Tragic Attack Claims Life of Panamanian Soccer Star, Gilberto Hernandez
COLON, Panama — In a shocking turn of events, Gilberto Hernandez, a talented member of Panama’s national soccer team, fell victim to a senseless act of violence. As he casually stood outside his mother’s residence, catching up with childhood friends, a hail of bullets erupted from a taxi passing by, leaving Gilberto dead and seven others injured.
This devastating incident marks the second time a national team player has been slain in Colon in the past six years.
Located 50 miles north of Panama City, where maritime vessels traverse the renowned Panama Canal, Colon has become notorious for its rampant violence.
Drug trafficking disputes largely contribute to the area’s high crime rates, with last year alone witnessing 102 homicides. However, the toll of this violence extends beyond mere numbers; it infiltrates the very fabric of the community.
Residents, burdened by prolonged unemployment and pervasive poverty, are left to grapple with the harsh reality of these all-too-frequent shootings.
Antonio Smith, a long-time resident, described the situation as dire and advocated for drastic measures akin to those taken by El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, who has waged an unrelenting war against street gangs, resulting in the mass incarceration of offenders.
This morning, the neighborhood surrounding the tragic attack was plagued by yet another shooting, a chilling reminder of the omnipresent danger residents face on a daily basis. The relentless gunfire has become an unwelcome soundtrack to their lives, cutting through the tranquility of the morning routine.
Gilberto Hernandez was involved in his community
Gilberto Hernandez, a beloved figure both on and off the field, had ambitions that extended far beyond his impressive soccer career. The 26-year-old defender, who played for the Independent Athletic Club, dreamed of inspiring change within his community.
His presence on the national team offered glimpses of hope, with matches against international powerhouses like Argentina allowing him to rub shoulders with greats such as Lionel Messi.
In a heartfelt statement, Manuel Arias, president of the Panamanian Soccer Federation, mourned Gilberto’s passing and highlighted the cruel twist of fate that robbed them of such a dedicated and talented athlete. He emphasized that this tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the pervasive violence that grips our society, urging us all to unite against it.
As Panama grapples with the loss of Gilberto Hernandez, a promising star that burned out too soon, his memory will continue to inspire a nation to combat the darkness that shrouds their streets. In the face of adversity, they will strive for a future where the love of the game can flourish without the shadow of tragedy.