If I were Greek or Spanish I would be thinking about Panama
I grant you that when I am on the ship, getting my news from BBC and CNN International instead of the Internet, I get a steady diet of the woes of the European Union. Talk to our guests, many who are from EU countries, or members of the crew and you get different opinions, but all seem to agree that the future of the EU doesn’t look nearly as bright as it did a decade ago. Spain and Greece, where we’ve been spending some time, both have a pretty shaky and somewhat dire outlook. Spain has 24% unemployment and amongst young people almost 50%! Greece’s future in the EU and as a Eurozone country, i.e. using the Euro as its currency, are questionable. If I were in Greece or Spain I’d be looking for what Venezuelans have long called a “Plan B” and I’d be actively moving ahead setting up my “Plan B” before it is too late. If Greece withdraws from the Euro . . . a lot of Greeks are going to wish they had cashed in their Euros and futures for the US dollar and a small, democratic country where the credit rating is going UP and the GDP growth has average 8.5% over five years, 2009-2014.
For years now Venezuelans have been moving money to Panama, sometimes also moving their families and entire companies out of Venezuela and to Panama, or at a minimum at least having some money outside the country in Panama and a home or apartment should they need to pull the trigger on their “Plan B”. Greeks and Spaniards should consider doing the same thing . . . getting their money and resources out while they can. For the Spanish it should be a piece of cake. They already speak at least a version of the language of Panama. Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli when he was in Spain invited Spanish people with skills that are needed in Panama to migrate, promising to speed up the necessary paperwork for non-Panamanians wishing to work in Panama. Panama is moving so rapidly from a second world to a first world country and businesses are growing so fast that there is a felt need to expand the work force. Panama used to be part of Spain. The Greeks helped build the Panama Canal. Both Panama and Greece are major players in the worldwide maritime industry. There is a natural affinity here.
Thanks in part to the Panama Canal and the people who built it 100 years ago, Panama is a melting pot. It is a beautiful country, rich and getting richer, at the crossroads of the world, diverse with a big city quickly becoming known as the “Singapore of Latin America”, yet still with wonderful rural and semi-rural areas with a small town feel. It is a land of incredible opportunity. Think about it.