A long time ago, Casco Viejo was not considered safe at all because a lot of the buildings here used to be abandoned and not taken care of. Several people started living in the empty buildings and gangs started to form there but around 15 years ago, they started fixing Casco Viejo and it started to boom. They went on to develop Casco Viejo. The people who live there knew the value of their properties so they started restoring them and a lot of people also bought properties in Casco Viejo, which they also restored. The government offices that occupy some of the buildings in Casco Viejo also did restorations so real estate prices started going up.
The presidential police have also started protecting Casco Viejo. Some of the gangs were evacuated from the buildings they had occupied so it became safer.
There is a very nice hotel nearby called American Trade Hotel. That building was considered very dangerous around 10 years ago. You cannot even come close to it because it was occupied by a very dangerous gang. Now, the government took out the gang that occupied that building. Somebody bought the building, restored it, and it is now a very beautiful hotel.
Some of the gang members who used to live there have gone to rehab and have changed lives that now, they are doing the tours here in Casco Viejo, which is perfect because they can share the other face of Casco Viejo based on their experiences. They will tell you how the gangs were and what they used to do but they are good people now.
The last two presidents of Panama have beefed up the security in Casco Viejo. There are more policemen assigned in this area of Panama, who are going around Casco Viejo. We also have community police that goes to each business and gather information and check if everything is going fine. They also give their hotline numbers just in case anybody needs to contact them. There is definitely police visibility in all the streets of Casco Viejo.
I feel safe walking around by myself here in Casco Viejo. I go out to buy my lunch. I go to the tiendas (small stores) to buy some chips or snacks and I feel safe even on my own.