“The Fugitive” Panama-style
Here is an e-mail I got from “ P. and J ” earlier this week: “Last November, my wife and I were involved in a horrific car accident. We ...
Here is an e-mail I got from “ P. and J ” earlier this week: “Last November, my wife and I were involved in a horrific car accident. We were hit by a car traveling at great speed and using no lights, as we turned across the Pan American Highway. Sadly, the passenger, who was not wearing a seat belt, was killed and his car was totally destroyed.
“Over the course of two weeks, I sought the advice and opinions of four respectable law firms. Generally, they seem to agree on one point and that can be summarized, as follows:
“I am a foreigner and as such am perceived to be wealthy. There is no way that I will win this case. The likely outcome will be that I shall be found guilty and sentenced to a custodial sentence which will not be commuted until I have paid over a substantial sum of money. At that time, the sentence will be reduced and I shall be given a Community Service order which could be for as long as four years. (This on top of the two years that I might have to wait for the case to come to Court).
“I am neither prepared nor willing to take the chance, especially as we would not be able to find the money required, to avoid getting onto that merry-go-round and so we decided that we would leave Panama forever. We then discovered that I am not allowed to leave the country.
“We enlisted the help of some Panamanian friends of dubious character and bribed our way out of the country. At last, the system that has been working against us has been harnessed in our favor.”
I UNDERSTAND YOUR FEAR. Many of your reasons for leaving the country were based upon assumptions that you would be persecuted by a corrupt system. I don’t buy that.
After the accident, you weren’t cheated or imprisoned. Sure, you couldn’t leave the country and had to report to the authorities once a week. The same requirement would have been decreed in the States or in Canada. But what if the situation was reversed?
Suppose a Mexican driver killed another driver in a similar accident in the States. That immigrant would also be told that he likely wouldn’t get a fair trial. Would he run back to Mexico? Probably.
In the end, you and the Mexican are the only lawbreakers. You, for fleeing and bribing the authorities. Because of your flight, other ex-pats charged with a similar offense, may be put in jail, rather than let out on their promise to stand trial. Nevertheless, I am sure many ex-pats would have reacted as you did. I just wish there was more confidence in Panama justice.
CAR TRIVIA TEST. I dislike most on-line trivia quizzes, but there is one ‘contest’ that’s making the rounds at: http://www.cramersweeney.com/brandprix/ that I really enjoyed. Think you know which logo and slogans fit which car models? Good luck (I missed 11 out of 20 questions).
FUN WITH CAR NAMES. Everyone knows that Fiat stands for “Fix it again, Tony!” But, that’s now changed to “Fix it again, taxpayer!” Ford could mean “Found on the road dead”, or “Driver returns on foot”, when read backwards.
CHRYSLER’S WARRANTY CHECK ‘BOUNCED ’. This little tidbit from the popular “The truth about cars website found at www.thetruthaboutcars.com/chrysler-walks-away-from-lemon-laws/: “Lemon Law” settlement checks to customers who bought defective Dodge, Chrysler or Jeep products may be worthless. A San Diego lawyer settled with Chrysler over a 2006 Dodge Magnum with a bad suspension and returned the car to Chrysler. The automaker’s check bounced. ‘Now he’s got no car and no money, so he can’t go buy a new one,’ says the lawyer. ‘He’s stuck. We’re hanging onto a glimmer of hope.’