Friday, May 14, 2010

A Bit More Excitement Than I Like

Parroquia San Cristóbal is located in the Parque Lefevre neighborhood of Panama City. It is a neighborhood in transition; many of the homes are being sold and converted into talleres or work shops. At the moment there is an equal amount of family homes and talleres. It is also a neighborhood which is experiencing an increase in crime, as is much of the country.

We hold our Vestry meetings on the second Thursday of the month, and we meet on the church patio, because the breeze will blow through there. As soon as we get the rest of the permisos we can start using the new hall, which has a Salon de Reuniones. I hope we get those permisos soon, as it is getting too dangerous to be out on the patio at night.

Last night at around 7:00 pm, as the Vestry was discussing the up-coming Prayer Breakfast, a car drove by quickly and suddenly we heard gunfire. Everybody immediately dived under the table. The car drove off and I wasn't sure that we HAD heard gunfire; I thought that it may have been firecrackers, as the kids in my neighborhood (Los Pinos/Chanis) are always firing off firecrackers. We returned to our discussion, everyone a bit nervous, when we heard some more noise farther down the street, where Calle Decima meets Via España. We were pretty sure it was gunfire that time. Some people came running up the road and confirmed our fears. We tried to continue our meeting as the police arrived next door but decided to adjourn.

It was a drive-by shooting, and a young man of some 20 years was killed. According to what I heard on the street, the young man had been selling drugs for someone and decided to keep the money, so the Drug Lords took care of him. He was killed in front of the taller across the street from the parish and right next door to Instituto Episcopal San Cristóbal. Organized crime has been increasing in Central America and Panamá. Being next door to Colombia, a nation which has been steeped in political and drug violence for some forty years really isn't helping, either. It seems that, for some reason, drug violence tends to increase when a right-wing government is in power around here. Of course, if the druggies in the U.S.A. would clean up their acts it would probably slow down most of the drug violence here in Central America and even in North America (like THAT'S gonna happen!).

I hope to meet with the other pastors in the neighborhood in the next two weeks to see what we can do to curb violence in our barriada. For years the police have pretty much avoided this neighborhood, but they have increased their presence recently, so perhaps we can all work together to make some changes and protect our people. Keep us in your prayers.

15 comments:

Fran said...

Dios mio! Prayers for one and all.

Grandmère Mimi said...

What a pity! Panama City sounds like New Orleans. There are neighborhoods where it's not safe to sit outside. Prayers for safety and for more peaceful times.

Josh Thomas said...

The United States has spent a trillion dollars on the so-called war on drugs, and after 40 years has nothing to show for it but more international violence. End the Prohibition already, it didn't work the first time and it's not working now!

'Cause when violence happens next door to Padre Mickey's vestry meeting, it's past time to draw the line.

susan s. said...

This is totally scary! Prayers for the church, the members, all your neighbors, and you and Mona. I don't know what else to say except keep yourselves safe!

Lindy said...

That IS too much excitement. I am glad for your work to bring peace. Do be careful. Prayers for you and your congregation.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

It´s not just at the Padre´s vestry meeting...it´s so ¨in your face¨ around here!! The ¨chicken bus¨ drivers pay extortion or they are murdered (along with their adjudantes)...maybe 200 this year...it´s very important to avoid, quietly, any odd ¨actions¨ because there is simply NO POLICE control...in fact, it´s way out of their control even issuing speeding tickets...one thing that helps is being a ¨norteamericano¨ because nobody really wants to make a nasty international incident because the tourism drops off immediately...the money stops flowing in, it´s not that they especially like us and with fellow citizens like like the religious right zealots in Arizona who needs enemies South of the Border too? White Supremists and Religious Bigots in the United States are self-righteously picking up where Bush left off in the International esteem department and making LIFE difficult for everyone difficult (don´t you find it fascinating that most of the illegals work for Republicandriven exploitive companies?)...best to keep an eye on ones own integrity and not get caught up in ANY drama...but then, I´m no priest but I´m very careful without being paranoid. Taking precautions is good!

Penelopepiscopal said...

This makes me sad. VIolence in the church's neighborhood is hard to fathom. Could you do a memorial service for the victim? We had a situation in our diocese where a baby was abandoned on the grounds of a parish and died not long after it was found. The priest held a memorial service, saying the least he could do was give the child a proper burial. People from the neighborhood and reporters and church members came to show they cared about what was happening in their neighborhood; the priest felt that the least he could do was to do for the child what he would do for any parishioner.

You all are in my prayers.

it's margaret said...

You got my prayers Padre.

Mary-Cauliflower said...

Prayers are with you and the people in your neighborhood.

Harry Allagree said...

Yikes! Prayers in abundance, Padre, for you & the Lovely Mona and all your flock.

David |Dah • veed| said...

Prayers ascending.

Put on the Breastplate of St Patrick every morning.

Matty Boy said...

Best wishes, Padre. Sadly, many other countries' economies are putting just enough money in their peoples' pockets that they can afford to become drug addicts, too.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Sad, sad! Take care all and Prayers ascending!

Suzanne said...

Oh Dear Padre, you and everyone keep safe. Will keep you in my prayers.

Caminante said...

Many, many prayers. It is a sad reality in your parts.

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