The "Panama Canal Yacht Club" Is No More (1928 - 2009)
Sunday, March 01 2009 @ 08:29 PM EST
Contributed by: Don Winner
By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The "Panama Canal Yacht Club" has been taken over and demolished. There are some very serious allegations that some of the actions taken were illegal and criminal. I received the following this afternoon via email; "*The story: Since before we first sailed into Panamanian waters 5 years ago, the "Panama Canal Yacht Club" at which we have been docked off & on now for over 3 years has been constantly rumoured to be about to be closed and taken over by an ever-expanding container loading & storage operation. It was built by the US canal "zonies" 75 years ago and admittedly possessed a certain charm in it's constant and progressive state of decay and dilapidation. (more)
More importantly, we have come to know many of the "real people" workers and staff very well as one does over the years, and have developed attachments to these warm, generous and genuine people - exchanging gifts on special occasions and on other occasions being invited to share their hospitality - very poor by our overly materialistic standards but rich far beyond in terms friendship and generosity well beyond their means.
While this should really be their story, it has been a gut-wrenching experience for us to witness the events of the past few days, and we have not had an easy time with our emotions. That all this could be allowed to happen when general elections are about to be held for all levels of government in this country is the most poignant demonstration we have yet witnessed of the relative states of the "well-being", respect and dignity of the populace.
We can really only accurately relate to how we have been affected - relatively speaking only a minor inconvenience - in return for which Fran - nothing like the wrath of a woman to deal with the male of the species - has literally been on the warpath and we'd like to think she has been at least somewhat effective at making the lives of the on-site supervisors - and legal representatives of those responsible - miserable and with any luck somewhat apprehensive - admittedly probably not in the long run - but the water and electricity service has been promised to resume in a few hours (probably Panamanian time, unfortunately).
The moral: It seems to be more efficient and productive to beg forgiveness than permission.
Here's Fran's version.
On Thursday afternoon (the day after we paid our dock rent for another month) after the club manager left the office the sleezeball lawyers for Panama Ports Corporation whose stacks of containers have for years surrounded and steadily encroached on the club's land arrived and told the meek, mild, timid elderly little lady still in the office that they had an "order signed by the government" and were there to "simply do an inventory" and she would have to follow them around while they did it....unfortunately, as they planned, she certainly would not know any better - like to say "no way" - as the manager would have....so having done the inventory with a witness made it legal rather than a "break and enter"......at 0300 hours Friday morning......the entrance to the club was sealed off by two massive containers and the fence into the club was breached for access..... the demolition crew arrived with huge spot lights, wrecking balls, trucks and back hoes and started bashing down the buildings......sealing off the club may or may not have been legal - wrecking the place we've been assured is an illegal - probably criminal act - by 0800 hours the water main had been busted and the power lines downed.....now Friday was "Colon Day" another of many official holidays making a long weekend so naturally, as the Ports lawyers had calculated, there was no recourse that the Club or its lawyer could take as all government offices and judicial offices were closed.....no way to get an injunction to stop .....very slick on the part of Panama ports.....when we all started waking up and seeing this incredible destruction and walking around asking questions we were told that they were only taking down one old empty shed that the workers had been using - to send a message.......as the day went on the demolition never stopped......it was dismal with all our the friends we've made among he workers (the real people) who showed up for work as usual, sitting stunned in shock and tears.....all the contents of the office, the bar, the restaurant, the storage rooms, freezers and the workers lockers were being carted away and locked in containers which were moved to unspecified and unknown locations "for safe keeping" - uh huh...........now this morning......it has begun again.........there really won't be anything left standing by the end of today.........yesterday we were told that we had six weeks to empty our shed that contained virtually everything we keep on the boat....YEAH, right! I said.....I should believe them???!!!!!!....after all the lies so far???..(they didn't seem to appreciate that observation)....anyway we almost emptied everything in one day that we were planning on working on for a month - at our usual pace......but I will be dammed if we are removing OUR lock from it......because these sheds hold personal (customers') stuff that was not part of the club operation inventory and they will need each boater to sign off before they can touch the sheds and their contents......well.....they can send us a telegram to the San Blas Islands.....we will be leaving our lock on the shed when we leave.....right now we are being very difficult and fighting to have our power and water turned back on on the dock.....we're not as desperate as we've made out but after what they've done to the folks whose livelihoods have been here for years, it sure feels good to be difficult to these inhumane pricks!!!!!!!!!! I just had my turn venting at a real nice guy in fact, and I feel like a million bucks right now.........I was advising him that I am #1 not as nice as my husband #2 am not a dumb woman #3 am not a happy tourist passing thru #4 AM a Panamanian resident #5 have a lawyer #6 am aware that civil charges in Panama go nowhere #7 am aware that charges I intend to file relate to THE THEFT OF = MY - electricity-water-internet- and access and egress - all of these being CRIMINAL CHARGES.....together with the list of names and photographs we have gathered over the last 48 hours our lawyer is waiting to be told to FILE THE CHARGES.....I summed up by saying that while the criminal charges may not come to anything.......the time involved for YOUR lawyer to make them go away will at least give you more gray hair and at best the beginnings of an ulcer......he answered by saying 2:00 or 3:00 today.... he hopes to have water and electricity restored .....I said I would return..... and I will
Such a pity.