Some causes, some comments, some searching for advice


San Felipe residents' open letter to UNESCO

We, the Organizations Pro-safeguards of the Historic Center of Panama City in Central America, want to share our most alarming holocaust about to take with the destruction of the fishing pier and other forms of lively hoods for their fishing processing activities developed with Japanese International Cooperation Agency.

The fish market related artisanal fishing and fish processing activities will disappear as a way of making a living for over 5,000 families that depend on said incomes. The fishing activities by these families are parts of the traditions since the founding of the colonial cities of Panama Viejo and the present San Felipe Historic Center founded in 1673.

These fishing families, since the founding of the Republic and the building of the Demolished Central Market and pier various pier infrastructures around 1914, have developed an Association of Buyers and Sellers of Sea Products (ASOCEPROM) that has permitted multiple generations to house, clothe, educate and create jobs.

We of the Red-OUPSAF demand that UNESCO provide a consultant from UNESCO-CR or Guatemala to mitigate this most humble fishing families modern holocaust that is occurring in the historic center of Panama City, the only world heritage center in the Americas or in the world that still has an artisanal fishing fleet and sea food processing facilities that support thousands of families since the colonial times. We understand from history, that the indigenous people also fished and processed in this area too in pre-Colombian times.

 We are enclosing signatures and newspaper articles of the pier and sea product demolition and littoral landfill project.

Adan Cerrud Sanchez, president AUCA

and several dozen other members of the group


Thanks, and a question

Thank you for publishing pictures of our trip to Volcan Baru.

How can you be so productive?

Andre Dumoulin

Editor's note: You're welcome. But I must say, as I type away in the wee hours, way behind deadline as usual, I don't feel all that productive.


Rick Warren should be in prison

Imagine walking into your local library, planning to read a theologian such as Reinhold Niebuhr or Karl Barth, or a popular inspirational work, such as Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven Life or Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

But instead of finding such important and popular titles, you discover that the religion section has been decimated --- stripped of any book that did not appear on a government-approved list.

That's exactly what's happening right now to inmates in federal prisons under a Bush administration policy. As The New York Times put it, "chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries."

The news reports seem implausible. The idea of government bureaucrats drafting a list of approved books on religion seems like something out of Soviet-era Russia, not the United States of America, where freedom of religion --- even for those behind prison walls --- is something we treasure.

But the reports are true. All of the books and authors named above have been removed from prison libraries. In some instances, according to the Times, chaplains have been forced to dismantle "libraries that had thousands of texts collected over decades, bought by the prisons, or donated by churches and religious groups."

To make matters worse, the contents of the "approved" list are extremely capricious. For example, "80 of the 120 titles on the list for Judaism are from the same Orthodox publishing house," and the list for Christianity "lack[s] materials from early church fathers, liberal theologians and major Protestant denominations."

The Bureau of Prisons says they merely want to ensure prisons are not recruiting grounds for terrorists and other militant groups. So why are they removing the vast majority of materials on faith and religion? And if prisoners are not free to pursue their own faith journeys, what cause for hope should they have?

Christians from across the political and theological spectrum are justifiably outraged. As Mark Earley, president and chief executive officer of Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship, told the Times, "It's swatting a fly with a sledgehammer. There's no need to get rid of literally hundreds of thousands of books that are fine simply because you have a problem with an isolated book or piece of literature that presents extremism."

Stand up for inmates' religious freedom --- demand an end to censorship in prison libraries!

Thank you for all that you do.


Kevin, Duane, Tim, and the rest of the team at Sojourners/Call to Renewal


P.S. To put an end to this absurd policy, we need the Bureau of Prisons to hear from hundreds of outraged citizens.



"Prisons Purging Books on Faith From Libraries," New York Times, 9/10/07.

"2 New York prisoners sue to get their banned religious books back," Associated Press, 8/22/07.


By whatever name

Is there anywhere I can get a recipe for sao (not sure on the spelling)? The spicy pig’s knees or feet I believe. I used to eat them all the time when I was stationed in Panama and I have a huge craving for them now. Thanks for any assistance.

Aaron E. Thomas, TSgt, USAF

MacDill AFB, FL


Editor's note: Try the following recipe for souse or sou, which is atypical because it uses the meatier hocks rather than pigs feet:



• 4 large fresh pork hocks

• 2 cups cider vinegar

• Some tap water

• 4 large Persian limes

• 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and sliced thin

• 2 aji chombo (Scotch bonnet or habanero) peppers, seeds, stem and pulp removed then minced (do NOT do this with bare hands, unless you are a masochist)

• 1 Tablespoon salt

• 2 large cucumbers, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into quarter-inch-wide chunks


• Rinse the pork hocks under cold tap water

• Put the vinegar in a glass casserole bowl with a cover, in which the pork hocks would also fit

• Add the pork, exposing all sides of it to the vinegar

• Add enough water to the bowl to cover the hocks with liquid, let stand for 15 minutes

• Turn the hocks over, let stand for another 15 minutes

• Remove the hocks from the bowl, discard the vinegar

• Put the hocks in a pot with the salt and enough water to cover them, bring the water to a boil

• Turn the burner down low, cover the pot, simmer for one hour (adding water if it boils down to where the hocks are not completely covered)

• Rinse the hocks under cold tap water, allow them to cool for a few minutes

• Shred the meat in the hocks (including the skin and what fat may remain) into strips about a quarter-inch thick, extracting and discarding the bones

• Combine the meat in a glass or porcelain bowl with the aji chombo peppers, the onions, the cucumbers and the juice of the limes. Stir so that everything is exposed to the lime juice and the peppers, cover, put in the refrigerator

• An hour later, stir the ingredients of the bowl well, re-cover the bowl and return it to the refrigerator for at least another hour

• Stir again before serving


What was that brown reptile?

It is amazing for what you put together, on your own, each 14 days. I hope someday you will be rewarded for it. You are living a very unique life old friend, I'm glad the snakes haven't bitten you, you were too alert for the first one, lucky you were ahead of me or the fer-de-lance would have gotten me.


Editor's note: Was that what that thing was? As you might recall from that incident on the path through the jungle from France Field to Coco Solo Hospital so long ago, I didn't stick around to ascertain that snake's species.


UN vs. NGOs: one against many

By some definition; the United Nations (UN) is an International Organization established in October 1945, by the five permanent members of the Security Council: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States and by a majority of the other 46 countries. The declared aims of the UN are to prevent war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, to provide an instrument for international law, to promote social and economic development, to improve living standards and fight diseases, and to offer freedom for all Nations.

On the other side; a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) is a private institution that is not directly part of the structure of government, but relies significantly on funding from governments, individual donors, foundations, corporations. NGOs are not legal entities under International Law, as states are (except the International Committee of the Red Cross).

Every day, dozens of NGOs are being founded; currently, there are more than five million NGOs around the world with most of them based in the US, India, Russia, Europe, among others, and only one UN. Looking at the lists of NGOs it is observed that since the mid nineties, the number of NGOs has been rapidly increasing. Why millions of NGOs now? The rapid increase could be explained with the numerous wars that were fought prior to this period, which aided in creating poverty, refugees, neglect of human rights, abuse of women's and children's rights, health and environmental problems, economical and political depression, among others.

There are many speculations concerning NGOs being tools of domestic or foreign governments, private donors, corporations, organized crime, all of which to protect their interest in some interest zone. Also, that NGOs are used for money laundering, as spy centers, drug smuggling, trafficking, and even tools for destabilizing countries, among others. It is unclear if all these are true or not, but one question arises from it. "How many individuals would give somebody or someone millions of dollars without asking anything in return?

Unfortunately, there are numerous NGOs that are confirming these speculations and even ones whose founders found good ways of making money and drying up Governmental budgets. However, there are a great number of good and uncorrupted NGOs, which were willing to make a change and really help someone.

Subsequently, what can we expect in the future from the UN and NGOs?

Regrettably, it looks like the budget of the UN is decreasing. Member states are late with payments, some members have big debts, and this generally affects the UN body.

Meanwhile, the budgets of NGOs are growing, with no debts and delaying in donor payments, with more media attention committed to NGOs, increasingly now, Governments are counting on NGOs more than on the UN, and if this trend continue, then NGOs will eventually replace the UN on the international stage, and, maybe, eventually come to power in some countries. Currently, we are evidencing a silent war among NGOs for leading positions in the international system, the end result of which cannot be predicted immediately, but it is obvious; there are too many hungry sharks in the sea. If we look through calculations: five million NGOs multiplied by ten people in every organization, we come up to the number of fifty million people working in NGOs worldwide, and the number is likely to grow.

It would be out of place to say that the UN is a perfect organization; we all know about manipulations of the UN system by some countries to get their will throughout, and because of that and many other things, the UN lost its respect on the international scene. Still, the UN is an international organization, it has been helping and still helps people around the world; it was established for noble reasons; to represent all nations equally and fairly, and it is expected that it will live up to its responsibilities and continue to do so.

Ivan Simic

Belgrade, Serbia


Editor's note about drivers' licenses

Previously The Panama News published a travel section piece by Gae Speed about a foreigner renewing her driver's license in the city. I have been getting a lot of questions about how this is done in the Interior, but the problem is that my inquiries come up with different and generally unresponsive answers.

It seems to me that General Noriega's old adjutant Severino Mejía, put in charge of Transito in an acting capacity for the better part of a year, was in a great hurry to get one particular contractor on the job of issuing new licenses and really didn't think through all of the procedural issues, leaving several messes for a successor to sort out. My perception may be wrong, as it is deduced from the confusion at the lower levels of the ATTT.

So far, however, I have not found how foreigners living in the Interior can renew their driver's licenses without coming into the capital.


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