Shortly after Ricardo Martinelli was inaugurated as President of the Republic of Panama he gave a speech to the United Nations. His was reported as saying “Panama is open for business”. Aa year into his presidency he is starting to fulfill his promise of change and growth. In the Capital it is buses and a commuter railroad. In the interior, roads and more roads. Whether it is good or bad only time will tell.
On 27 March La Prensa reported that the government has allocated $283 million dollars to expand several highways. The size of the expenditure and the location of the changes broadcasts the intent. Panama wants more residential tourism, more immigration of people with money into the interior of the country.
Divisa to Chitre gets four lanes, this is the gateway to the Azuero Peninsula, a rapidly developing area of beaches.
San Felix to David gets four lanes, this part of the Interamericana between David and the Capital currently has no passing lanes. This will make the trip to David from Panama City much faster and safer.
Finally four lanes from David to the little mountain pueblo of Boquete Panama. I can report the survey crews are all over this project already. I have no idea how or even why they are doing this unless they also plan to eventually continue the road on to Bocas del Toro.
Boquete is now a dead end and although four lanes will make the ride to David faster and less dangerous the current need is not there. This is an investment in Boquete.
If you are here and can remember 3 years back in time and look at the changes and investment in both David and Boquete over three years the effect is startling. David has a major shopping center with a large three story department store, Conway. It has new hotels, it has new restaurants, now retail stores. I notices today a BMW dealer is opening, Honda opened last year. The cow town is in transition, fast.
This government is following through on the expansion of the David Airport so Copa and other airlines can stop here. They want the wild west of Panama to grow, fast.
If you are from the school of thought that says get in when things are about to explode and profit from it, this is the time to jump on Western Panama. If however you are from the group that came here because it was not Florida or Arizona, it might be time to start looking for alternatives.
When I arrived I felt I had entered a time machine and went back fifty years, now it is only thirty, soon there will be continuity with North America. I am not sure if this is good for anyone, except the investors and the people who want to terraform Panama into another mini USA. Panama is an opportunity now but the change might destroy the very essence of why I am here.