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Jim Bondoux

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Everything posted by Jim Bondoux

  1. Perhaps. Perhaps not. The Martinelli people claim that the seizure of the private plane was instigated via an anonymous complaint from Panama, and not from the US authorities. A three-page email in support of that claim is reproduced in the PanamaAmerica news site (affiliated with Martinelli). https://www.panamaamerica.com.pa/politica/informe-revela-que-incautacion-avion-fue-por-denuncia-en-pagina-web-no-peticion-estados
  2. I am not sure how to read your question. The financial need is caused by past effects of Covid-19 on government revenues. The proposed borrowing was to fill the gap in revenues consequent to the anti-virus measures taken. The amount was to be $1.75 billion, the term three years. The conditions imposed were said to involve the sale of a couple of government-owned assets and new taxes on incomes, property, and a new tax on bank transfers. There has been an intense negative reaction by the opposition parties and by the populace. The Costa Rican border officials went on strike, joining the action of other labor unions, so the border blockage has nothing to do with any trade dispute. Protests have been happening for seven days, and continue, even though the negotiations with IMF were halted last Sunday. Yesterday, Wednesday October 6, the Costa Rican police reported 21 blockades, including one on Route 32 (San Jose-Limon) and one on the Pan-American highway 200 kilometers north of San Jose. The intent is stop the transport of goods. Panama's President Cortizo was quick to state that he is not considering any taxes. Yesterday the general director of revenues for Panama reiterated that the government is not contemplating new taxes. Here is the President of Costa Rica on a gallows labeled "taxes":
  3. I believe there is a misunderstanding in the way this report is presented. The President of Costa Rica has been in negotiations with the IMF for a $1.75 billion loan, the need for which can be ascribed to the economic consequences of the Covid-19-related shutdowns. The conditions required by the IMF include spending cuts and tax increases. The Costa Rican population has demonstrated for several days against the prospective measures, and has blocked up to 36 different roads, paralyzing the country. Today, Tuesday October 6, the police report 17 blockades throughout the country, and there are calls for further demonstrations. The President has aborted the negotiations. Yes, there have been arguments between Panama and Costa Rica over trade and Covid-19 sanitation issues, but this is not one of them.
  4. I sense a lot of excitement surrounding this development. Martinelli needs 40,000 members to confirm the registration of his new political party, and it appears likely he will be successful in short order. The "Tribunal Electoral" is installing atm-like kiosks in transportation hubs and supermarkets to facilitate party registrations. Martinelli founded the CD party in 1998, and ultimately had nearly 500,000 members at the height of his presidential term. He seems confident of success, having publicly told elected CD party members who wish to join the new "RM" party to maintain their affiliation for now, just to send their party officials. They will be welcome at the right time. He announced (my translation) "RM is a new opposition party that will support the government in all things it does well, and we will criticize it in all the things it does wrong. We are going to return the quality of life to the Panamanian people." He also said (again, my translation): "We have learned a lot from the mistakes of the past; RM is a party that does not seek revenge, does not seek fights and when we come to power I want all the haters I have, which are many, by my side to help me and to criticize me if I do something wrong." He has many enemies in the political class, but the memory of the prosperous trends during his administration will likely resonate with a voter mass that is stressed from the economic fallout from the anti-coronavirus measures. Cute logo, that stands for "Attaining Goals" (Realizando Metas) but also the initials of one Ricardo Martinelli.
  5. The lockdowns around the world have disrupted supply lines, and folks are now playing catch-up. The US west coast ports are suddenly very busy, eastbound transpacific cargo rates are at high levels, the container manufacturers are booked solid through next February. Retailers stocking for Christmas are behind schedule. Coats has 60 manufacturing plants around the world, but none in the US, and I imagine they too are playing catch-up with Amazon and all their other US customers.
  6. Today's bulletin from the Ministry of health disclosed a new project focused on oxygen therapy. Working with the Chamber of Commerce (!) a team composed of doctor, nurse and first aid technician will visit symptomatic Covid victims thought to be at risk of severe complications, and adminster oxygen therapy. This in the metropolitan zone of Panama. I hope they introduce it promptly in Chiriqui. The growing use of corticosteroid methylprednisolone (powerful anti-inflammatory), the recent re-introduction of hydroxylchloroquine as a prophylactic, and now tentative steps to provide oxygen therapy are all positive steps. Finally, Panama is attacking the disease and helping victims defeat the symptoms and boost their immune response. Inhaled steroids and anti-coagulants are other therapies that might usefully be introduced to cut down the mortality rate. Since the virus mutates quite rapidly, it seems to me that a vaccine will always be playing catch-up, and only marginally useful once developed. Strengthening the herd's immune system should be the priority. Cooping people up an half-starving them has the opposite effect.
  7. The latest bulletin is also obscure. it states that "the Ministry and the Social Security administration are moving ahead with the acquisition of new medicines. The new strategy, based on several actions, includes the minister's decision to declare without effect the decision taken May 26 to prevent their use." The medicines are not specified. I had to check. May 26 was the day that the Ministry banned the use of hydroxylchlorquine, chloroquine, and azithromycin as treatment/prophylactic drugs for the coronavirus.
  8. The latest bulletin from the Ministry of Health displays some motion, a nice change from the frozen posture of the past. News items of greatest interest to me: 1) Starting tomorrow, July 22, hydroxylcholroquine may be prescribed, at the discretion of the treating doctor. (Comment: nice to see some news about therapies and treatment, rather than total focus on transmission and contagion). 2) Due to an increase in the Rt transmission measure in the provinces of Colon, Chiriqui, and Bocas del Toro, curfew will be enforced in those provinces: starts at 7pm Monday through Friday and is total curfew over the weekend, starting July 25. 3) The provinces of Herera, Cocle, and Los Santos are favored with a reopening of car dealerships, private construction projects and Professional & Administrative services. Separately, Telemetro broadcast an interview with Javier Pitti, the mayor of Tierras Altas (Volcan), in which he announced his intention to use drones as a surveillance method in fighting the "deadly" Covid-19 virus.
  9. From panatimes.com another hint that the authorities are putting their emphasis on contagion and transmission, rather than on therapies and immunity: Minsa evaluates applying total quarantine on weekends in Colón, Chiriquí and Bocas del Toro Health Minister Luis Francisco Sucre announced on Friday 17 July that they are evaluating the possibility of applying the total quarantine on weekends in the provinces of Colón, Chiriquí and Bocas del Toro in light of the increase in cases of COVID-19. Here is an official picture of the heat-sensing drone deployed in the province of Cocle:
  10. Fatalities surged again, big-time. I don't read about any analysis of the therapies and protocols used to treat the COVID-19 patients. It's all about contagion and transmission. I wonder if the Panama authorities have implemented any of the approaches that seem to be successful elsewhere, based on corticosteroids, direct oxygenation, anticoagulants, and avoiding the use of ventilators. In any event, it doesn't look promising for an early relaxation of sanitation measures... In
  11. DRONE SURVEILLANCE! Per today's bulletin from the Ministry of Health: Luis Francisco Sucre, Minister of Health, accompanied by Ivor Pitti, Vice-Minister of Security, inaugurated on Friday the operations center for control and community traceability of COVID-19 in the province of Cocle. Drones of the Enterprise model will be used to detect persons who have elevated temperature and who are circulating on the streets and neighborhoods. The drones are high-tech and calibrated to record the temperature in real time and to locate its target. A person identified to have high temperature will be given the test do diagnose if positive for covid-19. I imagine if it is found to be workable in Cocle, the Mayor of Boquete will soon be lobbying for the same tools...
  12. I agree that using masks is mandatory, because of the rulings of the authorities. I also agree that nurses and other medical professionals who work in dangerous environments such as hospitals need to wear masks and scrub often. Dismissing the data in the article without addressing the numerous studies cited in it by attacking the author is a failure of critical thinking called ad hominem argument, and is unconvincing. I'll add a couple of thoughts... The C19 virus seems to be mutating (not unexpected, it's what they do) so the effectiveness of any vaccine is likely to be limited. Even a very successful vaccine will not eradicate the virus. What will do so will be the eventual achievement of Herd Immunity. There is now sufficient statistical evidence from around the world to estimate the threshold for Herd Immunity (HIT) somewhere between 17% and 21% of the population (much lower than originally feared, and close to that of the common cold). The Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) which is the number of infected individuals who die from the C19 virus has been estimated and published by the US CDC at 0.26%, with a higher extreme value at 0.40%. Using those ranges on the population of Chiriqui (about 430,000) suggests that the province will not attain herd immunity until it has recorded C19 deaths of between 200 and 300 individuals. The number is below 60 today. All of the sanitation measures are slowing the transmission rate, but are not making anyone immune. It's been called "flattening the curve" to spread out the congestion in hospitals. I'm guessing that the death rate will peak in a few weeks, but will continue until at least October.
  13. A serious research paper, ten pages including at least 20 article citations, refutes the mask theory (except for the N95). THE RESEARCH IS CONCLUSIVE: MASKS AND RESPIRATORS DO NOT PREVENT THE TRANSMISSION OF VIRUSES Dr. Denis G Rancourt, PhD researchgate.net Mon, 20 Apr 2020 20:47 UTC Abstract Masks and respirators do not work. There have been extensive randomized controlled trial (RCT) studies, and meta-analysis reviews of RCT studies, which all show that masks and respirators do not work to prevent respiratory influenza-like illnesses, or respiratory illnesses believed to be transmitted by droplets and aerosol particles. Furthermore, the relevant known physics and biology, which I review, are such that masks and respirators should not work. It would be a paradox if masks and respirators worked, given what we know about viral respiratory diseases: The main transmission path is long-residence-time aerosol particles (< 2.5 ^m), which are too fine to be blocked, and the minimum-infective-dose is smaller than one aerosol particle.
  14. I consider wearing my mask to be mostly a non-optional fashion statement. We exhale saturated vapor (100% relative humidity) and there are millions of small (sub-micron) condensate drops in every breath. If you are infected, those drops carry huge numbers of virons, enough to infect another person. None of these particles is filtered in either direction by anything less than an N95 mask. The US CDC publishes a journal titled “Emerging Infectious Diseases” and the May, 2020 issue carries an article stating that in 14 randomized controlled trials covering four influenza pandemics, the evidence is that face masks had no substantial effect on transmission. Here’s a link to the article: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article Here’s the Abstract: There were 3 influenza pandemics in the 20th century, and there has been 1 so far in the 21st century. Local, national, and international health authorities regularly update their plans for mitigating the next influenza pandemic in light of the latest available evidence on the effectiveness of various control measures in reducing transmission. Here, we review the evidence base on the effectiveness of nonpharmaceutical personal protective measures and environmental hygiene measures in nonhealthcare settings and discuss their potential inclusion in pandemic plans. Although mechanistic studies support the potential effect of hand hygiene or face masks, evidence from 14 randomized controlled trials of these measures did not support a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza. We similarly found limited evidence on the effectiveness of improved hygiene and environmental cleaning. We identified several major knowledge gaps requiring further research, most fundamentally an improved characterization of the modes of person-to-person transmission.
  15. I believe it is reasonable to expect more posts of this kind. The degree of malnutrition of the Panamanian population has been massively increased due to the shutdown of the economy. Confinement has reduced vitamin D production, and wearing of masks negatively affected the blood saturation levels of oxygen and CO2. Widespread stress in addition to those physiological damages. All of which weaken the individual and collective immune systems. Measles, mumps, scarlet fever, even smallpox are some of the words that may return to the daily vocabulary.
  16. The bus companies that serve the Panama City-Boquete route shut down completely at the time of the quarantine declaration. I see several of the jitney buses serving Chiriqui routes, and folks waiting (with social separation) at the bus stop shelters. This was posted on facebook back in March:
  17. Yes, and there are another three tropical waves marching in sequence behind this one. They are about 3 days' apart, depending on their speed across the Atlantic and the Caribbean. The three weather charts posted below are 24-hour, 48-hour, and 72-hour looks ahead. They show the expected progression of the tropical waves. The major wind/precipitation occurs with and behind the wave, so it looks like Monday and Tuesday will be quite wet in Western Panama. Tropical Waves.pdf
  18. The report I read said that the police had let the protest through one of the roadblocks when a driver quoted the Panamanian Constitution. They only stopped the protest when it neared Casco Viejo, where the Presidential Palace is located. The relevant article is Article 38:
  19. Today's COVID-19 statistics release by the Ministry of health includes a record high of new cases and a return of daily deaths to the two-month average of 5. (The youngest of today's five was age 65). Here is the chart of daily new cases, without comment: (from https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/panama/ ) The rate of new cases is not the only matter that seems to be accelerating. I read of more and shriller contentiousness about the epidemic and Panama's policies. The economic impact has caused the alcoholic beverage industry to make a very public appeal to lift the so-called "dry law". The Ministry of Commerce has announced that it is "reviewing the request". Meanwhile the Chiriqui bar owners are complaining that grocery stores are selling more liquor than food. Yesterday, the Panama Hotel Association asked for a firm date for reopening tourism activity, including airline flights. President Cortizo has announced he is scheduling a meeting with the heads of all of the political parties to hammer out a second voucher program which would add another $100 to the $80 food subsidy already paid to "the most vulnerable" citizens. I read that there are back-channel negotiations to extend the moratoria on loan payments. The Minister of Finance has reported that tax collections in the first quarter of the year are approximately a third of what was projected, and he lamented that Panama has no central bank of its own, and therefore is unable to create money at will, as so many other countries can, and do. The political impact has manifested itself in a couple of ways. Wednesday night saw a "caravan" protest in Panama City with an automobile procession blocking Balboa Avenue all the way to Casco Viejo. The intent was reported to appeal to the President to lift the quarantine/lockdown measures. Richard Morales, Political Science professor at the University of Panama and unsuccessful presidential candidate in the last election published an editorial in La Estrella complaining of corruption, economic mismanagement, and ineffective responses to the coronavirus threat. Someone named Kesil Gonzalez has created an online petition calling for the resignation of the president and of his cabinet, on the basis of incompetence. Yesterday, the Ministry of Health felt the need to refer to external sources (Wuhan and the Imperial College of London) to support its mandatory measures. In today's bulletin MINSA reported that it had no information concerning alleged acquisition of contaminated COVID-19 tests, and reminded the population that issuing false information is a crime punishable by law, and that investigations of the information disseminated on social networks would lead to the filing of criminal complaints. Looks to me like this thrill ride is getting bumpier. James Bondoux
  20. Moderator properly asks me to name the source of the above graph. It is FT.com, the online presence of the UK's Financial Times publication. Financial Times is a serious business newspaper. My Bad. I had mentioned the source when I posted this graph to a couple of other platforms, and just got sloppy as the evening wore on. I present my apologies. James
  21. The trend of the fatality rate in Panama is quite different from all other countries. In my opinion, it is not an endorsement of the strategies adopted by the authorities.
  22. Nope. It's behind the Ruiz warehouse and the Terpel station in Bajo Boquete. Animales has held large patio sales there. I only see it used for basketball games in the evenings, usually Mondays.
  23. I have no connection to any of the actors in this discussion. However, I'll jump in and share my views, FWIW. Your indulgence is requested. 1. TapOut is probably a more reliable and financially stable tenant than the BCP, and therefore is the better candidate as primary lessee. 2. The auditorium is a terrific resource for theatrical productions, Sunday movies, and Tuesday presentations. I'm willing to bet that attendance at the Tuesday presentations is substantially independent from the Tuesday market, i.e. most of the audience for whatever is on the program would show up for the presentation even if there were no concurrent market activity. Obviously that statement also stands for the Sunday movies and various theatrical performances. It's the subject matter that draws attendees, not the market. 3. Then the logic is to have TapOut as master lessee simply rent out the auditorium on an ad hoc basis for whatever it is used for (remember, when it reopens it will be limited to 25% capacity...). For a presentation, there is there something magic about Tuesday 10:30am? 4. The Tuesday market seems to have outgrown its infrastructure. I suggest that alternative sites might prove to have better economics. The El Cancho gymnasium comes to mind, as does the Bible Fellowship building (former Amigos, etc) as offering sheltered vendor space and roomy parking options. A wider horizon (e.g. Alto Boquete) offers additional alternatives perhaps worthy of consideration. 5. Who are the vendors who draw traffic to the Tuesday market? How can such vendors be developed or encouraged? I probably missed them, but surveys of visitors to the Tuesday market would be useful guides for future improvement strategies. Anecdote: I know of one vendor whose traditional location was unilaterally changed and who no longer shows up, and who was probably 50% of the reason I would come on Tuesdays... The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on....
  24. Their website (https://www.novey.com.pa) states that they are making deliveries on the MINSA-directed schedule. I assume you can order merchandise on the website and have it delivered by their staff (MINSA requires that deliveries be made via vehicles owned by the retailer). I imagine that one could pickup orders at the store, but that would need to be confirmed with them. Their website covers their nationwide network, so I think a direct verbal contact with the David store(s) would be best, to confirm that they have resumed operations.. Their "Contactenos" button on the website provides for email exchange, and who knows how (un)responsive that might be... I have 775-9343 and 775-9802 as Novey phone numbers in David. FWIW.
  25. The protocol for reopening the economy promised for today has been published, in the form of a 25-page booklet. The main gist of the booklet has been summarized in an article in today's La Prensa, and I offer my translation of the main part of that article: QUOTE ==== The guidelines "for the return to normality of post-Covid-19 companies in Panama", is published on the website of the Ministry of Health (Minsa). Personnel from the Ministry, the Social Security Fund and the Ministry of Commerce and Industries participated in the preparation of the document, with the support of advisers from the Pan American Health Organization and the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The document includes the points that public institutions and private companies must comply with in order to "guarantee" a safe return for workers in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Companies and entities, to return to operate and serve the public, must meet five points: 1. In each public entity, private company and every economic sector, a special health and hygiene committee must be created for the prevention and care of the new coronavirus, which will be in charge of enforcing the protocols and guides issued by the Minsa. 2. Workers, clients, suppliers and visitors must follow prevention measures and controls, such as frequent hand washing with soap and water (recommended every half hour), use alcohol-based gel and masks, maintain physical distance of at least 2 meters between people and have general protective equipment according to the work activity they carry out. In addition, areas and surfaces must be disinfected and debris must be properly managed. 3. The premises will have to establish special hours and restrict the number of people so that physical distance can be kept. The teleworking modality will help to fulfill this point. 4. Frequent monitoring of the symptoms of employees and clients must be carried out, as well as the taking of temperature. No one will be allowed to enter who sets a temperature of 38 degrees or more. 5. Work stress management and psychological help. The return to work will be "gradual and scheduled", for which reason it is requested to establish special hours and promote modalities such as teleworking. "For face-to-face roles, avoid personnel from vulnerable groups: adults over 60 years of age, workers with comorbidity, pregnant women, etc., for whom teleworking may be considered." UNQUOTE ==========
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