Originally Posted by Nicholson58
One can only assume a world scale obscene tax is intended to deter activity. This is an old and successful method to prevent whatever the government wishes to stop. Same thing happened in Greece until authorities realized how successfully it worked. Sad to say we all should stay away until the Panamanians get reasonable. Curious, what is Panama doing for the Kuna with the booty? Is even 1% returned? Assuming they begin to collect on this, the cruising visitors will leave.
Guna Yala, the Kuna's name for their territory, is semi autonomous and they set their own policies (within the confines of Panamanian national law). They are self governing in local matters, but must comply with applicable national laws like immigration and drug related. For example, Panama does maintain border security
and drug interdiction forces there, but thats about it.
The normal San Blas fees are neither set nor collected by Panama, but directly by the Kuna. Panama per se retains nothing (excluding immigration and Panama cruising permit
fees, which can be paid in Guna Yala). When you clear in at Porvenir, the main port of entry in Guna Yala, the only Panamanian official there is an immigration officer, all others are Kuna.
The new fees were drafted by the Kuna, not by Panama, so I expect would be collected directly by the Kuna. But, as yet they are not trying to collect them and I expect they never will. Can't imagine anyone would be willing to pay them.
Panama has funded a few infrastructure projects, solar
for example, in Guna Yala but the Kuna are otherwise quite self sufficient. They are proud of their heritage and very determined to maintain it...rare in a world where most indigenous cultures have been all but obliterated. This is part of what makes it such an appealing place to visit.