Railroad worker

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 in West Indian Museum | 1 comment

Railroad worker

The museum itself, which has exhibits about the West Indian community that first established itself here in the middle of the 19th century, is in the old wooden church building.  Over 100,000 West Indian immigrants would come to Panama to work on the canal. Of those recruited the most came from Barbados who sent almost 20,000 people. This was one-tenth of the total population of the island and 30-40% of its adult males! Next was Jamaica which sent over 10,000, most who came in search of opportunity and were not...

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Bedroom

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 in West Indian Museum | 1 comment

Bedroom

When the Canal was finished in 1914, children born to West Indians had a problem. They didn’t have an official nationality. Panama didn’t want us, the Americans rejected us and the British said you weren’t born in their islands so you didn’t belong to them. After a long while the Panamanians accepted us and here we are. The interesting thing was that we had all these people come from all over the Antilles. All the different island people mixed and participated with each other and with other Panamanians too, to...

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Living room

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 in West Indian Museum | 1 comment

Living room

Among the exhibits at the museum are a model of the overcrowded rooming houses occupied by black laborers in the Caledonia and El Chorillo neighborhoods, the medicinal herbs they used to try to cure themselves and mock-ups of a bedroom and kitchen typical of laborers’ modest homes. “It’s the descendants of the Afro-Caribbean people who keep this history alive. But it pains me to say that average Panamanians, especially younger people, don’t really know about it,’’ said Miriam Gomez de DeMaria, a guide at the...

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Religious corner

Posted on Sep 15, 2010 in West Indian Museum | 0 comments

Religious corner

Their intermediate position, neither American nor Panamanian, caused a large dilemma up until the 1970s. In the end, many West Indians stayed in the country and added their culture to that of Panama while others returned to the islands or emigrated to the United States. People came from all over the world — the United States, Europe, Asia, Panama, Latin America and the Caribbean — to work on canal construction but recruiters targeted West Indian laborers. According to the museum, more than 31,000 Afro-Caribbean...

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