Thursday, May 23, 2013


All the hats are in the ring, all the newspapers and television stations have taken sides, and now us poor smucks of Panama have no idea what is true or false. Spin doctors warp every piece of news to be someone’s fault. 

  • The energy crisis caused by THE DROUGHT --a late wet season has to be the fault of the current administration.

  • The poor garbage collection has to be the fault of the previous mayor of Panama City.

  • The new transportation system snafu has to be the fault of the former vice president.

It goes on and on… ad-naseaum until  mid 2014.  Candidates for most positions in Panama are beginning to become reactionary to every event that makes the news.  Sometimes they are the news. 

I’m really not complaining.  Just stating a few facts in my whine mode.  Panama is a democratic republic.  Therefore the political system is just as corny and corrupt as the USA. But, it’s still a free election with voters, ballots and a degree of privacy.

Panama wasn’t always a true democracy.  Perhaps it still has its flaws but since becoming sovereign (detached) from the USA (since 2000 when the Canal Zone was officially turned back) Panama has enjoyed violence free elections  and representation of the will of the voters. 

In recent times, since the overthrow and arrest of General Noriega, No single party has REPEATED.  Let me explain.  Although there are several political parties, one would think that a NO REPEAT would be a good thing.  After a fashion, it is.  However, there is no consistent civil service program established in Panama.  When a new party takes control, they make a clean sweep; all government employees are subject to losing their jobs and could be replaced by the highly unqualified second cousin of the wife of the mayor’s son whose is illegitimate but still controls the power in a particular district. This is how it seems to work everywhere in Latin America.  Because of this archaic system, the inefficiencies of government and business are mind blowing to foreigners.

   Attempting to get your drivers license renewed after an election is a week-long job because the agent was recently assigned and he/she has no clue of how to do the work and no one in the office seems to know either.  Usually the purge goes right down to the janitor!  
 For North Americans and Europeans, this is extremely frustrating because we’re accustomed to a civil service program that doesn’t change at every election. Panamanians seem to take it in stride.  Perhaps if one of the three major political parties could REPEAT without a political coalition, it would take steps to create and reinforce a civil service program to be exempt from the constantly shifting political winds. This is strictly wishful thinking on my part.  Getting elected in Panama is exactly like getting elected in the USA or anywhere else.  The candidate who wins will probably be the one who can offer the most free stuff to the voters; money, power, or position. (Perhaps a job issuing drivers licenses?)

I have a good friend who lives in San Jose, Costa Rica who is a political analyst.  Cliff keeps his eye on all manners of events; especially politics in Central and South America.  His audience is the Ex-Patriot community.  I’m confident as we move closer to the Panama elections I can entice him to present his views on my blog. Since most EXPATS are not allowed to vote in their host countries, we need to be aware of what is happening around us.  That’s what Cliff brings to the table; an UNBIASED commentary about issues that may affect our offshore lives. (btw, the photo above is my kid brother, Bill.  The photo was taken at Ft San Lorenzo in 1956 by our dad, Wayne Hatting)

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