The Silver People and the British Presence in Panama

British Minister Hugo Swire standing next to

British Minister Hugo Swire standing next to Roberto Roy, Minister of Canal Affairs

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Plaque unveiling

The event officials joined by Reverend Ruthibell Livingston.

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Rev. Ruthibell Livingston joined by Ing. Wesley Jones Alphonse (grandson of the late Bishop Efraìn Alphonse), and two of our guests from the Comité Pro Colón, Camilo Santos and Arline Rushing.

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Another view of the Plaque.

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Roberto Reid flanked by two members of the SAMAAP group.

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Left to Right: Ing. Wesley Jones Alphonse (grandson of the late Bishop Efraín Alphonse), and Lic. Tomás Edghill from the Wesley Methodist Church.

The morning of Thursday, July 17, the Miraflores Visitors’ center was buzzing with the voices of excitement and expectation.  The leaders of three groups of the West Indian Panamanian community, at the request of the British Embassy, had managed to bring together many old and new faces, to this historic event: the unveiling of a memorial tribute, a bronze plaque,  commemorating the enormous contribution of our British West Indian forefathers in the construction of the Panama Railroad and the Panama Canal in both the French and American periods, the hardest parts of the labor which had been left to them. Continue reading

Dr. José Antonio Price- Rescued from a Shipwrecked History

Dr. José Antonio Price

Dr. José Antonio Price

The following story, written by Ariel René Perez Price, was first published in La Estrella de Panamá on May 26, 2013 under the title “José Antonio Price- Un Naúfrago de la Historia.” With his permission we have translated it into English and posted it here on our Heritage blog as a glowing (and well documented) example of the value that some of our descendants place on their West Indian-Panamanian heritage. Continue reading

Repatriates’ Tales- Part II

Repatriates headline from The Panama Tribune January 1950.  Things were looking very dim for the Jamaican repatriates from Panama according to the article.

Repatriates headline from The Panama Tribune January 1950. Things were looking very dim for the Jamaican repatriates from Panama according to the article.

As I said in Part I of Repatriates’ Tales, the reception encountered by most repatriates back to their island homes in the decades following the completion of the Panama Canal, especially the 50’s and 60’s, was far from warm.  Most readers reacted to Part I with sadness, distress and even disbelief but we received no anecdotes or stories relating to a friendlier, more benign reaching out to their returning brethren who had undergone the rigors of life as economic refugees in Panama. We are still waiting for such stories. Continue reading

Repatriates’ Tales- Part 1

This couple's photo was taken on the day of their repatriation back to St. Lucia from Panama

This couple’s photo was taken on the day of their repatriation back to St. Lucia from Panama. Image The Panama Canal Review, Nov. 1950

Until just recently I was under the misguided assumption that most repatriates from Panama back to their island homelands were met with a warm and welcoming reception from family and childhood friends. In conversing with several of our seniors, however, I was chillingly set straight. Most repatriates from the Panama Canal Zone and or the urban centers of Panama City and Colon were usually met with hostility, disdain, hatred and, worse of all, envy. Continue reading

Lilia Wilson- Taking the High Jump Higher

Lilia Virginia Wilson

Lilia Virginia Wilson

Lilia Wilson's recording breaking High Jump 1938 (L), and a closer look at the young girl champion (R).

Lilia Wilson’s record-breaking High Jump 1938 (L), and a closer look at the young girl champion (R).

To look at Lilia Wilson today, 76 years after she made athletic history on February 8, 1938, when she managed to break her own High Jump record by leaping over 4 feet, 9 inches in the 1938 Central American and Caribbean Games (hosted by Panama that year), you can see that time has done little to dull the enthusiasm she feels about life. Continue reading