Loïc Magnien Street Photography Los Diablos Rojos de Panama 3

Los Diablos Rojos de Panama

Colourful buses

Panama city can be quite a choked-up city when it comes to transportation. You will find a lot of personal vehicles getting through the heavy traffic, taxis, local buses… and los Diablos Rojos ! literally the Red Devils. They are a private competition to the local buses.

Cheap and fast

They are usually 25 cents the ride instead of more than a dollar for the local buses. You can pay them cash instead of having to struggle with buying a travel card. They are faster… and for a reason, they drive furiously !

Proud owners

The buses were originally US school buses bought second hand and shipped to panama. Their ribbed walls have become colourful weatherproof canvases. Their owners customise them with unique paint job, hand made. They will mount massive speakers and blast their own music ranging from Salsa, Reggaeton or anything including punchy rhythms.

Every bus will have writings on the front, ranging from hard core “Fast and Furious” to a more biblical “God words lights my path”. One of them had lastima que hay que morir —pity that one must die—across the bottom of its windshield in wide, outlined letters.

Soon to be dead ?

After several years of unparalleled economic growth and construction, Panama City wants a modern transportation system to fit its sophisticated and worldly ambitions. But the red devils, despite their terrors, have sentimental value to the locals and getting rid of the demon buses has become an infernal task for the government. The driver in the picture above explained me that the government offers to take his bus away from the streets of panama city for $25,000. Clearly not enough to close your business. So he will continue to rumble down the streets of Panama, colourfully resisting the calls for modernisation.