Panamainfo’s Blog

Costa Ricans Are Now Admiring the Panamanian “Jaguar”


For years our neighbors in Costa Rica have felt superior to Panama for many good reasons. But Panama is moving forward these days in many extraordinary ways. According to this column in Costa Rica’s largest newspaper, many Ticos think that they have something to learn from Panama now.

(This author got two things wrong.One is about the education system- Panama does spend more per capita but the quality of education here is very low -Panamanian students test scores are some of the lowest in Latin America. Secondly, new businesses coming here are having a hard time finding a skilled, English speaking work force. Panama is working on this.)

A Tica in Panama

La Nacion, Costa Rica

Translated from Spanish by the Panamainfo Team

I traveled to Panama on business Panama and was there for two months. During my visit I was left impressed by how this country is taking huge steps while in Costa Rica it looks like we’ve been asleep. I had no idea about the natural beauties that this country had. I don’t think that the majority of my compatriots have any idea. We Ticos usually see Panama as a place to go shopping in. Once here, it surprised me to find that 30% of their territory is protected territory full of national parks, spectacular beaches with kilometers and kilometers of white sands on both coasts and different mountainous regions with a cool fresher climate, an agreeable contrast with the heat of the capital city and other urban areas.

This whole paradise is being advertised to the foreigner and there are hordes of tourists coming non-stop from every corner of the earth. They have gotten smart about things and modernized the Panamanian Institute of Tourism. If they continue at this rate, they will soon overtake us in attracting tourists, and that’s just after Panama started an advertising plan a few years ago.

A modern country. The city of Panama is super-developed and modern, full of skyscrapers and nice places to take a walk or just spend the afternoon. They have nothing to envy a metropolis like New York or Miami, something that we inhabitants of San Jose don’t have—we ended up with a gloomy and ugly San Jose .

The legislative assembly, the government and the private sector have come to an agreement to make the country a logistical platform for the world and through this to fully develop the nation. One can’t help feeling envious (by what I have said) to see how we Ticos have been asleep while our neighbor to the south has surpassed us without us noticing.

This country already has more doctors than Costa Rica for every 1,000 inhabitants, the public hospitals are something to envy, they have reinforced education and are now spending more than us on it: 12% of their GDP. In Panama it looks like every sector is in agreement and is working for a common goal of developing the country. It did not surprise me to discover that Panamanians have the highest income per capita in Central America.

Development. If you go to the interior of the country you can see and grasp the development that this nation is undergoing. The Tocumen airport has become the best airport terminal in Latin America, there are dozens of touristic projects in every province, the construction of mega-highways, the construction of two refineries, one in the Caribbean and the other in the Pacific. The ports are the best in the continent. The infrastructure is that of a first world country which is the reason why dozens of international companies are coming here, finding a skilled workforce and facilities for their operations, in addition to a number of international organizations like the UN and world-class recognized universities.

Panamanians are not scared of the widening the canal- it has already started. In the capital they’re building what they call the ‘coastal beltway’, filling more than 26 hectares in the Panamanian bay, where they’re building a mega-recreational park for the public, bicycle lanes and highways. We in Tico land , since the 70’s have been fighting to build our “Costanera”. We should learn from the example of the Panamanians who are giving other Latin American Countries a lesson. The social problems in Costa Rica and Panama are quite similar.

It will be expensive for Costa Rica to do the same as Panama in many aspects, but the time is now to start the necessary work. I once overheard an economist say that awakening of Costa Rica is happening because the Jaguar of the South (Panama) has awakened. Good timing on the Panamanians part. I am sure that we can do it too.

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