Los Pana-Zona by Luis E. Cubilla -A Book Review

Los Pana-Zona book cover

Los Pana-Zona book cover

When Luis Cubilla contacted us to announce that he was almost finished writing his book about growing up in the Canal Zone- more specifically Gamboa or Silver Santa Cruz- we could understand his excitement and enthusiasm.   

Since we started our literary journey with our blogs we have been encouraging other descendants to put down in writing the memories, thoughts, and experiences of their formative years in these former Canal Zone communities that are now gone forever. Well, Luis Cubilla took up that challenge thanking us, the Silver People Heritage, for inspiring and heartening him.

The book is a unique little guide into Silver Santa Cruz or Gamboa, as it was known to the Panamanian people- Gamboa being the name of the white gold role side of the town. Yes, the silver roll inhabitants made up the majority of this charming, semi-rural, community of people who were employed in the Panama Canal.

Cubilla’s family were part of the smaller group of Spanish Panameños who lived side by side in peace and harmony and comprehension with the larger group of Black inhabitants who came from the Caribbean islands to work in the Canal. He is careful to point out that this harmony was the only way to survive the “terrible imposition of segregation and racism” uniting them like a big family. Luis E. Cubilla or, Papy, as he was known by family and friends, was born in Ancon Hospital and lived most of his life in Santa Cruz.

Los Pana-Zona is only 82 pages long and written in Spanish. Complete with photographs, it also offers a wonderful chart in the middle section of the book which maps out, including house and apartment numbers and family names of the Silver Roll residents of Santa Cruz. This section is entitled “ Location of the houses in Santa Cruz in Gamboa and names of all the residents but detailing the Latinos.” If anything else, this book can serve as a very useful genealogical tool for anyone tracing their roots in Gamboa of the old Canal Zone.

We invite you to purchase a copy through the links below. It is worth acquiring it and reading it for a look into an important piece of Panama’s past.

You may purchase Los Pana-Zona through the links below:

Palibrio Bookstore 


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