Poking at Tigers

Tue, 07 Jul 2009

Panamanians have some strange ideas about some things. One of the strangest is something they jokingly refer to as "Juega Vivo". The translation just doesn't get it. But if you ever hear it, it's the equivalent of the little boy who liked to poke at tigers.

Now given my wife's profession, I occasionally (not often, I'm really not interested) get some insights into some of the goings on in the area.

Over the past year, one of these goings on has apparently been a rise in drug related crime. I don't ask, and my wife doesn't tell, about ongoing cases. But I'm neither blind nor stupid (despite accusations to the contrary). When I see taxis, buses, and trucks parked in the Public Ministry's "impound lot" (the Public Ministry is a rough equivalent to the District Attorney's offices in the US), and hear on the news about taxi drivers, et. al., being found apparently executed, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the Colombian and Mexican drug gangs have been hiring (and "firing") lots of cheap Panamanian "mules".

Alanje is a sleepy little backwater farming community. Folks there are mostly hard working farm hands. Folks grow old and die there, but until recently, that was the fare. Suddenly, in the span of just three months, not less than three "execution" style murders (at least according to the papers) took place there. Makes even the the slowest dullard raise an eyebrow.

In general, while Panamanians will look for the easy way out (not unlike a lot of gringos I know), they are too easy-going. Panamanians will not kill other Panamanians (generally speaking). There are murders here. But not often over business/money, usually it's love affairs gone awry. Easy come/easy go. So "juega vivo" is the watchword of the day. Unfortunately, the drug traffickers are not Panamanians. They are Mexicans and Colombians. They have little tolerance for these games. I like to say: juega vivo, sale muerto. If you poke at tigers, you might just become their next meal. Sure wish folks would learn, but Panama is no different from any other place in the world in that respect.

David-

Poking at Tigers

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