¡Felíz Navidad y un

Año Nuevo Próspero!

The holiday season and the anniversary of The Panama News’s establishment are upon us again. As this issue is uploaded the nation’s Jews will be celebrating Chanukah as well.

Whatever your faith, whatever your cultural preference, have some safe and happy holidays. Please take care that your way of celebrating --- or that of some other person who’s behind a steering wheel --- does not make you a holiday statistic.

Panama is a wonderful place during the holidays. Why do you think that all those tourists start coming here in droves at this time of the year? Let us dedicate ourselves to making it even better, each in our own way.

And we’ll see you next year….

Dengue challenges all of us

In recent days in Panama we have seen at least one death from dengue fever, and thousands of more cases, many of them not reported to health authorities. The mainstream news media have again showed their ignorance by reporting hemorrhagic dengue as if it were a separate disease rather that a complication that can happen from the ordinary strains of the mosquito-borne flu-like malady.

Dengue is nothing to get hysterical about, but ought to be the subject of public anger. Yes, we could get angry with the government or certain private corporations for their acts and omissions, but public anger is most properly directed in the mirror and at Panamanian popular culture in general.

Dengue is with us because we allow the Aedes aegypti mosquito to breed. Unlike the insects that are vectors for malaria, these pests breed in tiny, clear pools of water --- like those created when rain fills trash thrown on a roadside. Vases full of water and flowers, unused but operational toilets, old discarded cars and tires, trays under balcony flowerpots and almost any object left out in the rain create conditions for this species of mosquito to breed.

We all need to clean up our act. That’s the simple but difficult bottom line.

Yes, if the national government spent any substantial amount of money on publicity aimed at changing the throwaway popular culture, or acted to ban no-deposit bottles and cans, or required buses to have an elasticized mesh trash receptacle in front of every seat, it would help. Honorable mention here belongs to the mayor and representantes of Panama City, who at least try to reduce litter with their publicity campaigns. We should also note the tickets justifiably issued by Health Ministry and city officials as a necessary but not quite sufficient part of getting this problem under control.

This should not be a partisan issue or a cause for class warfare. This is a public health problem that affects all of us and a cultural challenge that must be met for Panama to successfully put underdevelopment behind us. 

Bear in mind…


To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.

Bruce Lee


If you don't find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further.

Mahatma Gandhi


The personal, if it is deep enough, becomes universal, mythical, symbolic.

Anais Nin


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