The former president from Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the appeasement of Central America, claims that the borders between Costa Rica and Panama are the safest in all of Latin America.
What is ironic about this contention is that these two countries are the only ones that have banned their national armies. Costa Rica abolished it in 1948 and transferred its defense budget to the fostering of education. Panama in turn, banned its army in 1990 as a consequence of the “Just Cause” operation launched by the US Armed Forces which invaded Panama in 1989 and captured Manuel Noriega the infamous Panamanian dictator. But Arias opinion is a reality not only in the borders of Panama but in the rest of its territory
To travel around in Panama whether by car, bus or just walking is a delight. Although one must be patient for Panamanians take their time, and even though they may sound vociferous they are of a relax and peaceful.
People that has traveled to other countries with great touristic appealing perceive right away what differentiate Panamanians from others and have a word to define it, “authenticity”. What you see is what you get. To pretend friendliness or hospitality in order to get your money, here is almost nonexistent.
No wonder the Modern Maturity Magazine of the American Association of Retired People, AARP, chose one of the most picturesque little towns or Panama as one of the “ten most ideal places to retire in the world” according to a study they conducted in 2004. Among the requirements the study evaluated was the level of security and nowadays, as the world turns, it is one of the key conditions to live without any frights, suspicions and stress in any corner of the planet.
One of the main reasons for this Panamanian safe scenario is its political stability. Since the overthrow of the Noriega dictatorship 24 years ago, there has been an authentic power alternateness in the government between the traditional “Panameñista” party opposed to the military and the party the militars themselves founded, the PRD (Revolutionary Democratic Party).
Interestingly enough, as we speak, the goverment is in the hands of a new third political power, the CD (Democratic Change) party lead by the current president Ricardo Martinelli, which deepens even more the country´s stability.
The other Latin-American country with such power alternateness is Costa Rica.
Moreover, Panama displays enviable economic indexes as the country with the lowest unemployment rate and the highest minimum wage in Latin America. Add the large investment on the widening of the Panama Canal which surpasses the 6 billion-dollars mark and the building of the Panama City Subway which represents another 1.5 billion-dollars. These ongoing projects render even more stability and a bright future to the country.
That´s why, it is such a delight to wander around Panama, since you can enjoy its authentic people, its lush landscapes trapped between two oceans and its enormous tropical ecological treasure with safety and friendliness.