Expat Couple Being Held As Prisoners By Citricos S.A.
Friday, August 14 2009 @ 06:27 PM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
- 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 Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.