23 de enero de 2020
ÚLTIMAS NOTICIAS:
Hispanic World

Residents of historic Panama neighborhood fight gentrification

By Maria M.Mur.

By Maria M.Mur.

Panama City, Jul 15 (efe-epa).-. Doris Martinez takes out of a dilapidated refrigerator a jug of chicha (maize brew) and fills a glass to the brim. The heat is relentless and she is eight-months pregnant. She straightens out some papers left in disorder by the previous shift and sits in a plastic chair to have her drink and cool off.

She has three hours of guard duty ahead of her in this makeshift building with its zinc roof and wooden walls that she and her colleagues call "The Trench," and which has became an emblem of the fight against gentrification in the colonial heart of the Panamanian capital.

"We're on duty here 24/7. It can't be left vacant because the cops would take advantage of it and get rid of us," she said, while getting her 3-year-old son Moises to blow his nose - he stays with her every time she's on guard duty.

"I do this for the kids, for their future," EFE was told by the woman with the big eyes who was born in the downtown area 40 years ago and who observes very sadly how it is being turned into an exclusive neighborhood that only the well-off can afford.

Tired of promises not kept, about 100 of the locals for the last two years have protected from speculation a vacant lot of some 500 sq. meters (5,400 sq. feet) in the colonial district, where different governments have promised to build public housing.

There they put up big signs with slogans like "Without inhabitants there is no heritage" and "This country goes to the highest bidder," and there established The Trench, a kind of barracks that attracts curious tourists and poor neighbors under pressure from landlords who want to boost the value of their property by restoring the old colonial mansions.

"Renting the most expensive house used to cost $150 a month, and now the remodeled houses don't rent for less than $1,200 a month. Tell me who can afford that," the president of the San Felipe Residents Association, Esther Sanchez, told EFE.

"We're not leaving here until they build the housing they promised us," said this combative woman, who was evicted from a ramshackle mansion where she had lived temporarily with the consent of the authorities and now stays with other families in an abandoned school on the Plaza Herrera.

The voracious real-estate boom in the colonial downtown area of Panama City, a monumental complex of colonial buildings and defensive walls from the late 17th century, began in 1997 when it was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations and has intensified in recent years.

The government's Historical Center Office, a unit of the National Culture Institute, estimates that half of the almost 800 colonial buildings have been restored.

During the day, the colonial center is filled with the sounds of stone being drilled and the shouting of construction workers, but at night the luxury restaurants and beautiful terraces are full of tourists. Day after day there are fewer children playing soccer on the cobblestone streets and grandparents chatting in the plazas.

"They don't want poor folks, but we know that's a problem in all the downtown areas of the Americas," Esther's husband Anibal Chacon told EFE.

Census reports show that la population of low-income residents in the district to which the historical center belongs has gone from 16,000 at the beginning of the 1990s to a little more than 2,000 today

Despite their exhaustion from the struggle, the locals see some light at the end of the tunnel with the recent naming of the director of the Historical Center Office, Fernando Diaz Jaramillo, who is aware of the human drama and who knows that the solution is to build public housing in the area and not send residents to the outskirts of the city.

"The Panamanian government has the duty not to permit the essence of the neighborhood to be lost. Our people have a leading role in safeguarding this universal heritage," Diaz told EFE. EFE-EPA

mmm/cd

Histórico de noticias
Trump inauguration organization committee sued for alleged corruption

Washington, Jan 22 (efe-epa).- District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine on Wednesday sued the nonprofit committee designated by President Donald...

Democrats make their case against Trump at Senate impeachment trial

Washington, Jan 22 (efe-epa).- The Democratic "managers" of the Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump on Wednesday began laying out in...

Pictoline, successful Mexican Web site tells the news with pictures

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

First US case of Wuhan virus diagnosed

New York, Jan 21 (efe-epa).- A patient in Washington state has been diagnosed with the Wuhan virus, or coronavirus, in the first confirmed case of this type...

Boeing doesn't expect 737 MAX to fly again until mid-2020

New York, Jan 21 (efe-epa).- Boeing announced Tuesday that it does not expect regulatory authorities to approve the return to service of its 737 MAX jets...

Weinstein case moves to opening arguments with witnesses in focus

New York, Jan 21 (efe-epa).- The the 12-person jury and three alternatives now selected, the sexual abuse trial of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein will...

Millions of Mexicans take part in macro-earthquake simulation

Mexico City, Jan 20 (efe-epa).- Millions of people participated on Monday in a nationwide earthquake macro-drill as memories persist of the last big tremor...

Trump's defense team asks Senate to speedily reject impeachment case

By Susana Samhan

Thousands protest gun controls in Richmond, Virginia

Washington, Jan 20 (efe-epa).- Thousands of people, most of them men, demonstrated on Monday outside the Virginia state capitol building in Richmond against...

Young people committing suicide in Nicaragua due to social crisis

By Wilder Perez R.

Animals at Medellin zoo get ice cream to help them deal with the heat

Medellin, Colombia, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- Ice cream, copious amounts of water and refreshing baths are all part of the "Wild Coolness" initiative being...

Migrant caravan delays entry into Mexico, expected to double in size

By Pedro Pablo Cortes

Former UN chief Javier Perez de Cuellar celebrates 100th birthday in Lima

Lima, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- Peru's Javier Perez de Cuellar, the first Ibero-American to serve as secretary-general of the United Nations, is celebrating his...

#SuperCoralPlay social network campaign seeks to save coral reefs

By Alberto Domingo Carreiro

Pinochet victims join Chilean protesters 3 mo. into crisis

Santiago, Jan 16 (efe-epa).- Groups of relatives of the victims of the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, along with associations of those injured and...

Koala toys invade NY in fundraising campaign for fire-ravaged Australia

New York, Jan 16 (efe-epa).- Plush koala toys perched on lampposts, traffic signals, trees and scaffolding at different spots around New York City these...

Model Gigi Hadid ruled out as Weinstein juror

New York, Jan 16 (efe-epa).- The selection of the jury that will decide in a New York court whether Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is guilty of sexual...

Mural art exhibit to highlight the untold bridge between Mexico and the US

By Jorge Fuentelsaz

Guaido: Paramilitary takeover of parliament reveals Maduro's dictatorship

Caracas, Jan 15 (efe-epa).- Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called the actions under way on Wednesday outside the National Assembly (AN) building a...

Artificial intelligence posing new challenges for cybersecurity in 2020

By Marc Arcas

House Democrats deliver Trump impeachment articles to Senate

Washington, Jan 15 (EFE).- Articles of impeachment against Donald Trump were transmitted to the US Senate on Wednesday nearly a month after the...

HRW denounces China's massive attack on human rights at home and abroad

By Mario Villar

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon in 2019 was 85 percent greater than in 2018

Rio de Janeiro, Jan 14 (efe-epa).- Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon region last year was 85 percent greater than that reported in 2018, according to...

Boeing ends 2019 with more cancellations than commercial plane orders

New York, Jan 14 (efe-epa).- Aerospace giant Boeing said Tuesday it delivered a total of 380 commercial airplanes in 2019, or less than half the number it...