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Thursday, April 17 2014 @ 08:37 PM EDT

Boy, These Guys From Citricos S.A. Are Being Real Pricks...

Expat Tales By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I received an update from Dan Miller last night. Dan and Jeanie Miller are retired, citizens of the United States, who reside permanently in the Republic of Panama as "pensionados." They've been living here for years, and they bought a small farm in the in the El Banco area in the District of Dolega, province of Chiriquí. For past couple of weeks these people have been in a fight over an access road to their farm which runs through a citrus grove owned by a company called Citricos S.A. In spite of the fact that there are several court orders prohibiting them from doing so, this company has done everything possible to cut off access to the Miller's farm and block the access road which runs through the citrus grove. First they put a big padlock on a gate, effectively making the Miller's prisoners on their own property. Then later, armed with an order from the local legal authorities preventing Citricos S.A. from locking the gate, local townspeople came to the aid of the Millers and removed the gate. In response, Citricos S.A. ordered their employees to dig a ditch across the road with a backhoe. Again, the local townspeople came and filled in the ditch with shovels. Then last night the company returned with a backhoe and dug three more ditches. What's up with these friggin' guys. There are clear orders telling them they can't do what they're doing, but they're doing it anyway, so who's going to make them stop this nonsense? (more)

Annotated Overhead View: In this annotated satellite imagery you can see the general layout of things. Dan Miller informs me this image is about four years old or so, and the house they have built on their property is not reflected in this image, and the small shack that was on their farm has since been removed. But in any case you can clearly see the 400 meter long access road as well as the outline of the Miller's property. (The unbelieveable pricks at) Citricos S.A. dug three ditches across this road last night, one at the gate to the Miller's property, one in the middle of the citrus grove, and one at the very end of the access road where it intersects with the main road.

It's Been Like 40 Years or More: From what I understand the Miller's have everything going in their favor from a legal point of view. The access road appears on the official "Tommy Guardia" maps. It's been recognized by the Ministry of Public Works as a public access road. It's been there and has been used by the community for about 40 years or more. And, when challenged, the local courts and governmental authorities have stepped up and decided in favor of the Millers, and they have ordered Citrico's S.A. to knock it off. But the company is ignoring these orders and continues to do this bullshit.

I Tried To Contact The Company: I got the number from Citricos S.A from their website and tried to call the company. There was no answer, and I'll try again on Monday morning. I want them to explain their position to me, although I suspect I already know what they will say. They don't want the Miller's to be allowed to drive through their citrus farm anymore. What, were they stealing mangos or something? Anyway, I'm sure the company will continue to make their points in the courts, and I suspect the courts will continue to reject their claims and counter-claims, but in the meantime someone really needs to step in and FORCE these guys to stop being such pricks. OK, there's a dispute - we got it. But digging ditches and ignoring court orders is basically acting like a little bitch - but armed with a backhoe. I guess their point is it's their land so they are perfectly within their rights to dig a ditch anywhere they want on their land, right? But doing so in order to block vehicular access to a senior citizen who is suffering from cancer and who needs to be able to leave his property in order to attend medical treatments is well beyond my ability to comprehend. I don't want to go up there myself to see this one because, well, it just would not be a wise move on my part. It wouldn't be pretty. (I'm thinking, take the backhoe and commence to flatten about 500 citrus trees or something similar, just for starters.)

They Got Money: According to their website, "Citricos S.A. is the largest cultivator of oranges and lemons in Panama, with more than 4,000 hectares designated to the cultivation, harvest, and processing of these fruits. Our specialty is the production of frozen concentrate of the juices of tropical fruits..." A company this large and successful couldn't come up with a peaceful solution? Find another way around? Create another access road somewhere else? Live in peace and harmony? They have to put a huge padlock on the gate and make these people not virtual prisoners, but actual prisoners of their own property? I mean, what the fuck?

The Media Is All Over It: This company Citricos S.A. is doing the "bang myself in the forehead with a hammer because it feels so good when I stop" routine. This really is self-destructive behavior. In fact, there's almost no way this comes out being a "win" for Citricos S.A. And for the life of me I can't figure out what's actually motivating them. Sheer macho bullshit? I just don't get it. Anyway, this story has enough legs to go international, and I suspect the eventual outcome will be the government of Panama grabbing the people who are behind Citricos S.A. by the ear and holding them down until the temper tantrum subsides. Then, they will be forced to open the access road. Eventually. But in the meantime, we're still playing these bullshit games.











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

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Boy, These Guys From Citricos S.A. Are Being Real Pricks... | 10 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Boy, These Guys From Citricos S.A. Are Being Real Pricks...
Authored by: susangg on Saturday, August 15 2009 @ 05:29 PM EDT
One thing that we can all do is boycott. I'd like to know under what retail brand names Citrico sells its products to grocery stores and restaurants. (I couldn't discern this from their website...). Armed with that information, we can all tell our local grocer and restaurants "PLEASE DO NOT PURCHASE THIS COMPANY'S PRODUCTS" (and why). And we can ask those vendors to tell their supplier why they are no longer ordering those products and ask the supplier to let the company know that the customers do not want to contribute to supporting a company that violates the law. We can tell all our Panamanian friends what we are doing and why.

---
"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Boy, These Guys From Citricos S.A. Are Being Real Pricks...
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 15 2009 @ 06:18 PM EDT

I agree with you Don. They are shooting themselves in the foot when they could have easily come to a sensible and non-violent resolution. First if they did not want to continue to allow egress through their orchard they could have legally petitioned the court and offered to provide another legal public access/easement that could not be shut down or blocked for any reason. If that aerial photo is aligned so that north is at the top of the photo an easy and shorter access road could easily be created to the west of the Miller's finca that would connect with that main road. It's not like the access road is a highly maintained road so just about anything could work as long as it doesn't become a quagmire during the rainy season. The route that Criticos S.A. is taking is just absurd and they are lucky they didn't run into some old cranky combat veteran. It's time the local authorities showed up in force and stopped this nonsense once and for all.

Boy, These Guys From Citricos S.A. Are Being Real Pricks...
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 15 2009 @ 07:27 PM EDT

I was one of what looked to be over 100 people, both ex-pats and a significant number of local Panamanians, who showed up to lend support to the Millers and to help fill the ridiculous Citrico hole blocking Jeannie & Dan from entering or leaving their home. It was heartwarming to see the support from the El Banco community, including at least 25 school kids holding banners. Unfortunately the promised TV coverage failed to appear, which is a true travesty, because this is certainly a story worth covering. There were 2 reporters, however, who said they would provide their stories and photos to any press that were interested.

It is totally beyond my imagination to appreciate what this idiot Citrico owner thinks he is accomplishing by continuing to alienate not only the Millers but a significant part of this community. I cannot believe that anyone who is aware of this situation would back the jerk who keeps pressing this issue. What can he even hope to accomplish except to turn the whole community against him and his company. If consumers decide to boycott his products and neighbors hate him, what has he really done here?

If the Millers' property was one of the pieces NOT originally sold to Citrico, how can they have any legitimate claim to deny access to anyone just because their large company bought up all the surrounding land? It must be illegal in virtually any country in the world to do so. What a travesty that the police were not present yesterday to serve notice to Citrico that any further interference would mean that someone goes to the hooskow for obstruction of justice. Granted, this is Panama, where money talks with many politicians, but I thought the new president was going to change all of that any start cleaning up the corruption. Why doesn't at least ONE politician stand up to this jerk and put some police clout behind him.

I wonder if this story has yet reached the attention of President Martinelli? It is a shame for a country's president to have to get involved in something so petty, but the international press will start making all of Panama look bad if SOMEONE does not really soon grow a pair of cajones and make this issue go away.

Bill Streit

Boy, These Guys From Citricos S.A. Are Being Real Pricks...
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, August 15 2009 @ 09:43 PM EDT

Maybe Citricos S.A wants to drive the Millers away so that they can take their land? I wonder if Citricos S.A ever made an offer on their land that the Miller's refused? This is about the only "logical" reason I can think of why Citricos S.A would do something so "primitive".

Don (or anyone) - if you find good contact information for Citricos S.A (Corporate Hqtrs) please post it. I have no doubt that Citricos S.A is a subsidiary (wholly owned) buy a larger corporation such as Dole, Chiquita, etc. I think we should try to follow this up the chain until we find a corporate officer who has some common business sense. The big companies will not stand for bad press being caused by their underlings. The big boys can put pressure (financial) on Citricos S.A to knock-off this bullshit and pronto.

Citricos S.A, I recommend you reconsider your moronic tactics. Everyone is against you. Play nicely with the Miller's and let this one go. But, if you don't...tread lightly. If any harm comes to the Miller's there is a huge multinational community watching with media interest growing. The corrupt ways of the past cannot endure today's media technology to inform the world. Don't poo-poo up Panama's image that it is working so hard to clean-up.

Rusty

Boy, These Guys From Citricos S.A. Are Being Real Pricks...
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 16 2009 @ 03:32 PM EDT

Well, a quick google search revealed the following:
Citricos S.A.
507 233-0026
233-6526
citricospanama@hotmail.com

so, let's go ahead and tell them directly how we feel.

Boy, These Guys From Citricos S.A. Are Being Real Pricks...
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 16 2009 @ 11:51 PM EDT
Some commenters asked who is Citricos S.A. A look into the public register (https://www.registro-publico.gob.pa/scripts/nwwisapi.dll/conweb/prinpage) reveils this easily. There is a whole bunch of "Citricos" corporations registered. The one we're talking about is CITRICOS, S. A. and the corporation info can be found in ficha 280771 . The resident agent is BERRIOS & BERRIOS and the president is GUILLERMO CARDENAS PELAEZ, vicepresident MARTHA MILENA CARDENAS DE GARCIA. One of the "subscriptores" of the corporation is certain Alberto Vallarino. Would be interesting to know whether he is identical with the well known politician. The name of the other "subscriptor" is MANUEL JOSÉ BERROCAL and this name is also that of a politician, the ex MINISTRO DE HACIENDA Y TESORO. Same person? If so this may explain the political connections of Citricus and its president Cardenas or, as Susan called it, "the pols he owns". But may he's not the same. The name appears als for a lawyer and others. The company is listed (http://www.vicomex.gob.pa/oferta_exp_emp.htm) as a producer of "ORANGE JUICE (CONC.), PINEAPPLE JUICE", the contact person is GUILERMO CARDENAS 233-0026/3248 FAX. 233-2398 . Googling the president's name it comes up in two legal cases, together with Citricos S.A. and EXTRACTORA DEL BARÚ S.A. (EBASA). The latter is listed officialy as a producer of "RAW PALM OIL, REFINED PALM OIL", the contact person is RICARDO STEVENSON 770-8228 FAX. 770-8248 but the president and vice president are the same as for Citricos SA. Among other they produce "Aceite Splendor" which is distributed in Panama by the Dickerson group. So when we are talking about boycot, EBASA may be considered as a target, too.
Boy, These Guys From Citricos S.A. Are Being Real Pricks...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, August 18 2009 @ 08:23 AM EDT

I am really pissed that the National Police haven't stepped in and arrested the backhoe operator for trespassing. Anyway, this is Panama, what else is new.

I have my own backhoe and would be willing to go there to fill in the trenches and/or block their equipment from harassing those folks. If someone would supply a trailer, I could use my truck to transport it to their site and stay for at least 2 weeks, at my expense.

Let me know if I can be of assistance.

Jim