An urban perspective of the pandemic in Panama

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1344/waterfront2020.62.6.12

Keywords:

center-periphery, COVID-19, density, inequality, public space, overcrowding, proximity, tactical urbanism.

Abstract

The following essay seeks to highlight the effects of the pandemic on the way we inhabit and build cities. We understand that before the outbreak of the social-health crisis of COVID-19, as in many places in Latin America, Panama was at a time when its urban, social and economic model had entered a phase of exhaustion and is now escalating at an even higher level. The pandemic has revealed the negative effects of urban sprawl, segregation of housing and disappearance of public space that now become an obstacle to controlling the spread of the virus.

Firstly, we analyze the relationship between the pandemic and the urban society; that is, the link between urban life, mainly that of the groups most affected on the outskirts of the city, with the new dynamics of everyday life in the midst of the complicated panorama that we face now. To this we add a few considerations on the effect of excessive centralization on the form of government that has left many cities in the world,
including Panama City, with little capacity for response.

Additionally, we understand that, in a society that needs to maintain physical distance on the street, the Panama City metropolitan area is not prepared to fulfill this task after decades of urban policies oriented towards the private vehicle. Emergency actions in public space by Panamanian municipal offices and local assemblies have been scarce or non-existent. Despite this, some initiatives of tactical urbanism have emerged trying to respond to the pandemic, and we compare them with other previous interventions to understand if they have been carried out as a process where the benefit is for the communities.

Furthermore, due to recent news against it in some international media, we address the controversy of the density of cities from a theoretical perspective and with current data to understand its relationship with the spread of the virus in Panama. The result of the research suggests that the problem does not lie in high density, but in the overcrowding of the houses and in the lack of urban accessibility in the most remote neighborhoods. All this is born from the construction of a city where segregation and territorial inequalities prevail. In this way, the consolidation of public space and access to better housing together with the redefinition of the current city are objectives that would have served to confront a pandemic that arrives without warning.

Author Biography

José Antomio De Gracia, Amador Foundation (Panama)

Architect with a master's degree in urban design from the University of Barcelona. He is currently an assistant curator at the Amador Foundation. He has participated as a guest professor for design workshops at the University of Panama and the University of Santa María la Antigua. He works as practitioner of urban design and as independent researcher

References

Barnada, Jaume (Coord.) (1987). “Arees de nova centralitat”. Barcelona: Ayuntamiento de Barcelona.


BID, MUPA (2015). Plan de acción Panamá metropolitana. Sostenible, humana, global. Disponible en: https://dpu.mupa.gob.pa/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Plan-de-Accion-Panama-Metropolitana.compressed.pdf


BID, MUPA (2015). Panamá Urban Lab. Plan de renovación urbana para el corregimiento de Calidonia. Disponible en: https://dpu.mupa.gob.pa/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/INFORME_URBAN-DESIGN-LAB_CALIDONIA_BID_large.pdf


Cabrera, Magela (2016). Alto a la urbanización salvaje. Julio 15, 2016, de La Prensa. Disponible en: https://www.prensa.com/impresa/opinion/Alto-urbanizacion-Magela-Cabrera-Arias_0_4529547053.html


Castro, Guillermo (2017). Panamá en transición. Voces en el Fénix, 60, p. 109. Disponible en: www.vocesenelfenix.com/sites/default/files/pdf/12_13.pdf


Castro, Guillermo (2020). Panamá en pasado mañana. Abril 30, 2020, de NODAL. Disponible en: www.nodal.am/2020/04/panama-en-pasado-manana-por-guillermo-castro-h/


Cerdá, Ildefonso (1859). Teoría de la Construcción de las Ciudades: Cerdá y Barcelona. Madrid: Instituto Nacional de la Administración Pública

.
Farber, Steven & Páez, Antonio (2011). Running to stay in place: the time-use implications of automobile oriented land-use and travel. Journal of Transport Geography, n. 19, p. 4.


Fernández de Losada, Agustí (2020). “Managing a global pandemic. Towards more sustainable and resilient urban futures” en Agustí Fernández de Losada y Hannah Abdullah (Eds.), “Cities on the frontline: Managing the coronavirus crisis”, Barcelona: Barcelona Centre for International Affairs.


Fong, Chiara (2020). “Pertenencia territorial”. Panamá: La Estrella de Panamá. Disponible en: https://www.laestrella.com.pa/opinion/columnistas/200729/pertenencia-territorial


Gaitán, Nerys (2019). “El urbanismo táctico como herramienta de transformación ciudadana en Ciudad de Panamá”, Huffpost. Disponible en: https://www.huffingtonpost.es/entry/el-urbanismo-tactico-como-herramienta-de-transformacion-ciudadana-en-ciudad-de-panama_es_5de4b031e4b0913e6f8132a9


Henry, Christine (2020). “Déconfinement à Paris: Anne Hidalgo veut faciliter les déplacements à vélo et à pied”. París: Le Parisien. Disponible en: https://www.leparisien.fr/paris-75/deconfinement-a-paris-anne-hidalgo-veut-faciliter-les-deplacements-a-velo-et-a-pied-04-05-2020-8310735.php


INEC (2018). “Situación de la población ocupada”. Panamá: Contraloría General. Disponible en: https://www.inec.gob.pa/archivos/P9141Comentarios%20de%20la%20informalidad%20A-2018-20-12.pdf


Lanfranchi, Gabriel (2020). “Can COVID accelerate the metropolitan unity of Greater Buenos Aires?” en Agustí Fernández de Losada y Hannah Abdullah (Eds.), “Cities on the frontline: Managing the coronavirus crisis”, Barcelona: Barcelona Centre for International Affairs.


Lecea, Ignasi de (2006). Sobre el proyecto del suelo. On the w@terfront, núm 8. Disponible en: www.raco.cat/index.php/Waterfront/article/view/217154


Lefebvre, Henri (1968). El derecho a la ciudad. Madrid: Capitán Swing Libros, S.L.


Lefebvre, Henri (1972). La Revolución Urbana. Madrid: Alianza Editorial.


MEF (2010). Atlas Social de Panamá. Hacinamiento en Panamá. Disponible en: https://www.inec.gob.pa/redpan/sid/docs/documentos%20tematicos/Atlas%20social%20de%20Panama/14%20-%20Hacinamiento%20en%20Panam%C3%A1.pdf


MEF (2017). Pobreza y desigualdad en Panamá. Disponible en: http://fapobservatorioods.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Pobreza-y-desigualdad-en-Panama-Mapas-a-nivel-de-Distritos-y-Corregimientos-2015.pdf


Miralles, Carmen (1999). “Modelos de movilidad en la Barcelona Contemporánea” en García Espuche, Albert y Salvador Rueda (Eds.), La ciudad sostenible, Barcelona: Centro de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona.


Miralles, Carmen & Cebollada i Frontera, Ángel (2003). Movilidad y transporte. Opciones políticas para la ciudad. Junio 17, 2003, de Fundación Alternativas. Disponible en: https://www.fundacionalternativas.org/laboratorio/documentos/documentos-de-trabajo/movilidad-y-transporte-opciones-politicas-para-la-ciudad


Miralles, Carmen & Marquet, Oriol (2014). La proximidad en Barcelona. Un análisis desde los tiempos de desplazamiento cotidianos. Revista Ciudades, n. 17, p. 99. Disponible en: https://iuu.uva.es/revista/listado-numeros/ciudades-17/#tab-id-1


Myrick, Phil (2020). The recovery will happen in public space. Mayo 16, 2020, de Project for Public Spaces. Disponible en: www.pps.org/article/the-recovery-will-happen-in-public-space


NACTO (2020). Streets for pandemic response & recovery. Disponible en: https://nacto.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/NACTO_Streets-for-Pandemic-Response-and-Recovery_2020-05-26.pdf


Ng, Mee Kam (2020). “Hong Kong’s head start in tackling the new coronavirus” en Agustí Fernández de Losada y Hannah Abdullah (Eds.), “Cities on the frontline: Managing the coronavirus crisis”, Barcelona: Barcelona Centre for International Affairs.


Parnell, Susan & Mazzeti, Clara (2020). “COVID-19 in Cape Town: initial state and civil society responses” en Agustí Fernández de Losada y Hannah Abdullah (Eds.), “Cities on the frontline: Managing the coronavirus crisis”, Barcelona: Barcelona Centre for International Affairs.


Pascual Esteve, JM (2018). “Gentrificación y pauperización de las metrópolis”. Metropolis, n. 07, p. 06. Disponible en: https://www.metropolis.org/sites/default/files/resources/Gentrificacion-pauperizacion-metropolis.pdf


Rode, Phillip (2020). “London and COVID-19: Too complex for one government?” en Agustí Fernández de Losada y Hannah Abdullah (Eds.), “Cities on the frontline: Managing the coronavirus crisis”, Barcelona: Barcelona Centre for International Affairs.


Rolnik, Raquel (2020). Como a densidade das cidades se relaciona com a difusão da pandemia? Junio 25, 2020, de A Cidade É Nossa. Disponible en: https://raquelrolnik.blogosfera.uol.com.br/2020/06/25/como-a-densidade-das-cidades-se-relaciona-a-pandemia/


Sánchez, Daniela (2018). Urbanismo táctico, ¿un parche a los problemas de la ciudad?: El juicio de los arquitectos. La Segunda, p. 24.


Toderian, Brent (2020). Op-Ed: Dear Gov. Cuomo, The Problem Is Crowding, Not ‘Density’! Abril 6, 2020, de Streetsblog NYC. Disponible en: https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2020/04/06/op-ed-dear-gov-cuomo-the-problem-is-crowding-not-density/


Vuchic, Vukan (1999). Transportation for livable cities. New Brunswick, Center for Urban Policy Research.


Walters, Chris (2020). Plan for people of color. Junio 15, 2020, de Association for Neightborhood & Housing Development. Disponible en: https://anhd.org/blog/plan-for-people-of-color


Zevi, Andrea Tobia (2020). “First in the western world. Milan goes from boom-town to emergency hot-spot” en Agustí Fernández de Losada y Hannah Abdullah (Eds.), “Cities on the frontline: Managing the coronavirus crisis”, Barcelona: Barcelona Centre for International Affairs.

Published

2020-09-29

How to Cite

De Gracia, José Antomio. 2020. “An Urban Perspective of the Pandemic in Panama”. On the W@terfront 62 (8):3-26. https://doi.org/10.1344/waterfront2020.62.6.12.