We Rest Our Case

I don’t think Tomas Guerra alone deserves the Dunce Cap.

The recent clueless babblings of Panama’s consul in Miami should make every red blooded Panamanian who has any inkling of his/her national history bite his tongue before betraying a chuckle. Tomás Guerra is not the only Panamanian (let alone high ranking Panamanian) to reveal his total ignorance of his own country’s history and the complex history of the renowned Panama Canal. Rather than take offense or feel the slightest bit embarrassed at this official’s lack of coherence on the subject of Panama Canal history, we beg for more of our countrymen to be diligent in reading this web site, The Silver People Chronicle.

It was this sweeping lack of knowledge on our very own historical legacy that induced us to start this Chronicle, with the added perspective of a view from one of the descendants of the Black Canal Zone or the Silver Roll, a history with a definite cultural heritage whose contributions are truly unknown in our modern world. I bet if we took a on-the-street poll today we would come away with a clearer picture of the unabashed state of ignorance we live in much as the local media has discovered in their yearly informal “man-on-the-street” surveys here in Panama.

In fact, as I was growing up in Panama, I can remember learning the history of the formation of the United States in great detail. I knew more of the intricacies of the U.S. Constitution, the lives of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln and about the role of the United States in WWII, but next to nothing about the history of the Eighth Wonder of the Modern World- the Panama Canal- the Canal my people built hands on.

I didn’t know the life of great patriots such as Victoriano Lorenzo, and I couldn’t really list almost any of the presidents of our little “democratic” republic. Although I was living during very important, historic times, I was in as much darkness about my own country’s history as all the rest of the youth and adults of my time.

Seems like nothing much has changed, with one exception. Today we have the Internet and the possibility of shoring up our drearily mindless educational system, with sites such as this one and other, similar sites that offer real content in reference to our contribution to Panamanian history and culture.

We can stop pointing the finger at who’s to blame for the collective amnesia our educators have and continue to instill in our younger generations. To the question of “Who needs them?”-referring to us the Afro-Panamanians- revealing a historic pattern of shunning the issue of Black heritage in our country, our children will have to be wiser than we were and seek wisdom from whatever sources at their disposal.

This story continues.


6 responses to “We Rest Our Case

  1. Kyle and Svet Keeton

    I read the "Silver People Chronicle!"

    Do Sveta and I get a smiley face for learning about Panama and her history? 🙂

    I going to give Tomás Guerra a frown face! 🙁

    I am just going to add that I think everyone needs to read about Panamanian history. Americans do not have any idea about the atrocities that went on in Americas name in that area…

    Thanks as always for a great article…

    Kyle and Sveta

  2. Roberto: I am not surprised. As a matter of fact I believe that this fool is typical of many Panamanian diplomats representing us in foreign countries. And this will continue for a long period of time until Panama institutes some kind of meritocracy system.

    Those people need also to know they are an embarrassment and that there is supposed to be some type of accountability in what diplomats are supposed to know and say.

    Diplomats should at least have to pass a test to get jobs in foreign posts representing the country. This is why I am so critical of Latin American countries. They seem to manufacture mediocrity and loving it at the same time.
    How on earth was he able to say that malaria and yellow fever are one and the same? The Anopheles mosquito is the cause of malaria and the Aedes Aegyptus is the cause of yellow fever. This was taught in Science in elementary school in Panama, at least in my days. He must have been out playing, de recreo.
    Another thing, most Panamanians do not know anything about the history of the Panama Canal. All they were taught was "el canal es nuestro." We were lucky that our ancestors were part of this engineering fete, reason why many of us are familiar with its history,especially those of us who grew up and /or were somewhat connected to the Canal Zone. I remember how we used to celebrate the canal anniversaries with festivals and programs.
    It is amazing how for awhile that fool made me feel ashamed of being Panamanian. Just like the other fool who said Confucious invented confusion. Panamanians were never known for being dumb. He may be a coastal Colombian, pero yo no.

    The weather is bad over here, I am missing the tropics, rain and all.
    Saludos desde Nueva York.

  3. who was Panama's famous black poet? remembered him from my days at IJA when I was teased incessantly about my accent, heritage and race and then reading his poem about race one along the still undeveloped suburb of Paitilla sometimes from the old Abbatoir to Panama Viejo it gave me a huge lift… even Etnia Negra did not have him there but I found him and his extra patriotic estrofas are a wonder

  4. Thanks to all of you.

    Kyle, I agree about making more informed people out of Americans. Now if they could just get past their very warped opinion of Panamanians- in fact Central Americans in general. After all, it was some of these "atrocities" caused by Americans that has left its violent and corrupt mark on Central America. Many people here say that the present "security problem" in our country can be traced back to the Invasion of Panama in 1989; thousands upon thousands of arms were left around since then.

    Anita, most Panamanians and most People all over the world do not know anything about the history of the Panama Canal.

    Ocho, now you're keeping us in suspense. Which poet are you talking about? You are the resident poet.

  5. Roberto: I agree with you that most people around the world know nothing about the history of the Panama canal.
    By now, after Panama is in control of the canal, there should be courses in at least the high school curriculum about the canal history and about its function and maintenance.
    This also could lead to students being interested in becoming canal workers.

    I plan to go home and get involved in doing something about this. Also, even if the national government shows no interest, because I know how backward the powers that be in Panama are,I plan on making an essay contest for high school students in which they do research on the history of this great waterway. This could offset the embarrassing ignorance.

    I could fundraise in the States to accumulate funds for the prize money, this would be an incentive for the students to participate.

    I plan to do this in the city of Colon for a start. Enough of people being proud of ignorance. I cannot stand it.

  6. Anita,

    Sounds like a very positive idea. Go for it!