(Newsroom Panama) This report just received from a reader, is a sample of many stories recently circulating about police shakedowns.
If you have a similar story we will be happy to publish it and include it in a growing file for forwarding to the authorities.
To the Editor:
It would be very nice, if some one could report on Panama’s newest trick on eliciting bribes from foreign tourist or residents who haven’t received their visas. As you know we now receive 6 months when we enter Panama. Well now it seems our foreign driver licenses are only good for three months. I don’t know who figured this out, but word has certainly gotten out, to all the crooked traffic cops that specialize in taking bribes along the trans America and all main travel routes.
I live in Santiago, and have business down the Azuero and Santa Fe. We on average get stopped at least once or twice a day, at impromptu road blocks. Let me say,that they are only concerned, when they see it’s a gringo,and that you have a foreign license,…with the entrance date in your passport. When they find the date, they count on their fingers one.. two.. three.. and if your past that datet hey ask for $300,or tell you that’s the amount of the ticket. Then the negotiation starts.
This is happening with everyone. The increase in the Police force, with this administration, in personnel and equipment is beyond the pale. The money spent on new cars and motorcycles is amazing. There are more Police per capita than any place I’ve ever been to in the World. Panama is truly becoming a Police state. There is not a lot of crime around where I live, so why this increase is needed, I don’t understand.
All the tourist and business people I encounter,all tell me.. this gives them the creeps.It’s like going into a communist third world country. I’m sure It’s hard to tell the difference in Panama City,but it’s really effecting the quality of life around the country. It’s starting to look like a military occupation. You folks are the only ones that seem to care,and can reach out and make it count. We would all appreciate some investigation on this,on someones part,and help put a stop to this Police mentality. As you know… there is not a big distinction between criminals and police in this country. They are all doing the same stuff. There is a lot of money in being a policeman. They don’t exist on their income alone. They are actually increasing the crime rate