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Home Panama Latest News The truth about Panama

The truth about Panama

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 This is an article by Daivid Young, former Editor of The Panama Star, now Publisher of

Hiding the truth is soft larceny

On line hustlers setting traps for fools conveniently forget the warts on beautiful Lady Panama

Panama Star Yesterday I wrote about some of the scam artists that populate Panama, preying on new arrivals, ideally their fellow countrymen, believing that national bonds are some form of guarantee of trustworthiness. Today, we turn to another kind of scam, that of hard sell promoters of real estate and Panama living who, by exaggeration, omission of unpleasant facts and misrepresenting essentials like the cost of living are practicing soft soap robbery.

These are the people who offer expensive seminars, for the gullible, unable to do their own research and will guide you to the cheapest places in the world to retire, but put on their blinkers when it comes to issues like corruption and crime. They run web sites and (for a healthy fee) offer the “latest” report on Panama living like a projected GDP growth of over 3 percent. (The latest projections indicate maybe one percent).

BUDGETING. Some even give you a sample budget. Try this for example, Condo fees (maintenance) in Panama City “$100 a month.” Is that one room with no running water in the middle of Chorillo, or a bathroom in Punta Pacifica? A quick check with friends came up with the average of $200-$250 for moderate sized apartments. A less than 100 square meter apartment near (not on) Avenida Balboa $175. Couldn’t track anyone paying $100.

MAID IN HEAVEN. Then there was the cost of a maid. $150 a month. No mention of paying Social Security, or how many hours a week the maid would be working for such a magnificent stipend. The writer, with a couple of years of Panama living as a qualification, says she and her husband pay her maid $300 (again no mention of Social Security) because she does laundry and ironing.

CULTURE. But then there is a wonderful cultural life, the Ballet, the National Orchestra. How many performances a year? When is the Ballet season? And outside of the city?

CRIME WAVE. There is a convenient silence on escalating crime, the worry of Panamanians and expats alike. Why mention an American killed in his garden by intruders a couple of weeks back? express taxi-robberies starting at major shopping malls; car jacking; tourists being robbed within shouting distance of the presidential palace; a public official gunned down by robbers in front of the Controleria. Wrong place, wrong time. An American woman murdered, chopped into pieces and carried away in a suitcase.

Not quite the blissful life that the promoters present.

HEALTH CARE. When it comes to health care the statements (similar to those selling medical tourism) go overboard. They took a hit recently when a young woman from Texas died after liposuction surgery in Chiriqui. And the cost? Imagine a site aimed at Canadians saying that the the cost of hospital care is cheaper in Panama. Cheaper than nothing?

ALTERNATIVES. For those who don’t get suckered into one of the rose tinted scenarios , there are fortunately a few alternate sources. Sam Taliaferro , a developer of renown in Chiriqui, is not afraid to speak the truth on the economy, the Canal expansion, crime and corruption, and for this has been excoriated by the denizens of tourism and real estate.

More recently on the scene is Robert Brown , known affectionately by his Panamanian staff and neighbors as Roberto Chocolate. Robert is a Canadian who parleyed a career in marketing to becoming one of the most successful fund raisers for the arts in North America.

He was an early victim of over sell by one of the expat hustling companies, whose owners have been moving around the world, looking for fresh fruit to pick.

During his time in Panama, his home has been invaded three times. Once he confronted intruders with a paint gun loaded with frozen paint balls. That created a splash and a little pain to remember his visit by. That aside, he is a lover of his new country, actively engaged in the local community and already working on a major fund raising activity to focus attention on endangered Panamanian wild life.

In the meantime he devotes a lot of energy to telling it as it is on his web site, giving praise where it is due, listing scammers and those wearing blinkers. He gets some 10,000 hits a week.

He recently got into hot water at a presentation in Toronto where he dared to mention some of the Panamanian facts of life that every one should be aware of before making the big move. For people like Sam and Rob, let’s be thankful. In the meantime lest you think Panama is a hell hole, it’s not. But like all beauty, it has its flaws.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 18:41  
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