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Panama: Political Season Heating Up, The Return of Noriega, and Crime in Panama: a Love Story

#1: Panama Guide meditates on the always controversial Panamanian elections: Political Season Heating Up, Slowly

It may seem like it's still very early to be talking about the next national Panamanian election which will not be held until May of 2009. But in fact this is when politics in Panama are genuinely interesting because all of the obvious questions have not yet been defined. For example, who is going to be the candidate for the PRD for President? Everyone knows that Martin Torrijos would like to be followed by Samuel Lewis Navarro, but now the job at hand is pulling that off, and first they have to get past the elections for the National Executive Committee (CEN) and then a national PRD primary. Other serious contenders are ex-President Ernesto Perez Balladares who very much wants to return to power. The third wheel is Panama City Mayor Juan Carlos Navarro, who apparently is willing to be a team player for the strategic and long-term good of the party. Balbina Herrera, ex-Dignity Battalion Commander, National Assembly deputy for San Miguelito and current Minister of Housing is a force of nature in Panamanian politics. Read more…

#2: Panama's Noriegaville News reviews the possible actions the Panamanian government could take facing the imminent return of ex-General Manuel Antonio Noriega to this country: "Getting to host the general."  

We're only 4 months away from Manuel Antonio's release from the US prison where he's being held. The media in Panama produce nothing but a deafening silence on the subject, but behind that the Norieguista government is bustling with activity to assure that things will run smoothly.

There is, The Noriegaville News learned, for example a plan in which Torrijos
Jr. gives Noriega a similar reception as the latter gave Torrijos Sr. in 1969, when the dictator returned to Panama to counter a coup that had been mounted against him while in Mexico. Torrijos Sr. arrived in David in a plane he had borrowed from his friend the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza, and there Noriega had prepared a triumph caravan by car to the capital. Believe it or not, but a similar event – Noriega walking or being driven in some sort of Papal vehicle from the airport to his house – is in its early stages of preparation for when the narco-tyrant returns to Panama…To read the complete article visit Noriegaville News…

#3: Boquete Guide reports on expatriate living in Panama "Immigration – Visas have arrived, finally!"

We finally have received our Jubilado Visa’s gone are the monthly trips to immigration for renewal of temporary Visas.

The Jubilado Visa is a permanent tourist visa. It allows a holder to stay in Panama indefinitely without exiting the country. In fact exiting requires another visa entirely. As a holder you are not an immigrant in any real sense, just a tourist with some benefits.

One major benefit not listed below is that you do not need to leave Panama every 90 days for 3 days to re-enter as a tourist. Here is the official list of benefits.  Continue reading…

#4: Jorge Arango shares his point of view regarding politics and life in Venezuela: Sad for Venezuela

Venezuela is an amazing, beautiful country. Although I’ve only  once, I was captivated by its warm people and seemingly world-class infrastructure. I was also taken aback by its social iniquities, which were obvious even to a casual visitor like myself. (Note: Panama is not much better in this regard.)

I’m very saddened every time I hear news about the Chavez government’s latest “progressive” initiative to further consolidate their stranglehold on Venezuelan society. Tonight RCTV – one of the few mass media outlets left that is critical of the government – is being shut down; the government decided to not renew its license. Freedom of the press – a critical pilar of any healthy society – is quickly withering away. (How long will it be before they start censoring the Internet?) Read the complete post…

This is what Julia, one of his readers has to say on the subject:

It is sad indeed. Not just the closing of RCTV but the fact that for protest against it I also had to run and hide inside some buildings because the police were throwing tear gas bombs and don’t know what else. I’m frustrated. We are a beautiful country but every day we are more sad, more angry and less safe. As a Venezuelan I want to thank you for your words.

#5: Chiriqui Chatter travels to Costa Rica by road, and shares some valuable tips and information on what can you expect if you take this trip, and what you would miss if you don't: Trip to San Jose, Costa Rica

As you can see, I have returned. While it was a good trip, I am always glad to get back home. I took the TRACOPA bus from the Frontera to San Jose and the round trip price was about $20. The trip is about 7 hours by bus and that makes the trip about the same as a bus trip from David to Panama City. As always I took photos to give you a taste of what the trip was like.

….I will have to say that the road from Paso Canoas to San Jose was in very good condition. I didn’t see a single pothole. The road is only two lanes and is a pain to drive because of all the 18-wheelers. I would not want to drive this road. I think the road from Panama City to David is easier even with the potholes. Read More…

#6: Matt Landau from The Panama Report presents a common problem from a different perspective: "Crime in Panama: a love story"

It was a fairly muggy Saturday afternoon when, walking through a quiet intersection just short of Via Espana, I felt a tug at the back pocket of my jeans and turned to find a beautiful woman smiling as if I’d just kicked some game her way. It was the kind of tug that might have gone unnoticed had there not been a beautiful face not inches away from mine. We walked a few paces, our shoulders touching, our hips brushing, and our feet semi in sync. Any closer, and I’m pretty sure we’d have been having intercourse.

I looked at the girl, cute face, saddle skin tone and devious eyes like marbles, and then at her breasts which were the size of small ornamental pumpkins. She smiled back in an intimate way and I felt, for the first time in my life, I might be truly in love. A low-cut striped top and relatively tight jeans revealed a slender body that looked to be crafted for model runways and cheap beer ads. I pictured me and my honeydew girl forming a solid and meaningful relationship, perhaps some day sitting with our grandchildren and recalling the day we met. That is however, until I realized that honeydew was not flirting with me, but rather trying to steal my wallet. Read the complete post...

#7: Kleph's Kitchen shares one of Panama's traditionally loved recipes: "Sancocho"

Sancocho is a classic chicken soup. It is very similar to Caldo de Gallina in Peru. As such, it is best cooked with an old laying hen than a young frying bird. The tough meats will break down nicely and there is a much richer flavor to reward the time invested. In fact that's where the name comes from, the Spanish verb sancochar, which means to parboil.

According to the Cooking Diva, what makes this version uniquely Panamanian is the use of culantro which she defines as, "is a strong flavored, aromatic herb native from Mexico and Central, and South America. It is cultivated widely all over the world, and it is used extensively in Latin American and Asian cooking." It is not cilantro or coriander. And it isn't found commonly in US cooking. Get the scoop now…

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