Cablegate: Panama Country Clearance for Paigh Representative

Published: Tue 29 Mar 2005 10:28 PM
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 56090
1. Embassy grants country clearance for Ms. Jacqueline
Klaver, Executive Secretary of the U.S. National Section,
Pan American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH),
United States Geological Survey, who will visit Panama
during April 4-8, 2005. The purpose of this visit is to
represent the PAIGH Commission of Cartography to the Fourth
Council Meeting of the Inter American Biodiversity
Information Network (IABIN) at the City of Knowledge in
Panama City, Panama and formalize cooperation between PAIGH
and IABIN by a MOU.
2. Embassy Point of Contact for the visit is Political
Officer Debra Steigerwalt, telephones: office (507) 207-
7183, residence (507) 321-0742, cell (507) 616-5271; fax
(507) 207-7418; email:
3. Per Reftel, Embassy understands that accommodations at
the Marriott Hotel are confirmed and Embassy support is not
4. The American Embassy in Panama is located on Avenida
Balboa and Calles 37 and 38, and the Clayton Building is
located on Demetrio Basilio Lakas Street (formerly 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 Avenida Balboa location. The Consular
Section, FCS, MGT, PD, and CIS (formerly INS) are located on
Demetrio Basilio Lakas Street, Clayton. Taxi drivers have
sometimes taken our visitors to the Clayton Building when in
fact they wanted 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-
5. 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
6. U.S. currency is accepted in Panama and major credit
cards are widely accepted. However, visitors are warned
that large denominational bills ($50 and larger) are often
closely scrutinized or refused due to counterfeiting fears.
7. During the May-to-December rainy season, Panama City
experiences heavy rain most days, often with brief flooding
in the streets or walkways. During the rest of the year,
rains are less frequent. The temperature is 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. American visitors or TDYers departing from Tocumen
International Airport must pay a 20 USD user fee. However,
officials accredited to the American Embassy in Panama are
10. Security Assessment: There is no specific information
to indicate that criminals or terrorists target official or
private American travelers to Panama. 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, has
been noted, yet has not reached the critical levels that it
has in other countries in Latin America. Armed violence in
the high crime areas of metropolitan Panama is not uncommon;
a curfew enacted for juveniles remains in place. Police
checkpoints have become commonplace on weekends in Panama
City and Colon, checking for everything from drunken driving
to valid drivers licenses, to searching for weapons. Based
upon reported incidents, the high crime areas around Panama
City are: Chorrillo, 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 crime continues to be a
problem akin to what one would find in most mid-sized cities
in the U.S. The border region of Panama and Colombia, the
Darien, is unstable - and sometimes violent - due to
narcotics trafficking and spillover from the Colombian civil
conflict. The region is not developed and there is no ready
access. All travel for official Americans to the area is
restricted, and travel for pleasure is not allowed. 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.
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