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A Panamanian Story May Hit the Silver Screen

By Juan Carlos Martinez

Panama not only has attractive incentives for film makers it also seems to have interesting stories that appeal to people. The screen writer David Griffith's creator of movies such as "Collateral Damage" with Arnold Schwartzeneger and "The Hunted" with Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio del Toro is looking for information and background for his current project. Mr. Griffith is both a producer and screenwriter and his upcoming project "Nagasaki Deadline" is in collaboration with James Cameron, Avatar's creator. As a screenwriter he is interested in charismatic characters and the eternal fight between good and evil. He has found this in an idea for a new project called "The Children of Panama". It is the story of Mr. Wilson Charles Lucom, an American millionaire who married a Panamanian and moved to the isthmus. The interesting part of the story is that Mr. Lucom died in 2006 at 88 years of age and some of the beneficiaries in his will were very surprising indeed. Mr. Lucom left USD50 million to the poor children of Panama.


To date no one has benefited from Mr. Lucom´s legacy as the will is tied up in courts being contested by Mr. Lucom´s family. It is a simple story of generosity and greed, or more simply the fight between good and evil.

Mr. Lucom came to Panama in 1995 several years after marrying Ms. Hilda Piza a Panamanian. Much of Mr. Lucom´s fortune is reputed to come from his previous marriage to Ms. Virginia Willy, the daughter of the founder of JEEP. Mr. Lucom has no children of his own but adopted Ms. Willy's daughter from a previous marriage and Ms. Piza had children of her own from a previous marriage in Panama.

One of Mr. Lucom´s friends said that he had a debt with God and was paying it this way, by leaving the bulk of his fortune to the poor children of Panama. Mr. Lucom worked for the US State Department, and possibly for the CIA. In Panama he was an ardent US supporter and opposed the leaving of American troops. His fortune was intricately linked to real estate as he owned a huge property in Cocle, Hacienda Santa Monica. A lot of the filming will take place in Cocle as well as in Panama City where Mr. Lucom owned property as well.

The will has been contested by Mr. Lucom´s Panamanian family who says that the leaving the bulk of his fortune to the poor was the idea of his lawyer, long time friend and trustee of the will, Mr. Richard Lehamn, a lawyer in Florida. The will has been ratified by two courts already and is now in the Supreme Court waiting for a decision.

The fact is the plot is thick, the story is shady with plenty of primal emotions. It may or may not reach the silver screen at the hands of Mr. David Griffiths but it is still an interesting story which it is hoped has a happy ending with the money in the hands of the most needy in Panama.

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