Tag Archives: Westindian-labor

The Silver People and the British Presence in Panama

British Minister Hugo Swire standing next to

British Minister Hugo Swire standing next to Roberto Roy, Minister of Canal Affairs

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Plaque unveiling

The event officials joined by Reverend Ruthibell Livingston.

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Rev. Ruthibell Livingston joined by Ing. Wesley Jones Alphonse (grandson of the late Bishop Efraìn Alphonse), and two of our guests from the Comité Pro Colón, Camilo Santos and Arline Rushing.

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Another view of the Plaque.

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Roberto Reid flanked by two members of the SAMAAP group.

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Left to Right: Ing. Wesley Jones Alphonse (grandson of the late Bishop Efraín Alphonse), and Lic. Tomás Edghill from the Wesley Methodist Church.

The morning of Thursday, July 17, the Miraflores Visitors’ center was buzzing with the voices of excitement and expectation.  The leaders of three groups of the West Indian Panamanian community, at the request of the British Embassy, had managed to bring together many old and new faces, to this historic event: the unveiling of a memorial tribute, a bronze plaque,  commemorating the enormous contribution of our British West Indian forefathers in the construction of the Panama Railroad and the Panama Canal in both the French and American periods, the hardest parts of the labor which had been left to them. Continue reading

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Another Law to Honor Our Silver Ancestors

1908 a work gang of West Indian laborers on the Panama Canal.

1908 a work gang of West Indian laborers on the Panama Canal.

Another law to honor the contribution of our Silver Ancestors in the construction of the Panama Canal just passed second Debate in (Pleno) of the National Assembly of Panama four days ago. Spearheaded by our friend and staunchest supporter of our Law #7 to Declare Cultural and Historic Patrimony the Silver Cemeteries of Mount Hope, Gatun and Corozal, Iracema de Dale, Diputada from Colon, Bill 562 is sure to be declared Law of the Land very soon. Continue reading

A Wretched Cargo

One of the many nameless "Men of Brawn" who made up the bulk of the West Indian Silver Roll workforce. Should he survive to retirement age, he (or she) could expect the grand sum of $25.00 per month.

by Lydia M. Reid

We want to wish all of our U.S. readers and their families a safe and happy Labor Day during this cherished weekend in which the working men and women are honored and remembered.

This is also a perfect moment to highlight an all-too-widespread occurrence during the repatriation process experienced by the Silver men and women of the Panama Canal Zone.  Just as reports of grand opportunities to leave poverty and semi-slavery behind by seeking work on the Panama Canal construction circulated throughout the West Indies during the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s, thus bringing thousands of hopeful individuals to Panama, new reports during repatriation would reveal a terrible reality. Continue reading

The Other Panama Canal

The beautiful Caribbean coast of Panama displaying Bocas del Toro.

The beautiful Caribbean coast of Panama displaying Bocas del Toro.

Image: bocasdeltorotravel.com

By Lydia M. Reid

Bocas del Toro elicits many things to worldwide travelers: spectacular white sandy beaches, a breathtaking array of flora and fauna unequaled anywhere else in the world and a variety of places to go for the traditional forms of entertainment.  Unknown to many tourists, however, are some historical facts that identified Bocas at one time as a trend setting spot in Panama.  For one, Bocas del Toro was the first province on a national level to have a race track (equestrian), to have consulates from various countries, to have offered the most modern hospital of its time to particularly the workers and their families of the banana plantations, and to have hosted the first drawing of the National Lottery. Continue reading