Martinelli: The First Year

Thu, 08 Jul 2010

Well, it's been over a year. Folks have finally settled in to the realization that, while Martinelli made a lot of promises, few have been fulfilled, and those that have have been fraught with problems.

Of course no one watching the thrashing and posturing down here is surprised. I mean, Martinelli made a lot of noise about fixing the transportation system in Panama, but some six years ago, when the town of David tried to make improvements by making one very heavily trafficked road a one way (another adjacent parallel road was already made one way going out, this would have been the complement), Martinelli petitioned then President Mireya Moscoso to force the town to reverse this four year old decision to improve traffic flow.

So if Martinelli was so determined then to maintain a substandard system substandard (the road had been painted, the signs all reversed, everything was ready but the enforcement), why would anyone think he would actually do anything to improve an even larger, archaic and anarchic system? It's not in his or any of the other sons of Panama's interests to put any money into fixing it. Folks complain, but they get to work.

What never ceases to amaze me is that nothing that needs to be done needs to be invented. Most other countries have implemented what needs to be done here. So we're not talking rocket science.

Reminds me of a few year ago when my neighbor decided to stop planting crops and buy cattle. The fence between our properties was inadequate to maintain his cows. So he told me I had to fix my half of the fence. No, my fence is just fine, none of my fruit trees wanders onto his property, he needed to make sure his cows stayed in his pasture.

But to keep the peace, I improved the fence by putting up an electric cattle fence. Would you believe this hick came by while I was putting up the electric fence and told me I was going to kill his cows with the electric fence (a fence designed specifically for cattle) and he wanted me to only put up a barbed wire fence?

The fence has been up for five years. Not one cow has died because of the electric fence (despite this hick's insistence it would and his threats to sue me). This fence is also the only one no cow has crossed (they break through the barbed wire fences all the time). Technology hasn't yet arrived in Panama, not because it's not available, but because folks here don't understand it (complements of the wonderful educational system). Even the government themselves demand (by law) that all accounting be done written into journals by the army of accountants the country has. Huh? Yep, accountants here aren't accountants, they're bookkeepers. Everything must be done by hand. No SQL databases. No one in the government understand computerized databases. Welcome to the 16th Century.

David-

Martinelli: The First Year

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