Air Force Brat - Born In Canal Zone 44 Years Ago - Wants To Claim Panamanian Citizenship
Monday, August 01 2011 @ 08:39 AM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
Well now years down the road and I wish she would have. I have spent the last 20 years of my life living, working, communicating, building relationships, memories, and family all over Latin America, 10 of those years living in Mexico. I love the culture...I love the peopl, hell they have become my people.
In 1998 I lived in Costa Rica and thought about it and had an opportunity to pursue my citizenship but didn't take advantage of it. Now I wish I had. Which brings me in a round about way to you. I have a friend in Panama who has citizenship and told me to go on Panama Guide to find out how I might do it. So after reading article of yours on those Americans living there after years and becoming panamanians I'm writing to you as one born there with the birth papers to prove it as well as a USA passport that on the place of birth says Panama, which by the way has caused me problems like you would not believe over the years of traveling all over LA.
So, can you help? What do I do? Who do I talk to? Thanks for your time and whatever help you can provide. Leave a legacy, CL"
This Is An Easy One: Panama considers any person who was born in the former "Canal Zone" to be a Panamanian citizen by birth. Especially now since the Panama Canal and all of the lands of the former Canal Zone have been turned back over to the Panamanian's control with the full implementation of the Torrijos-Carter treaty at the end of 1999, these kinds of issues have become a question of national pride. For the government of Panama, anyone born on Panamanian soil - "Canal Zone" or no - is a Panamanian citizen by birth. Period. If you have the documentation proving you were in fact born at the Gorgas Army Hospital some 44 years ago, then all you will have to do is come here and present those documents to the offices of the Electoral Tribunal, where Cedulas (national identification cards) are issued. It's not hard to find because quite literally every Panamanian in town has to go there to get their cedula. Every cab driver knows exactly where it is.
What You Can Get: You are entitled to a Panamanian passport, cedula, and the same rights and privileges as any other Panamanian citizen. Of course there will be some degree of paperwork shuffle, but I assume by your email your Spanish language skills are above average due to the time you've spent living in Latin America. So, simply get all of your documentation in a large folder, come down here, and start applying for stuff. The Panamanians will simply say "welcome home." You should not need to go to Immigration for anything, because you're not immigrating into the country, you're returning to the land of your birth. You don't have to apply for "naturalization" or anything like that because by birth you are already a Panamanian - and you're simply lacking the documents issued by the Panamanian government. Citizenship by birth right is solid, as long as you can prove it. The more documents you have in your folder when you start this process, the better. Your birth certificate from Gorgas should be enough, but bring whatever else you might have, just in case. You should not need a lawyer to do any of these things. Let me know how it works out. Best of luck. And if you see that other famous Panamanian John McCain, tell him I said "hi."
Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.