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Thursday, August 21 2014 @ 10:04 AM EDT

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Most Citizens Do Not Consider Balboa To Be A National Hero

History & ReferenceVasco Núñez de Balboa, the Spanish explorer, governor and conqueror is recognized by Panamanians as the discoverer of the South Sea, nowadays known as the Pacific Ocean, but not as a national hero.

This is one of the results of the CID Gallup survey for “The People Talks,” which in this occasion decided to test the knowledge of Panamanians on the discoverer of the South Sea, discovered 500 years ago.

The survey company asked each of the interviewed if they knew who discovered the South Sea. 34.6% said no and 65.4% said yes. Out of the latter, 87.1% said Vasco Núñez de Balboa discovered it, 10.6% said Christopher Columbus. 2.3% had a different answer.

Most of the interviewed with a higher education (90.4%), residents of the interior of the country (90.2%), men (89.9%) and people older than 40 years old (89%) said Balboa was the discoverer.

NATIONAL HERO? NOT ACCORDING THE 56%

The survey company asked the interview if they thought Balboa was trully a Panamanian national hero and more than half of them said no.

To 36% of the interviewed, the Spanish who founded Santa María la Antigua del Darién is a national hero.

Those who usually glorify Balboa’s actions are mostly young adults (45.2%), women (43.6%), have high school studies (38.1%) and live in the interior (37.3%).

On the other hand, 56% of the interviewed do not see Vasco Núñez de Balboa as a national hero.

Most men (64.8 %), people who had college degrees (59.6 %), people older than 40 years old (57.7%) and residents in the city (57.1%) are those who do not consider the so called “discoverer of the South Sea” as a national hero. (Siglo)

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32 Years Have Passed After Omar Torrijo's Physical Disappearance

History & ReferenceToday, members of the Democratic Revolutionary Party commemorate 32 years of the physical disappearance of the former Commander Omar Torrijos Herrera.

The activity began at 7:00 a.m. with a pilgrimage to the mausoleum Omar Torrijos Herrera, located at the Causeway.

The former President of the Republic, Martin Torrijos, said Omar Torrijos's life is an exemplary life, full of dignity for all Panamanians.

Two days ago a statue of the Commander Omar Torrijos Herrera was unveiled in Coclesito, Cocle.

Torrijos was born in Santiago, Veraguas on February 13, 1929, and died when his plane crashed at Cerro Marta, in Cocle on July 31, 1981. He was an officer from the Panamanian army, and together with Boris Martinez he was one of the ringleaders of the coup of 1968, and leader of the country from 1969-1981. (Panama America)

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Tokyo Displays Calligraphy Exhibition To Commemorate The Pacific Ocean's Discovery

History & ReferenceAn calligraphy exhibition about the travel journal of the Spanish discover Vasco Nunez de Balboa and a conference on the importance to this date of his quest were part of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean.

The halls and classrooms of the Cervantes Institute of Tokyo evoke the great adventure of Nunez de Balboa (1475-1519), the first European to reach Panama and open trade routes to the Far East in 1513.

The exhibition, made by a Japanese calligraphy school, is reviewing with great detail through numerous charts the explorer’s itinerary until his arrival at the American continent and the conquest of the isthmus.

In addition, to commemorate its 500th Anniversary, a conference was organized in which the Spanish historians Abasolo Antonio Garcia and Miguel Luque were participating, as well as the expert Panamanian Ritter Diaz.

"The important thing is to show the Japanese the relevance of this great discovery from the European perspective; the moment they arrive to an unknown universe," explained Efe Ritter.

The discovery, which led to the birth of Panama, a country where the local currency keeps the name of its conqueror, confirms the importance of this historical fact to this day", Japan being the fourth Panama Canal user, said the Panamanian ambassador in Japan, Jorge Kosmas Sifaki.

Regardless of the explanations, the conference will include images with maps to explain to the Japanese public Nunez de Balboa’s trip and projections of the presence of this historical event in Panama’s history up to this day.

Meanwhile, Luque, general secretary of the Spanish Association of Studies in the Pacific and the Spanish Association of Americanists, explained the importance of the discovery for Spain and analyzed Nunez de Balboa’s figure as the leader of the conquest of America and its relationship with Indians. (Panama America)

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The Art of the Mola Comes From Panama's Guna Women

History & ReferenceBy Mimi Whitefield - PANAMA CITY, Panama — From the traditional blouses worn by Guna Indian women to evening gowns, wall hangings and even oven mitts, mola designs are everywhere in Panama.

Formed by stacking layers of vividly hued cloth together and then snipping away a part of each layer to form a design, the textiles are traditionally made by Guna women from the San Blas Islands to form the front and back panels of their blouses.

But now you’ll find these sculptures in cloth hawked on street corners in tourist areas and sewn into everything from bedspreads and pillow cases to purses and yarmulkes. Miss Panama 2011 even wore a mola-inspired skirt when she competed in the Miss Universe pageant. “This is a living art and a dying art at the same time,” said Lynne Saltzman de Berger, proprietor of Flory Saltzman Molas, a Panama City shop started by her mother Flory, 86. Tucked away in every corner and stacked to the ceiling are more than a million molas that the elder Saltzman began collecting and selling in the early 1960s.

The Guna refer to the San Blas archipelago as Guna Yala. Both the indigenous people and the place used to be known as Kuna, but the switch was made a few years ago at the insistence of the Guna people — they said the letter K did not exist in their language.

In the early days, the Guna women remained on the islands, just off the northeastern coast of Panama. The men did the selling, arriving at the shop between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., when Flory Saltzman did her buying.

The Guna are becoming more assimilated as they move to the mainland. Mola sellers are often women these days, Saltzman said. About 15,000 Guna create molas, Saltzman said. “Everyone makes them. Not everyone is an artist.”

To make the huge quantity of molas the store has accumulated over the years more marketable, Saltzman has them fashioned into everything from beach bags to glasses holders and T-shirts.

Other than requesting some white-on-white molas to match the color scheme of her mother’s home, Saltzman and her mother have eschewed interfering with the traditional designs and colors of the Gunas’ confections. They don’t request designer color schemes or soothing floral designs that are more compatible with home decor.

Though plenty of tourist molas in au courant colors are sold all over Panama, most of the textiles in the Saltzman shop are in the traditional mola colors of black, burgundy, red, and orange.

Helene Breebaart, a Panama City fashion designer and artist, isn’t such a purist — but she keeps the mola tradition alive in her own way. She uses traditional molas as her inspiration but creates the designs herself. “I like to maintain their traditions but I’m not going to steal their designs,” Breebaart said. “We are creative here.”

Breebaart, who is French, came to Panama to help launch the Christian Dior line in the Americas and wound up marrying her boss. The couple, who both had their pilot licenses, often took trips to the San Blas Islands on the weekends.

“One day I was looking at these beautiful girls with their molas and said, ‘I’m going to make my own mola designs,’” said Breebaart, who studied art in France and lived in a household where there was a full-time dressmaker on staff.

Her first design was a pineapple motif that that was appliquéd on a simple shift. That was 1978. The pineapple became the logo for her business, and she hasn’t looked back since. Beauty queens, socialites and even Rosalynn Carter are clients.

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Panama's ethnic Gunas commemorate their revolution

History & ReferenceBy ARNULFO FRANCO — Associated Press - USTUPU, PANAMA — With wooden rifles and the explosion of firecrackers, members of Panama's Guna indigenous group re-enacted an uprising by their ancestors against abuses and the repression of their traditions by police and soldiers.

Clad in red, tribe members simulated the Feb. 25, 1925, clash with police called the Guna Revolution amid parades and dances in a plaza on Ustupu, an island in the Guna Yala region on Panama's Caribbean coast.

"With this we reaffirm before the country and the world that the Guna people want to live in freedom," Anelio Merry Lopez, who serves as the communications secretary for the Guna General Congress, told The Associated Press.

In the revolution, Gunas under leader Nele Kantule attacked a Panamanian police outpost, accusing police of abuses and of repressing their traditions. After the uprising, the region was recognized as the Guna Yala reserve with an autonomous status. They were the first indigenous people to be so organized in Panama. They are currently governed by traditional authorities.

With 80,000 members, the Gunas are Panama's second most numerous indigenous group. They are known around the world for their brightly color "mola" woven cloths.

Celebrations began Saturday, and the straw- or cane-roofed huts were adorned with the red-and-yellow flag of the Gunas.

The flag has an ancient Guna symbol in the middle that resembles an inverted swastika representing the four directions and the creation of the world.

The color of the flag was originally white, representing mother earth. Today it is associated with the Guna Revolution, and the color of the flag was changed by revolutionaries to yellow and red, with the yellow representing gold and red representing blood

Celebrations ended Tuesday with adults drinking traditional "chicha" cane liquor.

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The Viaduct Is A Final Decision That Panama Delivered to UNESCO

History & Reference Given the recent call of the World Heritage Committee of Unesco asking for the Panamanian government to consider building a tunnel, the National Institute of Culture (INAC) said the over water viaduct is a "final decision" to connect Ave Balboa with the Ave. De Los Poetas.

"The tunnel is not an option. That is the decision of the state party and thank God I am glad there will not be a tunnel," said this morning, Thursday, 13 December 2012 on the channel 2 TVN morning news the Director of INAC, Maria Eugenia Herrera.

In a report released this week through its Web site, the World Heritage Committee reiterated that the viaduct will have a negative impact on the universal value of Casco Viejo - recognized as a world heritage site since 1997 - and called for its immediate suspension and an analysis of alternatives, such as an underground tunnel.

The agency also warned that Casco Viejo could be expelled from the list of World Heritage sites during the next meeting of the WHC, in June 2013, in Cambodia.

Herrera said that such information is "outdated". She said the complementary study of the marine section was presented at this years meeting of the WHC in Russia, it was shown that Panama took "the best decision".

"There is not a single legal document that says we will affect the universal value of the site (Casco Viejo)," she said. "What is good and what is bad is a different thing, but we have been highly responsible," she said.

She explained that the document on the Internet - which was seen by La Prensa - contains "outdated information" because the "security code" that was given at a meeting of the WHC, in Chile, earlier this month, to the director of Heritage History, Sandra Cerrud, did not allow for the updated documentation to be entered at the time.

"Panama has submitted all of the documents to Unesco and I want to clarify that the [information] coming out of Chile is not true," the official stated in TVN Noticias.

In that same tone the Deputy Director of the INAC Raul Castro said the disclosures "are not correct, are not valid." UNESCO is an international organization that works chronologically like clockwork, Castro said on Telemetro.

Sebastian Paniza, President of Icomos Panama - the advisory body to Unesco on issues of heritage - replied that the information is up to date, and it was this that was presented and discussed at the last meeting of Chile. "Here they are outdated," said Paniza. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Sebasitan Paniza is a friend of mine, and he also owns property in Casco Viejo. He and others do not want this roadway built around the area, and they have been trying to lobby Unesco for years to indirectly pressure the Panamanian government to abandon the plan. However, Martinelli's mind is made up, and construction continues.

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Working From Home, Bird's In The Oven, Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

History & ReferenceBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I'm expecting about 15 guests to eat with our family of 5 this evening. Early this morning the 26 pound bird went into the oven at 350 for 5+ hours. After a couple of hours at Riba Smith last night I gathered up all of the standard fixin's. I always cook on Thanksgiving because I know what I like, and I know what a "real" or traditional (for my family) Thanksgiving day dinner is supposed to be. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, golden corn, french cut green beans, sweet potatoes, giblet gravy, fresh baked dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, applesauce, pickles, olives, chips and dips, apple and pumpkin pie - yeah, I think we've got enough food.

I'm working from home on the laptop while the bird is in the oven. I hope you all are enjoying this most American of traditions and celebrations, no matter where you are or who you're with. I can always find dozens of reasons to be thankful, and I count my blessings every day. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone...

Copyright 2012 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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Very Slow News Day in Panama (Holiday)

History & ReferenceBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - It's a very slow news day in Panama today, because everyone is enjoying the long weekend thanks to the celebration of Panama's "separation" from Colombia on 3 November 1903. They make the distinction of calling Panama's "independence" day 28 November, when Panama was a part of Colombia, and they gained their "independence" from Spain. Panamanian scholars rehash this argument over semantics every year.

The 3rd of November fell on a Saturday this year, so they pushed the day off to Monday to give everyone a three day weekend. As it happens every year, there was an "exodus" from Panama City starting last Friday which jammed the bus terminal and highways. The only real news stories being generated are about the traffic. And of course later today everyone will be returning to Panama City, and the traffic from the Interior will be impossible. Everyone goes back to work tomorrow.

Copyright 2012 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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Authorities Recover 150 Historical Artifacts

History & ReferenceAn archaeological collection of 150 pieces was recovered Wednesday by the National Direction of Historical Heritage, after finding that the person who had the objects was offering them for sale via the Internet. The seizure of the pieces - some of which date from 300 BC and others from 1,400 AD - occurred in the Capital after a citizen complaint alerted authorities about the marketing of the historical artifacts. The Criminal Code provides for penalties of five to seven years in prison for those who are engaged in this illegal activity.

In this case, the Deputy Attorney General has two Panamanians and one Colombian under investigation, who were detained while the search was conducted, said the director of Heritage, Sandra Cerrud. The recovery of the pieces by the authorities represents an exceptional historical value, because they correspond to the local history of different Panamanian cultures, as announced at the press conference. However, they clarified that on the black market the smuggling of these objects has a value exceeding $200,000.

Cerrud explained the illegality, saying that "you can collect antiquities, but not to sell them. The pieces are owned by the state and the collector only serves as the custodian of the same. Moreover, each of these parts must be inventoried so that, via a resolution, the permit can be granted." The Director of Historical Heritage explained that this collection dates back more than 25 years, and due to the volume of the collection, they are considering "a short term project to reopen the Museum Reina Torres de Arauz, and the display the jewelry and gold."

In the group of recovered objects, it is presumed there were pieces of gold that were sold before the raid was conducted. About the origin of the pieces, anthropologists determined that they come from the regions of Greater Chiriquí and Gran Cocle, defined through the archaeological map of Panama. The design and painting of the parts allows professionals to identify their origin. "Their identification is done through the anthropological literature, that allows us to clarify what period they corresponded," said anthropologist Yamitzel Gutierrez. (Panama America)

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Executive Order Moves Holiday Celebration Dates For November

History & ReferenceBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - President Ricardo Martinelli has issued an executive order to establish the schedules for public offices during the upcoming holidays. All government, municipal, and public offices will be closed at 12:00 noon on 2 November 2012, in recognition of the "Day of the Dead." This year Panama's Independence Day (3 November) falls on a Sunday. The measure, contained in Executive Decree No. 966 of 30 October 2012 was also signed by Jorge Ricardo Fabrega in his capacity as Minister of Government. The order also specifies that the National Flag will be flown at half-mast on that day.

The government also decided to transfer the mandatory national holiday (day off of work) from November 28 (a Wednesday) to November 26 (a Monday) in order to give everyone a three day weekend. Panama celebrates it's Independence from Spain on 28 November. The same Decree No. 967 orders the closure of all national and municipal government offices and private offices on Monday, 26 November 2012, and states that the civic and official commemorations for the November 28 holiday should be held as is tradition on the same date.

Editor's Comment: Governments around the world do this sort of thing all the time, in order to "create" a three day weekend. Of course in Panama, November is one of the rainiest months of the year, and it's "tradition" for the marchers in the parades to get soaked, at least once.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Don't forget to follow Panama Guide on Twitter. Salud.

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Black Christ of Portobelo Procession on 21 October

History & ReferencePreparations. On Sunday 21 October, thousands of Panamanians and foreigners are prepared to participate in the traditional procession of the Black Christ of Portobelo, Colon. The community, which celebrates the feast of the Nazarene, is going through a difficult time, following the mudslides that buried some homes two years ago, killing eight people.

A team from the DIA a DIA newspaper toured the area, confirming the abandonment, because from the entry of the town f Portobelo it can been seen that the majority of the houses affected by the landslide remain in total neglect. Those affected are still waiting for the government to solve the housing problem which they have faced since the day of the incident.

One of them is Diana Rivas, who has had to live in a rented apartment, near her old home, to see that no one steals her land. She said it was very difficult to start from scratch, because nobody expects to lose all of their belongings in one day. Although she did not lose and family members, Diana has had to work two jobs, to regain her stuff. According to her, the subsidy received from the Government is not enough to maintain the house and kids, and they want their homes to be constructed as soon as possible to regain their former life.

Carlos Chavarria, the Mayor of Portobelo, reported that at the moment they are offering a monthly allowance of $150, trying to help those who have been affected in some way. With regard to the houses, he said they purchased a lot of land in Portobelo, to build new homes for the affected families, but at first they had problems with the National Environmental Authority (ANAM), because the area was considered to be a reserve for the community. After several meetings, they managed to finish the filling of land for the construction of the houses, and they plan to resolve the problem of those who were affected in about four months, said Chavarria.

Until that promise comes true, residents hope the Black Christ of Portobelo will create a miracle for them. (Dia a Dia)

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So, Where Did The Name "Tumba Muerto" Really Come From?

History & Reference By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - This morning I posted an article about illegal street racing in Panama City, which reminded me of a story I had heard about the origin of the name of "Tumba Muerto" in Panama City. Back in the late 80's I was told the name came from rich kids who had crashed their cars while racing on the road. And of course as it often happens, as soon as I post something that's wrong, I get corrected. I received the following via email this afternoon, a story handed down through the generations of Panamanians from the area.

"Dr. Octavio De Icaza, a dentist, told me the truth about the name that has been given to the Via Ricardo J. Alfaro.

Many years ago these lands were few large paddocks where their owners kept cattle, where they milked their cows to sell it, and many people passed through this area in the early hours of the morning. The dairy owners complained to the milkers, because some time earlier they had started delivering the milk later than usual. When the owner of the dairy asked them what was happening, feeling very sorry, they told him "Look, Mr. José María, what is happening is that we have to wait for the dawn, because if we don't, then we might run into the ghost who comes out in the early morning hours."

"Here's the thing," he responded. "Tomorrow I will go to see this supposed dead person," said the dairy owner. And indeed, when he arrived at a certain point, there was a "dead" person who was there and floating from one side to the other. The dairy owner then pulled out his gun and fired a shot into the dark, and right away he heard some screams "don't kill me, don't kill me!"

In that way José María was able to learn that the individual had tied a long rope to a tree, and from there he could "float" from one side to the other, thus scaring the poor bystanders, when they were afraid of the ghost, they would drop what they had in their hands to run away, and then the "dead" person would come down to collect the booty.

And since that day this area - the area of Via Ricardo J. Alfaro - has been known as "Tumba Muerto." And Panamanians are like that, once a name has been applied to a place, no one can take it away. The same happened with the second bridge over the Canal. When they said they would give it the name of a famous person no one accepted, and the bridge was baptized "Centennial." The author is a Panamanian citizen."

Source: http://mensual.prensa.com/mensual/contenido/2006/11/11/hoy/opinion/793132.html

Author: HILDEMARTA D. DE RIERA

Editor's Comment: Thanks for sending this to me. It's a much more interesting tale than a bunch of idiots crashing their cars on a new road. I like it. A "real" ghost story, and just in time for Halloween.

Copyright 2012 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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Torrijos - Carter Treaty Signed 35 Years Ago Today

History & ReferenceThe Torrijos - Carter Treaty and other related documents were signed in Washington DC on September 7, 1977 between General Omar Torrijos Herrera and the US President Jimmy Carter. This treaty progressively transferred sovereignty over the Panama Canal from the United States to Panama, on 31 December 1999. These agreements were signed in the offices of the Organization of American States, with presidents from all around Latin America as guests and witnesses. The treaty was subsequently ratified by a plebiscite in Panama on 23 October 1977, and approved by the U.S. Senate in March and April of 1978.

The treaties committing both countries to agree in a friendly and cooperative manner to provide the good administration, operation and proper maintenance of the Panama Canal. The Torrijos - Carter Treaty consists of a preamble, 14 articles, an annex and minutes; and another Treaty Concerning the Permanent Neutrality and Operation of the Panama Canal which guarantees the free movement and its neutrality in perpetuity. Without any doubt, the signing of the Torrijos - Carter treaty was a remarkable achievement for the time, achieving the promise of the full reimbursement of the Canal Zone to the Panamanians.

This treaty contains the DeConcini amendment that allows the United States to retake control of the Canal if they believe the security of the country (the United States) or the hemisphere is threatened, or if it is found that Panama's administration of the canal is deficient. (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: The economic expansion currently being enjoyed in Panama today can be directly attributed to the full implementation of the Torrijos - Carter treaty.

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Panama City’s revived Old Town in battle over viaduct

History & ReferenceBY TIM JOHNSON - MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS - PANAMA CITY -- This city’s Old Town, protected by man-made 25-foot stone walls built more than three centuries ago, has been called an echo of New Orleans’ French Quarter – but better. Along its streets, strollers find gourmet bistros, working brothels, decayed churches and boutique hotels with bougainvillea spilling from balconies. Founded centuries ago on a tiny peninsula jutting into the Pacific Ocean, Old Town has been wracked by disease, ravaged by fire and in recent years revived into a destination. In 1997, the United Nations declared Panama City’s Casco Viejo – or Old Town – a World Heritage Site, a distinction that marked it as a historic resource for the world. Panamanians celebrated it as a draw for tourism. Now the district is the scene of a new tussle, however. A proposed ocean causeway that would girdle Old Town has brought to the fore the issue of whether nations have a duty to ensure preservation of areas that have been deemed part of the world’s heritage. In short, does Panama owe it to humanity to guarantee Old Town’s essential character? Read more here.
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Today Marks 493rd Anniversary Of The Founding of "Old Panama"

History & ReferenceToday Wednesday 15 August 2012 marks the 493rd anniversary of the founding of Old Panama. To celebrate the occasion there will be various artists performing and recreational activities. A "culinary path" will be opened from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm where there will be small restaurants selling food. Similarly, the community board of Parque Lefevre created craft stalls, and they set up an exposition with the monumental tower. There will be artists and folk dancing on the main stage to be presented from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. The city was founded by Pedro Arias de Avila (Pedrarias Dávila) on August 15, 1519. Then the city was hit by at least three devastating fires and an earthquake in 1621. It was also besieged several times by pirates. The worst of these sieges was commanded by the English pirate Henry Morgan, who arrived at the site on 28 January 1671 and he remained there until 24 February. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: And finally they realized the location of the original Panama City was practically impossible to defend from a military point of view, so the abandoned the site in favor of the current "Casco Viejo" which was built as a walled city on the point. Much easier to defend.

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Ancient turtle was round like a truck tire

History & ReferenceWASHINGTON (UPI) -- A turtle that lived 60 million years ago in what is now northwestern South America was nearly round with a shell the size of a big truck tire, scientists say. Paleontologists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and colleagues at North Carolina State University and the Florida Museum of Natural History discovered the new species of fossil turtle in the Cerrejon Coal Mine in Colombia, famous for the discoveries of the extinct Titanoboa, the world's biggest snake, and Carbonemys, a freshwater turtle as big as a small car, a Smithsonian release reported Wednesday.

The new species, Puentemys mushaisaensis, was about 5 feet in diameter and adds to growing evidence that following the extinction of the dinosaurs, tropical reptiles were much bigger than they are now, researchers said.

Its extremely circular shell, about the size and shape of a big truck tire, could have discouraged predators, including Titanoboa -- which would have had a hard time swallowing the turtle -- and may have aided in regulating its body temperature by increasing body area exposed to the sun, study lead author Edwin Cadena of North Carolina State said.

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Commerative Copper panels, etc

History & Referenceseeking information on artifacts found. I recently found in the US two embossed copper panels mounted on wood frames from Panama. They are approx 18 inches square and depict scenes from the canal, one shows a ship at a lock port and is surrounded by the words "The Panama Canal Company 1950." I am seeking information concerning the event prompting their issue and potential/possible value. Also found with the panels is a hand made banner, framed under glass that shows an embrodered map of Panama with the canal, birds, symbols and colors I do not recognize and an hand stitched US Flag. The flag has 55 stars!!!! It appears to have been locally made. Can anyone point or guide me to a source for further investigation of these items? I appreciate your assistance. bob
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The History Of Spaniards Working On The Panama Canal

History & ReferenceThousands of Spanish immigrants a century ago embarked on the construction of the Panama Canal, a major engineering project in the world, and now Spanish companies are involved in the expansion project. The Spanish became the second largest work force (in the construction of the original Panama Canal), after the West Indians and ahead of the Italians, Colombians, Panamanians or French, according to a study just completed by the Direct Foundation with support from the Department of Immigration of the Ministry of Employment and Social Social Security.

The e-book "The Spanish participation in the Panama Canal: History past and present of Spanish emigration to the Panama Canal," details how the construction of one of the most challenging engineering projects of all time attracted thousands of foreign workers, including more than 8,000 Spaniards. Speaking to EFE, the president of Direct Foundation, Maria Angeles Sallé, explained that this book is part of the "Migraventura Project" that aims to rescue the history of Spanish emigration to America. Sallé said this project is to show the unknown and powerful ties between Spain and America, besides the economic and family ties, and to note that migration is a two way street. If during the past century millions of Spaniards emigrated to the Americas, today a flood of Spaniards are coming to the Americas, while recently thousands of Latin Americans have settled in Spain.

This book aims to pay tribute to the Spanish emigrants "who one day were given the task of opening with their own hands a vital path of water in a distant and inhospitable land from where many would not return." The Panama Canal, built by the United States between 1904 and 1914, has marked the history of Panama since its birth as a Republic in 1903, and for the rest of the twentieth century until 1999, when control of the waterway was passed to Panama.

Although the United States realized their dream of uniting the Pacific and Atlantic, who first to envision the idea of ​​building a canal through the Isthmus of Panama was King Charles I of Spain, who also held the title of Emperor of Germany under the name Charles V, in 1534. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: I just happen to be re-reading the book "The Land Divided, The World United" by Paul Rink, and in Chapter 9 on page 111 he talked about the labor force used to build the Panama Canal; "In addition to skilled American personnel, thousands upon thousands of laborers were needed. During Stevens' regime, the vanguard started rolling in. West Indians, Greeks, Frenchmen came from all over the world as the word went out that there were jobs begging in Panama. Stevens especially favored the Spaniards. These tough, hard-working men from the plains and the high mountains of Spain were people he liked and understood. He set up an office in Paris for their recruitment, and eventually over seven thousand of these industrious and frugal workers were hired and brought to the Isthmus."

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Was Columbus secretly a Jew?

History & ReferenceBy Charles Garcia for (CNN) -- Today marks the 508th anniversary of the death of Christopher Columbus. Everybody knows the story of Columbus, right? He was an Italian explorer from Genoa who set sail in 1492 to enrich the Spanish monarchs with gold and spices from the orient. Not quite. For too long, scholars have ignored Columbus's grand passion: the quest to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims.

During Columbus's lifetime, Jews became the target of fanatical religious persecution. On March 31, 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella proclaimed that all Jews were to be expelled from Spain. The edict especially targeted the 800,000 Jews who had never converted, and gave them four months to pack up and get out.

The Jews who were forced to renounce Judaism and embrace Catholicism were known as "Conversos," or converts. There were also those who feigned conversion, practicing Catholicism outwardly while covertly practicing Judaism, the so-called "Marranos," or swine.

Tens of thousands of Marranos were tortured by the Spanish Inquisition. They were pressured to offer names of friends and family members, who were ultimately paraded in front of crowds, tied to stakes and burned alive. Their land and personal possessions were then divvied up by the church and crown.

Recently, a number of Spanish scholars, such as Jose Erugo, Celso Garcia de la Riega, Otero Sanchez and Nicholas Dias Perez, have concluded that Columbus was a Marrano, whose survival depended upon the suppression of all evidence of his Jewish background in face of the brutal, systematic ethnic cleansing.

Columbus, who was known in Spain as Cristóbal Colón and didn't speak Italian, signed his last will and testament on May 19, 1506, and made five curious -- and revealing -- provisions.

Two of his wishes -- tithe one-tenth of his income to the poor and provide an anonymous dowry for poor girls -- are part of Jewish customs. He also decreed to give money to a Jew who lived at the entrance of the Lisbon Jewish Quarter.

On those documents, Columbus used a triangular signature of dots and letters that resembled inscriptions found on gravestones of Jewish cemeteries in Spain. He ordered his heirs to use the signature in perpetuity.

According to British historian Cecil Roth's "The History of the Marranos," the anagram was a cryptic substitute for the Kaddish, a prayer recited in the synagogue by mourners after the death of a close relative. Thus, Columbus's subterfuge allowed his sons to say Kaddish for their crypto-Jewish father when he died. Finally, Columbus left money to support the crusade he hoped his successors would take up to liberate the Holy Land.

Estelle Irizarry, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University, has analyzed the language and syntax of hundreds of handwritten letters, diaries and documents of Columbus and concluded that the explorer's primary written and spoken language was Castilian Spanish. Irizarry explains that 15th-century Castilian Spanish was the "Yiddish" of Spanish Jewry, known as "Ladino." At the top left-hand corner of all but one of the 13 letters written by Columbus to his son Diego contained the handwritten Hebrew letters bet-hei, meaning b'ezrat Hashem (with God's help).

Observant Jews have for centuries customarily added this blessing to their letters. No letters to outsiders bear this mark, and the one letter to Diego in which this was omitted was one meant for King Ferdinand.

In Simon Weisenthal's book, "Sails of Hope," he argues that Columbus's voyage was motivated by a desire to find a safe haven for the Jews in light of their expulsion from Spain. Likewise, Carol Delaney, a cultural anthropologist at Stanford University, concludes that Columbus was a deeply religious man whose purpose was to sail to Asia to obtain gold in order to finance a crusade to take back Jerusalem and rebuild the Jews' holy Temple.

In Columbus's day, Jews widely believed that Jerusalem had to be liberated and the Temple rebuilt for the Messiah to return.

Scholars point to the date on which Columbus set sail as further evidence of his true motives. He was originally going to sail on August 2, 1492, a day that happened to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Tisha B'Av, marking the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples of Jerusalem. Columbus postponed this original sail date by one day to avoid embarking on the holiday, which would have been considered by Jews to be an unlucky day to set sail. (Coincidentally or significantly, the day he set forth was the very day that Jews were, by law, given the choice of converting, leaving Spain, or being killed.)

Columbus's voyage was not, as is commonly believed, funded by the deep pockets of Queen Isabella, but rather by two Jewish Conversos and another prominent Jew. Louis de Santangel and Gabriel Sanchez advanced an interest free loan of 17,000 ducats from their own pockets to help pay for the voyage, as did Don Isaac Abrabanel, rabbi and Jewish statesman.

Indeed, the first two letters Columbus sent back from his journey were not to Ferdinand and Isabella, but to Santangel and Sanchez, thanking them for their support and telling them what he had found.

The evidence seem to bear out a far more complicated picture of the man for whom our nation now celebrates a national holiday and has named its capital.

As we witness bloodshed the world over in the name of religious freedom, it is valuable to take another look at the man who sailed the seas in search of such freedoms -- landing in a place that would eventually come to hold such an ideal at its very core.

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Customs Inspectors FOUND The Stolen Cannons

History & ReferenceInspectors from the National Customs Authority found the cannons that had been stolen from Fort San Lorenzo in Colon, inside of a cargo container in the Port of Balboa in Panama City. As reported by the Director of the National Customs Authority Gloria Moreno de Lopez, the container was reported as "scrap metal" and when it was being reviewed the weight alerted the inspector, because the weight of the container was much higher than what is usually shipped as scrap metal. Customs then passed the container through their "scanner" where they realized the stolen cannons were inside.

It was initially reported the container was destined for China, but the Customs Authorities inspected the paperwork associated with the container and discovered it was actually destined for South Korea.

The container has not yet been opened, because the Customs authorities are waiting for the authorities from the National Institute of Culture, in addition to compliance with other legal proceedings. This is expected that they will be opening the container later this afternoon. Lopez said the container has been seized, and said it will be placed at the disposal of the Public Ministry.

According to the director such crimes are not performed by lower class people.

The two stolen cannons are part of a historic monument that includes Fort San Lorenzo, declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Yeah! Excellent. Wonderful. I hope they throw whoever is responsible for that container in prison. Stealing antique Spanish cannons from a World Heritage Site to sell them as scrap metal is just so -- wrong. I hope they make an example out of whoever did this. And for the record, the Director of the National Customs Authority Gloria Moreno de Lopez is the one member of the entire government of Ricardo Martinelli that I would not want to tangle with. She looks like a Chihuahua, but hits like a Rottweiler. Well .. friggin' .. done...

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Still Searching For The Stolen Cannons

History & ReferenceThe people in Colon are still surprised over the theft of the cannons from Fort San Lorenzo, in the area of Cristobal, province of Colon. And the critics of this historic heist have not been long in coming. One who made ​​a very interesting question was the mayor the city of Colon, Damaso Garcia, who asked "how did they manage to pass through the checkpoints in the area"? The Mayor was referring to the checkpoints manned by the National Air Service and another, where there are officials of the National Environmental Authority. The truth is that the operations to find the stolen cannons are now centered on the businesses engaged in recycling metals. However, so far the efforts have been unsuccessful. For school history teacher Jose Fernandez the theft of these cannons regrettable, and he called on the tourism authorities to be more aware of these historical sites. It was learned that the board of Fort San Lorenzo and Portobelo filed a complaint with the Judicial Investigation Department for the crime of theft in this case. (Mi Diario)

Editor's Comment: As you can see in this image, the cannons at Fort San Lorenzo are not taken care of very well. There are literally antique cannons laying on the ground. Panama has not done as much as they could to preserve and protect these historical monuments.

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Road Work Crew Stole Cannons From Fort San Lorenzo in Colon

History & Reference The authorities are close to the "unconscionable" people who stole two antique cannons from the Fort of San Lorenzo (Colon), a structure that is a World Heritage Site. This was announced on Tuesday by the director of Heritage of the National Institute of Culture (INAC), Sandra Cerrud, who said she is working on the recovery of these guns. Cerrud explained on TVN News that the suspects are people who were doing work on a road near the fort. She said the Directorate of Heritage was not notified that roadwork was going to be completed near the fort. But she said they have already obtained the work schedule and the company for which these people worked. "We are doing all of the logistics" to recover the guns, said the official. The fort of San Lorenzo, was declared, together with the fort of Portobelo, as a World Heritage Site in 1997. (Prensa)
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I Took The Morning Off, Martyr's Day in Panama City (National Holiday)

History & ReferenceBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Today, 9 January 2012, is Martyr's Day in Panama City, a national holiday and another three day weekend for Panamanians. All government offices and schools are closed, as well as many businesses. The malls are open, some restaurants, grocery stores, stuff like that. There's a "dry law" in effect today so you can't buy booze or beer. Traffic in Panama City is very light to non-existent. Right now everyone is driving back to Panama City from the beaches and the interior, so expect much heavier than normal traffic on the Inter American Highway from Coronado back to the city. I took a "lazy morning" off today. Slept in later than normal. Had two cups of coffee instead of one. Helped my daughter and showed her how to bowl on the new Wii she got for Christmas (she beat me by the second game.) Then I bopped over to the NY Bagel Bakery for an early afternoon breakfast before heading in to the office to get some work done. Still basking in the afterglow of the NY Giants win over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Wildcard Game yesterday. Next up is Green Bay, on the road in Wisconsin - a tough game but I think they're more scared of us than we are of them, so that's a good thing. My parents tell me it's "warmed up" to the mid-40's in New York, while here in Panama we are now in full swing dry season, temps in the mid 80's, no rain, low humidity, blue skies with those white puffy clouds. I hope ya'll enjoy your Panamanian "summer" - the nicest time of the year.

Copyright 2012 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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Monday Is A National Holiday in Panama - Martyr's Day

History & Reference By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Monday, 9 January 2012, is a national holiday in Panama in commemoration of Martyr's Day. All government offices and schools will be closed. From Wikipedia: "Martyrs' Day is a Panamanian holiday which commemorates the January 9, 1964 riots over sovereignty of the Panama Canal Zone. The riot started after a Panamanian flag was torn during conflict between Panamanian students and Canal Zone Police officers, over the right of the Panamanian flag to be flown alongside the U.S. flag. U.S. Army units became involved in suppressing the violence after Canal Zone police were overwhelmed, and after three days of fighting, about 21 Panamanians and four U.S. soldiers were killed. The incident is considered to be a significant factor in the U.S. decision to transfer control of the Canal Zone to Panama through the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties."

Copyright 2012 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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Today is the "Day of the Innocents" in Panama - Like April Fool's Day...

History & ReferenceBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Did you fall for it? Today - 28 December - is known locally as the "Día de los Santos Inocentes" (the Day of the Innocent Saints). The Massacre of the Innocents is an episode of infanticide by the king of Iudaea Province, Herod the Great. According to the Gospel of Matthew Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi. In Panama and most of Latin America this day is a sort of equivalent to our April Fool's Day - during which pranks and jokes are played to fool the "innocents." So this is a Christian day of celebration of the Massacre of the Innocents. The Christian celebration is a holiday in its own right, a religious one, but the tradition of pranks is not, though the latter is observed yearly. All of the Panamanian news outlets have been running their jokes - in the Panama America newspaper there's an article about how supposedly Justin Bieber and Selena Gómez are in Panama to celebrate the New Year, and yesterday they were seen walking through a shopping mall. Then at the end of the article appears "¡Feliz Día de los Santos Inocentes!"

Copyright 2011 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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We Should "Never Forget" Operation Just Cause

History & Reference Hundreds of deaths, people missing and a neighborhood destroyed were some of the scenarios experienced on 20 December 1989, exactly 22 years ago, when U.S. troops invaded Panama in an operation called "Just Cause", to capture one man, Manuel Antonio Noriega, then the de facto ruler. The images of that date show the destruction and fire, and a town that was subject to the military might of a first world power. The residents of the neighborhood of El Chorrillo, the area that was destroyed more than any other point in Panama, since then and still today they say they are "prohibited to forget" - referring to wounds that never quite heal, while others are still wondering where are their missing relatives. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: I wish in Panama the people here would finally get around to blaming Noriega for the invasion. Noriega was given ample opportunities to step down in the months leading up to the Just Cause invasion. If he had gotten on a plane and left the country in the middle of the night, the end result would have been the same, a return to civilian rule and democracy in Panama. However because of his stubbornness and willingness to sacrifice the lives of others for his selfish ends, many people died unnecessarily. Even this article says the object of the invasion was to "capture one man" when that is not the truth. I love the idea that Panamanians should "never forget" the invasion. However it would be nice if the Panamanian media would "spin" the history a little more towards the truth, and less towards blaming the United States for everything that happened. And as far as the destruction by fire of the neighborhood of El Chorrillo - I saw with my own eyes video of neighborhood residents passing burning material from one house to another to spread the flames. At that time El Chorrillo was a slum of mostly wooden shacks. Some people apparently saw the invasion and fire as an opportunity to maybe get something better, but that would only happen if their current little wooden slum shack was burned to the ground. There's no doubt the fire was started due to the invasion and the fighting around the Commandancia, and there's also no doubt the flames were spread by the Panamanians themselves. The primary objectives of Operation Just Cause were;

  • Safeguarding the lives of U.S. citizens in Panama. In his statement, Bush claimed that Noriega had declared that a state of war existed between the United States and Panama and that he also threatened the lives of the approximately 35,000 US citizens living there. There had been numerous clashes between U.S. and Panamanian forces; one US Marine had been killed a few days earlier and several incidents of harassment of US citizens had taken place.

  • Defending democracy and human rights in Panama. In 1988 the Panamanian people voted and elected Guillermo Endara as their president. Noriega simply annulled the results of that election and remained in power. The invasion did, in fact, restore democracy to Panama and ended the 21 year military dictatorship.

  • Combating drug trafficking. Panama had become a center for drug money laundering and a transit point for drug trafficking to the United States and Europe. And what's worse, the drugs were being trafficked by none other than Manual Antonio Noriega himself. De facto military dictator, and a country being run by a drug trafficker, money launderer, and murderer. Yeah, time to put a stop to that crap.

  • Protecting the integrity of the Torrijos–Carter Treaties. Members of Congress and others in the U.S. political establishment claimed that Noriega threatened the neutrality of the Panama Canal and that the United States had the right under the treaties to intervene militarily to protect the Panama canal. Prior to the invasion Noriega had declared war on the United States. He was clearly a threat to the Panama Canal as well.

The following is a list of names of U.S. service members who were killed in Panama while participating in the U.S. military operation "Just Cause" in December 1989. Another 325 military personnel were wounded in action;

  • Staff Sgt. Larry Barnard - 3/75th Rangers Hallstead, Pa.
  • Pfc. Roy D. Brown Jr. - 3/75th Rangers Buena Park, Calif.
  • Pvt. Vance T. Coats - 82nd Airborne Division Great Falls, Mont.
  • Spec. Jerry S. Daves - 82nd Airborne. Division North Carolina
  • Sgt. Michael A. Deblois - 82nd Airborne Division Dubach, La.
  • Pfc. Martin D. Denson - 82nd Airborne Division Abilene, Texas
  • Pfc. William D. Gibbs - 7th Infantry Division. Marina, Calif.
  • Spec. Phillip S. Lear - 2/75th Rangers Westminster, S.C.
  • Spec. Alejandro Manriquelozano* - 82nd Airborne Division Lauderhill, Fla.
  • Pfc. James W. Markwell - 1/75th Rangers Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Cpl. Ivan M. Perez - 5th Infantry Division Pawtucket, R.I.
  • Pfc. John M. Price - 2/75th Rangers Conover, Wis.
  • Pfc. Scott L. Roth - 89th Military Police Brigade Killeen, Texas
  • Pvt. Kenneth D. Scott - 5th Infantry Division Princeton, W.Va.
  • 1st Lt. John R. Hunter - 160th Aviation Victor, Montana
  • CWO2 Wilson B. Owens - 160th Aviation Myrtle Beach, S.C.
  • CWO2 Andrew P. Porter - 7th Infantry Division Saint Clair, Mich.
  • Pvt. James A. Taber Jr. - 82nd Airborne Division Montrose, Colo.
  • Lt. j.g. John Connors - Special Warfare Group Arlington, Maine
  • BM1 Chris Tilghman - Special Warfare Group Kailua, Hawaii
  • ENC Donald McFaul - Special Warfare Group Deschutes, Ore.
  • TM2 Issac G. Rodriguez III - Special Warfare Group Missouri City, Texas
  • Cpl. Garreth C. Isaak - 2nd Marine Division Greenville, S.C.
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22nd Anniversary of Operation Just Cause Tomorrow

History & Reference By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Tomorrow marks the 22nd anniversary of Operation Just Cause - the US military invasion of Panama to overthrow the former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega. Many of the old wounds created among the Panamanian people during the 21 years of the military dictatorship have been reopened by the recent extradition of Manual Antonio Noriega from Paris to Panama. And believe it or not, there are still some pro-Noriega extremists out there who continue to support him. These people blame the government of the United States for the deaths caused during the Just Cause invasion - and not Noriega himself who could have avoided all bloodshed if he would have simply stepped down from power and gone off to live out the rest of his life on an island in the Caribbean somewhere.

American Murdered In Terrorist Attack: Remember - there is an open indictment for murder against the former President of the National Assembly of Panama Pedro Miguel Gonzalez. He has been charged in the United States for having shot and killed US Army Sergeant Zak Hernandez on 10 June 1992 in protest over a scheduled visit to Panama by US President George H. W. Bush. Pedro Miguel Gonzalez is still wanted in the United States as a terrorist - because Zak Hernandez was killed in protest against Bush and Just Cause - he was murdered simply because he was an American soldier in uniform. Anyway, it's always a good idea for members of the community of English speaking expatriates in the Republic of Panama from the United States to keep a lower than normal profile on 20 December every year. And this year due to Noriega's recent return it's an even better idea. And I have no idea why the US Embassy hasn't issued a "keep your head down" warning message to the community. Maybe they forgot. Or maybe they issued it, and didn't send it to me. Whatever. Just be smart and safe out there.

Copyright 2011 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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Complaint To Be Filed Against Torture Committed During The Dictatorship of Omar Torrijos

History & ReferenceVictims of the regime of General Omar Torrijos Herrera (1968-1981) have prepared a criminal complaint that they will present to the Attorney General for these acts. At 11:00 am in the office of the former Vice Minister of Government Alejandro Perez, located on Via España, there will be a press conference on Tuesday, 20 December, during which those who were affected by the dictatorship of Omar Torrijos will offer their statements to the country. It's the same day that commemorates the U.S. invasion of Panama on December 20, 1989, to overthrow the dictatorship of Manuel Antonio Noriega during which Panamanians, specifically the neighborhood of El Chorrillo, were killed. Speaking to La Estrella, Perez said there is much talk about the dictatorship of Noriega, who is currently imprisoned in El Renacer prison since Sunday December 11, 2011 after being extradited from France, and little is said about those who were tortured "during the dictatorship of Torrijos." The former Vice Minister said Guillermo Rola Pimental and Abraham Crócamo will be at the press conference.

The Constitution of 1972 names Torrijos as the "Maximum Leader of the Panamanian Revolution." Torrijos died at age 52 when his plane, a DeHavilland Twin Otter (DHC-6) of the Panamanian Air Force, mysteriously exploded in flight on 31 July 1981, and then began the Noriega regime. The Report of the Truth Commission, submitted in April 2002 revealed that during the years of dictatorship at least 110 people went missing or were murdered. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Good point. To this very day the PRD leadership openly support the ideals of Omar Torrijos. In their eyes Torrijos was the "good" dictator while Noriega was the "bad" dictator. But in reality many people were also killed and tortured while Omar Torrijos was in charge of the country.

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Lottery Drawings Freaking People Out in Panama

History & ReferenceA number ending in "666" was drawn as the first prize of the Special Drawing of the National Lottery on Sunday, prompting speculation from some who say it's a sign of the coming of the end of the world, and others who say it's related to the return of the former military dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega to Panama. As we know the 666 is a Biblical number associated with the evil Satan. The expert in predictions Makumbero did not rule out that with Noriega in prison the number 666 came out as in indication that everything that was bad in Panama is in the past and we should be preparing to receive a 2012 full of blessings, happiness and prosperity. "It's a message that everything negative is behind us," he said, but it also show that sometimes evil brings good, for the people who bought the right lottery number. "El Makumbero," who offers his predictions through the pages of the El Siglo newspaper, urged people to have a positive mind and not allow themselves to receive suggestions through this type of number associated with evil, but rather to believe more in a spirit of strength and positivity. The evangelical pastor Albin Garcia said the satanic number 666 is a contrast to 7, meaning fullness. He referred to Revelation 13:18: "Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666." For the pastor of the church Peace to You, all who in recent times are not marked with 666 live with great difficulty, because the strength of the Antichrist wants to affect. He recalled that 666 is the number of the Antichrist, who will try to impose evil, greed and sin over believers of a saving God. He noted that the message to men is to change their way of life, and prepare for the coming of the Lord. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Last weekend, on Sunday when Manuel Antonio Noriega was flown from Paris to Panama, the number "89" played in the lottery. Many people noticed this was the same year - 1989 - that Noriega was removed from power in Panama. And now this very next weekend "666" plays in the lottery? Panamanians are generally very superstitious people - and this one was just too much. "89" when he's on the plane, "666" once he's on the ground. And remember Noriega was famous for being involved in witchcraft and sorcery. Here in Panama they call it "brujeria" (witchcraft) or sometimes "Santería" - a type of Afro Caribbean magic. During the US invasion of Panama I went into one of Noriega's headquarters on Amador and there we found an altar with fresh animal blood and other evidence. "The book was discovered when U.S. troops raided a house used by Noriega for black-magic rituals. Evidence indicated that Oliveira, the latest of several witches employed by Noriega over the years, had fled minutes before U.S. troops arrived. Inside they found burning cigarettes, lit candles and Oliveira's purse. Also found in the two-story building, situated on the joint U.S.-Panamanian military base of Fort Amador and dubbed the ``witch house'' by U.S. forces, were belongings of Oliveira and her husband and a son, including her son's birth certificate. The papers and photos Oliveira left behind show her as a plump, dark-skinned 27-year-old woman from Rio de Janeiro. Several books in Portuguese on Candomble - a Brazilian religion similar to, but not the same as, voodoo - were left behind, along with her personal manual, titled ``Exu,'' on magic rites and spells. ``Exu,'' meaning ``the devil,'' must be propitiated at the start of Candomble ceremonies so he will not disrupt the rites, the religion's adherents believe." "U.S. investigators say they have found items used in occult rituals at five places frequented by Noriega, including the home where his wife and children lived and his main office. Discovered in his office desk were photographs of unidentified murder victims, including some whose bodies had been mutilated. Most of Noriega's religious items are associated with Candomble, a synthesis of Roman Catholicism and African tribal beliefs in which gods and saints are propitiated with ritual offerings. But other objects showed that Noriega also practiced a ``malevolent'' form of the religion involving ``diabolical'' spells, Dibble said. Most puzzling, he said, was the discovery of two items associated with Palo Mayombe, a religion that requires the use of human bones and body parts, especially skulls and brains. Palo Mayombe is based on the belief that spirits can be created from dead people and then invoked for assistance and protection, said Dibble, who advises U.S. law-enforcement agencies on ``cults and deviant movements.'' He said many Latin American drug traffickers adhere to the sect. Among the objects found at Noriega's ``witch house'' was a rock covered with Palo Mayombe markings. Under it was a list of two dozen enemies including the ``Spadafora family.'' Indications that Noriega may have followed Palo Mayombe are considered inconclusive."

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El Caño de Natá - "The Golden Lords of Panama"

History & ReferenceRemains of bodies, weapons, tools and pieces of gold, whose antiquity dates between 700 and 1,000 years were found in the Archaeological Park of El Caño de Nata, in the province of Cocle. The Panamanian archaeologist Julia Mayo revealed that these bodies may be part of a 'pre-Columbian cemetery' where they buried people of high rank. Mayo, who heads a group of scientists consisting of 30 specialists, said she found six tombs, of which excavations have been done in four. The excavations started in 2006 in an area of ​​about 5,000 square meters, but the first archaeological finds of bodies and parts were found between 2008 and 2009, when the first discoveries were reported. According to Mayo, who is associated with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) they have found at least 25 bodies, presumably corresponding to 'persons of high rank." "We knew we had something big on our hands for the lectures and documentaries that have been done on similar sites like Sitio Conte," said the specialist.

DETAILS OF FINDINGS - These bodies were found buried in a tomb measuring 5 meters long by 3.5 meters wide, and one of them is presumed to belong to a great lord or chief, as he was found covered with pieces of gold and copper, with pieces made from animal bones. She explained that in 2009, one of the first findings the archaeologists presented was the burial of a little baby in an outfit of a person with high rank. The archaeological team said the bodies they have found have no relation either to the Mayan culture nor with the Incas. For Mayo, the community where they made the discovery would probably have had no more than 2,000 people. El Caño de Natá was perhaps in the past an area where economic, social, political and ceremonial aspects of ancient civilizations were coordinated.

The Editor of the National Geographic for Latin America, Omar Lopez, described the discovery as the result of a "love of archeology" in Mayo and "a big mouthful of luck and intelligence." He said the find will be the cover story of the magazine, Spanish edition, January 2012, and the article name is: "The Golden Lords of Panama." Lopez foreshadowed that the issue "will be historic," because of the content of the article and the photos, the fruit of six years of research. The study, costing about $400,000, are also supported by the STRI, the Fundación El Caño, and by the Spanish universities of Santiago de Compostela, Complutense and Granada and the Museum Conservation Institute of the Smithsonian Institute. (Siglo)

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