Ana Perez, next Mayor for Panama City – short interview.

September 6, 2013 |
Ana Perez
interview by Kent Kreitler
Ana Perez is the leading Green Voice of Panama.  Ana’s early fame in Panama came as an actress and television Producer.  Her commitment to excellence has shown up in her life as an Entrepreneur, an Activist of various causes and as a Mother of three daughters, and her recent impact on Panamanian politics reveals itself in a steadfast determination to steer the country on a track of environmental and social intelligence.
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I was lucky enough to be training for my yoga teaching certification in 2008 with a friend of Ana’s from San Francisco, Rene, from ‘Asta Yoga’.  Since then I’ve maintained a friendship with Ana who was raised in the famous Azuero Peninsula where Oceano Community resides.  Occasionally I have the opportunity to sit down to dinner or a coffee with this prime representative of Panamanian hospitality and most recently she was kind enough to take time out of her demanding schedule, to grant us a quick interview.
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Ana Perez a mayor for every@ne.
KK       As Mayor of Panama City what objectives do you have for the “greening” of the city?

  • AP     The first thing we need is Urban Planning in the City, since it has been built with none and my Vice Mayor is an Urban Planner with a “Specialist of Public Spaces”, Masters earned in Barcelona which gives him enphasis on Urban Planning!.  The second is implementing a recycling and environmental education program with the 23 Corregimientos (Districts) that belong to the city.  It has to be educational.  Third; Implement tax deductions for responsible business practices, like ones that plant trees, create green spaces, use renewable energy, and recycle.  Fourth; we need to create urban organic gardens for the community and fifth; we should have leaders who lead by example.  Every one of my buildings will be green built, accounting for maximizing temperature regulation through design and powered with renewable energy

KK       Much of the “1st World” is experiencing a shrinking middle class.  How can Panama not only continue to create a growing middle class, but do so in a way which it can sustain and which outshines other nations of the world?

  • AP     We can do this by educating the youth and society to be initiating more entrepreneural projects and we can give people incentives to be more creative and to create business.

KK       Why is the economy and banking system in Panama safer than in other countries like the United States?

  • AP     Here in Panama we have strict rules with the credit market and lending, and being such a small society I believe it makes it easier to research on potential loans.

KK       What role do you see tourism playing in Panama’s sustained economic growth in the next 10 to 20 years?

  • AP     If the government takes strategic action, they will put all their energy into exactly this.  Tourism will be the cash cow for our economy and that is why I encourage the government to implement sustainable practices, ‘en progress’, and to take care of our natural resources.  We can’t afford to play with our future economy in order to satisfy short term gains!

KK       What role can non-panamanians play in benefiting local communities?

  • AP     They can educate them in sustainability, and the service industry.  If the Non-Panamanian community is investing in Tourism, they should also be aware that we need our communities educated from a young age, in every aspect, from environmental, to speaking a different language, to costumer service which is very bad in Panama.

KK       You are originally from Las Tablas and we’re in Cambutal.  What is your vision/plan for how the communities of the Azuero will benefit from the growth to come in the next twenty years?

  • AP     Everyone needs to get together and Plan a long term strategy for the growth to come, invest in organic farms which are agriculture for the tourists and other interesting projects that are sustainable.  Do not build high on the coast line and build using quality exterior aesthetics so as not to loose the identity of Azuero.  Educate the people for costumer service, like they do in North America.  You can’t have tourism without anyone to attending well to the tourists.  Presently, be very aware of the Mining projects that can come in and ruin the future of tourism in Azuero!

KK       What is your perspective on the economic importance of vibrant nature in the Azuero and what are the synergies between the Azuero and Panama City?

  • AP     The People of the Azuero need to preserve the Natural Resources as best as possible.  All people need to work and consult with engineers and architects that represent the new thinking.  They also need to stop the contamination of rivers.  I use to be able to swim everywhere when I was young and now it is not possible for me to go to some places.  This is something everyone should be wary of; keep an eye out on the garbage situation and the matadero (slaughterhouse) de Azuero as well, since they are responsible for some contamination.  All of these situations will fall upon the Azuero Economy, and as Mayor of Panama City, I will work with all the Mayors ofices to implement education and awareness!

KK       Panama has a history of being a “melting pot” and there are various cultural heritages here.  As more foreigners arrive in Panama, what resistance and welcoming can they expect from Panamanians?

  • AP     We have always been welcoming, and obviously we are at our best when respected.  Foreigners should be very careful of the land they buy.  Panama is one of the few places in the world where land values are very attractive right now but the real estate market is not so sophisticated yet and although they are a minority, their are people who have been taking advantage of this.  For example, a small foreign group in the Playa Venao area, knowingly bought a plot of land that was stolen, on paper, from my grandmother, and have been acting as if they have done nothing wrong.  This rubs me the wrong way.  All Panamanians and Foreigners, need to do things the CORRECT and honest way.  Panamanians are very nice and accepting, just not too happy when taken advantage of, and even more so by Foreigners!  We are an emerging economy and society in terms of business, and we are also anxious at times about so many foreigners coming and buying up our country so we need you to act with integrity and set a good example.

KK       It appears that the world’s population is using up remaining fossil fuels at a somewhat alarming rate.  Additionally there is much talk about climate change.  Is there anything that Panama can be doing during this tremendous growth cycle to plan for alternative transit and power sources?

  • AP     I have lobbied for many years to get some Renewable Energy in Panama and it is paying off.  There is an Ecological farm in Penonome now, and a lot more projects on the way.  We have sunshine and wind and a lot of garbage which can result into Renewable energy…, just gotta work some more on the laws!  We are heading the right way, the energy crisis we had in March of this year opened the eyes of the government!

KK       Education.  What changes and additions would you make to the public education system in Panama if you had the power to implement them?

  • AP     Many:  First I would implement environmental and agriculture studies.  This would educate our future society into taking care of our natural resources, instead of throwing garbage in the street.  I would also promote entrepreneurial projects, as well as music and theatre projects.  Culture, I believe, evolves a society.  Additionally, I’d reimplement reproductive education which has been prohibited from public schools from our current Minister because of her religious beliefs.  As a result, teen pregnancies and incest has gone up at an alarming rate!

KK       Thank you Ana so much for sharing all of this with us and for your time and we’re excited for you for this election.  Regardless of anything, we appreciate your voice and commitment as part of the global community for progressing the planet in healthy ways.  So, when are you finally going to come and visit us in Cambutal?  🙂

  • AP     VERY SOON!

🙂

To contribute to Ana’s campaign and to learn more about her please visit:  http://www.anaperezalcaldesa.com