Awesome days and cool nights!
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.
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.
Your 10 per province is an assumption. David and the surrounding pueblos got the most there was no average.
Thanks for your thoughtful post. You raise a number of issues that had not occurred to me.
One point, though. It is not the local police who man the checkpoint, so it isn't draining Boquete police personnel.
I totally agree with you that there is poor response time and little to no investigation of most crimes after the police arrive. And I too fervently wish that more attention were paid by the transitos to drunk and reckless drivers.
Prisons and police force are two different entities.
Ventura Ceballos is the main suspect in the murder of five young people of Asian descent in La Chorrera and was detained in the pavilion number 7 of the penitentiary center La Joyita, where was taken by agents of the National Police to receive visits from his lawyer, moment seized to flee.
Prison escapes all of the time in all countries. Not a big deal. They will probably find him in another country again. Maybe they can find him and shoot him before his trial. That's the thinking now days.......
This is a prison problem.
The check points have never bothered me. If someones papers are not up to date they shouldn't be driving.
That's not the point. It's the feeling of living in a police state where you are assumed guilty and have to prove your innocence all the time. Many left the States because they felt the USA was becoming a police state but comparing the two I feel much freer and safer living in the States.
Gordon, it's not just that. On my block of 10 houses, two have been burglarized, another neighbor with several dogs and a gate put bars on his window after living there for a few decades, and two shootings with one being a home invasion occurred up the hill from me.
All after the Caldera checkpoint was put in.
So in addition to paying taxes to steal your time at the checkpoints (I counted 20 cars stacked up waiting to clear). I really would feel safer if the police resources were transferred from the checkpoint to Boquete proper, seeing that the criminals probably lived north of the checkpoint.
Completely agree. Checkpoints are more about generating revenue than to prevent crimes. When I arrived in Panama a decade ago there were very few checkpoints but over the years it has gotten way too intrusive for my tastes. One of the many reasons I left.