Panama City BuildingsSaturday, 30 April 2016
After my visit to Cuba – last gasp centre of fast-fading Communism – I travelled to Panama just as it became the worldwide symbol of greedy grasping Capitalism. Yes, the Panama Papers story broke just a day before I arrived in Panama City. So I looked up where ground zero for this story of Capitalism’s worst side was located, walking distance from my hotel. And here’s my selfie of the year, outside the Mossack Fonseca head office. ▼
◄ Remarkably there were no journalists camped outside, no attempt to hide the company name. Clearly it was business as usual. Panama City is all about business with a skyline which can make it look like a Central American Dubai and iconic skyscrapers like the twisty F&F Building.
▲ The Parque Natural Metropolitano is Panama City’s ‘rainforest park within the city limits’ and there are fine views of that skyscrapered skyline from the Mirador lookout point. Just in front of the twisty F&F Building are the twin SOHO Towers. Was one of them going to be an HSBC bank headquarters? Given that HSBC often seems to be linked with questionable business dealings the location less than a block from the Mossack Fonseca office might have been appropriate. Over to the right is the curve of the Trump Ocean Club. Since it was Trump Trump Trump in the headlines nearly as often as Panama Papers I went to have a look and thought it was rather disappointing. It’s isolated, away from the centre of activity and hardly an upscale location, there’s a used car lot across the road. The foyer is eerily empty and the line of shops that leads away from the lobby is rather down-market, more suburban shopping centre than five-star hotel.
▲ Modern Panama City architecture isn’t all skyscrapers, the recently opened Biodiversity Museum is the only Frank Gehry design in Central America. Sadly entry to the museum is very expensive at US$18 and considering the sparse displays extremely poor value. It’s an attraction better enjoyed from a boat entering or leaving the Panama Canal.