Update From Dan Miller

Good morning, Lee.

I may have called you yesterday evening to explain what happened yesterday morning; I don’t remember. In any event,  our attorney met with the entire Dolega Municipal Council, including the mayor, all representantes etc. yesterday morning; based to some extent on a order issued about nine years ago, requiring Citricos to remove all gates blocking public access through Citricos property to other places, the Council directed the Corregidora of Rovira to accompany our attorney to our property and to witness the removal of the Citricos gate.  A friend came with a power saw and cut one side of the gate down; he ran out of battery power before the could cut the other side of the gate down.

Very early this morning, a retro came from Citricos and dug a ditch about 5 feet wide,  5 feet deep and about 20 feet wide, extending across the entire entry to the gate; the gate has not been put back up. The ditch, obviously, blocks vehicular access as well as passage on horseback.

Our attorney is now on her way to the Governor and to the Court in David to get something done, ASAP.  I think that this time, Citricos has really crossed over the line.  I don’t know what “ASAP” means in Spanish.

I’m writing this rather than calling, because both of our phones have only a little calling time left and I want to save what there is for an emergency.  Daniel, our worker, was going to get some more cards for us this morning, but could not get out.  Its about a half an hour ride on horseback to the nearest place where cards can be purchased.  Our attorney promised to bring us some mas movil cards when she comes later today.

Ain’t this exciting!!!???



  1. Good Luck in fighting this situation,
    I hope you will be able to state your case and achieve justice.

  2. Jon Arcuni says:

    What is the status of this Finca? Is it ROP or titled land?
    Do these people who are being landlocked have an absolute right to use the land? Is alternate access available to the land?

    Keep us informed about this. I can think of no situation elsewhere where access or easement to owners land can be denied except to squatters.

    Is there a reason why Citricos is going to the expense and trouble to deny these people use of their land despite existing law?

    I do not know, but would like to find out the other side to this story. If this kind of thing without good reason can happen to these people, it can happen to any of us.

  3. Angel Peña says:

    This is not common at all. Basic “old” panamanian law established the right to have access to one`s property = “camino real” + panamanian common sense and customs on the country side dictates good relationships among neighboors.

    However in modern times there have been similar cases i.e.: Valle Escondido in Boquete blocking a road, case which would have gone all the way up to the supreme court and still would somehow be in process at this time.

    I think there maybe obviously something else behind the scenes for this people to have taken such effort to block a road; a project, security, bad relationships with neighboors. In the country side of Panama MOP nor the goverment contribute with construction nor maintanance of the roads still. It is the users normally owners duty to do it. Else No road sometimes. It was my experience in this area when I bought my farm 20+ yrs ago.

    I think this will be an interest legal case from what I hope the country and us all will grow and benefit from.


  4. From my past education of living in Panama, I understand that anyone that doesn’t like the way you look or talk can file a legal lien against your property (providing they have the cash to do it)

    This would prevent access to your property and tie it up in their broken down justice system. There were many such cases like this when I lived in Panama back in 2003. Alot of white collar criminals (mostly from the United States) exploit the weak judicial system for personal monetary gain.

    Most noteable are construction companies and real estate brokers. I learned some lessons the hard way..

  5. Dan Miller says:

    Our land is titled and the plat shows the access road. The plat is stamped by all the appropriate Panamanian Government agencies. On 4 January 2007, the Ministerio de Obras Publicas sent several people to inspect the access and to speak with several long-time local residents, who stated that it had been used by the public for about eighty years to transport sugar cane to a processing plant in Rovira and for other purposes. MOP certified that the access “es de uso publico, con una longitud de 420 metros y un ancho de 12.8 metros.” The access has also long been shown on the Tomy Guardia official Panamanian topographical map of the area.

    As to alternative access, anything is “possible:” Panamá has built two bridges across the Canal. However, there is no other feasible access for us, due to terrain features. The 420 meter camino publico across Citricos land leads to the principal road to our north. That road bends and passes through a small community to our west. However, a steep ravine several hundred feet deep with a fast flowing creek at the bottom is between us and that road. A mountain goat would have difficulty, and it would be one heck of an expensive engineering project to put in a road. More or less the same situation exists to our east, and it is even worse to the south.

  6. I totally understand what you are saying.My property was in Jarramilo.There was only one way in and one way out. I had a construction company put a lien on my property claiming I owed them money. It took me over one year and alot of frustration and heartaches to resolve that issue. I am sure you will be able to straighten your situation out but you must have a top notch lawyer that is well known. Even then it will take time and meanwhile it will wear you and your wife out mentally. May I suggest Rudolfo Angulo to represent your case? He may not be doing this sort of representation anymore? But it wouldn’t hurt to look him up and ask. His office is in David. He is a corporate lawyer so he may not want the job.

  7. I understand completely – you have legal access through the previously undivided parcel of which your land came from, and you are just too cheap to accept that you will have to build a bridge, rather than attempting to steal access through someone else’s property – Citrico’s !

    If you want to play ball in someone else’s arena, it’s always best to first learn the local rules, rather than trying to bring in your own rules and trying to force them to play accordingly. You can always just take your ball and go home, pal!

  8. I have enjoyed your articles in PajamasMedia, partly for their content and partly because I am very familiar with Chiriqui Province. I began working on telecom projects there in 1959, lived in Panama City from 1961 to ’66 and was in and out of Panama through about 1986, all of this on telecom-related things. Probably most of my friends from those days have passed on, but some of the names are: Eduardo Gonzalez and his sons Rory and Alberto, Frank Linares, Titile Abadia, Guillermo Villegas. There are others.

    Robert “Fritz” Gellerman

  9. Trying to reach you Dan, this is suanne from Paloma de la
    Paz. Found lots of info by you but can’t find email address or Tel
    #, please write! and Merry Christmas!


  1. […] – HERE is the latest from Lee’s Blog posted on the […]

  2. […] I know several of the players in these dramas and like all land disputes in Panama they will play out in the courts, then play out again and again until the lawyers and judges can retire. If you don’t believe me look at the forever cases in Valle Escondido or ask Dan Miller. […]

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