A clear priority was set by President Varela two months ago when he decided to launch his presidential inauguration not from the capital city of Panama, but rather from the Caribbean port town and home to the largest Free Trade Zone in the Americas: Colon.
Following up on one of his major campaign promises, Varela chose the dilapidated, crime ridden city 45 minutes to the north of Panama to set a clear initiative that this government would be different, and Colon would no longer be forgotten.
This is great news to anyone who has visited Colon and seen a glimmer of the hope, most notably in the areas surrounding 16th street, where the city looks and feels very much like a Caribbean version of the historic district of Casco Antiguo in Panama City.
Following up on Varela’s commitment to renew Colon, this week the housing minister announced that the location of the new 5000 unit state built housing facilities will be made public in the month of August, and confirming that environmental and engineering studies have already begun.
Colon is still a very run down city, and gang violence remains a major issue, however the Coloneses are excited about the prospects of a major urban renewal, and the benefits for the entire country of Panama will no doubt be felt.
Other anti-crime initiatives like the “Guns for Food” program have been a success in recent months, with over 2000 gang members turning in weapons in exchange for food and opportunities to turn their lives around.
This is a step in the right direction and we’re excited to see Varela focused on urban renewal and combating crime through social initiatives.