A time for prayer
My wife and I were at the laundromat when we witnessed the attack of abomination.
I sincerely feel this to be a sad time for all persons in our hemisphere.
However, I look back on the incidents of the Panama invasion, the Grenada
invasion and I remember other similar situations inflicted on small countries
by the US for whatever reason.
Also I reflect on the views on one of my recent visits and travel throughout
the Florida area. I felt that Christ (GOD) was not the least bit recognized
in places outside of churches' immediate surroundings. The greeting of Christmas
basically reflected commercial ads. Most people on the streets greeted with
"Happy Holidays" and the like instead of "Merry Christmas."
At that time I felt that Americans had taken Christ out of Christmas. I felt
that Americans had taken GOD out of their daily lives. Prayer, the basis of
spiritual communication was eliminated from the schools, the institution that
focuses on the future of the citizens of any nation. We all witnessed the
after effects of this, incidents of shootings in schools at almost every level,
violence took an upsweep throughout the nation, etc.
I condemn the commanders of the September 11 tragedy and I wish that they
be brought to justice. However, I wonder if this could be a calling from above,
a sign for all to recognize and reflect, regroup, reprioritize and whatever
it takes to bring back recognition of a higher being, as the architect of
the universe and for this reason, this higher being must be venerated.
I refer to a "higher being" in the sense of non-denominational.
We surely all believe in some form of creation, and therefore, we have developed
morals and ethics and the like. I think the call is to revert to this former
lifestyle. We must go back to PRAYER, and of course, seek out and chastize
the perpetrators, but back up for our own good and for the future of the up
coming generation, go back to PRAYER.
Earl Patrick Watson
Calm the war passions
Do you think it's a good thing to kill people because they hate you? The murderers
who plotted this event should receive the worst punishment. We should not
convict an entire country for personal reasons.
I hope Panamanians have not forgotten the innocent people that died during
the American attack, the great American war to remove a leader called Noriega.
No one deserves to be killed out of spite.
Maintain focus, sense of proportion
I agree with you, Eric, but let us hope that the response to this terrible
violence (which there will certainly be) is measured and focused. I'm afraid
it will not be and the end will result in a greater violence committed against
our fragile and precious liberties of person and place.
We'll all have to keep a vigilant watch over what transpires in the next few
weeks and months.
For a better Panamá
I write you finally after months of reading your very interesting online
newspaper. It's good to be able to read about things back home from a perspective
other than the very slanted local newspapers in Panama City. I just had a
chance to read your latest issue and the articles about the latest chapters
of Panamanian political corruption and the "rebuzca" that is always
present when people are elected or appointed to public office in Panama. It's
always "get it while you can!" I'm always so disappointed with the
Republic --- I wish for once we could read positive news, for a change.
I remember being in Panama about 10 years ago to see my terminally ill
father and participating in a family reunion. One of my cousins and his wife
were both working for the Panama Railroad and it was basically non-operational.
Only one freight train of limited capacity was traveling between Balboa and
Cristobal daily. When I asked my cousin what the problem was (it was obvious
that it was the result of very poor maintenance) he replied that the Panama
Railroad was having difficulty procuring railroad ties. I sat there incredulous
(laughing so hard I almost fell out of my chair) and reminded him that for
the previous 120 years the "Gringos" never had any trouble finding
ties, maintained the railway, and rarely if ever, had any derailments. Of
course, derailments had become a common occurrence since the transfer of the
railroad to Panama. We were on the patio and I walked up to my cousin, pointed
him to the east and said, "have your people ever heard of the Darien
Jungle? There is a big lumber industry there and I'm sure you can find lumber
for railroad ties!" My cousin just chuckled but I'm sure the problem
was that there were so many "botellas" on the payroll, there was
no money for decent maintenance (his wife hinted at that). Now, an American
company is back in there running the railroad. I wonder how long it will take
before an American entity will be back in Panama running the canal?
Changing the subject just a little, I chuckle when I see advertisements
enticing travelers and vacationers to visit Costa Rica, describing it as an
"ecotourism paradise." I've been to Costa Rica and it's pretty alright,
but it's no Panama. Panama is far more beautiful and of course, has less earthquakes.
What is IPAT doing (or not doing)? Not much, from what I see from my vantage
point. Panama has consulates in Miami, New York, Houston, and Los Angeles
but you don't hear a "peep" out of them. They do little if anything
to promote Panama and tourism to Panama. They might do a little promotion
within their circles but nothing in mass media or at the retail level. And
I promise you, if there was even one ad in any type of medium, us Panamanians
here would be talking about it - that's how we are!
I live in Dallas and up until just a few months ago, we had a direct
flight from Dallas to Panama on American Airlines. Lack of passengers caused
its demise. And, do you know how many people here in Texas have a Panama connection?
Hundreds of thousands --- not only people from Panama and the old Canal Zone,
but people who for one reason or another (business, Military service or otherwise)
have been through Panama. During the entire period this flight was in operation,
I NEVER saw one ad about Panama, in any medium --- not one! As a matter of
fact, I still haven't. There has never been to my knowledge, a concerted,
focused campaign to encourage travel to Panama. To give you some perspective,
Dallas, Texas has over 32,000 millionaires, second only to New York. The Dallas-Fort
Worth Metropolitan area is 35% Hispanic in population (just over 1,000,000
Hispanics) and it has the 8th largest television market in the United States.
Yet, nothing is done to promote Panama on a wide scale or to encourage people
to visit. Do you realize what kind of a boost to the economy of Panama a solid
tourism industry would provide? But, honestly, Panama needs to get its act
together. It needs a good police force to clamp down on crime, an efficient
and clean transportation infrastructure (cabs, buses and rental cars), improved
communications throughout the country (ever try to make a call from the Interior
--- they're still in the communications "stone age"), improved roads
and traffic management (the traffic can wear down even the hardiest of travelers),
and efficient and reliable postal service, courteous workers and representatives
of service industries and government. It should not be a chore to visit ---
it should be a pleasure.
All we hear about is the corruption, the money laundering, the drug
trafficking, the outrageous crime levels, and we never hear anything positive.
There has to be something positive somewhere in the Republic. One would think
that in this day and age of sophisticated public relations, marketing and
advertising, someone in IPAT would have figured out how to promote Panama
to increase tourism. Or is it possible that it too is riddled with "botellas...?"
Good sources on an old story?
As you undoubtedly know, the US administration's arrogant speeches following
the September 11 crisis re-awakened dormant memories for the Panamanian people
of the excesses of the 1989 invasion. Unfortunately my knowledge of that event
is scant. I was in the US at the time and my memory of the news does not serve
me well. (Even if it did, knowing the US media, my knowledge would be biased
Is there a site you know of that provides some history? Being located in
Boquete and not being able to read much Spanish yet, my information access
is severely limited.
I do hope you find the financial backing that you need. I sure appreciate
(Editor's note: It's hard to find an accurate and balanced account of the
1989 invasion, its causes and aftermath on the Internet. Virtually all of
the Internet versions I have seen are US military memoirs or propaganda for
one side or another. Nevertheless, much useful information and many interesting
photos can be obtained from these sources.
Of the post-invasion books that are available, my opinion is that the best
history and analysis of the lot is John Dinges's 'Our Man in Panama, the best
written is Richard Koster's and Guillermo Sanchez Borbon's 'In the Time of
the Tyrants,' and the best graphic presentation is 'The Enemy Within,' which
is published by Focus Publications. Noriega's memoir, 'America's Prisoner,
is disgusting and self-serving, but nevertheless a useful source if one is
looking for the whole story. The definitive history will have to await the
opening of presently unavailable government archives in both the United States