Temas Especiales

24 de Jun de 2022


Removing history from Bella Vista

There was a time when the residents of Bella Vista fought against the destruction of their historical neighborhoods.

There was a time when the residents of Bella Vista fought against the destruction of their historical neighborhoods.

As the wreckers moved in to demolish a beautiful home with connections to the country’s past, protestors formed a human chain around the building and waved banners.

At another time a concert was organized in Parque Urraca to draw attention to the disappearing buildings associated with Panama’s history. All in vain, as the administration continued to hand out building permits for the enroaching tide of concrete high rises, sans the red tile roofs that had originally lured purchasers to the area.

Now another “historical” building is threatened in the name of progress.

The the former American embassy on Avenida Balboa, doesn’t go that far back, but since it’s construction in the 1930’s it has become a landmark for most of the city’s population, and is been the location many important meeting that have played a big role in Panama’s history.

The site has also been a rallying point for demonstrations, but even some of those who have waved banners denouncing “gringo” policies don’t want the building to disappear. Like the Elephant (Santo Tomas hospital) next door, it has become a local focal point, a wonderful place to use when explaining , in the Panamanian tradition, how to find one of those un-signposted streets in the area.

It may not win a prize for its heavy architectural framework, but, judging by the flurry of angry calls to local radio stations, people want it to stay.

In a column earlier this year I had suggested that their are many ways the building could be used

to continue to play a significant role in city life. The Hospital del Niño is bursting at the seams. So too Santo Tomas. The Gorgas Instititute could do with more space, and there are NG0’s a plenty who could be house under one roof. So will the protestors succeed under the new administration? Don’t hold your breath, but at least add your voice to the outcry.

CONDO INVASION. Since we carried a story earlier in the week on the creeping trend in new condo buildings for renting by the day or week there have been numerous calls from outraged purchasers who actually bought apartments to live in.

They are not amused to find that speculators who bought in the same building are furnishing and renting them to short term “visitors”.

As one reader said: “I didn’t buy to become part of a hotel complex. With an influx of temporary residents using the facilities, we pay for in our monthly charges to whom do we complain when they use facilities without obeying administration rules? By the time action is taken, they have gone.”

He also pointed out that with the access of large groups sharing an apartment, the security of the building is in jeopardy.

“If a group of thieves moved in for a few nights to check out the building they could make a big hit.”

His concerns may be partly eased by a government proposal to make the practice illegal.

But we already have so many laws on the books that are not enforced from illegal parking to badly serviced public transport.

Maybe pressure from the hotel industry already suffering from a downturn in reservations as the tourist boom eases, will produce some concrete actions.

The hotels pay taxes and provide services other than a key to the room, so they have a strong case. Let the speculators beware.