Greatings from Casco Viejo!
The fight to save Casco Viejo from being wrapped in concrete is intensifying quickly. In July when UNESCO's resolution came out it asked for three basic things regarding the highway: (1) give them a traffic study showing what alternatives exist to a seafront highway, (2) study the aesthetic impact of the current plan on Casco's "Universal Values" (i.e. the things that make it a World Heritage Site), and (3) don't build anything until we've had a chance to look at 1 & 2.
As you know from our last update, the Government of Panama and the contractor, Odebrecht, had actually been constructing parts of the highway (outside the historic district limits) during the UNESCO proceedings and lying to UNESCO about it. Not surprisingly, they have not stopped since, so, as you can see from the photos, the preliminary landfill portion of the highway is quite advanced and already starting to penetrate the limits of the historic district. The studies UNESCO asked for are apparently completed and delivered, but the Government refuses to release them.
The Government has come out publicly saying that the highway has been approved by UNESCO. This is the second time that they have lied to the Panamanian public about this. The eleven organizations joined with us under the Orgullo Panama banner wrote a letter notifying the Director General and Chairperson of UNESCO putting them all on notice that a crime against World Heritage is taking place and there is a need to act urgently.We have a number of legal actions in process, and next week we have a press conference with the ten other civic organizations joined with us to announce other measures that we are launching and several new groups who have joined. We've now got a full time coordinator and are adding more volunteers every day. In addition, Orgullo Panama has launched an online petition drive to bring attention to the fact that the company profiting from this project, Odebrecht, is controlled by Marcelo Odebrecht, a man who has spent considerable energy trying to rebuild his company's image around its "sustainability" after a series of corruption scandals in Brazil in the 1990s that ultimately brought down a Brazilian government. The petition is here: www.orgullo.com.pa, and we encourage you all to sign and send to any friends you have who know Casco or who care about protecting World Heritage (it belongs to all citizens of the world, so anyone can sign).
Finally, as if the desecration of a World Heritage Site's setting weren't enough, the government began yesterday an intense campaign of evictions in Casco Viejo. To the government (and certain building owners associated with the government who have long petitioned to have their buldings emptied by force so they do not have to pay the legally mandated costs) these people are simply intruders who need to be removed. But to most of us in Casco Viejo, they are our neighbors. To us at Calicanto, they are the human heritage that we are dedicated to protecting along with the architectural heritage. This kind of action reconfirms for us the current administration's unfortunate lack of understanding of what makes the neighborhood special, and reaffirms our committment to protect both the human and the architectural heritage of Casco Viejo.
We will continue the fight to save Casco, and we greatly appreciate your continuing support.
We are celebrating a big program accomplishment: CAPTA has graduated 20 different groups since its first in 2005. To date the program has trained 456 women for employment and 66% of them are working in the hotel industry.
CAPTA’s reach goes beyond employment training; CAPTA has motivated and inspired women to work toward a goal in their lives: a house, an education or job stability. Many CAPTA women have started as housekeepers andare now working in administrative areas as receptionists and even as accountants!
Fundacion Calicanto is proud of each and every one of our graduates; they motivate us to continue our work in this community and they have proven that if given the tools to learn and find employment, they can succeed.
We’ve had many special guests celebrate this great accomplishment with us: Jonathan Farrar, United States Ambassador to Panama; Aprile Age, Director for the John P. McNulty Prize Foundation, Stanley Motta, Chairman of COPA Airlines, board directors, previous graduates and others.
We would especially like to thank all of our friends on Global Giving who could not be there but keep in touch through our reports; this accomplishment would not be possible without you. I hope that you continue to keep in touch withour work and look forward to the next 20 CAPTA groups, just like we do!Thank you all!
In Enlaces we believe dancing is transformational. Kids not only work on physical and creative techniques, they learn how to calibrate their own energy and emotions, in order to become leaders in performing arts and social change promoters.
As a part of this self-recognition process, every three months they have dancing exams to set standards and make them aware of their own artistic progress. The examination is a two-fold process. First we test the execution of previously learned movement sequences and second each student has to create a movement sequence or dance based on established rules or themes. The emphasis on creativity, improvisation and self-expression is a core part of the program. Some of the aspects to be considered on the evaluation are technique, coordination, clarity of movement, memory, expressivity and creativity. In the first video we see two pair of kids doing an improvisational exercise where they have to mirror each other's movements. On first instance one is the leader and then the roles are reversed.
In a couple of days, we'll also post a second video showing Jose performing his individual movement sequence, so please, check it to see this kid's talent in action.
Following examination days, Fundacion Calicanto calls on open auditions for new talent and as a way to create interaction with the community.
As a final note, we are very excited and proud because two boys of our program were selected to be part of a local television show that will air in September. The show's purpose is to encourage children to reach their maximum artistic (dance) potential and develop their charisma. This show is a great opportunity that will expose them to experiences that otherwise will not be accessible to them. It will help them to grow both personally and artistically, and contribute to their development as positive and influential leaders in their community.