Those Amazing Panamanians
November, La Republica, Costa Rica
(Panamainfo Note: Costa Rica is usually very proud of being # 1 in the region, so this article is especially gratifying. This our translation- the article is originally in Spanish )
Do you remember that advertisement for some brand of cars or electronics that said: “those amazing Japanese”?
The advertisement stressed the idea that the Japanese were capable of doing anything no matter how difficult it seamed.
What the Japanese were years ago—capable of surprising everyone with their abilities in the technological field—is what the Panamanians are today. They are leaving others perplexed by their business acumen and efficiency in carrying out large infrastructural projects in a heartbeat.
It is not necessary to review the miracle of the canal—the shock given to an incredulous world by the ability of a small Latin American country to efficiently and skillfully administer something as important as the Panama Canal.
Nor is it necessary to look at their daring move to expand the canal to accommodate the latest super-tankers, a project that is already well underway and is set to be completed on schedule.
Everyone already knows how they were able to build land on the ocean in order to expand its highways to make the magnificent coastal beltway that brought together the city and air terminals, and facilitated urban transits to newly developed areas. It is also well known how they renovated the Tocumen International Airport and turned it into the best air terminal in the region and the most important and connected transportation hub in Latin American in just one year. We also now about the dizzying speed of the development of Colon as the premier free trade zone of the subcontinent, about the majestic renovation of Casco Viejo and the construction of the Metro in the City of Panama.
Nor are their advances in international tourism unknown, which threaten to displace us as a destination for adventure, beaches, city life, business incentives, etc., nor the number of hotel rooms that thousands of foreigners occupy every year in the City of Panama and in the interior of the republic as second homes, which fuel the contruction industry creating thousands of jobs and millions in revenue for the Canal Treasury.
We are all aware of the magnificent campaign of incentives for conventions that this country now offers which has caused hundreds of international organizations, NGOs and private companies to choose Panama for their meetings and fairs.
What I would like to comment on is that last surprise, the type that wait for me every time I got o panama, that I discovered at my arrival to Tocumen while I went through immigration. The women who was happily attending me extended her hand to give me a pamphlet which read: “If you are a tourist and have a medical emergency, Panama will give you free health insurance for 30 days”. Panamanians don’t know what else they could do to attract more foreigners so that tourists feel safe, at ease and happy when they visit.
Panama is know only becoming a much safer destination than any other country in the region, but how they’ll insure you too, for free!
This new program of the Panamanians includes free assistance in the case of hospitalization caused by an accident or sickness, medical treatments, hotel expenses while you recover, dentist or pharmaceutical expenses, legal assistance, repatriation in the case of death, plain tickets for fellow travelers and even a reimbursement of expenses in the case of delayed or cancelled flights.
All the while we the Ticos, once the Switzerland of Central America, are occupied by silly and fruitless discussions about cell phone towers, the platina bridge, if our free trade zones should be paying taxes…
What are these amazing Panamanians going to come up with next?