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Wednesday, June 20 2018 @ 08:42 PM EDT

Expat Couple Being Held As Prisoners By Citricos S.A.

Expat Tales By DON WINNER for - This morning I was made aware of the situation of two expatriates who live in Banco, in the District of Dolega, in Chiriqui. They have been made virtual prisoners of their own property, which is surrounded by land owned by a company called Citricos S.A. To make a long story short, this company is trying to eliminate their access and to cut off a road. At this very moment I just spoke to Dan Miller, who said the just "filled in the ditch" and that "Citricos has sent down a backhoe to do some more damage." He said there are about 40 people there, was well as the press and news reporters. The Citricos S.A company has placed an actual fence entirely around the Miller's property, posted a guard, and is not letting them come or go. Local authorities have not taken action fast enough or energenically enough, and now there is a virtual combat situation going on out there, with each side taking matters into their own hands. And, it's going to get dangerous. Dan Miller has his hands full right now and he's going to call me back later once the excitement dies down somewhat. In the meantime, here's the text of the email I received this morning; (more)
  • Don,

  • Vicky Wilson suggested that I advise you of the following.

  • Here are links to two articles, one in la Prensa and one in la Estrella, about our virtual confinement to our finca in el Banco since 17 July.



  • The situation continues, substantially unabated until a few hours ago.

  • Based on an order issued by the Mayor and Municipal Council in Dolega on 27 July, based on an ordinance issued in 2000 ordering Citricos, S. A., to remove all gates obstructing public access in the District of Dolega, the Mayor and Municipal Council ordered the Citricos gate to be removed on the same day. That was done. Early the next day, Citricos, S.A. sent some earth moving equipment and dug a ditch approximately six feet deep, seven feet wide and long enough to block passage other than by a person on foot, willing and able to traverse an approximately eight inch wide lip. We have been advised by a Citricos employee that if we make the lip wider to permit our worker's children to get past the ditch in greater safety in order to go to school, the ditch will be made wider to prevent any pedestrian passage.

  • On 11 August, the Ministry of Justice in Panamá directed the Mayor of Dolega to order Citricos to fill in the ditch so that I could get to David for necessary surgery. The Mayor accordingly faxed an order to Citricos to fill in the ditch; on 12 August, the order was hand delivered to and received by Citricos. The ditch is still there and I was unable to go for my surgery, needed to remove probably cancerous lesions on my head and face.

  • Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice is taking over the entire proceeding. The entire legal history is too lengthy to go into in this e-mail. However, should you desire further information about that you can speak with our attorney, Fidelina V. de Donohoe, at 6630 0443.

  • Leaving aside the substantial problems this has caused to my wife and me, it is a black eye for Panamá. There are adequate laws in place to deal with this sort of thing, but enforcement is lacking. Citricos can do whatever it pleases, and the local authorities, specifically the office of the Mayor of Dolega, are unable or unwilling to act. Please note the date, 26 July, of the first la Prensa article. When the Mayor finally authorized the removal of the gate, more ten days after it had been closed and locked by Citricos and he had been notified, he did so only after the press attempted to interview him about it on 25 July. The Mayor later had to be pressured by the Ministry of Justice (or the new Governor; I am not sure which) to order Citricos to fill in the ditch it had dug. The Mayor is unwilling or unable to do anything now about the refusal of Citricos to honor his order.

  • Here is a link to an article I wrote which was published in the United States on 7 August.


  • In writing the article, I felt the need to be rather circumspect because it seemed counterproductive to point fingers at the local authorities. Now, that seems a tad less important.

  • Since I started writing this e-mail, the following have happened:

  • 1.Twenty or more local Panamanians are coming tomorrow, 14 August, to fill in the ditch.

  • 2. A Panamanian friend, who lives much of the time in Panam á, is sending a "retro" to help fill in the ditch and remove the gate.

  • 3. Two television stations are coming to record the event, along with reporters from the print media.

  • 4. It has been suggested that hand printed signs, saying "Ahora le toca al Pueblo" be prominently displayed.

  • The matter will be covered by the two national television stations and print media tomorrow.

  • The press has been a blessing to us, and we hope that with sufficient continued pressure, Citricos will get the message that it cannot act with impunity and that we will be able to resume our tranquil existence in our adopted country.

  • Should you wish further information, I can be contacted either via e-mail or by phone at 6525 7281.

  • Dan Miller

Dan, You Have My Complete Support: I'll be making some phone calls to make sure everyone knows what's going on. Hang in there, guys. And above all, be safe. These kinds of situations can get stupid and dangerous, quickly. Patience...

Copyright 2009 by Don Winner for Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Expat Couple Being Held As Prisoners By Citricos S.A.
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 15 2009 @ 02:24 AM EDT

Here we go again!

I tell my friends all the time that I have a love/hate relationship with Panama. If it wasn't for the great fishing, cheap fresh fruit and beer...I'd never come to visit.

Panama can be such a wonderful place to visit for a vacation or perhaps to retire...if you can avoid the idiots that seem to prevail where many of us often trek.

I understand this is not Kansas, but geez! How can anybody on this planet (that's Earth or 3rd Rock from the Sun Citricos S.A) think they are justified to ignore Panamanian law... especially after a Panamanian judge spelled it out for them? Have they no respect for the law? Is the law meaningless in Panama?

It appears the problem is not the judicial system, but instead the local authority that doesn't have the might or will to enforce the law.

In a case such as this, the judge that directed Citricos S.A to play nicely needs to throw an inside fastball by issuing a warrant for the arrest of whomever is in charge of Citricos S.A. Then he should dispatch ample police forces to deal with the situation. Yes, put Citricos S. A. el hefe in the clinker until an easement with safe passage is provided.

To the Government of Panama...the world is watching. If you want us to bring in our investment dollars to Panama...demonstrate by action that our investment dollars will be protected.

The game is easiest played by following the rules.