Tag Archives: Medical-Apartheid-in-Panama

The “Back Punch”

The spinal tap as requirement for processing their retirement papers became known in Panama by the Black Westindians as "The Back Punch."

by Lydia M. Reid

Of the many practices carried out by the Panama Canal Zone administration in regards to the men of the Silver Roll probably one of the most questionable and the least investigated is the notorious “Back Punch.”  It consisted of requiring the black Westindian men approaching retirement age- or 25 year service- to sign a release or consent form as, basically, a condition to processing their retirement applications from the Panama Canal Zone and submit to a dangerous spinal tap.  It was one of these back-door types of policies that in no way was supposed to be “required” of the black workers but that in order for them to receive their long awaited pension, this medical procedure had to be “agreed to.” Continue reading