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Carnival 2024

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Shock in Casco Viejo over Carnival plans


Posted 23/01/2024

The decision that Casco Viejo will be included in the capital's Carnival celebrations has sent shock waves through residents and businesses in the historic neighborhood.

 Representatives of the businesses and community associations of the Old Town of Panama expressed their concern about the improvisation of the measure, the lack of consultation and the lack of information and clarity about what Carnival activities are planned with less than three weeks before the start of the revelry.

Although not everyone is opposed to some cultural events being held, they believe that information should be given in advance, planning and solving the problems that the neighborhood already suffers from, such as poor circulation lack of parking, poor garbage management, excesses of noise from the local bars, which, added to the absence of public bathrooms to serve so many people, portends a bad outcome.

Chris Lenz, investor and founder of Hotel La Compañía in Casco said they were surprised to learn from the media that carnival activities would be held in the area.

“I'm sure that hotels in Rio de Janeiro or New Orleans don't find out about their Carnival/Mardi Gras through the newspaper. The main associations in Casco found out about this through the media.”

“Are we for or against? It's impossible to answer as we have absolutely no idea what is planned and this is the frustrating part. As contributors to tourism and development in Casco, we should have a voice in the events, but we only know what the public knows, this is not acceptable.”

Unknowns such as where the activities will be, which streets will be open and which will not if there will be bathrooms for people or how many people they hope to attract.

Lenz maintained that in the last 5 years, they have not seen any interaction from the Government, not a single program to help improve the situation in the Casco.

He added that proposing a proposal of the caliber of carnival activities deserves timely analysis and planning. “If currently, the issue of garbage management is still a challenge, during Carnival times the problem can be accentuated

The businessman said that they are concerned about safety, the poor condition of the roads, and that the town does not have public bathrooms, nor is there a tourist information center. “The only thing the government does is make parking available for personal use and abuse public space. We don't even have regular garbage collection and the Government abuses its privileges in this regard.”

“You should deal with the fundamental issues here first, before throwing a pre-election party. Events in Casco are more than welcome, with proper planning and consultation”.

“Lack of information generates n rates not only concern but also doubts,” said Lorenzo Robles, general manager of the Tántalo group.

He specified that he is not opposed to activities being integrated into the Old Town with events such as carnivals, but that during three government administrations, they have tried to find a way to manage the carnivals appropriately because each season when the coastal strip is blocked, those who suffer the most are businesses and residents of the area and there is no planning.

”It is not that we are opposed, but that we are concerned about how it will be done. In recent months we have detected a setback in terms of security and organization in the town, and the “bien cuidaos” are gradually returning, in addition the bollards that were installed to prevent cars from parking have been demolished and there is illegal and messy parking”


On Friday, January 19, the Carnival Board announced that they would share the activities between the coastal strip and the Old Town. Leaving the traditional fiesta and culecos for the coastal strip, while in Casco there would be evening cultural activities to relive the carnival of yesteryear.

"The emblematic coastal strip will be the main stage of this vibrant celebration, which is expected to be a legacy to found a renowned tourism product, highlighting the richness of our culture and history in the eyes of an international public, together with the rescue of the carnival of yesteryear in the Old Town, highlighting our culture and traditions,” said a release from the organizers.

It was not until Monday, January 22, that the representatives of the merchants and residents learned from representatives of the Panama Tourism Authority the tentative agenda of the carnival activities that will be carried out in Casco.


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Call for cancelation of Casco Viejo carnival events


Posted 24/01/2024

The announcement of the celebration of some Carnival activities in Casco Viejo with parades, troupes, coronation of queens, concerts and other events continues to rile the  community which has called for the cancelation  of planned events.

Representatives of the Association of Neighbors and Friends of Casco  (Avaca) expressed their concern about the activities proposed in the area and requested that the program be suspended, because it was not consulted and they fear that the cultural heritage will be affected with massive activities.

“We are concerned about the possibility of massive events being held, with parades, stages and live bands that could damage the parks, generate excess noise and also maximize the problems of garbage disposal in the area that is  a cultural heritage,” said. Octavio del Moral, president of Avaca.

He reiterated that the association merchants, investors and a large part of the community learned through the media of the intention to use the Old Town within the Carnival program that traditionally only focuses on the Cinta Costera.

The best thing is that the Carnival be left in the Cinta Costera and that next year the Carnival Board will sit down in the Casco Antiguo community to do something intelligent and proportional to the place. But now it seems that everything is being done with a slide.”

Lilia Mendoza, a resident of the community and candidate for representative of San Felipe for the Otro Camino party, said that the community has not been consulted nor do they have the respective permits from the Heritage Directorate. Cultural of the Ministry of Culture.

“The most sensible thing is that this activity is not carried out. “The community has expressed to me that they want activities in the Old Town to be cancelled,” she said.

“The fact that neither the highest authority, which is the National Directorate of Cultural Heritage, is not aware of an activity of another institution and has not received an official, formal communication to request the due permits is a severe public administration problem.”

She considers that any activity that violates the rule or fails it should not happen.

She recalled that there are rules that govern the use of public space in the Old Town, also with noise and in addition there is not enough infrastructure to serve tourists who visit the area or for visitors, in addition to being concerned about the deterioration of the security in the area, to which is added the issue of garbage.

The director of the Old Town Office (OCA), Yessenia Sánchez, said that the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) presented last Monday, January 22, to security forces, the OCA, Heritage and some organizations in the Old Town a proposal for cultural activities within some squares of the Historic Center within the framework of Carnival 2024.

Sánchez reported that a second meeting with the ATP is scheduled to be held on Monday, January 29, to discuss a proposal in accordance with the Casco regulations in the presence of public and private organizations in the historic area.

“The objective is for there to be a circular economy and a tourism product in harmony with the organizations and with the conservation and preservation of the Old Town,” added the director of the OCA.

The ATP reported that on Wednesday, January 24, the Carnival Board, chaired by Nadkyi Duque, will be meeting and will issue a position on the proposals that the residents, merchants, investors and the community of the Old Town are making and will present the proposal of activities in the historic area.


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CSS Green Alert for Carnival


Posted 06/02/2024

The Social Security Fund (CSS) has activated the Institutional Green Alert for Carnival. Around 6,056 officials nationwide, including doctors, laboratory technicians, X-ray technicians, and nurses, will be participating.

Given the traditional concentration of people in different parts of the country, the CSS will carry out this operation from this Friday, February 9 at noon until Wednesday, February 14 at 7:00 am

“This Green Alert allows all executing units to implement their contingency plans so that they are prepared in the event of an emergency, disaster, or catastrophe and we can provide the best response,” said Dr. Einar. Cruz, head of the National Department of Emergency Management, Disasters and Patient Transportation.

Dr. Cruz recommended taking preventive measures since traffic accidents due to alcohol consumption and driver distraction due to cell phone use while driving are increasing. Also advised people to avoid health problems from excessive exposure to sunlight, which can cause dehydration.


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Carnival crowds pack Panama’s Coastal Strip


Posted 11/02/2024

On Sunday, February 11, the second day of Carnival 2024, a greater influx of people was recorded on the Cinta Costera, the scene of the traditional “culecos” in the Panamanian capital.

Attendees enjoyed varied musical offerings, artistic presentations, and, especially, the refreshing water provided by the tanker trucks arranged for this festivity.

The Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology of Panama issued a surveillance notice due to high thermal sensation and high temperatures in practically the entire country, valid until February 14.  The population is recommended to wear light clothing, and wide-brimmed hats, and stay well hydrated.

The four queens of the capital's carnival greeted the public who were present to enjoy these days of festivities.

According to the schedule established for this Sunday, the parade of artistic expressions and floats will begin at 6:00 pm, while the presentations on the artistic stage will last until 4:00 am


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298 arrests and 3,400 fines on first day of Carnival


 Posted 11/02/2024

Security forces reported  on Sunday, November  11, some 298 arrests in the previous 24 hours as part of the development of “Operation Apollo.”

Of that number, 120 people were arrested for administrative offenses, 17 in flagrante delicto, 18 for micro-trafficking, and one for drug trafficking. The National Directorate of Traffic Operations of the National Police announced that it issued 3,400 traffic fines, among the most outstanding are 653 for speeding, 89 (proven drunkenness), and 32 (alcoholic breath).

The official report also details that 13 raids were carried out; 71 packages of drugs were seized; 6 firearms with 88 ammunition; $1,312 in cash, and four stolen cars were recovered.

During the days of Carnival, the Government announced that some 35,000 emergency units were participating in the operation.


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17,728 traffic tickets issued during carnival

 Posted 14/02/2024

During  4 days of Carnival, the National Police issued 17,278 fines for traffic violations with more likely to come as the return to the capital of 151,278 vehicles continues on Ash Wednesday.

The lane reversal began at 7:00 am and will be activated until 6:00 pm, from El Nance to Sajalices and from Campana to La Espiga de La Chorrera.

National Police Director John Omar Dornheim Castillo said: “During the Carnival operations, 1,124  vehicles were towed and 17,278 traffic violations were applied, the most common being speeding with 3,064 cases, 450 violations for proven drunkenness, and 79 for talking on a cell phone, and 347 cases for expired licenses.”

He also detailed that, a total of 800,466 verifications were carried out, resulting in the arrest of 2,207 people for different crimes, including, 73 for micro-trafficking, and 8 for drug trafficking.

“From February 9 to 13, 37 firearms that people were trying to bring into Carnival activities were seized, in addition to 475 ammunition being seized along with

94 packages of drugs and $14,525 in cash.


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