New Virus Hits Panama

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs if it wasn’t bad enough being awakened this morning at 2:30 AM, I kid you not, by the sound of drums and off-key bugles, as one of the local school bands marched around our little village, proclaiming the start of Panama’s second Independence Day holiday and celebration, this time Independence from Spain.  This is the big one in Boquete!!  There will be a parade downtown that features bands from schools all over Panama, bands of drums … always drums and they have been practicing for three months! … glockenspiels, and a few off-key bugles.  All the bands look and sound alike.  So this goes on for much of the day and like most events in Panama starts when it starts, and ends when it ends.  Flat bed trucks have been brought in taking up the few parking spaces downtown.  These are decorated with red, white and blue bunting and will provide dignitaries, including the President of the Republic, with a place to watch the parade.


Now the scary part about the virus sweeping Panama …

And if you are from the US this is really scary stuff.  I mean just look at this panicky scene as people seek to alleviate the symptoms of this new virus …

The Black Friday virus, imported from The United States, infected thousands of Panamanians on November 27, as they lined up from before 4 am, to get urgent treatment in the form of picking up discounted items of clothing, footwear and, in the age of Twitter and MacFace, the latest mobile device to pass triumphant selfies of their buys to the stay at homes.

After weeks of media bombardment, some bargain hunters had taken advantage of “Black Week” to help retailers unload their unsold stock, before moving to the shop-early-for Christmas campaigns.

Canada and the UK, are free of the Black Friday virus, preferring to wait for the Boxing Day (December 26) madness when the hardy early risers have to cope with colder weather.

In Panama some stores were open at 6:00 am and planned to serve the madding throng until midnight.

Authorities warned shoppers to be careful with their purchases, and not display them, or their wallets publicly as Black Friday is bonus day for quick acting thieves and pickbockets.

12,814 extra police were on duty in shopping centers .

Cardoze Oscar Garcia, manager of the Consumer Protection Authority (Acodeco), said staff of the institution would be around to verify that the announced deals were available..

If products with 90% discount were promoted then these should be available, he said. For reports or complaints call 130 or Twitter account AcodecoResuelve.[Margot Thomas, NEWSROOM PANAMA]

A Postscript … The Day AFter … “Business As Usual”

And who is surprised?

Panama’s Consumer Protection Authority (Acodeco) detected 185 consumer rip-offs (officially described as “anomalies”) during the”Black Friday” inspections.

The inspections, of more than 660 businesses, were to verify that advertised “deals” were actually available to shoppers and that prices were correctly displayed.

The inspections took place both in Panama City and the interior said the entity in a preliminary report.

Of the businesses found in violation of consumer protection laws, 112 of them were in Panama City.

There was one incident in Bocas del Toro where an inspector from the agency was assaulted by a merchant. That case is under further investigation.

The most common offense was placing restrictions on purchases that had not been properly clarified and advertising discounts that were not available on all merchandise. Another common violation was raising the price of a product, and then claiming to offer it a discount.

“Raising the price of a product, and then claiming to offer it a discount” is standard operating procedure with businesses in Panama and is exactly what many expat-owned restaurants do to get around having, by law, to offer the Pensionado Discount to their fellow expat Pensionados.

Panama & Copa Pitch for Panama Cruise Homeport

Panama President Juan Carlos Varela, here shown with Carnival’s Micky Arison, Carinval Corporation Chairman of the Board [Carnival Cruises, Princess Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Costa Cruises, P&O Australia, Seabourn and a dozen European and Asian cruise lines, as well as the Miami HEAT]. Varela was in Miami to meet with cruise line executives and tout the advantages of home porting ships in Panama. Varela has funded a massive program to rennovate Colon, providing jobs, new housing, restoring beautiful old buildings and cleaning up the city. Copa’s increasing reach into the US as well as Latin America, and Tocumen Airport’s rapid growth as the “Hub of The Americas” makes Panama, both Colon and Panama City, ideal places to home port. By the way, if Micky doesn’t get a haircut, why should I?