Hot Air (blog) -
Yesterday, a listener=92s son was offended that his school, Klein Collins High School, displayed the Mexican flag prominently. His mother called to complain, and the school wouldn=92t return her call. The student took the sign down.
The school pitched a fit, reviewed the surveillance tapes, found the student, and suspended him for 3 days. AND he has to pay for the flag. In light of the SF story of students sent home for wearing the AMERICAN flag because it offended the Hispanic students, I thought you=92d like to know about a story closer to home. -= taking-down-mexican-flag/
Hot Air (blog) - Yesterday, a listener’s son was offended that his school, Klein Collins High School, displayed the Mexican ... flag because it offended the Hispanic students, I thought you’d like to know about a story closer to home. /

Hey all you Hispanics of many nations, I grew up in the Canal Zone in Panama and now the corrupt Panamanian government wants to destroy a valuable piece of history and a World Heritage Site. Please do your part and help preserve this land from developers. Write the United Nations and protest to the Panamanian government. Thanks in advance for any help on this.
Save the Cruces Trail National Park
Oscar Sogandares G.
Incidentally today Saturday (Jan 8,2005) I had the opportunity to take part in a rally in Clayton (I hadn’t been there since base closure in
1999) just outside the new US consulate at Bldg 520 (and below Bldg,
519) behind which is planned the urban development project CL35 (not tomention the larger 45 hectare C43 lot beside the Cardenas River) which curiously bears the name “Hacienda Las Cruces” whose prime proponent for both is a Mr. Pasco (not Pazco), who is also the developer of the “Camino de Cruces” project behind the Chinese School in El Dorado (where there have also been complaints about environmental violations). It certainly seems this “gentleman” is in “love” with the area, especially the “wooded” areas.
All got underway as planned with the purpose of creating a “human chain”. There were aproximately around 300 plus including friend Ezequiel Miranda and the group from Chiriquí against the Camino “anti-ecológico”, to reinforce the Panama and concerned Clayton residents group. As the morning progressed the group decided to “march” all the way towards the main entrance of Clayton where the Ciudad del Saber has its facilities, since we had word of a meeting of UN undersecretary for the environment (PNUMA) Mr. Maurice Strong with Panama officials, also including Ligia Castro de Doens (ANAM director). The meeting was being held at Bldg 128.Our group continuously chanted slogans as “los bosques no son para vender sino para defender” which literally means “forests are not to be sold but protected”. Since the late ARI had changed all the rules and in its quest for new money is simply selling off to the best suitor all wooded areas which were to become part of the Camino de Cruces National Park. Our group was finally addressed to and several of our leaders such as Mrs.

Raisa Banfield and Ariel Rodriguez were allowed upstairs to the meeting to lay down their points. As soon as the meeting finished we were informed that the UN official Mr Maurice Strong was pleased with our movement. Mrs Ligia Castro de Doens as she was leaving greeted our friend Ezequiel Miranda and also addressed our group. She seemed to imply that everything must be done in a “legal” way.
As soon as everyone left we finally got the chance to become acquainted with the “Cruces Trail” tract lying just behind Bldg. 519. Surprisingly not many of us left for this venture after all this rally. We got off near Bldg 519 which presently is concession to the Caja del Seguro Social. There we ventured along some uncut grass way along the slopes and entered into the wooded area. About 50 meters into the forest we spotted a portion of the Cruces Trail which was recently uncovered beneath leaves and soil on the forest floor.

If anyone who has trekked the Cruces Trail especially along Summit or Soberanía can tell its characteristics. The well laid cobble stones, in the typical pattern approximately 3 feet wide. Our guide Mr. Pinzón told us that this portion was recently uncovered and shown to the press. There is more of the Cruces Trail there to be uncovered after lying peacefully unused for so many decades. The ironic part is that the Parque Nacional Camino de Cruces was enacted to precisely “protect” this historic trail and surrounding rain forest and this vital portion is “curiously” left out.

Panama finally receives this historical and natural “treasure” from the US in 1999 and before anyone has the chance to even “discover” it; it is systematically being destroyed forever.Years ago when I worked with the Army I would usually wonder about the trail lying beneath the forest while parked in the 519 parking lot, so I suggested we follow the pathway around the building to get there and do a little “exploring”. There we found a “bivouac” for Pasco’s construction workers. We also noticed many orange “stakes” along the ground marking the project lanes. After several attempts to get over the thick underbrush we finally exited to the rear 519 parking lot above.

There I gazed upon the now abandoned parking lot. I remember this as a bustling place full of cars and people, now it is just abandoned covered with leaves. We ventured back past the building front entrance and could only see insulating material strewn along the driveway. I didn’t wish to stroll beneath the front door, perhaps not to catch the deplorable condition the building was in. I wonder, instead of resorting to such destructive projects, why not restore (actually it was in perfect shape the last time I saw it in 1999) Bldg.
519 with its exceptional size, historical value and large parking lotinto a bustling hotel or commercial mall, or a tourist attraction. I really hadn’t wished to witness all this. We left the area with the sense that this country especially the ARI has not done what it was called upon by its citizens to do.

Clayton residents, environmentalists battle
Torrijos administration over developmentAn argument that was put on hold in the waning days of the Moscoso administration has flared again. The Cabinet Council has approved a controversial concession by the Interoceanic Regional Authority (ARI) by which 15 mostly wooded hectares of the former Fort Clayton will be transferred to developer Carlos Pazco and converted into a commercial project. The land, say the project’s opponents, is legally a part the Caminos de Cruces National Park and thus its development would violate the law.

Even if the opponents’ interpretation of the law creating that park is wrong, the parcel lies in a corner bounded by Metropolitan Natural Park, Soberania National Park and Caminos de Cruces National Park and is used as a migration corridor for red deer and marmoset monkeys. Thus the opponents have challenged the cabinet’s decision in a lawsuit filed with the Supreme Court. The dispute marks the first major confrontation between the Torrijos administration and environmentalists.

From The Panama News

BackgroundBasically the law which deals with the forest areas within the military bases has not been followed. IAW the law which created Parque Nacional Camino de Cruces the forests within Clayton were to automatically become part of the National Park once the bases were turned in (I actually saw signs within Clayton which said such). But it so happened that the ARI (Autoridad Region Interoceanica) recently has changed all the rules changing the status of most wooded areas within the former military bases into "urbanizables" or fair game for developers.

Right now the old growth forest behind Bldg. 519 to include a very much ignored portion of a historical tract of the "Cruces Trail" behind Bldg. 519 which ironically the National Park is supposed to protect lies just outside of the protection of the park itself to be developed under lot (CL-35) . Also that long wooded hill overlooking Corozal West where deer have even been spotted in the afternoon are in grave danger of disappearing as well as all adjacent areas behind Cardenas lot (C-43).

I am also forwarding a copy of a letter directed to President Martin Torrijos and the different components of his govt. Please circulate among all CZBrats. I would even say we must also lobby even further to all International entities like the UN and UNESCO (since a world treasure dating back from 500 years and the California Gold Rush such as the Cruces Trail is in peril of being destroyed forever) as well as the US Congress and Government.
We must stop these mad "juega vivo" developers much in the same way as we all stopped the former lady president in her "anti-ecological" road folly.
For more information contact: Oscar Sogandares G.

People to write protesting the planned development:

The President: (Email Removed)
Administrator of the Environmental Authority: (Email Removed) Minister of Economics and Finance: (Email Removed) Minister of the presidency: (Email Removed) Minister of Education: (Email Removed)
Administrator of National Institute of Culture: (Email Removed) Administrator of Tourism: (Email Removed)
Administrator of the Canal Region: (Email Removed) Administrator of the Canal: (Email Removed)

Sample Letter:
Dear Mr President and Honourable Ministers and Administrators of the Republic of Panama.
I would like to congratulate you on the progress you have made in combating poverty, corruption and environmental degradation within the first few
months of your administration. It is due to your commitment to sustainable development that brings the greatest good to greatest number of people
over the longest period that I would like to turn your attention to the sale
of the public forests of the reverted areas for private housing developments.
I fully believe that this development is wrong for the following reasons:
· It removes national patrimony into the hands of a few private owners, thereby ultimately increasing the gap between rich and poor and impeding real developmental progress that aims to decrease this gap

· It will deforest areas that are known to be rich in biodiversity that are inhabited by endangered species recognized under Panamanian law, such as Geoffroy¹s tamarin and the yellow crowned Amazon. Furthermore the forests of Clayton are known to be inhabited by at least 5 species of vertebrate
and several species of plant of which some are endemic, that are considered to be critically imperilled at the national level, yet no comprehensive study has been attempted to see if the forests in question harbor these species.
· Deforestation will remove a critical link in the biological corridor for wildlife dispersal between Camino de Cruces National Park, Metropolitan National Park and other reverted area forests.

· The housing development will desecrate a part of the "Camino de Cruces" an internationally important cultural monument, more than 400 years old
and one of the first attempts to put a structure across the Isthmus.

· Will impede current attempts to begin new industries based upon tourism and education that already use these particular forests.

I would also like to turn your attention to the environmental assessment that was undertaken for one development, that was found to be "seriously flawed" by a panel of independent scientists for reasons that include flawed methodology, lack of quantitative data and inexact data including the misleading number of species which the forests are said to contain. The assessment category of II that is was given is totally unjustified and is a misrepresentation of the quality and important habitat that these forests provide.
The forests of the reverted areas are a national treasure, biologically, socially and culturally and could provide income through tourism and
sustainable industries for many years to come. I believe that sale of these forests to private interests will be a step backwards for Panama¹s development and undo the good work that your administration is undertaking.

Please consider this case and reverse the sale of these lands and protect the forests of the reverted areas for all to enjoy.

Sincerely yours,