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In the News from Panama

Expats Talk About Life in Panama

Wonder what it is like to be living in the JW Marriott Ocean Club these days? A reporting team from Arizona PBS interviewed a couple quarantined on the 54th floor of the iconic tower, as part of a report on American ex-pats who have found new lives in Panama.

“Moving to Panama was wonderful,” said Patricia Cruz and her husband, Geoffrey Godfrey, who live in the Ocean Club. “The people are warm and friendly, and the nature here is incredible.”

The couple has been under strict lockdown orders, but neither was complaining about life in the Ocean Club.

“Our quarantine seems to be more strict than most, but we are glad of that because it is the only way we can stop the spread,” Cruz said.  

The article, headlined “American ex-pats find opportunity in Panama, despite the pandemic,” is a great look at how Panama has captured the imagination of so many in the United States. In fiscal 2019, Panama approved 2,590 visas, “a nearly nine-fold increase of the 308 approved in 2012,” according to the report, developed as part of the Cronike Borderlands Project.

Beyond profiling the lives of the ex-pats, the article makes it clear why more people are “flocking” to Panama. Panama City has a “soaring skyline and a cosmopolitan feel,” but the growing economy is a big reason, the article notes. In an October 2019 report, the World Bank rated Panama as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with an average annual growth rate of 5.6 percent over the past five years, the article notes.

Major multinational corporations, including Procter and Gamble, Under Armour, Adidas, Nike, and Caterpillar have their Latin American hubs in Panama City, attracting a growing workforce that increasingly utilizes the Friendly Nations Visa,” the article points out.  

Cruz and Godfrey were teachers in Baltimore before moving to Punta Pacifica in 2018. From tough districts in Baltimore, “now they teach at a renowned private international school in Panama City and live in relative luxury,” the article notes.

They were really starting to settle into their new life with views of Panama Bay when the pandemic struck. “It was feeling normal – after such a big move and change in our life in 2018. Now with COVID, it is like the world has gotten smaller,” Cruz told the reporters. “We are all in this together, and so many things I missed – the shows, the art, the people – have moved online so I can see them again. That is the bright side.”

The full article is available at cronkitenews.azpbs.org