An anything-goes business and banking system, recently laid bare by the Panama Papers, has helped build Panama City’s welter of steel and glass. Panama, which offers up its national flag to international shippers, local addresses to ghost corporations, and an anything-goes banking system to anyone with money, has long been renowned as an accommodating place for business. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (effective January 1, 2014) and Privacy Policy (effective January 1, 2014).
THE universality of womanhood will be played out on a Joburg stage, through ranting, poetry, questions and facts, giving the audiences a deeper understanding of the issues women and girls face each day. Their resilience, wildness, pain, fears, secrets and triumphs will be exposed in Eve Ensler’s latest play, I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls, on at the Market Theatre in Newtown from 15 to 27 July.
Her newer work is composed of fictional monologues and stories, inspired by the tales and musings of girls from around the world. According to the Market Theatre, Ensler moves through a world of varied emotions, with fierce voices, alive, tender, complicated, imaginative and smart. Tumi Rametsi, the show’s public relations officer, it gives full expression to girls’ innermost thoughts and secret voices, and highlights the diversity and commonality of the issues with which they grapple.
She is the founder of V-Day, is a global activist movement bent on shattering taboos and transforming communities to end violence against women and girls. South African playwright and director Athol Fugard also won a special Tony Award this year, receiving a lifetime achievement award. I Am An Emotional Creature is on at the Market Theatre in Newtown, on Tuesdays to Fridays at 8pm, on Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm, and on Sundays at 3pm. These spaces are great for people watching and socializing with friends, but where do you go when you want to get away from the bustle of downtown? I was looking for a quiet place to sit at lunchtime in the sunshine yesterday and realized that I have not ventured up the stairs to the Robson Square gardens in years.
Most people forget the gardens are even there and if you aren’t from here, you would never know they exist. As a result, this beautiful space is rarely visited by anyone except lawyers (since the law courts connect to it). You can also find my writing about urban issues at the Sustainable Cities Collective, This Big City, The Planetizen and Spacing Vancouver. This City Life was named "one of the Best City Blogs Around the World" by The Guardian, and "one of the top ten urbanism blogs on Tumblr" by This Big City.
On a visit to the country in the late nineties, I was shown around by a Panamanian businessman, a friend, who took me to a newly built hotel and office tower in downtown Panama City.


Your California Privacy Rights The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. She received the Isabelle Stevenson Award, which pays tribute to members of the theatre community for their humanitarian efforts. It is a global network of girl activists who empower themselves and one another to create the change they imagine for the world. Ever since it was renovated after the 2010 Winter Olympics, the area below and in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Robson Street - considered Vancouver’s only central public square - has become home to outdoor skating and hockey, food trucks and creative public seating during the summer. When I lived in the suburbs as a teen, my parents used to take us downtown at Christmas time and we would walk around the gardens and look at all the lights.
But, it is worth the visit any day, especially since there are so few places to find a quiet oasis downtown.
The gleaming green-glass tower rose incongruously above an otherwise pleasant district of one- and two-story residential homes and embassies, overlooking the blue waters of the bay and the Pacific Ocean beyond. They are encouraged to shut down their instincts, their outrage, their desires and their dreams, to be polite, to obey the rules,” notes the theatre. Inspired by I Am An Emotional Creature, V-Girls is a way for girls to amplify their voices and ignite their activism. That is, if you want people to get together in a public space, keep it at ground level (Rockefeller Centre in New York City is the only successful exception). There is even a patch of grass where you can sun yourself on one of those rare Vancouver days.
I am a government communications advisor, urbanist, freelance writer and lover of cities and public spaces. I asked my friend what exactly he meant by “money laundry.” Over the next few minutes, with beautiful simplicity, he told me how it worked.
A Panama-registered company was, like a Tijuana wedding, something that could be swiftly drawn up by one of Panama’s slew of sharp-suited lawyers. If you were a narco-trafficker, and needed to launder several million dollars a month in illegal income, for instance, you could set up several dozen Panamanian businesses, all of them entirely fictitious, and then make arrangements with the owner of the new tower to “rent” as many offices as you needed.
After a few minutes of calculations made by eyeballing the tower and counting its number of floors, my friend concluded that it would be possible to launder as much as a hundred million dollars a year through that tower alone. There are, of course, many other ways to hide or to launder money, and this week’s spectacular public dumping of documents from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, the so-called Panama Papers, shows some of the ways the global offshore banking system, of which Panama is an integral part, allows wealthy people of all kinds—not exclusively narco-traffickers—to do so.
Perhaps the most famous, and possibly most lucrative, offshore bank of all is the nation of Switzerland.) But as demonstrated by my friend, using the gleaming office tower as a case in point, bricks and mortar are a clever way to hide one’s money, and Panama has long made itself available to real-estate developers who cater to this booming economy.


So successful has this resource been for Panama that, seventeen years later, the low-level neighborhood around the tower has wholly disappeared, replaced by scores of newer towers of every hue and description; one, almost lost amid the welter of steel and glass, is shaped fancifully to resemble a corkscrew. The last President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, who ran the country from 2009 to 2014, and who is now living in Miami, accused of corruption by Panama’s Supreme Court, was a great believer in public-infrastructure projects, building highways, ocean causeways, and a subway system that will cost billions of dollars. The firm that Martinelli favored with the bulk of these costly projects, the Brazilian engineering giant Odebrecht, is currently caught up in a sweeping corruption scandal at home.
In 1999, when the Panama Canal was finally returned to Panamanian sovereignty, a great sell-off of property in the former U.S. One day, I accompanied Nicolas Ardito Barletta, a patrician Panamanian economist and former World Bank vice-president, who had been put in charge of the investment-promotion campaign, on a helicopter tour of the Zone.
On our tour, Barletta told me that the vision for the future of the country was to be “a little bit of Singapore and a little of Rotterdam.” For one of our rides, he took along two prospective investors, from Spain’s Catalan region.
One, a man named Juan Manuel Rosillo, was out on bail for criminal charges relating to a multimillion-dollar tax-fraud scam in Spain. His friend and partner was none other than Josep Pujol, a son of Catalan President Jordi Pujol. A year later, he was sentenced to a new prison term after a traffic incident in which his Bentley struck and killed a young man, but Rosillo fled the country—back to Panama, where he lived until his death, of an apparent heart attack, in 2007. In 2014, Jordi Pujol, the former Catalan President, acknowledged to police investigators that he had used offshore bank accounts for decades to move sums of money, which he said were accrued from an inheritance, around the world. Among the countries involved in his activity, which is still being investigated, was Panama.) On that trip, I also met with a couple of prominent foreign fugitives who were resident in Panama, among them Jorge Serrano Elias, the former President of Guatemala. He had been formally accused in Guatemala of stealing tens of millions of dollars in public funds, but had been given a warm welcome in Panama, and he seemed at ease when we met on the grounds of a luxury housing estate and polo club he was building outside the city.
A few days later, I asked Panama City’s mayor, Juan Carlos Navarro, a Harvard-educated man with Presidential ambitions, about his own vision for Panama and how he felt about its louche reputation, especially its tradition of harboring questionable characters like Serrano.
He had scowled when I suggested that his country’s reputation abroad was more like that of Casablanca, or Tangiers.
But, I asked, what if someone like a war criminal or the next Mengele decided to come to Panama?



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