Lots of different reader concerns as usual

How long will the frenzy last?

As I read Silvio Sirias’s piece “Panama for Sale” I couldn’t help but be distracted by the flashing ad to buy a Canadian Condo or some other real estate ad on either side of the Panama News banner. Mr. Sirias’s piece is spot on. I hope the feeding frenzy ends soon, but I’m afraid it won’t. Keep up the good work.


What can be done about copyrights?

Dean Baker's contention that the entertainment industry is out of control is sadly accurate. Pop artists of various persuasions often profit disproportionately from their work. It's a centuries old conundrum: how to properly reward the artist for the initial burst of creative genius and effort that results in a product that has nearly no cost of reproduction and distribution to the appreciative consumer. The legal mechanism of copyright has worked well until modern technology short circuited it.

As for Baker's solution, presumably to do away with copyrights and provide rewards through government, foundation and academic grants, it'll never happen. An examination of how classical music and the arts have prospered should provide a good example. They struggle to survive even with public support. Pop artists would disappear in a heartbeat.

Hmmm... Maybe that's not such a bad idea after all.

Ted Miller

The railroad and the environment?

I'm a geography student from the US, and a group of us will be visiting Panama for a few days in January. We will have to write up something related to Panamanian geography, and I'm thinking about looking into the environmental impact of the recent railway reconstruction. I sent mail to the railway people asking if they had any engineering material or environmental impact writeups on how they approached the problem.

But perhaps there is an alternative viewpoint. Is there a source for background information on this topic from an independent source? I'm not interested in stirring up trouble, but just in gathering some information to support a 15-page paper, and having two views of the railway environmental impact might be helpful.

Any help you might provide would be very much appreciated.

Your Panama News website is great. Some of the streaming audio stations don't work, though. Not your fault, but these links are really hard to find if you don't know the radio stations!



Editor's note: The concession to rebuild the railroad happened before much of Panama's environmental legislation was in place, which would limit the material on the subject that would otherwise be on file with the National Environmental Authority (ANAM). Still, ANAM would be a good place to go in your searches.

Biologists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute have been studying much of the area along the railroad route for many years, and members of the Sociedad Audubon de Panama have been monitoring the bird life there for a long time as well. These would be some of the other people to whom you would want to put your questions.

With the railroad's reopening there would certainly be some environmental impacts from animals being on the tracks at the wrong time and from the measures taken to keep the tracks weed-free. On the other hand, the effects of a train ride through the jungle and along the lake surely include the inspiration of many passengers --- foreign tourists, Panamanian business commuters and others --- to have a deeper respect for the natural beauty that Panama has left.

One environmental improvement over the old railroad was that no trees were felled to make ties --- this is a modern system with "seamless" rails running over concrete ties, capable of supporting much heavier loads than the old railway could.

In its new incarnation the railroad is primarily a cargo service, without the local passenger service that the old system gave long ago. There is no more making arrangements with the conductor to leave you and later pick you up near a good fishing spot along the way as in years gone by.

As environmental impact statements are a relatively new thing in Panama, there are underdeveloped aspects to them and in particular data about social effects. With the new railroad the social consequences would mostly be related to the economy of the container handling business --- no towns were built or destroyed for the project, although part of Arco Iris (Rainbow City) became a less attractive place to live because of the noise and vibrations from the trains. This contrasts with the social impact of the original railroad's opening in the middle of the 19th century, which was enormous.

It would be interesting to see what the railroad management would have to tell you about the subject.

Hotel rates in Santa Fe?

My name is Naomi Washington Roque and I spent the entire summer of 2007 in La Cabecera de Santa Fe with a program called Amgios de las Americas. I had an amazing time and am looking to take my family back to meet my host families, who were the Alcadesa Señora Albertina de Castrellon and La Doctora Damaris, but I never thought to find out how much it costs for one night in the hotel or the hostel there and I can't seem to find any of this information online anywhere, would you happen to know?


Editor's note: I spent the night in a fairly basic and old but clean and comfortable room in the hotel just before the town and paid $13. I don't know what their competitors at the hostel charge and can't compare the qualities of their accommodations. Understand that my visit was not during peak tourist season, when prices for lodging tend to go up.

"What is Panama?" article

Wonderfully well-written and poignant! Thank you for your insight and perspective. I have read hundreds of articles and enticements regarding Panama but this captured what I believe to be the real flavor of the country and the people. I have had occasion to spend time with several Panamanian citizens in our area and their sense of pride in their region and country is real and heart-warming. I can hardly wait to spend time there next summer and see it for myself. Thanks for your work.

Doyle Brinson

The unconstitutional removal of Panama's ombudsman

We have to ask the politicians from the National Assembly why Dr. Liborio García Correa isn't in his charge right now. Today, 31th October 2007, Ricardo Vargas Davis is in the post of the Ombudsman Dr. Liborio García Correa. We read in a newspaper that the order came from the Executive Organ last year to Deputy Rogelio Enrique Paredes Robles to ask Dr. Liborio to leave the charge.

Dr. Liborio is innocent of every complaint. Right now we ask the government of Mr. Martín Torrijos Espino why Dr. Liborio García Correa isn't in his job. We have a lot of questions to put to four deputies of the National Assembly of Deputies: Mr. Elias Ariel Castillo Gonzalez, Ex-President of the National Assembly (2006), Mr. Rogelio Enrique Paredes Robles, the one who presided over the Commission on Human Rights in the National Assembly of Deputies, Mr. Raúl Eugenio Rodríguez Arauz, the deputy who presided over the illegal and unconstitutional ad hoc commission ad hoc to prosecute Dr. Liborio García Correa without having permission from the Supreme Court of Justice, and the Secretary General Carlos José Smith S.

All the world and the Ombudsmen from the Ibero-American Federation of Ombudsmen can read the article from the newspaper La Prensa of Saturday, April 1st, 2006, in which President Martín Torrijos Espino said that he wouldn't ask Dr. Liborio García Correa to quit or leave the charge of Ombudsman or Public Defender of Panama. In contradiction to the public declarations of the President, we see the First Lady on the page 3A of the same newspaper, with the title: Primera Dama se suma a las críticas contra Liborio García Correa, written by the two journalists from La Prensa (Leonardo Flores and Cynthia Sánchez).

All the citizens of Panama and the whole world can read why Mr. García Correa is out of this job of Ombudsman: "Fuentes del Palacio de las Garzas comentaron que el diputado Rogelio Paredes, presidente de la Comisión de Derechos Humanos, se le asignó la tarea de convencer al defensor electo para que renuncie del cargo antes de tomar posesión el próximo lunes. Paredes ha dicho públicamente que la única forma de sustiuir a García es con las dos terceras partes de los votos en la Asamblea, aquél órgano que lo eligió con 48 votos. En tanto García reiteró ayer, en entrevista realizada en RPC Radio, que tomará posesión el próximo lunes 3 de abril a las 3:00 p.m., y que nunca ha considerado renunciar."

Dr. Liborio García Correa is an innocent man condemned by order of the politicians. Right now the Third Bench of the Supreme Court of Justice has the case and Mr. Elías Ariel Castillo Gonzalez accepted that they violated Article 129 of the Political Constitution of Panama and section 11-A of Law No. 7 of 5th February 1997 (this explains that to remove an Ombudsman they have to have a vote passed by two-thirds of the votes of all the 78 members or deputies from the National Assembly of Deputies. They required 52 votes to remove Dr. García Correa but they didn't put it to a vote. Mr. Oscar Ceville appealed 33 days late and didn't do what the Magistrate Víctor Benavides ordered (to give an opinion, not an appeal). If the Magistrates do the right thing, by law Mr. García Correa has to return to his position of Ombudsman or Public Defender of Panama. If you want to know who put the Ombudsman out of his job, just read the newspapers --- you can reach your own conclusions. La Crítica of April 12th, 2006 characterized it with the headline: "Vivian golpea a Liborio," written by Carlos Estrada. If our President Martín Torrijos Espino wants to be well recognized he has to restore the Ombudsman; or the Supreme Court of Justice, three magistrates without influence of the dark politicians (magistrates of the Third Bench Víctor Leonel Benavides Pinilla, Winston Spadafora, and Adán Arnulfo Arjona) might. Right now the case is with Adán Arnulfo Arjona's suplente, Hípólito Gil Suazo.

God bless Panama.

Jenny McGreenson

Unsanitary conditions for vendors

Will you please call Ruben Blades, and ask him to give these poor peasants some sanitary stands to market their crafts? They are giving away sewing machines and a lot of things in Panama --- so what kind of tourism is that?

That is a very unsanitary area to place "tourism merchandise for public sale" on...

From the album "Profile Pictures" by Ada G. Cleghorn, FaceBOOK

Why doesn't IPAT give these peasants some sanitary stands to sell their crafts in Panama ?

Art Hassan
Los Angeles, CA

Editor's note: Maybe their policy is based upon the late Che Guevara's opinion that an excessive concern about cleanliness is a bourgeois mental illness.


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