On Avenida Balboa, Panama City’s premier seafront avenue, the 50 story tower blocks form a near continuous wall of glass to the Pacific Ocean. At night, however, most of the luxury apartments remain in darkness and the basement casinos are eerily deserted.
Panamanian real estate was a favourite investment of the boliburgues, Venezuelans who grew rich on the back of their political connections to the late president Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro.
But in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal it has become increasingly hard to launder money through the country, cutting off a potential exit route for those looking to cut loose from Maduro’s embattled regime.
“The Panamanian real estate boom began in 2005 – the Colombians came first, then the Venezuelans,” says