Tag Archives: prohibited-immigrants

The Winner Receives…A Gold Buckle!

Far from rosy, the economic picture for many Westindian Panamanians during the early 1950’s was often precarious and always overshadowed by the possibility of losing their jobs on the Zone.  Either through Reduction of Force notifications, through being accused of being a communist sympathizer or several other often arbitrary devices used by the Canal administration, the end result was losing one’s job. Continue reading

Will Panama Ever Change?

The Panamanian cédula, or personal identification card,
has undergone quite a transformation. Above is the cédula-librito
or booklet type which many of my ancestors, Westindian functionaries,
were instrumental in registering. Below is the current version of our cédula
complete with electronic bar coded information on the back.
Both images are thanks to the Tribunal Electoral.


I will admit that Spanish School had succeeded in doing one thing; it had made me more Spanish than Westindian. In those days of primary school the teachers reminded Westindian students at every turn that they should speak Spanish and not English and we all started to do just that; even to the point of denying our cultural heritage as English speaking people. Continue reading

Harassment Against the Prohibited Immigrants

The image was taken from a special issue of
The Panama Tribune which highlighted the
achievements of some of the more well known
Westindian English Teachers in our community
during the ’40’s.

With my head resting on the desk sitting beside a classmate I could not confide my most inner feelings to, I closed my eyes trying to blot out the memory of the incident in fifth grade when the teacher had unmercifully torn up my masterpiece of an essay. Continue reading

The 1941 Constitution- The Prohibited Immigrants

At this point it is important to underline the tireless work of Pedro Rhodes, a young, well known and well versed lawyer from Colon who, together with George W. Westerman, initiated a challenge to the 1941 Constitution long before it became law in January of 1941. Continue reading

The 1941 Constitution- The Political Backdrop

Arnulfo Arias Madrid

By the time I was born during the mid-1930’s the political climate in the small Republic of Panama was heating up to fever pitch and the racist and xenophobic tide in popular attitudes found their greatest exponent in one particular spokesman. Arnulfo Arias Madrid was born in Penonomé, the capital of Coclé province in western Panama on August 15, 1901. Upon being awarded a government scholarship he went to high school in Binghamton, New York, and then attended the University of Chicago and Harvard University which awarded him a medical degree. Continue reading

The Silver Townships- The City of Colon…continued

The Silver population in Colón, as well as in Panama, had traditionally been dependent on the employment offered by the Railroad and later the Panama Canal Commission. In fact, during its boom periods, the Hispanic segment of the population came to view the Antillean Blacks as the affluent West Indians who had steady employment and money to spend on housing, stylish clothing and jewelery, recreational pursuits and on travel. Colón, in its heyday, became known as “la tasita de oro,” the little golden tea cup. Continue reading