Viewing cable 05PANAMA202

05PANAMA2022005-01-27 22:41:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Panama
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: STATE 15708 
¶1.  Embassy grants country clearance and welcomes Panama 
Desk Officer Thomas Pierce, who will visit Panama during 
January 31-February 4, 2005 for in-country orientation. 
¶2.  Embassy Control Officer for this visit is Political 
Officer Karen Covert, telephones: office (507) 207-7131, 
residence (507) 225-2850, cell (507) 616-3723; email:  PolOff Covert will be in touch with you 
about your schedule. 
¶3.  Hotel reservations have been made at the Miramar 
Intercontinental Hotel, telephone (507) 206-8888, and fax 
(507) 223-4891.  Confirmation number is 218068.  Embassy 
Motorpool and Control Officer will provide "meet and assist" 
at the airport upon arrival. 
¶4. Use taxis for transportation between the Embassy and the 
hotel unless other arrangements are made.  Taxis in Panama 
do not use meters and fares should be agreed upon in 
advance.  Taxis are generally reliable within Panama City 
and cost less than 2 USD for most locations. 
¶5.  The American embassy in Panama has two principal 
locations, the Chancery on Avenida Balboa at Calle 37 and 
the Clayton Building on Demetrio Basilio Lakas Street 
(former Building 520, Clayton. Note: when taking a taxi to 
the Embassy, please be sure to specify the exact address 
where you intend to go.  If your business is in the 
Chancery, you should ask to be taken to the Balboa Avenue 
location.  The Consular Section, FCS, MGT, PD, and CIS 
(former INS) are located on Demetrio B. Lakas Street, 
Clayton.  Taxi drivers have sometimes taken our visitors to 
the Clayton Building when in fact they want to go to the 
Chancery.  The Embassy telephone number is: (country code- 
507) 207-7000, during duty hours.  After duty hours the 
telephone number is (507) 207-7200. 
¶6.  U.S. currency is accepted in Panama and major credit 
cards are widely accepted.  However, visitors are warned 
that large denomination bills (50 USD and larger) are often 
scrutinized carefully or refused due to counterfeiting 
¶7.  During the May to December rainy season, Panama City 
experiences heavy rain most days, often with brief flooding 
of streets or walkways.  During the rest of the year rains 
are less frequent.  Temperatures are always warm.  Travelers 
are advised to pack accordingly. 
¶8.  All official USG travelers to Panama should enter on 
passports with appropriate diplomatic or official visas. 
¶9.  Normally all travelers departing from Tocumen 
International must pay a $20 user fee.  However, officials 
accredited to the Embassy are exempt. 
¶10.  Security assessment: there is no specific information 
to indicate official or private American travelers to Panama 
are targeted by criminals or terrorists.  Criminal 
statistics indicate a steady increase in drug use and 
related criminal activity to include robbery, assault, auto 
theft, larceny, and sexual assault.  The emergence and 
establishment of youth gangs in specific areas of Panama 
City and Colon, is consistent with the proliferation of 
illegal weapons and related activity.  Armed violence in the 
metropolitan areas is not uncommon and a curfew enacted for 
juveniles remains in place.  Police checkpoints have become 
commonplace on weekends in Panama City and Colon.  Based 
upon reported incidents, the high crime areas around Panama 
City are: Chorillo, Ancon, Curundu, Rio Abajo, Veracruz 
Beach, Panama Viejo and the Madden Dam overlook. In 
addition, U.S. citizens should exercise caution when 
visiting the campus of the University of Panama.  Despite 
improved policing and more police officer visibility on the 
streets during business hours, urban and organized crime 
continue to be a major problem.  The border region of Panama 
and Colombia, the Darien, has become increasingly unstable 
and violent due to narcotics trafficking and spillover from 
the Colombian civil conflict.  All travel for official 
Americans to the area is restricted.  Advice to American 
travelers: exercise good personal security practices and 
always be aware of your surrounding environment.  Minimize 
the amount of cash, credit cards, jewelry and other personal 
valuables you carry with you and avoid going out alone, 
particularly after dark.  Choose restaurants and 
establishments that have adequate security.  Radio taxis are 
safe and recommended.  Contact the RSO to report any 
security-related incident.  For updated security 
information, contact the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section.