Category Archives: Racism in Panama

Our New Plantation Home

A bananero or banana plantation. Image thanks to

A bananero or banana plantation. Image thanks to

The chief cook at the dining hall, ever vigilant of China and her condition, said, “You just pay me the regular and tell that niña to come and eat here because she don’t have to cook!” And so, we were installed in the community as the “black boy and his Chinese wife” to be the strangest couple who ever graced that part of the country. I would, however, have to give up going to the movies on Baseline because the movie house was owned by Chinese people. I had also given up on movies because it was mostly the men who lived in that area who frequented the movies and Pug was already an attraction on her own. Continue reading

The Not-So-Free Zone

Unlike today, racism was really never talked about in our social circles, although it was an evil that was always at the center of our collective frustration as black Panamanian youth. The political and commercial bourgeoisie of the times, with their marginalizing power, maintained a stressful undercurrent of damaging rumors that had always beset particularly the City of Colon filling the media and the social climate with derogatory epithets like “Chombo City”  etc., especially with regards to the West Indian blacks; this was in addition to referring to Panamanian West Indians always as the “foreigners.” Continue reading

Fernando Johnson, a Hero for the Silver People of Panama

Fernando Johnson, veteran Red Cross worker and leader. May he rest in peace. Image thanks to La Prensa.

In the recent disastrous flooding that plagued several districts in Panama including the Province of Colon, it took more than 84 hours and legions of panamanian and international volunteer rescuers to locate the automobile that Fernando Johnson and Jorge Aleman, both lifetime volunteer profesional rescuers of the City and province of Colon, were traveling in.

According to the seven witnesses who survived this tragedy on November 25th, on the road at La Quebrada Ancha specifically at La Curva del Cebo, the road opened up and swallowed the pickup the Red Cross rescue crew was being transported in. Just before the vehicle sank under the tons of mud, rock and incessant rain, however, Fernando Johnson’s warning- and probably his last words on earth, rang out, “¡Salten, muchachos, que nos hundimos!,” – “Jump boys…we are sinking!” Continue reading

How Numerous Are the Blacks of Panama?

Rio Abajo, one of the most populous districts of Panama City with a high concentration of Black residents, just celebrated their Black Ethnicity Day Celebration parade – Desfile de la Etnia Negra– with resounding success. Continue reading

Panama is a ‘Sancocho’

Armando Fortune’s idea of Panama as a “sancocho“-a mixture of elements rather than a welding together- in contradistinction to the old oligarchy’s notion of Panama as a Crisol de las Razas – or a melting pot of races, seems somehow more accurate especially coming from a highly observant and eloquent Black man who lived the rigors of growing up black in Panama.  Continue reading

Another Blow to Panama’s Image

Image thanks to

In today’s headlines here in Panama we received yet another blow to the image of our beloved Panama in our foreign relations.  The case revolves around the Embassy of Panama in Brazil.  We leave you, our respected readers, to formulate your own opinions about this grave matter.  We’ve translated the La Prensa article but, you may read the original in Spanish here. Continue reading