The perception of self of Panama’s Westindian community has remained surprisingly the same throughout its history. As we traverse the 21st century of great expectations for much of the European, North American and Asian world we reflect on the period of history spanning the 18th and 20th centuries which, for the descendants of the Silver People, has spelled little significant economic growth.
Our history has gone through phases, along with the rest of the Hispanic/American continent reaching historic turning points that they actively and dynamically helped to make happen. Had it not been for our forefathers the remarkable, almost magical, opening of the Panama Canal and its consistently smooth operation throughout the years would have been impossible. And yet, as Inter-oceanic commerce and travel became an economic reality and a boon for the United States government, it remains today a closed off part of our experience.
Referencing our research of the aforementioned historic periods in which widespread racial segregation marked negatively the lives of our forefathers, we discover that, even today, life on the former Black Canal Zone and the rest of the country of Panama reflects the ugly vestiges of that old and ignoble system, reminders that even mark the resting places of our brave ancestors. The historical burial sites of our people are not only symbolic of these transitory periods in a unique history, they are signposts, living markers, if you will, that have followed us as unrecognized citizens in the country of our birth. Humanly, it would appear to us all that we have no historical significance in the country that our forefathers struggled, worked and died to bring to its present state of evolution.
These significant Silver People cemeteries, the only substantial evidence of our historical link to Panama and the United States, are today being threatened with the ultimate insult of being disinterred and tossed into the municipal dump to be lost forever from the scene of their activities. The vulnerability of the cemetery sites bears testimony to the continued negative perception of our cultural heritage allowing them to develop into just another painful eyesore. This state of affairs painfully amounts to a form of cultural genocide to an integral part of our humanity.
Our ancestors, our cultural and spiritual heroes, who remain in these repositories of bones and poignant inscriptions, are the physical trace of a unique people, a people who have magnificently impacted our modern era only to be paid with eternal humiliation.
Historical, political and economic prejudices have, to date, isolated our pertinent historic role in world events as well as the cemetery sites from the international community. We are not fighting to preserve these sites as mausoleums to our vanity, but to preserve our recognized human rights. Moreover, we insist that our activities at making the world community aware of the plight of our forefathers and the continued violation of our humanity and our cultural heritage, is, in fact, an international violation of our Human Rights.
These garden-park cemetery grounds represent for us, the descendants, the extraordinary spiritual power within our people. The current vulnerability of these sites and the manifest negligent management as historic repositories and monuments to humanity are also evidence of the visible lack of self reliance on the part of the Westindian community as a whole. These threatened historic sites, we are hoping, will bring us together as peaceful, loving people of the world. And you, our readers, and friends, can help us wherever you are.
It is our time to become like our forefathers- main actors in this drama still being played on the stage of the banks of the Panama Canal. We still have the opportunity of becoming main actors in today’s modern drama and to make a real impact on our times. We at the Silver People Heritage Foundation have submitted an action plan that will make these Historic Cemeteries part of the Panama Canal Tourism Scenic Route. Join us in letter writing to the Panamanian Foreign Ministry (write to) and to the Ambassadors of your country. As part of the international community, they have more power than we do in our battle here in Panama.
Look for more action statements to come.