Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, is proposing the establishment of a Panama memorial to possibly coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Barbados??? Independence in 2016.
She threw out this suggestion while addressing the official opening of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society???s Exhibition entitled: We Were Giants: The Story of the Barbadians who built the Panama Canal 1904-1914 at the Museum last night.
Senator McClean added: ???While I cannot commit my Cabinet colleagues, I think that???at the latest???when we celebrate our 50th Anniversary [of Independence] in 2016, we should have a memorial. I certainly will do my part to seek to do that.???
The Foreign Minister said the story of Barbadians who went to Panama was one of the unique migration stories of the last few centuries. These Barbadians, she explained, were sourced by the builders of the Canal on account of their reputation for hard work, honesty, and devotion to duty, which they had displayed in previous construction projects.
She said the mass migration is credited with giving impetus to the emergence of a Barbadian middle class as ???so called Panama money assisted many families during a tough time in the development of Barbados???.
???Their efforts are chronicled in such pioneering works as The Silver Men, authored by Barbadian historian, Professor Velma Newton. Those who remained produced a new generation of Panamanians of Barbadian descent. For example, our Honorary Consul in Panama, Dr. Camilo Alleyne, a physician and former Cabinet Minister in Panama, boasts that both of his grandparents were from Barbados,??? Senator McClean underlined.
Acknowledging that Barbados and Panama have enjoyed a friendly and productive partnership, the Foreign Minister said the bilateral links between the two countries were based on commonalities of culture, like-mindedness and ancestry.
Senator McClean noted that Barbados had identified Panama as one of its main bilateral partners in Latin America. She said that the August 15th anniversary celebrations of the Panama migration was a fitting symbol of our respective historical journeys and demonstrated a commitment to building a new phase of our bilateral partnership.