Panama 2019 Day 21: Looking for a Backup

Panama is soon having a presidential election, and the patronage system reaches deep into the culture — all the way to the small airport where Luis works cutting weeds. The possibility exists that Luis and all of the men on the weed cutting crew will lose their jobs in favor of villagers more closely associated with the winning party.

Since you don’t know ahead of time which party is going to win, you can’t ally yourself ahead of time with the winners, just to keep your job. Unlike Minga, Luis isn’t very politically inclined. I think if he could side with the winning party for job reasons, he would.

Some years ago Luis tried the fishing business — I helped buy the boat and motor and nets. He was not successful. But now, he is fixing up the boat again, mending the nets, getting the motor repaired so it runs again, just in case he needs backup work after the election. Maybe he’ll do better in round #2. Hope here springs eternal.

This isn’t Luis’ boat, but it’s what his boat looks like. These are fishermen coming up on the shore of nearby Farallon, waiting to deliver their catch. The men fish at night, finishing up in late morning. They offloaded several plastic crates of fish, so they had a good haul.

2 thoughts on “Panama 2019 Day 21: Looking for a Backup

  1. for Katie: The airport job doesn’t pay much but it is steady. Fishing waxes and wanes on a daily basis, with a fisherman’s ability to sense where the fish are.

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