Just returned from my first trip to Panama and what an eye-opener! If you think this is just another banana republic you are sadly mistaken. It boasts a thriving economy, based on the U.S. Dollar, and almost total employment. But the greatest thing was this: I heard more positive comments about the United States and Americans there than I ever hear at home.
Self-flagellation is now fashionable in the U.S. We are racists, sexists, misogynists, homophobes, xenophobes, and islamaphobes. We invent a new “phobia” every day with which to tag ourselves. We are militaristic imperialists with a history that embarrasses us. We try to ignore it, re-write it, destroy vestiges of it, keep it from our children, and apologize for it. And pandering politicians have now stooped to declaring, “America was never that great, anyway!”
By contrast, the Panamanians love us. They love our country, people, culture, economic system, legal system, currency, freedom, and entrepreneurial spirit. (Yes, they have much for which to thank us: Teddy Roosevelt sent gun ships to Panama to help them gain their independence from Colombia so we could cut a deal to build the canal; Jimmy Carter gave them the canal; and we removed their drug dealing dictator Manuel Noriega and put him in prison.) And they remember.
Panama City is a modern beautiful city that rivals any in the world with five-star hotels, fabulous restaurants and safe drinking water. Wi-Fi connections are everywhere and free. It has beautiful beaches, (where the sun rises over the Pacific), and gorgeous mountains. Land titles are stable, secure and governed by laws similar to ours. There is no danger that the Daniel Ortegas, or Nicolas Maduros of the world are going to swoop in and take your condo. Moreover, they have taken democracy to a new level. They vote on a Sunday, which might explain the voter participation rate at the recently concluded presidential election on May 5 of 73%.
If you want to feel proud to be an American, take the short flight to Panama.