A Panamanian’s View on THE PANAMA PAPERS

A Panamanian’s View on THE PANAMA PAPERS

Panamá has become an adjective not a country.  Used to describe complex fabrications, entwined by greed and power, the word Panamá precedes an Oscar winning “Deception”, and now the trending “Papers”.

Even the infamous “Panama Hat” was coined reflecting their point of international sale, rather than that of Ecuador, their place of origin.   Truth be told:  it does sound sexier, right?  Is the name so sensuous, so stimulating that no other word can describe the dramatic lure of this tiny yet noteworthy isthmus?  I must admit as a Panamanian, I’m flattered. But as a contrived compliment, I’m offended as well.  Panama is a country notorious for connecting the world, ever since our land erupted from under the sea and joined the isolated Americas 12 million years ago.

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– We were responsible for the current ice age, for warming the oceans and therefore transforming biodiversity globally.   Let´s call this the  #panama miracle.
– It was here that Columbus heard of the path between the seas, and Panama quickly became the crossroads and marketplace of Spain’s empire in the New World.  Let´s call this #panama wonder.
– Our blessed geographic position made it feasible to shorten time and distance during the U.S. Gold Rush.  Let´s call this alternate route the #panama shortcut.
– It was here that the French dreamed of building a Canal.  It was here were the United States accomplished that dream.  It was here were trade and global commerce changed forever. Let´s call this remarkable engineering feat the #panama marvel.

Doesn’t sound reasonable right? Why take single credit for something that has involved hundreds of identities, personalities all over the globe.  Some good and visionaries.  Some evil and corrupt.   Sound familiar?
As a Panamanian, we are urging everyone to please think of the harm that is created every time a hashtag is thrown into media outlets just for the sake of spectacle and suspense.
We are a country trying every day to write our own history, but this incident reminds us that others always snatch the pen before us.  Unfortunately, our past reflects this time and time again. Let us progress.  Let us evolve past pillages and invasions.  This is not our people. It speaks of world transgressions and misdemeanors of systemic webs, not of us.

By the way, when I was a little girl, I learned that the etymology of the name Panama traces back to our indigenous roots and means abundance of fish and trees and land of butterflies.  So unless you want to savor the talent of our people by supporting @ThePanamaJazzConnection, of visiting our beaches and helping promote sustainable tourism by using #panamasurf or engaging in the uniqueness of our fabulous geisha coffee by using the #panamacoffee…I urge you…please don´t use Panama as an adjective.  You would not like this for your country either.

By: Marisa Arias

Read more about THE PANAMA PAPERS here!


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