemala, deadly religious riots in India — the allegation need not be true to start such things.
We need to be careful here in Panama. There are folks seeking political advantage by accusing foreigners. There are folks who are suffering who are receptive to claims about who is to blame.
When ugly rumors against foreigners spread, Panamanian authorities and the embassies of the countries whose citizens are involved should respond with the truth of the matter in question and calls for peace and order. The mass communications media should also assist in such peacekeeping roles.
If somebody says…
If some expatriate has a business proposition of whatever sort for you and says “This is what the deal is. … This is where and what my business is and you can check it out by….” then if the offer may suit you, you may want to check it out.
If such a person skips the above and says “You can trust me — I’m an expat like you” then run away as fast as you can.
There is and has been an awful lot of what the FBI calls “affinity fraud” out there. People going after segments of the community based on ethnicity, national origin, religion, “sovereign citizen” pretensions or allegedly shared politics with fraud in mind are known phenomena in Panama’s English-speaking community. They are assisted by the history of police and prosecutors here refusing to enforce laws against financial crimes in which foreigners or ethnic Panamanians perceived to be foreigners are the victims.
Meanwhile there is hatred out and about in the land, some of it organized. “They’re all a bunch of swindlers” (or pedophiles, or racists, or gun runners intent on breaking Panama’s laws, or…) is a tag to avoid. The shunning and if appropriate the reporting to authorities of such persons who actually fit such descriptions is a matter of community self-defense.
We are all imperfect. Most of us have a sense of decency. Not everybody out there is our friend. If you want to thrive in Panama it helps to keep these things in mind.
Bear in mind…
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