Welcome To Panama, Señores Presidentes
The past few weeks in Panama City, crews have been out early till late every day, including Saturdays and Sundays, prettying things up in the center of town. Curbs are being given fresh coats of yellow paint. White flowers are being planted in patterns along Avenida Balboa. Trees are being pruned, parks raked, approaches cleared…
Meantime, Panama City’s finest are more visible than I’ve ever noticed, patrolling, watching, taking positions…
Panama is working overtime with its preparations for the OAS’s seventh Summit of the Americas, which is bringing 35 heads of state, including both U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, to these fair shores this week for meetings taking place April 10–11. It’s the first time ever that Obama has come to Panama… and the first time Cuba has participated in an OAS summit since the United States engineered its expulsion from the organization in 1962. The cast of characters for these history-making meetings will also include the Sandinista Daniel Ortega from Nicaragua, Venezuela’s President Maduro, and Señora Presidente Cristina from Argentina, who stands out, even in this crowd, for her love of the dramatic. You can take a look at the complete cast, putting names to faces, here.
In honor of the occasion, Panama’s President Varela, host for the event, has declared a national holiday this coming Friday, and, for four days surrounding the meetings, Panama City’s highway that connects the international airport to downtown will be closed, as will center-city drag Avenida Balboa. Detours and diversions are being mapped out and posted.
The buzz about town is great. I don’t mean to sound like a party-pooper, but I’m wondering how this little city is going to manage through all these big goings-on. Navigating Panama’s capital is a challenge on an average day. We’re thinking we’ll stock up on essentials and hunker down at home for these four extraordinary days.
We’re hosting our own meetings in Panama City this month. Lucky for us and everyone else who’ll be in attendance at our Live and Invest in Panama Conference April 13–15, the Summit of the Americas hubbub should be history by the start of our event.
If you, like Barack and all the other jefes, are making your way down to join us in the Hub of the Americas this month, we look forward to seeing you soon. Panama City’s all dressed up for the occasion.