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Mad as H_LL!

Posted on: October 24, 2006

It’s like everytime I rant it’s after some tragedy, well here’s one for you. Very close to home. This hollowed eve’s month the most horrific event happened.  Yesterday, Monday, October 23rd, a bus exploded in Panama City.

Death toll, 18.

I watched in horror as this Mano de Piedra – Corredor Norte bus went up in flames. As the bus came to rest around 2pm, before Panama’s largest evangelical church, Hosana. The devil’s minions rejoiced as this white hearse went up in flames and spued smoke into the sky. As dawn brought light to night, the media illuminated the situation. The driver, Prospero Ortega Justavino, 50 years old, had 92 tickets, One thousand, Two hundred dollars against his name in fines, and still he was driving.

18 lives lost for 1200 dollars. How sad.

As I soak this up, being the person that I am, I like to look at context. Situations of this magnitude do not happen without a supporting cast. I’m not talking about just the bribes that took place in the local transport authority (ATT), nor the races that these busses engage in to get the next passenger or the multitude of multas (tickets) that so many drivers across the city have.  I am looking at the over-arching, diabolical web of corruption that permeates this fragile yet necessary system called democracy.

The three biggest stories today in Panama are widening of the canal, the medicinal poisoning at the CSS and now this bus explosion. All three are connected through one word.


– The canal now voted through, faced it’s greatest opposition from the fears of corruption once those billions of dollars flow into the country.

– The medicine-syndrome crisis, which to date has claimed 32 lives with 28 still souls hanging in the balance,  too is a corruption scandal. As the company Medicom that supplies the goverment with medication is suspected of diluting the medicinal supplies with engine coolant.

– Now this explosion where the driver has over 92 tickets to his name and still allowed to drive.

This only shows that we face a specter of evil that covers not just the highest levels of power, but right down to the mechanic on the corner, the driver up front , the pavo (bus conductor) on the step AND the bus owner pulling the strings.

In Jamaica we had a similar system where the busses were privatized. And of course human nature’s greed led many drivers to do machoistic, horrific,  acts on the road to beat his fellow driver to the next stop or the next passenger.

It had to stop.

The government was taken to the Supreme Court for breaking thier contract with the private bus owners. It was worth every penny of those millions of dollars to have the government control things again.

I said to my wife a few months ago, after watching another accident or maybe it was a race between busses, here in Panama city, that situations like this do not change unless a prominent person dies or if there is significant loss of life.

The latter happened yesterday, now Panama, the ball is in your court.


Yorkali Walters

Read Don Winners report on the accident, he has more details in English.

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2 Responses to "Mad as H_LL!"

Thanks for linking back. There are a couple of better articles now available: and

It looks to me like there was a cut in a fuel line. Buses use diesel because it has a higher combustion or flash point so it’s safer. But in this case it looks like fuel would have been shooting onto the hot engine and probably caused a short in an electrical circuit, causing the fire. The engine covering was keeping it in check until the driver popped the lid and gave it oxygen, and then the fire took off. Tragic.

My wife said something about the oxygen feeding the flames also. So first he drives it into the ground then he feeds the monster. Truly tragic.

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