Tag Archives: George W. Westerman

The Housing Exoduses- Deplorable Conditions on the Zone

Silver Housing in Cristobal in about 1912.
Notice the appalling lack of sewage/drainage.
This is the housing unit in Red Tank known as the Titanic Building.
It was originally a wing of Ancon Hospital which
was already quite old and deteriorated when it was
moved to Red Tank to serve as housing for the Silver
employees and their families.

By the time I was born n 1936, the Silver people had undergone many periods of privation in so far as their housing needs were concerned. In supporting several posts regarding their struggles with finding decent housing I have provided for you a succinct history following an outline originally written by George W. Westerman. Continue reading

Toward a Better Understanding

The George W. L. Westerman Collection at the Arthur Schomburg Branch (in Harlem) of the New York Public Library.

In continuing our sojourn through the history of the English language press in Panama the editorial in The Panama Tribune of Sunday 28 July of 1946 merits a closer look. In this weekly newspaper, the only newspaper which published literary expressions by Westindians for Westindians in the history of the Panamanian community, we saw reflected in its pages the historic turn of events that were shaping the lives of the Westindian community. Continue reading

The English Language Newspapers- The Annals of the Silver People’s History and Culture-Part II

Original headquarters of the Panama America newspaper and its English edition, The Panama American. Image courtesy of EPASA

The Panama Tribune covered many stories of local or national interest that had great bearing on people’s lives. It became probably the most popular of the English Language newspapers for the black West Indian communities of both the Canal Zone and the terminal cities of Panama and Colon. 

There was the article of October 20, 1946 that ran “Will Admit Students of Panama of ‘Restricted’ Class:” A new decree for groups classified as ‘Prohibited Immigrants’ by the administration of Don Enrique Jimenez. Children of this group between the ages of 15-30 years, who desire to further their education in secondary school, will be admitted to enter Panama. This is due to the U.N. Charter and Article 21 of the New Constitution (of 1946) opposed to racial discrimination.” In upcoming posts we will get into the intricacies of the Constitution of 1941, in particular, that turned native born children of Westindian descent into “prohibited immigrants.” Continue reading

The English Language Newspapers- The Annals of The Silver People’s History and Culture- Part I

Vintage images of the Old Biblioteca Nacional Courtesy of their website binal.ac.pa.

Accustomed as I’ve been since my college days of spending hours pouring over ancient volumes, archives and records in the venerable libraries of New York City (The N.Y. City Public Library) and several other branches, I must say, going to peer into the pages of The Panama Tribune here in Panama was an experience. Upon telling the woman behind the circulation counter which newspaper I wanted to consult she invited me to take a seat in the periodical area and proceeded to hand me a pair of latex gloves and a dust mask. Continue reading

George W. Westerman- Part II

Image of George W. Westerman, editor of the
Panama Tribune. Courtesy of Afro Panavisions
The George W. Westerman Collection at the
Arthur Schomburg Library in Harlem, New York


President De La Guardia appointed
Westerman as Ambassador to the United Nations, in addition to his duties as political advisor in 1956. This marked the highpoint in Westerman’s career and the “Criollos’” influence in the national life of Panama. In his position he helped to spearhead two pieces of legislation important to Criollos. Continue reading