Crime season…


At the corner of Via España and Via Argentina, of all places…

It’s crime season, and as is traditional, also the time when police make these sweeps to get the maleantes — and foreigners whose papers aren’t in order — off of the streets.

If you are a foreigner and newcomer — or for that matter a Panamanian citizen — remember that in Panama you need to carry ID whenever you go out.

Both the cops and the robbers profile for foreigners. Like these two women who assaulted an Irish tourist, trying to rob him, and were caught in the act both by a video camera and by a police patrol. Were they stupid? Or intoxicated? Perhaps. More certainly DESPERATE. Consumer fetish materialism takes a toll on society and its members in the commercial Christmas season. And there are also many women at a loss to feed themselves and their kids.

Given that there was a knife introduced into the act and the Irishman was cut on his arm, you’d think that it would be an armed robbery rap, with serious time. But for prison sentences of four years or less, the convict can buy her or his way out by paying a fine. Guilty pleas, prison sentences, and these assailants walked after paying $300.

Let’s not to raise any great hue and cry, nor argue the merits and demerits of aggravating and mitigating circumstances here. But publicized attacks on tourists can do great damage to a country’s economy, and any attempt to suppress information about it tends to make it worse. Panama needs to reduce and prevent such stuff, as a matter of national security. Which the cops did here, but maybe not the courts.

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