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International Herald Tribune, France, January 27, 2008

Panama Controversy

Posted by Kevin Brass in General, News

One of the pioneer foreign developers in Panama is embroiled in a six-year legal controversy, which is heading to the country’s Supreme Court.

American Sam Taliaferro built Valle Escondido in the northern mountain town of Boquete, one of the first master-planned developments in the region. A frequent critic of the Panama government who writes a widely-read blog, Taliaferro is often credited with sparking the foreign development boom in the Central American country.

The legal case stems from a dispute with a local farmer, who charges that Valle Escondido prevented his workers from tending his crops. Criminal charges were thrown out of court, but the civil case is moving through the system. Although Taliaferro has consistently denied that any workers were denied access, a lower court found in favor of the farmer and hit the developer with a $945,184 (€643,977) judgment. An appeals court upheld the verdict, which is now scheduled for review by the Supreme Court.

On his blog, Taliaferro argues the case could have far-ranging implications for development in the area. Coverage in the Latin Business Chronicle can be found here.

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