May Day in David

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May Day in David

photos by José F. Ponce

May Day is Labor Day in Panama and Chiriqui’s labor movement gathered to show the flag in David that day. The construction workers, the brewery and soft drink workers, the teachers and others were all out. In Chiriqui it is perhaps more visible than elsewhere, but one does not understand the grim determination and fierce passions of so much of Panamanian labor if one does not recognize that it is largely a movement of dispossessed rural people – folks who were forced off of farms by economic forces, people whose fishing villages were razed by developers, villagers who depended on a river for drinking water and fish during hard times who had their river privatized and made inadequate or useless for their needs by dam concessionaires, ancient nations displaced by a continuing conquest that began some five centuries ago. They had to go out and get jobs in someone else’s economy but they took their cultures, their memories and their attitudes with them. Those who don’t understand what has happened to rural Panama will have a hard time understanding Panamanian workers.

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[Editor’s note: Apologies to José for the delay in publishing this, part of which had to do with a prolonged Claro wireless Internet outage.]

 

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