(Sorry it took so long to complete this story.)

abingon-thames-side-2 In order to understand how Panamanian policies oppress its black citizens one must go back in history.

In 1903 when the Americans began building the Panama Canal they needed cheap, strong labourers who could endure long hours and produce upon demand. The Americans went to Barbados and recruited 23,000 black men. These “slaves” were paid 10 cents per hour for a 10 hour day. A day’s wages were $1.00 per day and $6.00 per week for a six-day week.

When the Canal was completed in 1914 some of these workers stayed in Panama, some died, and some returned to Barbados.DSC03525-B

Those that remained in Panama settled in Colon.

Fast forward to 2015. Today, descendants of those black people who built the Panama Canal live in a slum called Colon. The Panama Canal brings in an annual income of $4 billion per year. The money is used to build a wealthy, healthy Panama for its chosen citizens. The black men who built the Panama Canal with blood, sweat, tears, and death, are forgotten.DSC02822

The reason this Colon Slum exists is because this is prime real estate on the Atlantic coast and developers want this land for more sky-scrapers, shopping malls, luxury condos, and tourist money.

The government policy is to slowly push the black people out. If nothing is done to improve their quality of life they might just leave. Except they have nowhere to go. No water, electric, health care, education for the kids, no jobs for the adults and they die or leave.IMG_2682

The government placates them with free water and electric because the government does not want an uprising or a riot on its hand.

These black souls built the Panama Canal that brings in $4 billion annually but they are not allowed to enjoy the wealth.

How about the Americans who enslaved them and made money on the Panama Canal for 100 years? Don’t they have a responsibility to them? We Americans spread oppression and exploitation and shun our responsibilities. We love to use and abuse.2013-01-28_09-16-34_256

Somebody, Americans and Panamanians, owes the black people of Panama a lot of respect, and especially a lot of money. It’s time to pay up. Black lives matter – in Panama too.

Incidentally, the Barbadian Prime Minister –Mr. Freundel Stuart – was in Panama on May 5, 2015 to “strengthen cultural ties” with Panama. The slums of Colon and the dilemma of the Barbadian slaves who built the Canal were not discussed.

 

 

 

 

 

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The story of Panama is an admirable one.DSC03525-B

A visitor to Panama is quite impressed with the visible signs of prosperity. Panama City boasts sky-scrapers, luxury condos, seventy banks, malls peddling designer clothes and accessories, and new construction everywhere.

AgreementIn 1999 the Americans returned the Panama Canal to Panama and the Canal brings in an annual income of at least 4 billion dollar which is great for the local economy.

Like any other country in the world (including the US) the leaders and politicians in Panama are crooks, thieves and corrupt. They steal as much as they can and then face prison or exile.

On the other hand, a visitor driving around Panama is quite shocked, when without warning, she stumbles into Colon. Colon is the slum of all slums.help

At ten o’clock on a Monday morning children in need or a bath and clean clothes are playing in the streets instead of being in school. Men are sitting on the side-walks and in the parks playing cards or entertaining themselves instead of being at work.

They live in shacks boarded up with bits and pieces of cardboard, zinc sheets or plywood. IMG_2682They have no money for water and electricity, so the government allows them to “steal” these necessities. The illegal water pipes and electric wires are visible from the streets for anyone to see. How and where they get food is anyone’s guess? Clothes? Health care?

These are the two Panamas. Visitors are usually driven around Colon, not through Colon.IMG_0318 For example, on the Atlantic side of Panama, steamship passengers are driven around Colon but not through the slums of Colon.

The residents of this slum in Panama are BLACK.

Next – the reason this slum exist!

When one arrives in Panama City – the capital – one sees a progressive “country” with a well-to-do middle class. They shop in malls with all designer brand names. The restaurants are mouth-watering.

 After a few days of sky-scrapers, modern condos and high-end life styles one drives out to the darker side of Panama. It is called Colon.

The population of Colon is mostly Black. These Black people are the remnants of the Panama Canal and cheap labour. The Americans brought about 23,000 of them from Barbados to build the Canal. That was in 1903-1904. (To be continued.)

 Today the descendants of those Barbadians (cheap labour) live without water or electricity. They are allowed to steal electricity and water. The electric wires and water pipes running into their apartments are visible from the streets. The Panamanian government allows them to steal water and electricity.

 How could this be? Black lives matter is the new slogan in America. Perhaps it has not reached Panama yet. Next – the reason this slum exist!

 

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