PNO Thanksgiving checklist: Varelaleaks, Bocas del Toro, and Steven.


OP ED: James “JB” Bryson– In taking this time to truly be thankful, I really have to scrub my brain to find some things that made sense for me. I say that because overall, this year has been a bit of a “pain in the ass“!! My simple past time endeavor and labor of love, morphed into a bit more than I wanted to deal with. If I had to list things I am “NOT” thankful for, I could rattle off – 1) Keyboard tough guys and “catfishing” 2) Opportunists 3) Pissed off people asking for help 4) The General Assembly 5) ODEBRECHT, ODEBRECHT, and oh yeah, ODEBRECHT. 6) Illegal Logging ,,,,,,,,,you get the picture. But as I close off year number 8 living here full time, I still find my time in Panama to be enjoyable. I generally make an honest effort to help my fellow Ex-Pats and exchange information that I feel is balanced, researched, and opinionated. I use that word last, because PNO is essentially “MY OPINION“. All can feel free to agree or not. But I do research before I open my mouth or type my laptop.

I am also thankful for the people that have used our link to become monthly members of the WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT or the AFRICAN WILDLIFE FOUNDATION. True thank yous to all.

So quickly let me add a few comments today as I will be watching football, smoking cigars, and drinking Bourbon tomorrow.

A) VARELALEAKS- I have a love hate relationship with politics. This is not connected to merely Panama. Please note the circus going on in the US. It is my jaded view of politics in that I took such exception with Varela. A man that went out of his way to “act” like someone he truly wasn’t. To me he wanted to be the Panamanian version of JFK, in a time where the trail of information simply won’t allow it. He was handsome, he was stately, he looked the part. BUT………he simply was the next in line of a series of people that since the Torrijos-Carter Treaties were finally enacted on Jan 1, 2000. After that day, Panama was given the world’s largest ATM machine, and in doing so created a power vacuum of a small group of wealthy Panamanians that have abused this power in many ways. The saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, applies here. Not in the form of dictatorial type rule, but abuses of power as it relates to GREED, CRIMES, FAVORS, ABUSES, and backdoor dealings have been rampant. My issue with Varela is that he always “acted” like he was above such things, when he was literally neck deep in all of it. He benefited greatly from the status quo that he ripped Martinelli for, and VARELALEAKS exposes it. I could type for days on this, but THANK YOU!

B) BOCAS DEL TORO- A place I visited once in 2008, suddenly becoming a daily fixture in my life. All because of much of which I just spoke of in (A). I got to spend 9 months hearing about the most grimy of claims and charges being thrown about over TRES CRUCES and RED FROG BEACH in Bocas. A ponderous 12 year fight that truly really isn’t a fight at all. In an effort to try to understand both sides, I actually spoke with parties on all sides. In doing so I was earmarked by some as a savior and others as a tool. I’ll just say that anything that involves American citizens being taken advantage of in Panama will garner my interest. But I had to go through 12 years of mud slinging and outrageous claims to try to wrap my hands around this bullshit. I had Cease and Desists sent, Subpoenas and requests made. All because my blog took questions and statements from complete strangers. In the past few months, I have had more people from “within” this investment send me things completely un-solicited than I could have prepared for. Which brings me to (C).

(C) STEVEN- So thankful for the young man I let marry my princess. He is smart, patient, and has given more time of his than I care to mention I have taken from him. I am glad he has intervened and really has dealt with these people for me as opposed to me rattling off my opinions. He has been to the point and wrote what I feel should be heeded by any people that are tied up financially in that mess in Bocas.

At no point in time, since the inception of the Supreme Court in Panama has anything been done that these investors are being asked to wait for. This system is not built nor ready to be set upon to deal with helping “gringos”. I feel these people are being robbed by a system they will not win within. Continually trying to find the right person, lobbyist, “friend”, judge, minister, etc to remove a title. It opens up each and every Panamanian that is accused of providing it. The whole thing has been a novela or soap opera. Filled with protagonists and antagonists depending on your side. My point is simply, when do you stop throwing good money on top of bad? Who does this fight serve? When do people either settle or take their lumps and just go home? Steve even researched the entire structure of attempting to do what is being asked, and the period for doing so was long since passed. So do people just battle over Rights of Possession while never being able to list the asset as owned or theirs? When nothing can be built upon anything with this foolish battle being waged? When no loans or lines of credit can be issued for something that is being disputed? It just sucks for any of the Americans that are still embroiled in the battle. Like that old “Talking Heads” song- “Where on a road to nowhere“. I feel for people in this issue. I tried to understand both sides and it required people far smarter than me to make crystal clear. These Panamanians and the system they work within will continue to take your money and promise some type of “Hail Mary” pass that is suddenly going to end everything on a positive note. I see the opposite. I see lawyers, PR people, newspapers, backroom dealers, etc all wit their hands out taking money from American investors for something that simply is not going to end well. Claims can be made and levied against people about a Supreme Court ruling. It is the basis of all discord. However, at that point in time the defendants or claimants are MOOT. The US President just pardoned a soldier accused or war crimes and murder. Of violating tenets of the Geneva Convention and had his Navy Seal Trident removed. The President absolved him and returned him to an honorable discharge and gave him his pin. My point is, his alleged crimes are no longer a point of contention. A decision has been made. People that want to fight this decision are being asked to essentially pursue the President of the United States, his granted ability to pardon, and the US Constitution. So if your an American that is upset over a Supreme Court ruling on Panama, are you not being asked to do the same? I wish you people a good holiday season and a clear mind going into 2020.



JB we are thankful for your site and all your efforts. We will continue to follow and read your articles. Thanks for what you do please keep it up. And best to you and your family this holiday season.

Red Frog Beach – Joe Haley – Wright Thurston – Steven Bolton actual Invaders?

Hi JB and Steve listen Happy Belated Turkey Day. I wanted to write you again to share videos that were just forwarded to me. It’s several videos that are on YouTube that show the dark side of this Haley – Thurston – Bolton organization that I believe to be a criminal organization. They promote false testimonials on their website. Two year guarantee of returns on your investment of 15%. “Investing in Red Frog will build financial security for your family.” I’m sorry but this is the same utter dog shit type of false advertising that dates back to the Thurston/Haley and Harris days of the resort. By the way Thurston is 100% still involved although perhaps only in a peripheral way.

As I wrote and told both you and Steven over the phone they ruined my sister and brother in laws retirement and could care less. They are just 2 of many victims that were screwed by Haley and Red Frog. Now the word from within the walls is that they again are talking insolvency and bankruptcy! That comes direct from current owners passing around emails from Joe Haley. I can’t verify if that’s real or not but I have been privy to an email written by Joe himself that was passed from a current owner to my sister where he states if they don’t prevail against the Tres Cruces guys winning the land dispute that the entire resort would likely become insolvent. I personally think it’s a plea to drain more monies via fear-mongering.

That brings me to the point of my email. First, what does one have to do with the other? The resort isn’t a real resort meaning it’s not owned by Red Frog. Perhaps they own the amenities and whatever land truly is theirs that they have not already sold. But all of the homes and condos are individually or jointly owned. Why wouldn’t the owners just get a management company to operate the resort? Because that’s not what’s best for Joe! I don’t know a lot but for sure I think and others do too there’s a lot that hasn’t been shared. It’s been rumored there are nearly 2 million still owed to the Labor Union and that cant be paid. It’s also been rumored that a major bank in Panama has lent several million and an active multimillion dollar mortgage exists without the ability to currently resolve that situation either. Not to mention all of the private monies that have been lent to the cause. Reportedly Steven Bolton has gone all in with Haley and Thurston. I predict the rats will soon be jumping from this sinking ship.

The second point of my email was to point out these videos from YouTube. They went up recently but are quickly being passed around and viewed. I just saw them myself and really they are what made me dust off the old keyboard and chime in. First, of all I read Steven’s interpretation of the Haley interview and Supreme Court ruling and I applaud you both for actually seeing this through and not just letting Haley do his written answers and then letting it go without any type of closure. In my opinion Stevens legal opinion brought that closure in terms of what the rulings actually meant. But more interesting to me was that the Red Froggians continue to call the Tres Cruces guys aggressors, invaders and land thieves. In the videos you can clearly see those guys show up under escort of the law and are being forced out and attacked by force and aggression. Exactly the type of aggression I alluded to if your recall in the article you posted of mine nearly a year ago. Then actual armed guards with pistols used to intimidate and block the guys that actually have the Supreme Court Ruling and were awarded title to the land. It’s their M.O. JB. Going back to 2004/5 to present anyone that gets in their way they take the aggressive in your face tact. The same way they intimidated my sister to get what they want. They try and silence and stifle anyone or any group that upsets the turnip truck. They regularly practice embarrassing they own buyers as another form of intimidation. It’s unethical and gross. Would never happen in the US.

I recall them doing the exact same with you with the threats and Cease and Desist. But getting back to the videos take a look for yourself and you decide who the real aggressors are; Red Frog or Tres Cruces. My belief is that all the top guys driving the Red Frog boat just want to keep the fight alive for as long as they can. To show the investors that the property they represented they owned isn’t officially lost. It’s CYA all day everyday. Cover Your Ass. I mean if they did indeed sell lots or even represent they owned that land after the date of that Supreme Court ruled back in 2011 and people bought or invested in that lie in my book that’s Fraud.

My hope is that these guys gets exposed for what they are and that they pay for what they’ve done. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m for the buyers and for the people like my sister that were duped. Those that are still waiting on title to their properties I’m with them all. I’m just against the guys that promote on their website guaranteed returns of 15% when they are throwing around the potential of bankruptcy in emails. THATS WRONG!!!! I’m against the guys that scream transparency but then are opaque at best. One of my sisters best friends that still owns is livid because they promote online through testimonials people that nobody knows quoting great returns when they are not using their property and she knows nobody there that’s making a penny. It’s a house of cards in my opinion and I only hope all the truth comes out in the end. It usually does once the narrative can no longer be controlled or maintained. Oh what a wicked web we weave when we practice to deceive. Check em out and can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

My two cents


JB- One request, if a “Commenter” would like to post a reply, please do so through the “Comment” section and not the “Contact Us” tab.
In addition, please if you wish to keep your name private, use one that is not profane.
I know I curse quite a bit and am not trying to be hypocritical. But “…..Sucks…..”?!? I simply can’t keep up.


Noted: Apologies James- I have changed my name.

Happy Holidays –
I was turned onto your site from a friend in Panama. I went back and read every single post in which you ever mentioned Red Frog Beach, Bastimentos Holdings, or Joseph Haley or Steven Bolton.

Steve your son in law is 100% CORRECT. I could state so much more, but me being in the US, I just want to see how this plays out. I am an OWNER inside this mess. Joe and Steve simply and flat out LIE. And if you happen to ask the very same questions that Steve asked of Joe from an OWNER perspective, you get ridiculed and group shamed.

They never owned POLO, which means we never owned POLO. Our group has been sold a mountain of lies, and we being told the same rhetoric. TC are bad people. We were wronged, etc and so on. I wish you could have asked them about the lies they promote where people like me are actually making money from our rentals. All LIES. If your a Villa owner getting robbed from rentals going elsewhere to cover make believe fees and upgrades, or a lot owner watching this horrible lie unfold. Either way, if you ask questions it;s like you are trying to leave Scientology. Your then deemed an OUTSIDER just for wondering why these questions can’t be answered.

And to the people that KNOW I AM RIGHT, tell me how putting one cent into Joe’s “It’s Us against the World” mantra makes us whole? Your right JB, Panama is corrupt and you have all the proof to back it up. We are supposed to think that Panama is going to open the Pandora’s box and expose all the dirty dealings for a group of people from Minnesota and Utah? I don’t buy it.

Steve and Joe are covering their own tails here, and if we can indeed prove so here in the States, I can assure you charges will be filed. I will never put another penny into Panama, but more importantly never believe a word these people tell me. I use the term WE, because I am not the only one with this opinion. The issue is, if we make our concerns known, we will be even further shut out of crucial information.

If other Red Frog/ BS Investors or Villa owners stopped and just did what I did and go back to the beginning, they would be able to emotionally disconnect and see we have been lied to.


I Find it funny all these videos, but what marks me is the last one the lawyer has a good question what has tres cruces and there gang have build here in bocas? I mean they say they have all this land besides the one in dispute and nothing has been build? Does it make sense to you?

It’s funny also I am local here and have a boat at red frog for years now and I have worked on real estate and you cannot keep everybody 100% happy owners or investors that dosent happen never has and I have worked In major projects in Canada and we always have somebody pissed!

It’s a shame that tres cruces or whatever they are called is trying to bring down the only project that attracts people to bocas and the region.

I hope this gets solved and people can get on with there lives and keep this area beautiful and not have so much negative press from this group or this kiddy news.


George Sullivan

I agree George.
So why don’t people like you that refuse to see the facts simply STOP commenting on “JB”a. Kiddy news site as you call it?
If it were not for RED FROG owners CONTACTING myself or James we would have nothing to post I this kiddy site. I could blow up that entire group from within if JB did not give his word he would keep them confidential.
I could care less if Tres Cruces hasn’t built an outhouse. It’s irrelevant to the ownership of the land and another shell game comment.
Building ANYTHING with other people’s money under false pretenses does not impress me.
Make your comments freely.
Take a shot at a retired man trying to help with pause.
If your such a big builder, go help your pissed off clients in Canada and stay off “kiddy news” sites that RFB CEO Joe Haley was begging JB to get something posted on. I have the emails, dare me to post them.

Good day sir.

George, if that’s your real name. I know most of the ex pat network in Bocas as I’ve been here going on 20 years and can’t think of a George Sullivan? You must really keep to yourself I’m guessing holed up on your Valero there at the marina. I know both sides in this dispute well. Let me first say and I don’t want to see the Red Frog project die because there are a lot of good people that have bought and invested there in good faith. But to think that Red Frog is responsible for even 2% of the people that come to Bocas is silly. If the resort ceased to exist tourism wouldn’t be affected one bit. I think it’s pretty clear from the videos Red Frog has been the single reason why those guys can’t walk their property let alone build something. I understand from my contacts with the local authorities that further bad times are in store for Red Frog. That they were ordered not to build anything on the property in question two years ago yet they did. There is now an order to knock down all of what Red Frog has built on Polo Beach and Red Frog has been sanctioned as well with new fines. I understand as well that the environmental authorities have opened up major investigations on the marina where you keep your boat George as it appears the approvals are suspect there.

Unfortunately, George or whoever you really are you must know if you do live in Bocas that none of us care about Red Frog. I mean those that don’t own anything there. Red Frog has no affect on any of us and our lives here. We the ex pat community have zero ties to the project. The locals that are not employed there could care less and the mayor of Bastimentos hates you all because you bullied and sued him and lost. The facts we all know. Polo is the most well known and liked person in all of Bocas. You tried to steal his land and lost. Now you and yours are Butt Hurt. We get it. But attacking JB or even Tres Cruces isn’t doing anything but distracting the issue. In fact I can’t imagine the Tres Cruces guys not defending what they bought and was awarded by the courts. I suppose you feel they should have been satisfied with getting to the Supreme Court and winning and then walking away??? Is that what they should have done I guess in your mind? I agree with Steve and his assessment of the situation 100%. Doesn’t matter what they built there or didn’t build there. They own it. Your argument makes no since. They are not attacking nor have they attacked Red Frog to date that I’ve ever heard. They have merely been attacked and have defended themselves. Which leads me to believe you must have some interest other than just being a victim of Red Frog yourself because if you spent time here as an expat like the rest of us you would certainly know the truth. Is there corruption in Panama for sure. But to think that these guys fixed the Supreme Court is naive. Then they got the title twice from government. C’mon man. They won because it belonged to Polo. Everyone in Bocas knows that. They will keep winning too. George if there’s anyone you should be looking at for recourse it’s Joe Haley. He duped everyone that he told that land belonged to Red Frog. And he should be looking at whoever sold him the property that ever alleged it was theirs to sell if recourse still exists and he didn’t wait too long. We local ex pats all know the real story we just don’t care. But you should and so should anyone that’s been ever told, promised or sold anything that was improperly represented to them. Happy sailing George.

JB I think you hit the nail on the head about this land fight. Who stands to gain from it? Other than the most obvious being the lawyers! The Tres Cruces guys don’t gain anything. Nor do the Americans that bought in Red Frog that were erroneously told it was theirs by the developer. So who stands to gain for me is obvious. The developer that lied to his clients. As long as he can show he’s fighting he won’t be sued for misrepresenting what the resort owned. Not to mention his control over the monies provided to fight the fight. From the outside looking in to me this is a no brainer. It’s about competition and self preservation. My wife and I live in Boquete and we are happy to have found our piece of paradise without all of the squabbling over property. We too feel for the actual victims here. Warm regards.

Hi JB. First time to write in but I’ve been quietly watching and following this for some time. The videos are appalling. Not what has been represented to “us” via our leadership. We have truly lost all trust and belief in the organization. Quite sad really just speechless.

I disagree with you on the impact of Red Frog on Bocas economy, regardless of what I think about Joe, the impact on Bocas economy of Red Frog is huge. Where do you think I spend $3000 every month? How many thousands are spent in Ultimate Refugio, Azul and Bocart ? How many thousands are spent on boats /taxi, shopping, how many millions boatowners spent in the marine shop and hardware stores? Where do you think employees from Old Bank spent their salaries? Even Amirante is impacted.

Yuri, I think you misunderstood my point. First and foremost it was we the local expats without a vested interest in the Red Frog project don’t really care one way or the other. My second point was and is that I don’t believe the Red Frog project is responsible for 2% of the current tourism in Bocas. Do people go there absolutely. Bastimentos and the beach at Red Frog are popular. People go a lot to your point. Boat drivers make money, the tour operators etc. But my point is if that project ceased to exist the houses there would continue to be rented as they are owned by people that bought them. People wouldn’t stop talking boats or tours to Red Frog Beach. That’s not going to happen. The people that own those homes or rent those homes in the future if the project ceased to move forward would still rent them or use them and spend money in Bocas at the local bars, restaurants, etc. Please don’t construe my comments as pro the Six Diamonds guys. Speaking for myself and on behalf of other expats we don’t care about them any more or less than we do for Red Frog. I am clear though as I stated that we all know that the lands in dispute by Red Frog were owned and sold by Polo. End of story. Don’t care about multi millionaire factions on either side. But we all here know the real story and I stand by my previous comments being Red Frog is not what draws people to Bocas nor is the economic balance in Bocas Del Toro contingent on Joe Haley and the Red Frog projects success or failure. They are not the stewards they profess to be environmentally. They are not the alchemist that have formed or transformed Bocas Del Toro as they want people to believe those are my opinions and don’t believe anyone not directly tied to the project could argue. I am agnostic to their plight but what’s right is right and what’s not is not. I’m for anyone and everyone that is truly focused on improving the present and future of Bocas but my perspective is if Red Frog did a fraction to affect the lives of the locals, impacted positively a fraction of the environment they profess to and brought tourists by the droves they project many would feel differently and more supportive of the project. To hear them tell it Bocas wasn’t relative before they arrived and would disappear and cease to exist if they left. Just not the case and I take both exception and offense to those notions. I respect your opinion and welcome the open dialogue and thanks to Panama Now for creating the forum to allow for open dialogue, sharing opinions and free speech. Hoping for a better present and the best tomorrow for ALL OF BOCAS ITS RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES.



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