Some time ago, I saw a sign for a Walmart. Some people were not happy, but others said it was only a joke. Unfortunately current evidence makes it look quite real. Does Panama really need a Walmart? I don’t know, but it’s not up to me anyway.
I went biking today and saw that they have now built a fence around the site. I asked the guy working there if a Walmart is coming and he said yes, it is. For you local readers, the location – There is an intersection on the PanAmerican highway just past Cochez, just west of the Franklin Jorado parking lot. Take that road northwest towards Aguacatal. The Walmart site is on the left maybe a half mile down the road.
If you are from the US you will see a lot of familiar things here – McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominoes, TGI Fridays, Subway, Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, and Dairy Queen, just to name a few. I’m not sure this is a good thing, especially the food which isn’t good for people’s health. But, it is well liked here. KFC delivery motorcycles can be seen all over town and the parking lot is overflowing in the evenings.
WalMart though? They are known for beating down the prices they pay suppliers, and for giving employees low pay and less than full time work so they can’t get benefits. Are they going to do the same here? Panama has very strict laws that give workers many benefits and protections so it will be harder to mistreat employees, but of course not impossible for a creative and determined employer. Many here are more concerned with price than quality, so maybe the products will be popular. I don’t know, and all I can do is observe and listen.
“Private Property – Walmart”, in English. I know it’s a small thing but they speak Spanish here, so have some respect and make a sign in their language.