The view on the centre of Panama City from the balcony of my apartment, April 2020
The month of July 2020 is certainly not the best one of my life, and is not the one that I will remember well. Instead of engaging with my usual work, and visiting projects in the continent, I am stuck at home, here in Panama, frustrated with lack of clarity on how much longer we will need to be under the lockdown. If additionally you take into consideration, the absolutely shambolic presidential elections (I am more referring to the style of it, rather than merely who won), as well as depressing pandemic situation in Panama and the rest of the continent, then it is easier to understand why I am not that enthusiastic over what is happening in my life.
I am however hanging in here okay, and looking forward for the times to get better! I hope you are all well, wherever you are reading this message.
Summer fullmoon, Casco Viejo, Panama, July 2020
Many of us look at 2020 with disbelief, and wish that 'it was cancelled' altogether. The world is undergoing one of the, if not the biggest global crisis that most of the living human beings remember.
So many things have already gone wrong this year, and it is only July. I am fearing that more unwelcoming and disturbing news will be still coming our way soon. The latest political developments in Hong Kong, presidential elections in Poland, forest fire season in the Amazons, second/third wave of the coronavirus, the bankruptcies of countries, presidential elections in the United States… the list for events that may turn into regional or even global crises is long. There are also opportunities, clearly, but given the poor choices that we, as humanity, seem to be making, I am not optimistic.
Given that I am from Poland, I am watching the political scene there. This weekend (tomorrow and Sunday), we will be voting for the new president (runoff between two candidates). The electoral predictions give 50% chance of winning/losing to both of the candidates. This head-to-head race can turn into anything really. Given two very different visions for managing the politics (one being intolerant, xenophobic, nationalistic, overplaying the importance of Polish culture and Catholicism; the other one representing more liberal attitudes, with certain openness to various minorities, more forward thinking to international cooperation and seeing Poland as the part of the European integration), the result will have profound significance on the future of the country. I am worried that regardless of who wins, Poland will experience rough time, with the supporters of the 'losing' candidate not being able to accept the results… I do expect major protests across the country in weeks to come. Not pretty, if you ask me. I just hope that I am wrong, and things will clear off in a way that I can not see it yet.
On a positive note, I have just received the feedback of my income tax declaration in Portugal, for the year 2019. It is already the 4th time I am paying my income tax in the country, which confirms that I am starting my 5th year of residence. Being able to be a resident of Portugal gives me some peace of mind, and makes me really happy, as I am increasingly disappointed with the developments in my native Poland. Not only that the country is extremely beautiful, and its people are friendly… Portugal is also a country which seem to be representing values that I feel comfortable with. It is open to migrants, it considers European integration to be vital for its success, and cherishes minorities, it is considerate to the disadvantaged. I am certainly looking forward to be able to apply for my permanent residency next year, and then the citizenship soon after. Keep your fingers crossed!
Casco Viejo, Panama, June 2020
It has not been the best week. Panama seems to be going down the drain, when it comes to its management of the pandemic. Things are not optimistic at all, and the daily infection rate appears to be stubbornly well above 1,000 people. Yesterday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) made a statement that it is not expecting the peak of the contamination curve until the middle of August. Neither the Ministry of Health of Panama, nor the rest of the government seem to be able to communicate clearly how much longer they will force the people in confinement. The odds are that the movement restrictions will carry out at least until the end of July. One should also forget about travelling out or into the country until September, if not longer. Depressing… not only from my perspective, but above all when you consider that people are exhausted economically and mentally.
I am also quite disappointed with the first round of the presidential elections back home in Poland. Although the candidates that I could imagine holding the post did score relatively decently, the truth is that the nationalistic and ultranationalistic candidates have scored very highly. Nearly half of Poland seem to be entertaining the idea that it is okay to give presidential rights and obligations to people with extremely right-wing values.
As it seems the election run-off will be held between the nationalistic candidate Andrzej Duda (present President), and the more progressive and open Rafal Trzaskowski. Sadly, the odds are that it is Duda who will win and Trzaskowski would need some sort of a miracle to prevail (he is around 2 points behind Duda, a little over a week before people go to the polling stations). They say that the hope dies the last, so I am trying not to lose it, but I have to say that there are not a lot of reasons to be enthusiastic.