Our Mission

Our Mission

The Silver People Heritage Foundation seeks to actively promote the restoration and protection of the ancestral burial sites of the former “Silver People” of the Panama Canal Zone at Corozal Cemetery in Panama City on the Pacific side of the canal, and Mount Hope Cemetery (formerly known as “Monkey Hill”) in Colon on the Atlantic side of the canal. To achieve this end we will follow a planned action blue print to include physical restoration of grave sites and monuments, installation of protective parameters for the sites and a targeted lobbying campaign to promote the recognition of these sites on a local (Panama) and worldwide level as a “Cultural Legacy for Humanity.”

Our Vision

Through our educational campaign and sponsorship of public awareness we seek to create in the Panamanian as well as the international community an appreciation of the great historic and cultural contribution of the “Silver People” of Panama who arrived from the far flung corners of the West Indies to help build the Panama Rail Road as well as the monumental task of completing the Panama Canal. Their blood, sweat and tears have left an imprint on the spirit of Panama as well as their culture which transformed them into a unique people, a new hybrid- the Spanish West Indian People of Panama- and have left for the world, with their labour and intellect, a modern and safe passage for international shipping and telecommunications.

Ultimately, we, at The Silver People Heritage Foundation, strive to envision a world free of cultural and economic prejudice so that no where on this planet human beings will ever be used again as machines to labour and die with no thought for their basic humanity.

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14 responses to “Our Mission

  1. Thanks for a wonderful website. We have also just launched a website dedicated to Gamboa Silver Town. Please visit our site http://www.gamboareunion.com

    Thank you

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    • Thomas,
      Thanks for leaving your comment and informing us of your new web site. I invite all of our readers to visit your new site recalling a beautiful former Silver Town site some called Silver Santa Cruz but known to most Canal Zone Silver People as Gamboa or “Gyamboa.”

      Roberto

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  2. May the Almighty continue to bless you ,my brother;
    Roberto, first of all allow me to tell you what a blessing your website and your efforts have been to me and others in keeping the chronicle of the achievements and the plight of our ancestors alive and well. It is amazing how I find so much similitude between your life story and mine. Even to the point where I was given the monicle of “Juni” until I was a young adult ( although I am not even a jr.) I was born in 1942 and was raised in Gatun, C.Z and my mother “abandoned me (her first born) to the care of my paternal grandmother . I hope that I can share the rest of my “chronicle” and also contribute to your wonderful website as a survivor of the dichotomy of that twylight world of the silver population of the C.Z.

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    • Herman,

      Thank you for visiting our site and expressing your appreciation by leaving such a notable comment. It is our continual prayer that the Silver people who once shared the wonderful and many faceted legacy of the culture of Panama and the Panama Canal Zone will come together on our sites to share with us their experience.

      We would welcome your experiences especially being from the settlement of Gatun; your memories would be a rare piece of history more than just reminiscences. We see you have been visiting our Chronicle site and we welcome you to read our article on Silver Gatun here:
      http://www.thesilverpeoplechronicle.com/2008/02/silver-townships-silver-gatun-and.html

      Feel free to post a comment there too we would love to hear your contribution. Although we have placed you on our mailing list you are also welcome to receive e mail updates if you subscribe to our Chronicle (on the right hand sidebar).

      Again, welcome and thank you “Juni.” 🙂

      C. Roberto A. Reid

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  3. Humberto,

    Well my brother you have said it, “Taking on an enormous project…” But it has made me once more remember when the Lord Jesus Christ said to me, who at the time was standing over my paternal grandmother’s grave, thinking of how I was going to come back and beautify her grave, then I distinctly heard a command that said, ” You fix them all!”

    My first reaction was to become human again and be negative and answer ” I can’t do that! ” Then right there still standing looking over the whole panorama I remembered who had been speaking to me and the scripture came to me that said ” My God has and can do all things.” All the time whenever the devil and his angels try to discourage us I call out ” Lord you are Omnipotent and Supreme.

    Then again some Angel of the Lord would reminds me that “there are more with me” than my clouded vision can at these times perceive. Well brother, as far as little me convincing anyone goes, it is the Lord’s work and he will do the convincing. From my limited point of focus I am glad he has chosen me for everyone to see the gains in preserving and re-invigorating our places on the Silver Canal Zone that have been historically our Heritage.

    If we truly value our contributions on the Canal Zone as well that of our ancestors, then we have started to do for ourselves and for our beloved Panama and even the entire world what our ancestors really had meant to leave for us to do.

    Just look at our descendants, they are still bringing honor’s and grand achievements to our country and now is the time to have the United States of America contribute to setting things right if they have it in them. Its all up to God

    If just a few Silver People like yourself would be moved to come home in that spirit of wanting to help, then we have a great army of people who are moved by God, Christ Jesus and a bright future ahead of us. We welcome you warmly any time you want to come back to your homeland and you have in us a place to come and be helped with the little we know.

    I have always said that by us being here and participating actively in making Panama the “tacita de oro” it was and what our ancestors left us as a Cultural Heritage then we will regain the Paradise that our God had written in his divine will for us the Silver children.

    Cobert Roberto

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  4. You have definetely taken on an enourmous project and i hope you can convince the many people that are familiar with the silver past to contribute to the silver present. As i may have staetd before , I’am in Atlanta and looking forward to my retorrno al terruno.
    As far as entertainment is concerned, it’s historical, not really a joke.
    The dedication, urgency and the importance of your undertaking is highly respected and duly appreciated.

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  5. I need help focusing on our contributions now. Each and everyone of us needs to find someone in Panama or abroad doing something to promote and keep the silver shining.
    Remember, if you get lemons, make lemonade no sugar needed.

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    • We need people to help with more than just words and idle pronouncements. By opening this Heritage website/forum we have started making “lemonade” out of the lemons of our past. We thought that was perfectly clear. It is not easy and we need a lot of help.

      We need people who are willing to donate their time and some money to this cause- the saving of a culture that contributed a lot to humanity. What do we need? Graphic artists, web developers, writers, photographers and people who can do lobbying, etc. We are not here necessarily to entertain, although it is nice if our articles do entertain you.

      We need people here and abroad who see the urgency and importance of what we are doing.

      RR

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  6. “Our indigenous people have been crying out to the world…”

    The mestizo has disassociated himself from his indigenous brother. Although he may not speak an indigenous language,the mestizo has forgotten that he has indigenous blood. Take for example Bolivia, what is happening over there in the department of Santa Cruz is a big shame.The powers that be, are attempting to crush President Evo Morales.

    Too many elements of the mestizo world still have not left the period of Conquista. We are in the early 21st century, a very long period since conquest and independence, and many Latin Americans still identify with the world that has oppressed them and have left them barely naked.They have not been able to see things as they truly are from their angle, and it has been indeed costly. As a matter of fact, too many mestizos look into their mirrows and erroneously see an Aryan looking figure.

    The city of Colon is still financially prosperous.Why a city with such an economic maneuvering is so poor is the million dollar question?

    There existed a great division between “el negro colonial” and” el negro antillano”. The former was easily manipulated by the elite system and the latter spent too much time looking to the outside world(the U.S.) It is a stifling shame that many of the political leaders of Colon are neither “panameño antillano” or “panameño negro colonial”.
    Then you have black Panamanians living all across the isthmus who are clueless about Colon and its history and who talk about the city and its people with contempt. They have forgotten that the West Indian port of entrance into the Republic of Panama was the City of Colon.

    I will write down my ideas, especially those pertaining to my days growing up in the Panama Canal Zone and how it has influenced and shaped my worldview.

    Cordiales Saludos.

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  7. Dearest Anita,

    I think that you should write more of your reflections and ideas about some of these issues that the intellectual community amongst us Panamanian Westindians fear to tread.

    As I remember my life and times, the days as an adolescent in the Pacific side, in which I had been forced to travel in and out of the Black Canal Zone, made me start to reflect on the word culture, as thoughts about what culture to emulate also caught up with me as it is doing today to the youth in the developing world. The field of Black Studies in the early days of 1968 had done just that for me as you have put it, “ halt that spread of nothingness, confusion and ideas of no culture.” As you will note such activities of obliterating our cultural identity, is not “seeping out,” but has a long standing history of diluting our Westindian traditions.

    Our indigenous people of the Americas have been crying out to the world about this fact for centuries. It is an action that has been more dangerous to them who have clear skin and “good straight hair” as they move closer to the dominant race, in the view of some of them who support such notions.

    Nevertheless, we “thank God Almighty” that He has given us another day to enter the fray for the cause of the mission he has entrusted to us. So that I am hoping and praying that as, you put it, “Black Panamanian men and women do not do not carry any distrust and resentment towards each other.” This is to be our Standard as we war expecting other Prayer Warriors to keep “our Standards from trailing in the dust.”

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  8. Dear Cobert Roberto:

    I agre so much with you and I applaud your efforts and contributions in keeping the memories and stories of our ancestors alive.

    I think it is important for many of us to recognize that throughout the African Dispora, there are vast ,diverse experiences and stories.

    I live in the United States and I travel twice a year to Panama. American culture (whatever it is),is often touted erroneously as -the culture to be emulated, around the developing world. I think nationals in the developing world should halt this spread of nothingness, confusion and no-culture that is seeping out and diluting many of our traditions.

    Black Panamanian men and women do not carry any distrust and resentment towards each other like their black brothers and sisters here in the United States.

    I believe the distrust and resentment that exist between black American men and women grew right out of the Civil Rights movement.With the rise of new and few opportunities came backstabbing,competition, resentment and distrust.

    Black people in the United States have derailed on their trek and journey towards upliftment.Also they have adopted American materialism as a philosophy for judging the self worth and value of individuals.

    Back in Panama when we were growing up, we didn’t have many material things ; but we were wealthy- we had our family, good old traditions, an indomitable inner spirit , and hope and faith in God in overcoming any earthly adversaries.

    We must fight to protect our traditions and leave them as a legacy for future generations.

    Cordiales Saludos,
    Anita Cumberbatch

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  9. My dear Anita,

    It is my hope that we all keep alive that sentiment and use it where and when we can aggressively confront those negative ideas and lies concerning our history on the Continent of America. It has been for me a long and sometimes bitter struggle even in my youth in the U.S. to get away from the stereotypical notions and distrust that I encountered from most Black women with regards to Black men.

    It had been those lies about “all black men” that had prompted me to study our people first, remembering the era in my life in which I did not know any Black Americans at all.
    To all who read my comments please aid us in this age old battle to bring out the true essence of our people, women and men alike, for we are a unique people on earth even in our Panama.

    Thank you for your support.

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  10. I want to extend my support and solidarity to this noble mission. I often hear Panamanian of West Indian descent talking about how the American government should honor our ancestors. I believe that our forefathers want us to honor them first ; and then begin to build lasting institutions in Panama in their honor in keeping their noble legacy alive. Why should our ancestors’ contributions be forgotten by their descendants? Our history in Panama has had a more profound and lasting effect than that of the American citizens.

    Saludos.

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  11. Corbert and Lydia,
    I extend to you my heartiest congratulations on the launching of this urgent and well needed mission of helping Black Panamanians to ‘remember’ and at the same time call the attention of those who wish to forget (conveniently) the sacrifice of those who have contributed in blood, sweat and tears to the continued prosperity of Panama.
    Every Blessing!
    Marvia

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