WHERE VACATIONS START!
Deputy Elias Castillo is working on a legislature to modify the tourist visa time limits to a maximum of 30 days as a tourist with the option to extend it another 60 days.
This comes amidst discontent for the large number of Colombians and Venezuelans who overstay their visas, commit criminal acts while in Panama or pretty much abuse of their status and have problems with nationals.
Although the new law is aimed at everyone entering the country as a tourist, being allowed a maximum of 30 days and having proof of paid hotel stay and income, the article mentions that some nationalities will still be allowed to stay 6 months.
Glen this is not the USA and I think you overate the technical abilities of the police. I know of a car that was stolen 2 months ago. They have a copy of the thief's drivers license and his cell phone number and have talked to him, yet after 2 months they still can't locate him or the car.
Sorry Steve I have to disagree, some elements of the National Police specialize in intelligence gathering and are well equipped to do so thanks to the former president and the importation of equipment and training from the USA and Europe including interagency cooperation across international lines. Perhaps not all cops are Intel analysts but Panama does have them.
As far as the stolen car, having an understanding of the mechanics of law enforcement I know that not all solvable crimes get solved all the time partly because senior leadership are the ones who set the agenda for the street cops and its likely they have other priorities of a more serious nature and probably focus their resources accordingly.
The police system is up to date (except for finger prints and enforcing is another story.)The DIJ doesn't have what they need to do the job; training,equipment,force. I dealt with them on a serious theft case. One day they will have a finger print data base worthy of convictions but not now. They took good prints from my condo. I then ask the chief of DIJ in David, what do you think will happen? He said, "NOTHING" because the DIJ doesn't follow up much on cases "assuming most cases are juvenile deliquents. And, when immigration checks you out electronically your passport shows up "after the first time used in Panama" and a copy of your pensionado and ecedula and panama criminal record shows up in "SECONDS". I ask immigration to let me look at her computer screen at Tocumen Airport and there it was photo copies of US documents and Panamanian documents. So, they are in much better shape on security for the country than the province or city security. And the hand held device at the Caldera Check Point is fast and modern. They aren't pulling those cars over to the bus casita for nothing. They write tickets there every day or arrest or call the wrecker. In my opinion, they let too many cars pass through without checking because there are NOT enough police in Boquete to handle the local populaton PLUS the tourist. Criminals and illegal tourist are caught there often. Since it's inception all crime in Boquete has decreased from perps outside of Caldera and Boquete. Varela did add more than 300 cops in 2015 and if you think about it you do see them more now days. So, it's a developing country I think. I don't like to compare to the USA much but here's one observation. In the USA it is LAW to have a cop/resident ratio based on population of a state, county or city. That would work great here.
How many times you been asked for your ID at that Caldera checkpoint?
Same thing as in the USA............once they know you they wave you through not a problem for non criminals.
Same thing as in the USA? I haven't encountered a check point ever in the States but in Panama I encounter them every other day which is highly annoying. I moved to Panama for a sense of freedom but instead feel less free. Now I'm back to the States permanently and it is absolutely wonderful here. I didn't realize how much I gave up. There's no place like home.
Me too, except for agricultural checkpoint just inside cal from az (medfly problem).
DUI check points and equipment check points for trucks every where all over the USA everday somewhere. I don't down play the check points. Glad you're back home enjoying.
I drive a lot and have never encountered a check point in the USA. I know they exist.. somewhere, but the most important thing is I never experience them. After 10 years living in Panama I got sick of the daily checkpoints driving to and from home at various times mostly for license checks and passport stamps. It was too third world and militant for my tastes. After moving back to the States the quality of life has much improved. I know people leave their home country for various reasons but I've spent a long time in both places and life is much better at home and I would recommend to anyone considering jumping ship to stay put.
Varelas additional cops adds up to maybe 10 additional per province per shift. Misallocation of police resources are an issue. I learned recently that a long time Boquete merchant said she had to wait 3 or 4 hours for the police. I myself had to wait an hour, during a weekday for an urgent issue.
I also have a concern that the local criminals who are part of the 17,000 plus people that live north of the checkpoint know police that could be local are tied up manning a check point miles away.
I have serious reservations needing to be "vetted" to go to my own house. It's like living in a gated community, which gets victimized too. At least you don't have to show your docs to go there, and they won't tow you!
This checkpoint opens up the real possibility of towing fraud, which is very common in other places, and which I have experienced.
While the transitos are checking car docs, they are not patrolling for drunk and reckless drivers, who present a far greater danger to the community. Is this laziness? Is this smart?
I avoided the checkpoint recently using a nearby alternate route.
New Potrerillos to Palmira route will require additional police checkpoint resources. There isn't enough money to build a guardhouse at the Caldera checkpoint, will there be enough for additional staffing at the new Potrerillos/Boquete access, further draining resources to be used in Boquete proper?
I am not against the checkpoints on the Panamerica. These are major smuggling and contraband routes, and cannot be circumvented, and although a black eye to the tourist experience are unfortunately needed. Costa Rica doesn't have them, as far as I know.
We do agree on one thing. There are not enough police in Boquete.