I have twice written about the problems between Amigos Restaurant and neighbors. In the past I have tried to be objective and neutral, this time I am going to be subjective and biased.
When I first wrote about the noise complaint made by a group of local residents, I had great sympathy for them. They filed a proper complaint with MINSA the agency responsible for enforcing the noise ordinances on Dec 13 2011. They also caused a stir at a Meeting of the Junta Communal (think City Council).
Upon further investigation it appears the group is really a small handful of people and two of them then initiated a Criminal Complaint against the legal representative and administrator of Amigos Restaurant. The complaint is real, I have a copy. It is dated December 28 2011, about two weeks after the civil and correct complaint to MINSA . MINSA the Ministry of Health had 45 days, by law, to resolve the problem. The criminal complaint cites environmental laws designed for catastrophic destruction not noise from a band; in my opinion it is worse than a sham, it is abuse of the legal system.
Since the December 13 complaint Amigos management has worked with MINSA to find a solution to satisfy the complainants. They have ordered a movable sound barrier which has not yet arrived. They start their music early, 5pm and end it at 8PM. They reduced the volume have made great effort to resolve the problem. None of this has calmed one vociferous complainant.
We all just experience the January Coffee and Flower Fair, I heard the music several kilometers from town with a mountain between me and the fair grounds. The noise from Amigos does not even come close to the noise from the fair. I was there last night and the noise from passing cars and a motorcycle were louder than the noise in the the bar.
One person, an expat, who is causing this stir has now returned to MINSA complaining again. Now his demands are that MINSA take further action despite all of the things already done to resolve his problem. It has even been said that he complained that both Mark the manager and Sam, the lawyer for Amigos, need to get haircuts; I do remember being told than in 1969 too. He has also called on certain groups to boycott Amigos.
Amigos Restaurant is a significant part of the Boquete community. Many times in it’s first incarnation it provided the only real center for music and celebration in the early developing expat community. Now, in it’s new location it is fighting to survive. Mark and Jennifer invested heavily in renovating a decaying building. They hired and trained many local residents for jobs and now they find themselves having to pay a lawyer to help them stay open and out of jail. They would never, ever, say what I am going to say here.
I read an article about how a small town in New England rallied to help keep a local hardware store open by asking local residents to please go to the hardware store and spend $20. It worked, the store was mobbed by people who voted with their dollars and provided the blood, cash, the store needed.
I have no knowledge of the finances of Amigos, Mark or Jennifer but I do know that they opened a short time ago and have been fighting to stay open from the beginning. Their life blood is people coming to party, live music and now in an effort to placate their neighbor they have had to curtail their major source of revenue. We the community should support Amigos and let them make the modifications MINSA has agreed will satisfy the noise issue.
My request to you, is a counter boycott, if one complainant can ask people to throttle a business by boycott I can ask you do the opposite. If indeed the pen is mightier than the sword, I declare the week starting tomorrow Jan 30, Amigos Appreciation Week. I asking you to visit Amigos this week, have breakfast, lunch or dinner or just have drink. Let them know you appreciate that they are a part of Boquete and that you support them. If you have never been to the new Amigos drive from downtown Boquete to the new library and turn left at the bus garage, it will be directly in front of you.