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.

RP, Michigan

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.

DM, Michigan


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...?"

George Soriano
Dallas, Texas

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 and incomplete.)

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 your efforts.


(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 and Panama.)


©2001 The Panama News