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Saturday, December 20 2014 @ 01:38 PM EST

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Uniquely Singapore sails to its first victory

Sports Section At 1353 GMT on Tuesday 30 May 2006, the Uniquely Singapore Clipper sailed to its first victory in the Clipper 05-06 Round the World Yacht Race. Leading for much of the two-week race from Victoria B.C. to Panama, it held off a strong challenge from the Durban yacht to cross the finish line first for Race 8, with a position of 20 44.49 North 107 05.85 West. Durban finished seven minutes later, followed by Liverpool. Lying in eighth position overall prior to the start of Race 8, the Singaporean crew showed great resolve to triumph in the 2,200 mile race down the coast of Canada, the United States and Mexico, enduring frustrating periods of headwinds and light winds, broaches, ripped sails and snapped lines. Mr Ken Low, Assistant Chief Executive (Brand and Communications) at Singapore Tourism Board said, “This is a very proud moment for Singapore as we celebrate the fantastic victory of our Uniquely Singapore crew! Though many are sailing novices, their sheer determination, spirit and hard work have earned them this significant achievement.” Uniquely Singapore Skipper Richard Falk and his 17-member crew were ecstatic about their win. Said Mr Falk, “Everyone worked very hard on this leg and the crew is thoroughly deserving of this win. Having had several 4th places, it is nice to finally be upon the podium.”
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Update on Air Panama Incident - 9:15 am

Panama NewsApparently the Air Panama flight that departed Albrook airfield this morning enroute to Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro crashed landed at the Isla Colon runway in Bocas. The aircraft was a Jet Stream with about 20 people on board. The plane landed on a very wet runway in the rain and reportedly slipped, dragged a wing, and slid off the runway and ended up buried in the mangrove swamp. The pilot, Captain Omar Garcia and co-pilot were both apparently injured and were taken to the hospital. No further details available yet. Check back to this article for updates. DKW 9:15 am local.
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Advertise With Panama Guide.com

What is PG? Advertising with Panama Guide gets your business out into the mainstream of a concentrated niche market - English Speaking visitors, tourists, businessmen, and expatriates who are interested in the Republic of Panama. We offer a wide variety of advertising options to fit almost any need. We are growing steadily and are gaining ground in our marketplace. (*Note: I am in the process of updating this article with traffic statistics dated 31 July 2006.) We broke traffic records in almost every category in July 2006 and continue our steady and sustained growth. Thanks to our readers who continue to rely on Panama Guide to learn more about what's going on in Panama every day.
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Evo Morales Steals Land to Grow More Coke

Politics LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters) - Bolivia's government took out full-page newspaper ads on Wednesday announcing its aim to redistribute nearly a fifth of the country's territory as angry landowners vowed to form land-defense groups. Leftist President Evo Morales has pledged an "agrarian revolution" to redistribute idle farmlands to the impoverished country's landless peasants -- a move that has highlighted divisions between the poor majority and the rich elite. Many landowners in the agricultural heartland of Santa Cruz are bitterly opposed to the land reform. At an emergency meeting on Tuesday, they resolved to "set up land-defense committees to protect our farming heritage." Some said they would be willing to take up arms to defend their land. The government warned armed vigilante groups would not be tolerated. (see comments below)
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Panama Vibrates with World Soccer

Sports Section Panama, May 31 (Prensa Latina) The name of Panama is not heard often in world soccer, but the passion of Panamanians for this sport is reaching feverish proportions as the FIFA 2006 World Soccer Cup in Germany approaches. Most Panamanians believe Brazil will win the title, while some give their vote to Argentina or England, and a few, to France or Italy. The current soccer fever is not new in Panama, as fans closely follow international tournaments and Spanish teams such as Barcelona and Real Madrid. Panama had a major victory in 2005, when it was runner-up at the Golden Cup in the US, however, it failed in its attempts to advance from the North, Central America and Caribbean qualifications for the world showcase this year. Soccer is slowly beginning to replace baseball as the most popular sport here. Nonetheless, the New York Yankees and its Panamanian ace reliever Mariano Rivera, and Milwaukee’s slugger Carlos Lee are still favorites. RPC TV Channel 4 has announced full and live coverage of the world cup, while media outlets launch advertising to attract readers, viewers and radio listeners. http://www.plenglish.com/article.asp?ID=%7B9A1C16F7-34DD-44FA-A03F-92862F6C1FF5%7D&language=EN
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The wager of Panama

Canal Expansion By Mark Joyce: Of the many foreign-policy decisions for which former United States president Jimmy Carter has been vilified over the years, one of the most heinous in the eyes of his critics is the 1977 treaty under which the US surrendered sovereignty over the Panama Canal. Even as the protracted transfer was concluded at midnight on 31 December 1999 – nineteen years after Carter left office – there were dark mutterings that a terrible mistake was being committed. Much of this concern reflected little more than a chauvinistic belief that a bunch of corrupt, work-shy Latinos were not up to the task of running one of the great monuments of American engineering genius. Even among supporters of the transfer, however, there was widespread acknowledgment that Panama still had much to prove. A fledgling democracy, with no armed forces of its own, a history of dependence on the United States and a GDP smaller than that of Kenya was now assuming full administrative responsibility for one of the world's most important trade routes. Success was far from assured.

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Americans Living Abroad Get a Nasty Tax Surprise

Money Matters By KEITH BRADSHER and DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: HONG KONG, May 29 — In an effort to raise revenues, tax writers in Congress added a last-minute provision that retroactively increased taxes for Americans living abroad. But the sudden imposition of new taxes has surprised overseas taxpayers, and it has employers concerned about the added cost. For Kristine Kraabel, a gift shop owner in Singapore, and her husband, the new legislation will more than triple their American tax bill. The increase for Americans abroad was added at the last minute to the $69 billion tax cut legislation that was signed last week. Americans living overseas paid almost $3.5 billion in United States income taxes in 2001, the latest year for which data is available, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The change, which is retroactive to the beginning of 2006, is expected to raise taxes on Americans abroad by $2.1 billion over the next 10 years.
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Pensioners seek paradise in Panama mountain idyll

Panama News By Mike Power: BOQUETE, Panama (Reuters) - Perched on a volcanic plain in the highlands of western Panama, Casey Koehler's luxury mansion looks like a slice of prime Florida real-estate beamed down to Central America. Diamonds flaring in his Rolex watch, the Michigan-born retiree sits on his porch in the resort of Los Molinos and lists reasons for retiring to a country most Americans his age remember best as the scene of a 1989 U.S. invasion. "It's 77 to 82 degrees every day, and it's spectacularly beautiful," said Koehler, 65, who moved to Panama last year. "This house cost me $230,000. In Florida it would be $1.5 million." Politically and economically stable, its turbulent history all but forgotten by visitors, Panama is luring U.S. and European retiree baby-boomers dreaming of a millionaire lifestyle on the cheap. Eager to follow neighboring Costa Rica as a magnet for wealthy U.S. and European pensioners fleeing high real estate prices at home, Panama, which uses the U.S. dollar as its currency, is offering perks to retirees ranging from tax breaks to discounts on travel, cinema tickets and fast food.

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Theft of Copper Cables On the Rise

Crime & Punishment Here's something you're going to hear more about. There are four reported thefts of copper cable every day in Panama. In just the past three years the price of copper has gone up 650%. Cable & Wireless, the Panama Canal Authority, and Etesa are the most affected. The total value of reported thefts has reached $1.5 million dollars. At the private level, people are stealing the copper connections that are used for LP gas. This is just an observation on my part, but exactly how hard would it be to station a cop at the places that buy scrap metal and require the crackheads who are stealing this stuff to identify a source. Rocket science, this... By the way, Petaquilla is sitting on a mountain of copper in Panama.
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Ultimus Business Process Management & Aseguradora Ancon

Internet & Technology CARY, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 30, 2006--Ultimus, the leading provider of Business Process Management (BPM) and Workflow Automation software and services that enable the shortest time to value, today announced that Aseguradora Ancon (Ancon Insurance) has reduced costs and improved service as a result of automating several core business processes. By leveraging BPM, Panama-based Ancon has been able to process a far greater number of claims in less time and is now evaluating BPM for even more finance, sales and HR processes. Because the company routes critical data, such as medical histories, between several Ancon offices and agents throughout Panama, it is essential that Ancon successfully and securely manage the sensitive communication within the agent network. Ancon is using Ultimus because of its proven ability to automate key processes at a low total cost of ownership while meeting the security mandated by the industry.
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Cease soliciting, Panama company (First Global Ventures) told

Crime & Punishment Government officials in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have ordered a Panama-based investment company to stop soliciting in their provinces. Nearly three weeks ago, the New Brunswick Securities Commission issued a cease-trade order against First Global Ventures. Executive director Rick Hancox said First Global was not registered, and that its pitch asking people to invest in an oil company went too far. Hancox said consumers reported being told "the shares are going to take off, it's going to get listed on the stock exchange, you know, you're going to make lots of money." First Global Ventures does not have approval to solicit investments from people in Newfoundland and Labrador, says Winston Morris, an assistant deputy minister responsible for consumer affairs in the Department of Government Services. The department has received complaints from people who say they were contacted and asked to invest in First Global Ventures. The company, Morris said, cannot do that without first registering with the government.
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Mexico Offers Oil to New Refinery

Money Matters Mexico has offered to supply 230,000 barrels of crude per day at market prices to an oil refinery to be built in Central America, officials said Monday. Deputy Energy Minister Hector Moreira said Mexico would be able to supply that amount of crude by 2011, the date by which the planned refinery is due to be completed. "Mexico can assure 230,000 barrels a day," Moreira said. "We are going to sell at market prices. In no way will we subsidize the refinery." The proposed refinery is part of an ambitious energy development initiative, dubbed the region's biggest project since the Panama Canal. The project also would pipe natural gas down the Pacific coast and join up power grids. Promoted as a way to end Central America's dependence on costly foreign imports, the $7-billion to $9-billion program also means lucrative new outlets for Mexican and Colombian oil and natural gas. It could clash with plans by major oil producer Venezuela to supply cheaper energy to the hemisphere.
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Latin IT Boom

Internet & TechnologyLatin America’s IT sector is expected to grow dramatically the next few years led by Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. Total IT revenues in Latin America is expected to reach $36.7 billion by 2009. That’s a 46.1 increase from 2004 and 20.6 higher than the record year of 2000, according to a new report from the Business Software Alliance (BSA). Latin America’s top three economies - Brazil, Mexico and Argentina - are expected to continue being the region’s largest IT markets. However, Venezuela (Latin America’s fourth-largest economy) is not expected to be able to regain its position as the fourth-largest IT market, according to a new report from the BSA. Despite significant growth in the 2004-09 period, smaller economies like Colombia and Chile will be able to boast larger IT markets. Similarly, the Dominican Republic has a larger economy than Costa Rica, Panama and Uruguay, but its IT market lags behind those three countries. A major reason behind the underdevelopment of the Venezuelan and Dominican IT markets is the high rate of software piracy in the countries, BSA data shows.
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World Cup Preview (Costa Rica)

Sports SectionAfter a rough qualifying round of matches, Costa Rica is primed to make its third appearance in the 2006 World Cup Finals. The team struggled at the start of the qualifying schedule, dropping games to Mexico at home and the United States on the road before a victory over Panama in the six-team final round. Despite any struggles, Costa Rica bounced back with enough wins to secure its future in the 2006 tournament. Head coach Alexandre Guimaraes has brought a wealth of experience and coaching expertise to a team that has a strong shot at moving past the group match stage in '06. The coach helped bring the club to a spot in the 2002 tournament, and returned to the team to help it into the 2006 tournament. Veteran striker Paulo Wanchope leads the team into 2006 for the last time. Wanchope announced he would retire at the end of the upcoming tournament.
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Customs Reps Meeting in Santo Domingo

Money MattersSANTO DOMINGO. – Amidst a regional conclave with delegates from 21 countries, Customs director Miguel Cocco announced that 26 of that agency’s employees will be fired in the coming days for commission irregularities in their functions. The official also said that in the last weeks some 100 employees and officials –including 40 from Haina port- have been fired "and heads are going to continue rolling, because what we are not going to allow is that they continued committing irregularities," Almost 100 employees have been fired accused of committing different irregularities, among them complicity with smugglers and several have been criminally charged. Among those dismissed is a collector and other senior officials. The Customs director was interviewed prior to the start of the 9th Conference of Customs Directors of America and the Caribbean, where representatives discussed the norms of the World Customs Organization that ensures and facilitates global trade and Customs modernization, as well as mechanisms to face this century’s challenges.
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Warning - First Global Ventures S.A.

Crime & PunishmentSAINT JOHN (CNB) - The New Brunswick Securities Commission (NBSC) has issued a temporary cease-trade order against First Global Ventures S.A., and Al Grossman. The order directs the officers, directors, employees and/or agents to cease trading in all securities, in particular the shares of First Global Ventures S.A. The order, which is effective immediately, was issued by the NBSC following a hearing held May 11, 2006, in which the respondents were found to be soliciting the sale of securities without having been registered or having filed a prospectus. Grossman is also in violation of two previous cease-trade orders: Maitland Capital Ltd. and Limelight Entertainment Inc./Limelight Capital Management Ltd. "This appears to be the work of a serial scam artist" said Rick Hancox, executive director of the NBSC. "This latest scheme seems to have come into play less than two weeks ago, and was uncovered as part of our ongoing investigation into the activities of Mr. Grossman and his associates."
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What is Needed to Open a Bank Account?

Why Panama & Frequently Asked Questions Q: Does anyony know what paper work is needed to open a bank account in Panama as a foreigner. I would like to open an account and set up an allotment to go there, for my future trips. Also which would you sugest? Any help would be helpful.

A: Panama has to comply with international "know your customer" laws and regulations and banks require all of this documentation to basically cover their backsides. All of this paperwork stays in their files, so if you turn out to be an international drug smuggling money launderer, they can show the feds that they complied with the rules to make sure that you are who you say you are. See below for a list of required documents.
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Has the Ground Stopped Moving?

EarthquakesIt seems like the earthquakes in Boquete story has rumbled to a halt, so to speak. I have not heard of any recent activity. Just as a follow-up, I ran into this extensive scientific study of fault lines in Panama, focusing specifically on those under Limon Bay and the Atlantic approach to the Panama Canal. Very interesting stuff: http://faculty.washington.edu/tpratt/TCT03.pdf
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Dinner & Presentation of History of Tropic Star Fishing Lodge

Groups & OrganizationsHola,

Did you know the world's top fishing spot is right here in Panama?

Join us as we hear a presentation on the history of one of Panama's angler heavens where catching billfish is status quo instead of a rarity!

Our speaker will be Mark Ostrander of the Tropic Star Lodge.

It has been called one of the premier sports fishing destinations in the world and it is right here in Panama. Over 170 world records have been broken at the lodge and it currently holds forty.

Tropic Star Lodge is a veritable paradise cut out of the side of a mountain at the edge of the Darien Jungle on the Pacific coast of Panama. The Lodge is situated 150 miles south of Panama City. It can only be reached by boat or plane, since there are no roads within a hundred miles. A charter plane lands on an airstrip in Pinas Bay. You then take a ten minute boat ride to Tropic Star Lodge.

Texas oil tycoon, Ray Smith, built his his home away from home on Piñas Bay in 1961. In 1965, he made it more formal by opening for business as Club de Pesca. Renamed Tropic Star Lodge after his death, a Canadian company took over in 1968. Conway Kittridge of Orlando, Florida bought it in 1976 and his daughter Terri, along with husband Mike Andrews, runs it today. Terri has been instrumental in preserving Panama's rich heritage of maritime resources. Her lobbying efforts helped establish a 20-mile radius commercial fishing ban around Piñas Bay.

Seating is limited to 30 people and reservations are required.

Tuesday June 13, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.at Restorante Fontenella located at Via Israel and Calle 71E San Francisco
(east of MultiPlaza Mall).

$17 per person.

Sponsored by the Navy League -- Panama

Please RSVP to Charly Garcia at
garciadentist@hotmail.com or
Hunter Schultz hnsbiosafe@yahoo.com
or navy.league.panama@gmail.com
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Mostaza - Fine Dining in Casco Viejo

Food & Drink There are a few really great restaurants in Panama and Mostaza is clearly one of the best in the city. The restaurant opened in 2002 with the desire to provide visitors with the possibility of enjoying fine dining while surrounded by history. Mostaza is located in Casco Viejo at the intersection of Ave. A and 3rd Street, across the street from the ruins of the old Santo Domingo convent and the site of Panama's famous "flat arch" and is a natural best selection for anyone visiting the Casco Viejo area. Patrons choose from a varied menu of grilled meats, pastas, selected seafood and house specialties, all made with superb attention to detail and the finest ingredients personally selected by your host chef Jose Forestiero. A favorite of visiting diplomats and executives, Mostaza offers an exceptional dining experience at a moderate price, and guests can choose to dine at outside tables or inside the dining rooms of the award-winning historically restored building. Telephone numbers for the restaurant are 228-3341 and 228-8775.
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Hotel Owners and PPC Trying to Stop Mega-Port

Canal Expansion Hotel owners are asking President Martin Torrijos to relocate the plannen "mega-port" project. Representatives from the Panamanian Hotel Owners Association (APATEL) said that the construction of the project at the proposed site will make the area an industrial zone and will harm tourism and the hotel business. The mega-port project will require an investment between $600 to $800 million dollars and will general hundreds of jobs. The Panama Ports Company is also trying to stop the construciton of the mega-port, which will compete directly with them. The Panamanian Maritime Authority (AMP) will hold meetings with companies that have indicated an interest in building the project on 6 June. In addition, there's an official delegation from China in town this week to express their interest in the Panama Canal expansion project, and to pressure Torrijos to abandon Panama's diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.
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Super 99 Market Destroyed by Fire in Santiago

Panama News Yesterday the Super 99 grocery store on ninth street of Santiago was consumed by fire. Losses are estimated at $3 million dollars in merchandise, equipment, and property. The fire completely consumed the interior of the store. The fire started at approximately 5:45 am on Sunday morning and firement were alerted by residents in the area and passing taxi drivers. More than 50 paid and volunteer firemen responded and worked for five hours to put out the fire. Their efforts were hindered by the amount of flamable materials that were present in the building, and there were several small explosions. One volunteer fireman was treated for smoke inhalation. Fire Chief Ramón Marcos said their access was hindered because refrigerators and large shelves were placed against the interior walls. Firemen opened holes with sledgehammers in the external walls and cut holes in the roof to gain access to put out the flames. Marcos said fire inspectors will try to determine the cause of this fire.
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Funnel Cloud over Costa del Este

Weather Annette Quinn - The weather person for Channel 2 TVN showed photos this morning of a funnel cloud starting to form over the Costa de Este area last Thursday afternoon. The tornado never formed completely, and the funnel did not touch down, reach the ground, or cause any damage. I'm posting this as a reminder that tornadoes can and have occur in Panama, and I've seen a water spout form over the ship parking area in Panama Bay with my own eyes. This kind of thing is most likely to happen associated with strong thunderstorms that frequently hammer Panama with heavy rains and wind. Tornadoes in Panama are rare, and I can't remember the last time one actually touched down over land and caused damage, but just be aware that they can and do happen, sometimes.
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SUNTRACS & CAPAC Reach Agreement - Strike Called Off

Protests & Demonstrations The Construction Workers Union (Suntracs) and the Panamanian Camera of the Construction (CAPAC) reached an agreement last night on a new wage scale for construction workers, which will take effect in July. With this agreement SUNTRACS suspended the strike they had announced for today, Monday morning. Representatives from both sides worked to reach an agreement until 9:00 pm last night at the Plaza Paitilla Inn to put the finishing touches on a new collective barganing agreement that will remain in effect for the next four years and will cover all activity related to the expansion of the Panama Canal. Juan Rosero, a SUNTRACS secretary, said that the raises would be progressive and will go up over the next eight years. Rosero said wages for construction assistants will raise from $2.24 to $2.73 over eight years. An apprentence wil go from $2.52 to $3.08, and skilled workers will go from $3.07 to $3.67 dollars per hour.
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Albrook Inn - Safety and Security

Hotels From: Ronald Miller [mailto:akraft@(snip).net], Sent: Monday, May 29, 2006 5:52 AM, To: americans_in_panama@yahoogroups.com, Subject: [americans_in_panama] Re: Albrook Inn - We have been to Panama 5 times in the last 4 years and the scariest event so far was when we stayed at the Albrook Inn before flying to Isla Contadora last year. When we arrived at the Albrook Inn, we were greeted by a very nice bilingual women who checked us in. Seemed like a good place to stay, close to the airport and reasonably priced. I should mention that the doors for the rooms are house style doors with no night lock or safety latch or dead bolt. The only lock on our room was the lock in the door knob. Apparently when the night clerk came on duty at 5:00 pm, he didn't know we were already checked in our room and about midnight I was awakened by a key unlocking our door! He had rented our room to someone else. The room was small (the bed was right next to the door) and not knowing if we were being robbed or what, I lunged towards the door as it was opening, screaming "Get out of here!" and slamming the door shut. My wife woke up screaming and the young woman with the guy opening the door screamed and the couple immediatly left. I got up, put on my pants and went to the office to ask what the hell was going on. "Lo siento" was all I got. Needless to say we both were tired the next day as we got up early to catch our flight. Any other suggestions for a hotel close to Albrook? Ron
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Anybody Want to Buy an Airport?

Cars & TransportationPanama's Tourism Minister Rubén Blades said that the airport at Rio Hato in the province of Coclé might be sold to promote tourism. "There are some who say that the value of the area has greatly increased thanks to the success of the hotels in the area, and that the development of the airfield would promote the development of tourism, hotel projects, and real estate" indicated Blades. He explained that no specific offers have been made, that this is only his opinion, and that if the lands around Rio Hato were sold then the proceeds should be used to build a new airport in the region. He said a new international airport is required in the area. "Panama urgently needs a new international airport in the interior" he said. He added that it does not matter if the new facility is constructed by a private company, the government, or with mixed capital. (Editor's Comment: There have been persistant rumors of Disney's interest in land around the Rio Hato airport which have been frequently denied on all sides and are probably all just talk. But, a theme park in Panama near the Pacific beaches would make a fortune. You can't get a good roller-coaster ride in this country, anywhere, and people are starved for this kind of entertainment.)
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The "Commitee to Rescue Bocas del Toro"?

Protests & Demonstrations The president of the "Committee to Rescue Bocas del Toro" , Perla Campbell, said her organization has established a deadline of 3 June for national authorities to come to Isla Colon to address the issues they have raised. Campbell said the streets and the hospital are in disrepair and that water and electrical service are inadequate. She said they are engaged in a dialog with the directors of regional organizations and that they know about the problems but have done nothing to solve them. She said that faced with this lack of action her organization will have no other option than to force the issue. (Comment: This is a "last chance" type of news announcement, and Perla is trying to get some response to the problems they have raised. The reference to forcing the issue means they will probably protest and cause problems unless something is done.)


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A Look at Vehicular Homicides in Panama

Panama News The last year in Panama City 139 people died in traffic accidents, and another 327 people were injured. So far in 2006 there have been 40 deaths and 71 injuries. In most of these cases the guilty party does not go to jail because sentences of up to three years can be replaced by fines. And, legal cases can take years to be resolved in the courts. Katia Guerra is still waiting for a trial date in her case in which she was injured and her son was killed in 2003. And the hit and run case of Nicole Chevalier, which resulted in the death of César Augusto Silgado last Monday is not included in statistics for 2006 because her case is still pending before in the prosecutor's office. Ana Mae Jiménez explained that the law allows for those accused of negligent homicide to be released on bail as long as the person's police file does not contain any prior convictions, or if there is no indication that the person will flee the country if released. Chevalier was involved in another hit-and-run accident with a motorcycle on Albrook three days before she ran over and killed Silgado but that incident does not appear in her police file because the incident is still under investigation. The hearing for this case is scheduled for 2 June.
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Panama Women's Soccer Team Qualifies for Gold Cup

Sports Section The Panamanian women's soccer team beat Guatemala 3-0 today at the Rommel Fernández stadium in Panama City, and qualified to participate in the Soccer Federation Group B Gold Cup which will be played in the United States in November. Adela Machado opened the scoring at ten minutes into the game to give Panama a 1-0 lead. Panamanian Amarelis de Mera increased the lead to 2-0 at 24 minutes of the first half. The game could have been even more lopsided in favor of Panama and they blew several scoring opportunities offered up by Guatemala.
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Prime Forestry Bankrupt

Teak & ReforestationBy Tony Hetherington: FINANCIAL Mail readers were warned against it. Investment watchdogs in a dozen countries issued public alerts about it. But still the president of Panama cosied up to Prime Forestry, a shady Swiss company that claimed to offer 14% annual returns to anyone who put their savings into growing teak trees. Now Prime Forestry has been declared bankrupt and a political scandal is developing in the central American state as links emerge between the government and a Zurich businessman named as a one-time Mafia associate. Prime Forestry attracted an estimated £26m from more than 3,000 investors, many in Britain. They were told it would take 20 years for their trees to mature and be sold, but interim payments could be withdrawn after seven years. The company also claimed to be working on an ecological project with Yale University and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. However, last week the Smithsonian said: 'The Smithsonian and Yale University have no relationship of any kind with Prime Forestry.'
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