by James “JB” Bryson
I am in the process of speaking with almost a dozen readers that have contacted me through PNO.com as a result of the blog entries we have done relating to Bocas del Toro, and the surrounding areas of Colon and Bastimentos. It is a fact finding mission for me, as my “personal” knowledge of Bocas is not immense at all. I am firmly established in Panama City, and feel in my time here I have attained some keen intelligence on how to navigate as an ex-pat within the Capital.
But those other ex-pats that chose a more tropical and leisurely locale for them to visit and possibly reside, have had a much different result. Let me state that I am sure there are many examples of both people, and destinations in Bocas that are above board and it is foolish to paint an entire population with the same brush.
HOWEVER, FACTS are indeed FACTS, and there is simply OVERWHELMING evidence that anyone that confuses visiting these provinces and areas of Panama offer the same experience and most importantly SECURITY, are very mistaken.
In viewing the most recent statistics for Bocas del Toro (2016), it was stated the population was under 8,000. That is a number spread out among the entire archipelago. Bearing in mind, this is an indigenous area and chances are that number is actually higher as some people may be extremely hard to even locate let alone document.
Simply use the search engine for your computer and enter- “BOCAS DEL TORO MURDERS” and simply look at just the last 7 years. If you choose you can then enter the case of “BRIAN BRIMAGER”, and see a case that took years to solve. The simple fact is that BOCAS is a DANGEROUS PLACE that is being developed as a paradise, but is WOEFULLY LACKING SECURITY for the massive amounts of TOURISTS and EX-PATS it is seeking to attract. If you actually see the “POLICE” station in Isla Colon, which is the closest attempt at civilization near Bocas, it looks like something from an old Western movie. You can actually see the inmates through the bars. I have had some yell at me as I pass and ask for food or a beer. This is not to indict the locals, as it is what may be expected in a remote locale anywhere in the islands, not merely PANAMA.
Yet, in advertising and attracting people to this area, many facts are being hidden. A) The amount of fraud and real estate issues for anyone attempting to purchase property. B) The frequency of issues of violence against visitors that have occurred. These facts are not spoken of enough in my opinion.
As PANAMA as a whole is growing, BOCAS is stuck in time. And the TRUE infection that I feel is happening there is NOT due to PANAMANIANS. A closer look into the issues one will see that in many if not all of the cases, the offenders were Americans or Ex-Pats. As people are attracted to this area due to the remote nature, not all are going to be good people. You then have the influx of American “developers”, “real estate brokers”, “investment scammers” and all other sorts of people taking advantage of the beauty of the area to do all sorts of bad business. (Imagine buying a property here from the US, and then having to travel to Tocumen, then Albrook, then Changuinola, all to get to a place where law almost doesn’t exist?!?!)
PNO.com is working on a joint article in conjunction with contributions from readers that have been affected adversely from dealings in Bocas del Toro. Please stay visiting the site as we conduct our due diligence and prepare a report on our findings.
Untile then readers, be safe and Saludos