The Saga of the United States Canal: The Great Fear in the Colonialist Mind


The great fear of the colonialist mentality which we would attribute to the Europeans and to the Yankees, because of centuries of their proclivity towards exhibiting such behavior against people of color in this hemisphere, would have continuity against other people of color in other theaters of the planet far into the conclusion of the 20th century.

However, we the Westindians would meet it head on, as it intensified and the local white elite would join in on maintaining colonization after the Spanish colonials had virtually given up on these territories in Central America. It would be as the historian, Castillero Calvo, has said for Westindians in Panama: “During the Spanish Colony the elite fed another fear, a fear that would prove more difficult to overcome, and that was a deep-seated fear of the colored populace. It was this fear that fed the most intensive periods of tensions for the social reality of the colony. Therefore, it was one of the main sources for internal urban conflicts.” (Castillero Calvo)

It would be the kind of situation that the Westindian people would be subjected to throughout their association with the United States Canal and its projects, underscoring its move to build up permanency in the region of Central America with the Canal Zone as one of its important military forts. For the Westindian populace the ending of the 20th century, would find them as dispersed and separated in ideas as in physical locations, just as the Israelites of biblical days; a people who had, in the dispersion of the Diaspora, been lost and identified with the black population of former slaves of the United States.

For most of them, this re-identification and a refusal to be identified as Afro Hispanics meant a loss of their citizenship and a motherland. Thus, they would be a disjointed tribe, without identifiable powers, amongst the United States blacks who were still dealing with a racial identity conflict, things that their West Indian brethren of the Caribbean tended to minimize as they enjoyed nationhood and economic security.

As we recount these incidences of history, which even now still pain this writer, it seemed a situation in which our ancestors were the ones who had labored for the Yankee Pharaohs. Our people even neglected their own children to care for white children, leading their own descendants in their youth to fall prey to all the evil currents which prevail against the youth of these modern days.

What have been the repercussions? West Indian youth still seek to be hirelings instead of owners, still immigrants instead of full citizens of their motherland, a people who still labor in their older years, working and laboring as hard in they did in the younger years of their lives. And for what? In the end they are identified as those invisible people, the ones suddenly discovered who inhabited the Black Canal Zone. Far away from their dead, the black people’s cemeteries became as neglected as did their black children, their history not even associated with the modern Canal or with the highly valued corporation of Chiquita Brand banana.

What, then, did my people fear? Did they fear the realities, a still fearful ideological demon which spat fire in yesteryears? Did they fear that invincible heat that produced the anxieties we today call stress, an evil afflicting whole communities and countries? Is it the intense fear that drives men to an economic pit?

This brings to memory that Great Ditch, and the myriad of rock, mud and land slides that often put an end to all labor, and many times to men’s lives. Is it the fear today that makes men reflect over how we West Indians might have ended up wealthy, though our wealth might still remain in an invisible fact that we had inherited suffering and death, while we built the American people an eternal monument and the country of Panama, a country that barely remembers us as their sons all because of our ancestry?

This story continues.

One response to “The Saga of the United States Canal: The Great Fear in the Colonialist Mind

  1. Hello. First of all thank you very much for posting on my blog. I am very happy to have found your blog as well!

    I always heard such stories about Panama’s history with the Estado Unidos but I had no idea it was this way. My father’s friend is a gringo who was raised in Panama because his father worked there.

    Mexico City was also occupied by the North Americans in 1847 – many people do not know that the gringos marched into the city and burned all the homes and buildings and killed many people including 5 child cadets (Los Heroes Ninos) at the Castillo de Chapultepec.

    Keep posting! I look forward to reading more of your writings!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *