your embassy and what they will do for you

When I was in colombia and my wife and I had to go to the u.s. embassy to apply for her k-1 visa I had idea's in my head of crack u.s. highly trained and skilled ready to kill army men on post. what I found was local guards from colombia who couldn't even speak english. Once inside it wasn't much better. Being a holder of a u.s. passport I also thought that maybe they would take us before all the rest and do our paperwork. not that I am any better then anyone but just because It's my embassy. that didn't happen either.

today I got a taste of the embassy here in panama. Now I share this because many people think that if you have a problem in another country your embassy will be there for you and this really isn't what I have learned.

I rented a small apt. about a year ago to a 65 year old man. he was healthy and well traveled. He had written a few books and had worked for large companies all over the country. He is a vet. served his country with honor. well he kinda of fell on some hard times, he lost a lot of his money in some bad deals and for the past few years he lived on a small s.s. check. he had always had a drinking problem and after his money was gone he drank more then he should. He also has a host of other problems and all this came to a head about two months ago. This man has no family here or in the states. He got to the point he couldn't stand or walk. well after a while with me taking care of him, which means, buying him food, running his errands to get what he needs and dragging him back and forth to the bathroom ect. I got him into the car and took him to see a doctor in the city, the doctor took one look at him and said take him to the hospital, nothing I can do for him. so I did. he has been in there for two weeks. At some point that hospital worried about who was going to pay their bill called the embassy and they took his info.

after those two weeks the hospital told this man call someone to come get you, you'll get better at home and go get these pills. well they put him in a taxi and sent him on his merry way. when he got here the taxi driver sat him in a chair outside of his apt and said he would come up to my house to get me to let him in. well the taxi guy just drove off. I had no idea this man was even back here. lucky for this man I just happen to be taking my nightly walk around and I saw something move, getting closer to see what it might be was this man laying on his back on the concrete.

He still can not walk. the embassy knew they were letting him out. The hospital should have never released him. I mean his whole bill for two weeks was 400.00 which he had. well he went in with 900.00 cash and someone stole that. anyway for about 5 days now I have been going back and forth trying to help this man. falling out of the bed, ect. and he is getting worse. I called the embassy and told them how he was now, which they knew all about him. I told them he had no money, had overstayed his visa here, but he was a vet. they said well we checked and they have no record of him being a vet. I said wow that's funny because I have his paper work right here in front of me where he was in the army, and was in the v.a. hospital.

so I told the guy look I am bringing him up to the embassy and putting him on your door step. he said no don't do that because we can't do anything for him outside of get him a hotel room for the night. the guy told me to take him to the hospital here in panama. wow I already did that once and they put him out, plus he looked worse then when he went in.

All I really wanted them to do was go down and get the fines waved for him overtaying his visa. the rest I will do. I will spring for the airline ticket to the v.a. hospital in the u.s. well they don't do that. o great.. so what is there purpose here out side of charging fees for things like new passport, driver lic forms that say your lic is vaid in the u.s. maybe voting, maybe filing your income taxes. I mean do they really help u.s. people when their in trouble? I mean maybe they do and I have never seen that good side of them, ok so I admit that. but what I have seen so far on a poor old drunk man who can't stand nor walk isn't pretty at all. he might live another 6 months at best. I mean am I asking to much? for someone with a pretty shiny badge from the embassy who can walk into the visa dept and say hey listen this is the deal stamp this so this man can leave.. thanks.....

for me to try to do that will cost me 100.00 at least to pay someone to do it. all day travel and all day waiting and then maybe I might get it done. might. again this man is just a renter to me but I can't turn my back on a human being that is in his shoes. yes he did bring a lot of it on himself but to point the blame finger isn't going to fix the problem he is facing.

I am sure they do great work and are needed. but people need to understand what they will and won't do for you. like if you get arrested, they will tell you sorry we will make a phone call to let your family know but outside of that no help from us. They might help you get a replacement passport or maybe help find you a place to sleep if you have been robbed. I don't know I'm just a little put off by the lack of help they are willing to give this man.



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


I see it as falling a lot faster then a slow down hill roll. First off americans have more guns per person then any other place in the world. The values of each person are limited and are no were near the levels they were back in the first depression. Today there are street gangs who have no honor. look back to new orleans. the police were guilty of stealing right along side of everyone else. not food or water, but dvd, tv's and other things. I have seen the video of two cops inside a wal mart store during that time doing just that. That wal mart was stripped bare. Back years ago, supermarkets had huge warehouses full of food stock, today there are very little goods in store in the back. It's all shipped in as needed. You can save your money all you want and you will find yourself with a lot of paper maybe good to wipe your b. with. Tell that to the baby boomers who were set to retire, wall street stole all their savings.

china is buying gold, the rich are buying gold, that is why gold is shooting up in price and will keep going up. They understand that the dollar is going to soon be worthless. There is no way to stop it. The feds print it 24/7 and the world now understands there is nothing to back that paper. 43 million americans are now getting food stamps. I know phd's who can't find work, even at a level far below what they should be doing. Fraud in the house market by bankers goes without anyone being arrested as well as the bum's on wall street. still they print. there is talk right now of making china's currency number one. which will not work because even thou they are not as in bad of shape as we are, they still are falling, and with one billion 300 million people to feed they are going to be in trouble soon as well. right now they are buying water from the u.s. and shipping it back to china.

the cold front in the u.s. and mexico just about wiped out the crops of veg. The World Bank has given a stark warning of the impact of the rising cost of food, saying an estimated 44 million people had been pushed into poverty since last summer by soaring commodity prices. mayor food distributor sysco just sent out a letter to all their buyers stating "WITH THE SERIES OF WEATHER DISASTERS THAT HAS OCCURRED IN BOTH OF THESE MAJOR GROWING AREAS WE WILL EXPERIENCE IMMEDIATE VOLATILE PRICES, EXPECTED LIMITED AVAILABILITY, AND MEDIOCRE QUALITY AT BEST." This is a great piece to read

Then you have obama stating that he is going to shut down coal plants. Now in the U.k. all their power comes from these sources, wind 4.6 percent. solar 0.029, nuclear 16, hydroelectric 1.3 and last fossil fuels 71 percent. not sure what the u.s. breakdown is but I am betting it's not much better then theirs and fossil fuels will be the highest. Texas just had rolling black outs, and they planned on buying power from mexico until that freeze hit them, now they told texas sorry can't do it. the price of oil hit 104 a barrel and we are now paying upwards of 3.50 per gal. that makes it hard on everyone. look at the truckers and farmers and what they will have to add to cover that cost.

I can't see the u.s. getting out of debt. how? with what? another war? we already have a few of them going and it's just helping drain what little we have now. why is it that the u.s. has been in all these wars? it's a long list. what right do we have to force other countries to do what we want? we don't and if you ask a person on the street they would say stop all of it, but it's not our vote or voice, it's what the imf wants. you play by their rules or we shut you down.

cities are laying off police officers and fireman due to money shortages. many cities are one step away from being under water. teachers are being fired. no work, no home, no savings what now? it's a power keg. once food prices go out the roof when even the food stamps can't put food on their tables the keg will be lite. and the american people will take to the streets just like we are seeing all around the world. people are tired of being told what to do and work and then pay taxes on everything only for that money to be spent on things they don't want. even money loaned to other countries or worse given to them. why are we giving egypt billions a year? o and poor mubarak, out he goes, why? some say he didn't back us wanting to attack iran. humm.

best currency you can have right now, is seeds, food stored up, and a way to protect it.

The truth is

The only way the US embassy will help you when you get into trouble is if THEY have an ax to grind against the country you are in.

Eugene Hasenfus was shot down over Nicaragua in 1986 while droping arms to the Contras. He was captured, lead with a rope around his neck through the jungle to a local village where someone figured out it would be good to use him as a propaganda tool. Eugene spoke no Spanish, the US State Department said they did not know him, as well as the company he worked for, yet this man was relased and flown back to the US without incident. (well thats the story in a nutshell)

Amey Shields, a 19 year old wide-eyed tourist was walking down Calle 15 de Septiembre in 2008 when a truck drive by her. A man reached out and grabbed her napsack (which had everything in it, passport, money etc.) and drug her down the street a block or so where she let go of the bag, it was all over the news. She too went to her embassy (USA) where she was basicley told, baby you are on your own. She had to get money sent to her by her parents, luckly they also had a copy of her passport and sent it to her. She too was on her own for almost two weeks and if not for the kindness of some Canadans (not Americans) she was able to get by.

Yes Dorothy you are not in Kansas any more

stripped bare

Hi Mark, Why would you think the super walmart be stripped bare?  I heard that when post-war Germany devalued its currency, that the inventory in the stores increased. I'm just playing devil's advocate on that and wondering your reasoning.   Of course I agree with the importance of saving money and working to get the things we want.  Also I agree some things in the USA are going downhill, but I see it more as a slow fall of Rome, we are 20-50 years into a 200-300 year decay, so there is a lot of good time left here.  There's even a lot of good chances for brief (decades-long) prosperous periods yet to come.  I'm not saying Panama & other countries in Central America (well, Costa Rica) aren't good places, they are, but also just tempering - which actually you already did by some extent by saying that people can also just move back to the USA when they can't adjust.


That's the way it is there. I love it down here, I have seen people with next to nothing give someone a meal or something else that they can't really afford to give and it makes their act so much more meaningful. they don't seem to have the greed mindset that we all grew up having. we need a bigger home nicer car, they need nothing but food and a place to get out of the rain and they seem happier with not much more then that. One of many of our problems is credit... who cares what it cost as long as you can pay the monthly notes on it. go get it. you need it, you have to have it. kids today or I should say they use to be able to get whatever with a credit card. when I was growing up my dad said well if you want this or that, then save your money up and then go buy it. so I learned what it took to buy that item.

It's going to be a heck of a ride when it all falls and they can't go to the super wal mart because it's stripped bare.

Hey Mark, You've been living

Hey Mark, You've been living outside the United States for too long. Things have changed here. This John guy, he's the new America. In the new America nobody gives a damn about anybody else. We're on our own. The object is to screw everybody else out of as much as you can, before they do it to you. Of course, even if you're successful at this the government and the Wall Street banks are going to screw you, so you really can't win. That's the way we roll up here buddy. It's every man for himself, dog eat dog and don't come whining to me with your problems because I am not my brother's keeper.


First off John, I wrote this piece because I have never read the u.s. state dept web site. and I would guess that many other people who live or go outside the u.s. haven't either. maybe by people reading how this man is in this fix will go and read it and have a better understanding of what the embassy will and will not do. I just find it a shame on the embassy that they can't make a phone call for a man who has given many years of his life in service to the american people as well as the U.S. Is that to much to ask? maybe so. maybe we are to busy handing out free lunches, drivers lic. homes, food stamps, medical care to people who are in our country illegally, to bother with one of our own. after all panama waves these fee's all the time on a case to case bases. If they would stop and think about it how much money would they save vs. what they lost? If the fines can't be paid then this man can't go back home and get the care he needs. so he must stay here and enter a hospital and run up a huge bill that he can't pay. Or he can turn him self in and they will hold him for 24 hours and then they will deport him. who pays for that flight? panama.. now I have bought this man a ticket to fly him back this thursday. I will take him to panama's immigration office and it will be up to them to allow him to fly home on my dime and wave the fines, or hold him and not get the fines and they can fly him home.. hummmm either way I have done what I felt I had to do for a fellow human being and I can sleep good at night knowing this. are a kind man. Sorry's reply reflects his worth.

You are pretty heartless. May you never have to depend upon the kindness of strangers. I hope you stay in (or return to) the U.S. where your attitude is celebrated. You are not wanted elsewhere. Of course, a U.S. citizen should expect help from his embassy regardless of what their webpage states.



Hi John,, I'm 48 years old. I do still believe in the tooth fairy because I have seen her and she is wonderful not only did she leave me 1.50 for my tooth but she also taught me about the facts of life... sorry she never felt that way about you. listen John I understand your point, but maybe you never joined the army and or any of the other branches. maybe you never were sent off to vet. nam and sat in the mud and seen buddy after buddy blow in half.. yes this man caused a lot of his own problems. and of course his hep c. which years later has been linked to being in the service as well as a v.a. hospital fault. but ok. this man served his country with honor and put his life on the line, and to get him to do this Our government said they would stand behind him no matter what. If you look back a few years ago and it's still going on today, our vets are being treated like trash. why because they make you think you count when you can do what they want after you do that and are no longer a use to them they don't know you.

I am not a family member of this man, I only rented him a apt. I got to know him. He wasn't sick then, then quickly he became ill. I pray when that happens to you that you have a family member around that might help you. This man has no one. I have done whatever I can to help him. You see John I am a 32 degree mason and even thou you might have heard we are evil people and do bad things, we don't and that's not what we are about. and on top of that I believe in the lord jesus christ. I read a book one time, yes I know that might be hard for you to believe, but in this book It was the end of time. and everyone was moving towards jesus and while they were doing it jesus spoke to all the people of the world running towards him telling one to go to the right and others the left. the one's on the left he took to heaven the one's on the right he sent to hell. They yelled LORD why are you doing this to us? and the lord said


so to me when I see a homeless person. a hungry dog, a hurt animal I say to myself is this a test from jESUS?

Ok lets so you don't believe in any of that, I was not raised to turn my back on a human being in need.

And you will happy to know that without any help from the embassy that My freaking tax dollars pays for, I have bought this man a ticket, squared his fines for his overstayed visa. and have the v.a. waiting to pick him up thursday when his plane touches down.

I don't think asking the embassy to help me with his visa should have been a big deal, after all our embassy asked and held a free trade agreement over the government of panama until they agreed to a open information act about us gringo's living here. o yes they are all about helping them to our money but nothing about helping any of us with anything. Now the irs are flying down here in packs to look over every gringo that every came here to live.

you see I left the u.s. 6 years ago, because I couldn't put up with the bullshit they were pushing. you know what people like you would say, if you don't love it leave it, , well I did. I am ashamed to call myself a american. maybe one day and one day soon, when they tell you sorry the s.s. funds have been used up, no check, maybe then you can understand this. until then I wish you great health but if you find yourself in trouble and without family. I hope you have a friend like me.

what's wrong about Mark's report?

I think Mark did a kind deed, and it's sad that the embassy workers were not willing to help out trying to get the visa overstay situation resolved.  I don't think it's got anything to do with the tooth fairy.  Mark doesn't appear to be trying to change anything, either, simply reporting on his experience.  I'm not sure what you would rather have him do, sit in his house and pay for cybersex on an amex card, getting drunk and reading Nietzshe and Sartre while making excuses why he has not yet published the latest, greatest existential novel?


How could you have reached whatever age you've reached believing in the tooth fairy? Of course, our embassy has no responsibility to him. And, why should they? Frankly, this is not about blame, but about responsibility. He got himself into this predicament, and if you or he had every read the U. S. State Department's web site, you would know this. Your posting this sad story is not going to change anything. You said yourself that he is even there illegally. He has no recourse. You might look for some kind of Travelers' Aid Society, but I doubt if there is one in Panama any more.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.