Protection for gringoes from extortion

I am wondering if anyway could advise me on a current situation.  My car, parking slightly
On an incline, I made the fatal mistake of not blocking my wheels, and my car let go, and
Rolled into the neighbours fence.  Yes, THANKFULLY no one was hurt and we have now also
Dug mini trenches for the wheels to sit in, for less of a Chance of this ever happening again.

However the BIG problem is the neighbour into this my car rolled into.  They are panamians,
Let Mark y Maria.  Maria speaks English, Mark does not, both are “professionals” and think of
Themselves as elite, lol.  we have been neighbours for about 8 years.  We moved here first,
A year later they did, building their house in such a way it blocked our beautiful view, however,
What could we do?  Then, when we returned from our 6 months in Canada to panama, we
Came back to find they chopped down any mature fruit tree, flowering plants, etc., from our
Yard about a foot in from there Fence or on the fence line.  And am one of those people who
Live for beautiful tropical trees and flowers.  Ok, so that action does not breed the good will,
Towards, neighbours, but what can you do?.

Then they came over with a police man, the local “corridor” (who had a reputation for way
Too much alcohol, and said we need to pay them $500 for flood damage to their property.

there was a washout on both sides, we hired a water and drainage expert from America
Who said we did not cause it.  anyway they took us to court, we had too pay ONLY because
We are Cdns. And They panamians.  Then before the court officials arrived we witnessed a
Money exchange between the corridor and neighbour, in another room, but the door open.

Move forward to now, after the accident occurred, I tried talking to Maria, she was home in her
House.  She would not come out to talk to me.  I was upset, but not angry.  she said she did not
Wear the pants in the family, therefore could not come out to talk to me. 

Now, we found out, they had reported the accident, there version, to the police but never
Told us they had, we found out at the police station.  they want to impose a penalty as well
As repairs for damages.  And they have not yet, Mark or Maria told us anything.  Our house
Could be on fire, with us inside, and they would do nothing, lol.  We believe in being civil.

My question, is there any protection for us, not to get sued unfairly from these people?
What about the ministry of tourism?  We might just try to rent our house out, which we own,
And go somewhere else tropical.  It is not just only this incident that cause me to think in
That direction, but the longer you live here, the more you find out the real state of affairs.
Even with all the help they received from the Americans, they, like their inept ways.

Dear PanamaChick,

I'll recommend a couple of things.

First in the country in Panama there is a country wide law enacted by the Panama General Assembly that does not allow anyone in the country of Panama to take advantage of any retiree over the age of 55 for women and 62 for men in Panama.
If a person violates the law they will be convicted and sent to prison. The law is taken very seriously. This is tied in the “jubilado descuenta" law that allow seniors to be served first in business where lines are established.

Also the majority of Panama law is based upon American law. In Panama and in the US the law is the law.  First and foremost did you file a claim to replace/repair the fence with your auto and or home owners insurance? If not you need to do so and then get the fence taken care of. If you have to pay out of pocket for the fence then do so and get it over with. Because this is probably why Mark and Maria removed your landscaping. And it does not matter who moved in first but rather who damaged the fence!

In your case the police man "aka" or the local “corridor has violated the laws that he was hired to enforce. And thereby by accepting a bribe  he has committed a second degree felony which in the US is carries a sentence of 6-months in jail and a fine of $1,000.00 for each offense but I'm not sure about the sentence in Panama.

I would try to appeal to the good nature of Mark and Maria by taking them and the corridor out to dinner your treat. And simply be a good host. It will be tough but just talk and mostly watch them.  If you never repaired or replaced the fence then at the end of dinner make and offer to do so in writing in both Spanish and English. However  Mark and Maria must then replace the landscaping that they removed from your yard. If they want you to replace the fence but they won't replace the landscaping write this down in your written statement.

If this does not work then I'd proceed to the next level,

The Corridor has a boss - probably a Major in the PDF or National Police Force.  So find out who it is and meet him or her. And then take the boss lunch once or twice a week as your appreciation for their service to the country and have the boss over for dinner.

Also remember that you guys pay your taxes in Panama and have paid for your home  so you have solid rights that can be upheld in court and best of all out of court! But remember Mark and Maria pay taxes etc too.

Once you get the Boss as your friend then inform the boss that you need to show him or her some evidence pertaining to a case.  Then show the Boss a copy of the statement for the needed replacement of the mature fruit tree, flowering plants, from your yard next to the neighbors property line and your offer to replace/repair the fence.  Leave a copy with the Boss and ask if he can assist regarding this matter. He will probably offer his help and he will then contact Mark and soon the matter with end up with everyone on the same page getting the fence and landscaping taken care of.

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to write.  You mentioned a few things, I was not
Aware of.
A couple of things, this neighbour, his real name is exactly Marx, after the communist leader,
In europe, and true to his name, he twists the truth.  About having dinner together, he has
Such adversity toward us that he is not even civil.  The neighbors say, he does not like Americans
Cdns, in HIS country.  He owns a lot of land, and has money, even though his house does not
Reflect it.  His wife, is 30 yrs, younger than him, and does not dare go against him.

When this accident with the car happened, I knocked on her door, so would not come out of
Her house to talk to me.  She said wait until Marx came home.  Marx came home, with his
Brother in lawm Who is a welder, and they repaired the fence.  Instead of coming to talk
To us, he had gone to the police and made his own report, his version, even though he was
Not even present when the accident happened, and twisted the truth, intentionally to try
To inflict as much injury as possible.

About the first incident, about 4 years ago,  There was a major flood that went through our
Yard and his.  We live all live on a hill, all our back yards have a steep decline.  Everyone
Agreed, that this flood of not our fault, but he got away with it, because he is Panamanian,
And the corridor, later fired for being a drunk, was easily bribable. Yet in Marx police report,
Which we snapped a photo of, then had friends translate, he reported, that “I had caused him
Trouble and distress, in a case before”, where as in reality he kept showing up at our house,
With gov, officials, , citing mistake, after mistake we had made.  I got mad and called him a
Stafador, which I guess is a crime also, in this country if that is not proven in court, lol.

About the maturing fruit trees, beautiful flowering plants.  there is no ordering of him
To replace these,  We were new to the country, in shock about what was happening,
Wanted to be friends, so we were upset, but had no confrontation,.  My point is just that
He does whatever he wants, etc., he treats us with however much disrespect he chooses,
And expects that to be ok with us, and at the court case, for the flood, he stated,  we
Were causing him problems, lol.  I am complete lie, we were just trying to stay out of his
Way.  At first, he was very, very friendly.  He wanted to do business with my husband.
That did not happen., so then he seemed to take this route.

A few pointers:
  Law in Panama is closest to (Spanish) Statutory Law, not (US/British) Common Law.
  If your property line is not marked, such errors happen all of the time.
  Your neighbor has no duty to maintain your view.
  A denuncia (complaint) to the Justice of the Peace requires notice from the Police.

  You are away for months on end without employing a local watchman?
  You have no attorney to assist you with these 'cultural differences'?
  You don't speak Spanish?  IF you do, you have not learned the law?
  Your other neighbors are equally hostile?

If it is such a problem, perhaps you should sell and move to a different place.  Welcome to Juega Vivo!

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