Science, not End Times religion. NASA graphic with caption by The Panama News.
International Living said: “Outside the hurricane belt further north, Panama enjoys stress-free living” — and Panama’s leaders acted as if it were true
article by Eric Jackson, photos and videos by many others
Panama was unprepared for the destruction wrought by Hurricane Eta’s sideswipe. The photos and videos of the valiant rescue efforts that came days too late in our remote areas are both heartbreaking and a rousing reminder of humanity’s resiliency. If you don’t pay attention to media you may not have noticed the emergency effort to restore the roads into and out of some our our prime agricultural zones, but if you shop for food you will notice the problem reflected in prices and supplies.
Former SINAPROC disaster relief agency director José Donderis admitted, in a TVN television interview, that: “We did not visualize the potential risk, and the potential damage that could be generated in the country.”
The Panama Canal was unprepared for a prolonged drought that gave us four years of ship draft restrictions. Now the unelected and unaccountable Panama Canal Authority is looking to expand its jurisdiction to essentially control the entire nation’s water policy.
The growing competition from Arctic shipping routes which they denied could happen in the 2006 canal expansion referendum campaign? They don’t mention that business consideration.
The rise in mean sea levels has been going on slightly but inexorably for years. God help us when a huge Antarctic ice sheet slides away into the world’s oceans. Meanwhile people are abandoning communities on Guna Yala’s San Blas Archipelago. Meanwhile the old city center of Colon, which has seen a billion-dollar Odebrecht renovation and gentrification project, is subject to more frequent floods.
So where are the national housing and urban policies in the face of changes that we ought to know are coming? Will it just be this or that patch, and a belated admonition to people in remote areas where there has been little government presence that it’s not a good idea to build in flood plain’s that have never been well mapped in the first place? When will we start with dikes and levees around the Colon city center, or in the alternative an orderly abandonment of the place? When will Panama City, and smaller places like Rio Hato, act decisively on the reasonable expectation that chronic flooding problems are going to get worse?
It has been so very fashionable for our political caste and the power brokers behind them to presume that the Gringos will solve everything. Then the United States got a president who called climate change a Chinese hoax. Now a governor of Florida who banned the use of the phrase “climate change” begs for outside relief in the wake of tropical storm events that have ravaging his state. When we got hit by a global pandemic caused by a virus that just might have come into human ecology as the result of pathogens and their vectors moving around as climate changes affected their habitat, Uncle Sam was unavailable to help Panama in the crisis, Donald Trump having torn down his own country’s defenses against these things.
It’s good to see Panama’s growing contribution to the world of basic science, even if the global body of climate knowledge is and will continue to be mainly developed by others. Where we need to excel now is in the fields of APPLIED science. Looking at the world around us, and unafraid to bring in the right sorts of foreign experts, Panamanian policy makers, Panamanian civil engineers, Panamanian farmers and fishers and foresters, Panamanian public health specialists, Panamanian construction crews need to get down to the task of building our national defense. OUR national defense, not some policy order coming down from Washington. The defense of PANAMA, enlisting the talents and efforts of everyone who lives here, citizens and foreigners alike.
The facile denials must end now.
Below are some scenes of damage and heroism from the past few days,
published by the Panamanian government or anonymously via social media:
The road to Bocas washed out. Work on reopening it is well advanced.
SINAPROC and SENAN close the beach in Santa Clara, due to warnings of unusual heavy waves and riptides.
Renacimiento, in Chiriqui.
The Panamanian Red Cross and others search for survivors and bodies in the Chiriqui Highlands.
With his cell phone, Elias Perez noted that by Sunday, November 9 the clouds were gone but the water was still rough in the San Blas Archipelago.
Under the auspices of the First Lady’s Office, people from various government agencies and volunteers store, package and move food and supplies from the donation center in Parque Omar toward distressed areas.
Not a year or season for patriotic parades, but plenty of patriotism to go around.
With heavy storm damage to crops and access to and egress from some key agricultural areas disrupted, the government has scrambled to keep the public markets stocked and prevent both price gouging and panic buying.
Yes, we got all this water. But in some places, like here in El Volcan, water supplies were disrupted and systems had to be reconnected.
The road to Llano Tugri, in the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca, blocked by a mudslide.
A life they could not save, in Bambito.
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