Death of The Diablo Rojo-My Memories of Panama


You could tell when the Diablo Rojo was approaching by the thumping bass-heavy beats of salsa and reggaeton that flood the air around it. Over the years, the Diablo Rojo had become the soundtrack of the streets in Panama City and its outskirts. For a measly fare of 25 cents to board, the buses, adorned with voluptuous babes, superheroes, political figures, and flashing Christmas lights, attract passengers to climb aboard. The Diablo Rojo, literally translating to red devil, lived up to its name–the ride itself was hellish. Drivers haphazardly made turns, passed stop signs and came close to hitting pedestrians.

Since Panama City is rapidly modernizing and recently opened a new subway system, the Diablo Rojo has been phased out. The buses typically were retired from Florida schools and resurrected in Panama. As the Diablo Rojos disappeared, some of them were reincarnated to school buses and others are dismantled for scrap or are sitting in bus boneyards.

The Diablo Rojo is a tradition that will be missed. With the new Metro Bus system in place, the government is offering Diablo Rojo drivers compensation to give up their buses. The new bus has a Spartan white paint job and orange stripe. Some riders have begun to call the new bus system the Diablo Blanco. Its obvious that the new line has carried over the independent owners of the Diablo Rojo since there is little change in driving style.


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