Viewing cable 05PANAMA371

05PANAMA3712005-02-18 17:27:00 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 27343 
¶1.  Embassy warmly welcomes Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS), member 
of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), who will visit 
Panama during February 20-22, 2005.  Embassy also welcomes 
HASC Cousel Henry J. Schweiter, and DOD escorts Col. Chris 
Perkins and Ltc. Mike Legg, U.S. Special Operations Command, 
U.S. Army. 
¶2.  Embassy Control Officer for the visit is Political 
Counselor Richard Sacks, telephones: office (507) 207-7140, 
residence (507) 271-5623, cell (507) 673-9753; fax (507) 207- 
7418; email: 
¶3.  The following hotel reservations have been made for 
Codel Taylor: 
Sunday, February 20 
The Bristol Hotel 
Address: Calle Aquilino De La Guardia, Panama 
Telephone: 265-7844 
Fax: 265-8620 
Daily Rate: 100 USDOL, plus 10 percent tax (breakfast 
Confirmation numbers: Gene Taylor (53262), Chris Perkins 
(53264), Mike Legg (53265), Jim Schweiter (53268) 
Latest cancellation without penalty: 48 hours 
The eighth floor lounge of the Bristol Hotel has also been 
reserved for the evening of Sunday, February 20, at the rate 
of 150 USDOL, plus 10 percent tax.  Embassy must provide the 
hotel with 48 hours of advance notice in case of 
cancellation in order to avoid a penalty. 
Monday, February 21 
Punta Patino Lodge 
Punta Patino, Darien 
Telephone (507) 299-6659 
Daily rate: 60 USDOL (includes tax, breakfast and dinner) 
Latest cancellation without penalty: Thursday, February 17 
Cash payment expected. 
¶4.  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. 
¶5.  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 
¶6.  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. 
¶7.  All official USG travelers to Panama should enter on 
passports with appropriate diplomatic or official visas. 
¶8.  Normally all travelers departing from Tocumen 
International must pay a $20 user fee.  However, officials 
accredited to the Embassy are exempt. 
¶9.  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.