Category Archives: Silver Townships in Panama

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.    Continue reading


The Razor Blade Haircut

Of course, this is a modern image of a black barbershop in the U.S. but, notice the planks in the background barber seats- "The Kiddie Chairs."  Image

Of course, this is a modern image of a black barbershop in the U.S. but, notice the plank in the background barber seat- “The Kiddie Chair.” Image

The story, or rather, the account, you are about to read was written by Daniel Webster, better known on the web as Ocho Gritos, posted on Facebook on 6 September on our Afro Heritage of Panama (Facebook) Group. With his permission we’ve decided to share it with you, our readers, to preserve some of the memories of the Silver People of the Black Zone. ***

The other day, I wrote on Facebook about getting a hair cut with a razor blade, and a young man commented he had never heard of this. I recognized his family but also realized he would be too young to know about this cultural aspect of black Zonian life. I grew up in Rainbow City what today is Ciudad Arco Iris. Mr. Brooms was our family barber going back generations. 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

The Stone Church of Rio Abajo

The Stone Church or "La Iglesia de Piedra" is one of Rio Abajo's most visible icons especially for the Westindian community.

by Lydia M. Reid

The history of this landmark church which had close ties to the Panamanian West Indian community dates back to the 1930s. Rio Abajo District residents began efforts to build a chapel in that part of the city since the nearest church was Our Lady of Lourdes in La Sabana which meant a considerable distance walk in the absence of urban transport. Rio Abajo was not incorporated into the city at the time and although Via España was as already a main artery, between Rio Abajo and La Sabana there existed a very long and practically uninhabited distance to walk. Continue reading

La Boca Town- Farewell to an Icon

La Boca Town in flames as seen from a distance. Image thanks to La Prensa.

Another Barraca (barracks like row of "rooms") burned down recently putting a gradual end to the Westindian face of Rio Abajo.

by Lydia M. Reid

With a justifiable note of regret the residents of La Boca Town gave a final farewell to the legendary piece of real estate that burned down completely on February 21, 2002. Today, 4th Street in Rio Abajo, where for decades La Boca Town was located, is witnessing dramatic winds of change. People from other areas and cultures have come to settle in this area and the descendants of the original Black Westindians who came with the construction of the Canal have departed in other directions or have simply died out slowly. Continue reading