The switch from corregidores to justices of the peace was and is a controversial experiment with mixed results. In some ways it’s just a budget cut, wherein people in places like Juan Diaz de Anton in Cocle province lose the presence of the justice system in the neighborhood and have to go into town. But that left this building empty, among other things. In the runup to the last elections it was being painted with school colors and we were told it would be an annex to the local elementary school. Perhaps part of that was right. Only after several years’ vacancy, we now see some work underway. The editor, who lives nearby, went with his camera to check it out.
The rescue of a public space
photos and comments by Eric Jackson
The old corregiduria hasn’t been used inside for years. The last public use of it was during the Varela administration, by the Instituto de Mercadeo Agropecuario (IMA), a subsidized government food marketing program that from time to time — notably but not exclusively during the Varela years — generated allegations of pilferage by its functionaries. It was still a good way to get fresh vegetables and other staples without having to go into town. In Martinelli times the building was home to the more ambitious and less reputable Jumbo stores that the IMA ran at the time.
The last signs that this was in public use were in the run-up to the 2019 elections, when a local crew began to paint the outer walls blue and white — school colors — and a fence was put up around the building, which had been broken into and in back of which some of the local drunks would sometimes congregate. I was told it would be an expansion of the elementary school down the road, but after the election there was nothing more heard about it. I figured it was just a campaign promise.
Now, about three years from the last activity, things stir again.
A lady wearing a paint-spattered rector t-shirt told me that yes, the Ministry of Education (MEDUCA) is moving in, but no, it would not be additional classrooms for the elementary school. There would be testing and evaluations of young students there, perhaps child and even adult nutritional programs, and other activities that lend themselves to a well educated community that are not regular classroom instruction as such.
We have diverse such needs. There are kids coming into the school system with learning disabilities due to malnutrition in the womb or in early childhood here. Continuing education for girls who leave school to give birth to babies is another community problem. When school was online there was this big Internet connectivity problem, but there were also a lot of parents and guardians who had not finished their secondary educations and were little able to assist children trying to learn in a home environment.
So let’s see what MEDUCA will do with our decrepit old community hall of justice and fresh vegetables.
First, out back, clean up after the winos. As in give them a gesture to go drink elsewhere.
In the back, patching an old hole in one window, and barring the windows on a new addition.
Stumps, vegetation and an old privy are being removed — and burned. It may not be the environmentally best way to proceed, but it does fit the neighborhood practices. In any case the holes where once there were trees, and once there was an old-fashioned toilet, need to be properly filled.
Starting to spackle and paint the sides now, and redo some of the windows. I think that the paint job, here and in the front, might just be the primer. One community factor that is not an issue yet this year but has been in the past is that just off of the right end of this photo there is a water spigot, now fenced in, that was a major supply when a nearby street had an eight-month water outage. That’s not the only feasible solution, of course, but it was when the water was out and the local government officials were not showing themselves.
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