Gary´s Blog: Panama´s New Requirements to Cross Their Border

December 29, 2014

From: Gary

Morning,

Home alone with the dogs…
 
Have been having an interesting time lately.  I crossed the border into Costa Rica a couple weeks ago to go to my son’s sister in law’s graduation for Accounting from a local University program… I had often helped her with her English homework, and she asked me to come…. 
 
I enjoyed the stay.  Several days visiting with my favorite niece who is now seven, and went up the mountain to my farm and brought down some stuff to take back to Panama with me….
 
This time of year the coffee pickers are crossing the border, so lines were long and progress slow.  Usually about two hours standing in line in the sun…  The Latins seem to never have invented benches…
 
On my way back, I stopped in a bank and paid the exit tax on the CR side, and bought the usual bus ticket to prove to Panama immigration that I could leave their country…  These Banana Republics have been making foreigners buy tickets they can´t use for generations now….
 
To enter a country the requirements are a valid passport with at least six months before expiration date, second is at least $500 in cash, or a bank statement,  and a ticket leaving the country, and no arrest warrants on computer….
 
Technically the law is written on the exit tickets that it´s back to country of origin.  And this is not required if you come by car etc.  And the fact that millions of people travel extensively by bus throughout Central America every year has negated the return to country of origin airline tickets about since they quit flying DC-3’s…..
 
I suspect the origin of the law goes back to the ’50’s or before when the Pan American highway was built, and travel into these countries was limited to aircraft or ships….
 
Now days there are dozens of major bus lines serving from Mexico to the center of Panama..  And thousands of local “Chicken Busses” going point to point in countries… These used to be much used by back-packer tourists, who literally arrived by the millions per year, and who spent the lion’s share of the billion dollars a year in tourism money in each of the more popular countries…
 
They were the mainstay of eco tourism. And were mostly young people from all over the planet. kind of a bed and breakfast jet set, often coming in pairs or groups of friends….
 
Some liked it here and stayed, often buying land and starting small businesses, and employing locals… These people did no harm, brought money into these countries yearly, and were who invented Eco-tourism…..
 
But, here as in the US, there was wide spread prejudice against them,  for having longer hair, beards, or the women liking peasant dresses etc….
 
And at the same time there was a growing number of retirees moving down here…
 
The governments took it upon themselves to set up a system of milking foreign retirees via a system of residency documentation… 
 
A process which is a bureaucratic nightmare, and costly in both time and money, with qualifications that basically no one in their own countries could meet, to insure that the foreign Cows had plenty to be milked for until they went to the White Elephant graveyard in the sky…
 
They also used the exact same process for any foreign national marrying a local…
 
For what can be done in Las Vegas in a drive through for a hundred bucks, can here take months and cost well over a thousand… Not to mention the frustration of having to deal with consulars in the US who don’t answer their phones, and who think their signatures and stamps should command serious fees to legitimize the stack of documents required from US government agencies, to prove that in fact you are a rich American cow worth milking…
 
The requirements economically for residency have of course escalated over time…
 
I at one time read a glossy magazine article in a hotel, that the minister of tourism had a plan to get rid of the back- packer tourists in Costa Rica, and only allow rich people in to play golf, and park their yachts in spendy marinas…
 
I wondered what the Mom and Pop businesses would do without their stream of street tourists…
 
And I have never seen any rich people teaching local kids English for free, or setting up any number of social trips to better peoples lives, like the non-residents and retirees have done…
 
All while dealing with a cultural prejudice that portrays foreigners as fat pigs to be butchered at all levels…  Its like you don’t go to hell for crimes against foreign nationals…
 
And after near 20 years here, I doubt any foreigner has  ever seen justice in the courts….  been there many times myself….
 
Really, they should pay us to live here…
 
Instead, they make it increasingly difficult….  And it´s not like that many Americans even want to live here, and many who try it soon regret coming….
 
Why do I live here?
 
Well it´s my spirit of adventure, my desire to do good things that benefit others, also the climate, and that I have been into outdoor living and survival and subsistence skills since I was a kid….
 
I am also mildly autistic, with little short term memory, but with the well known traits of the ability to connect facts into a broad over view,  and the ability to focus on details etc…

 
Traits now recognized by corporations and government agencies, and sought after for problem solvers….
 
In my generation, we were just absent-minded kids who got into trouble for forgetting things teachers and parents couldn’t believe anyone could forget….
 
In my case, I was gifted with an unusual long term memory, and an interest in almost everything….  including history…. which, of course, with the mildly autistic mind, I can see the patterns in…..
 
And connect those patterns with current trends….
 
Which is part of what has me living outside the US, and trying to help others get out too….
 
As one reader of this blog pointed out a week ago in personal email;  its screwed up down here, but its going to be better than staying in the US…..
 
For me, life is not about vanity, money, or social graces…
 
It’s about fundamentals…
 
Survival being THE primary fundamental…
 

We have a room full of Elephants…  from nuclear weapons, to microbes, bogus economies, to environmental destruction…

From lying politicians, to violent steroid junkie cops….
 
Then there´s the excessive taxation, excessive regulation, and the Nanny State telling us it´s all for our safety….
 
If it´s all for our safety, why are half the men, and a third of the women getting Cancer now in the US?
 
“It´s for your safety” is what farmers would tell pigs that the fences were for, if pigs could understand English….
 
 Anyway, now back towards my point and the story…
 
After my attendance of the Graduation, I headed back towards the border crossing in the mountains by bus… 

Its three bus changes, and about seven and a half hours to go maybe 100 km as the Toucan flies….  When I made it to the border, I stood in line for two hours, only to be told I wouldn’t be allowed to enter because I didn’t have a return airline ticket to the US…  I pointed out that I had a truck in Panama, had come by road all the way from the US, and even the border police in the next room had been to the truck etc…  the immigration officials just smiled smugly, and told me I had to go back into Costa Rica….
 
So back I went to the CR side, and got the exit stamp invalidated…  The guy on the CR side knew me from a couple of famous immigration cases I had been involved in, he told me not to worry, they knew who I was and would do whatever they could to help…
 
He said go up to where the truck was parked via the CR side, and come back another day with the truck papers…
 
We are literally parked about 40 feet from the border… so, I’m illegal by 40 feet….while the truck and Tami are legal….
 
So, a week later, I go back down with the truck papers, go on a bus to pay the CR exit tax for the second time, then a bus back to the border, stand in line another two hours etc.. I talk to a young couple with two children who are missionaries from a well known religion…  They are also Americans… And had planned on doing the usual border cross visa renewal, with their kids, and had crossed into Costa Rica, then been refused re entry into Panama, for lack of airline tickets, when they had bought a car in Panama, and could drive back to the US….
 
 They were lucky, as they had a church contact put them up in CR for several days, while they bought tickets for four that they cannot use, due to missionary obligations… 
 
So guess what happened when I got to the head of the line?
 
Yup! refused again with smug grins, by two different officials than the week before…
 
Basically they are enjoying screwing over Americans etc. using color of law, and stranding people unexpectedly for a bureaucratic power trip based on economic and cultural prejudices….  And they are making everyone buy plane tickets, even if they are bus travelers etc…  
 
There are thousands of Americans here, without official residency…The cops in the street never ask for your residency card, just your passport, and check the entry date…  
 
So what this all is, is an attempt to extort more foreigners into paying for residency etc…  in a country that likely has a hundred times as many people in the US called “mojados” here, for uh… having swam the Rio Grande to get in….  these people milk millions of dollars from the US economy annually, and take jobs from American citizens by illegaly under cutting the labor market…
 
Most don’t have a single legal document… 
 
Meanwhile the non-resident residents here, don’t take jobs, and invariably bring money into the country continually, and provide incentives for friends and family to come visit…
 
So today, Tami is in town trying to get the necessary unnecessary airline tickets….
 
So I can spend a third day of my life trying to re enter a banana republic where I have done no harm, from one where I have done some good… 
 
I did notify the US embassy of the on going problems, but have not heard back on the issue yet… nor do I expect to…  I suspect a Taliban kindergarten class has more guts than the entire state department…
 
Anyway, that´s the blog for today from the border… I hope you are more entertained than I am by it…
 
And with my last blog entry I was asked why I bash it here…
 
My response was; if the problems don’t get reported, they don’t get fixed..  
 
Also, I want people thinking of moving to or visiting Central America to have a real sense of the problems here…  Paradise has rats….
 
But it also has a lot of good people…  most of whom are pretty much like us, and also getting milked by excessive bureaucracy etc…
 
Amazingly enough, no matter where you go, or what language is spoken there, most of the problem is the same;  a bunch of closet Nazis trying to run things for their own benefit, at the expense of everyone else…
 
And this is why I am a minimalist….  and don’t feed the Vampires anymore than I absolutely have to…
 
If you ain’t part of the sollution, you are part of the problem…
 
Personally I believe in open borders, so things could equalize over time….  
 
It´s like some people think they own the bleeping planet, and think they have a God given right to tell everybody else what to do….
 
Any institution that abuses people who have done no harm, is evil…
 
G

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