The picture was taken from the Website of Society of the West Indian Museum of Panama

This is a fictional story inspired by the harsh working conditions during the construction of the Panama Canal, especially for Afro-Antillean people. Have you ever wondered what life was like in those days, especially for Afro-Antillean people? This story is divided into two parts.

• Main character

Williams: Antillean brought by the North Americans to work in the construction of the Panama Canal.

• Secondary characters

Lay: Williams' wife

Willy: Williams' youngest son, 3 years old.

Yazmila: Williams' oldest daughter, 5 years old.

At the time of the construction of the Panama Canal, among the many people who came to the Isthmus of Panama to be part of the historic mega construction of the interoceanic highway that would open the way for the navigation of ships from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic and vice versa, an Antillean named Williams arrived.

Williams was one of the thousands of Afro-Antillean hired and brought from the Caribbean islands by the North American company, to work in the construction of the Canal. 

The North American company had offered them many benefits, which would never come true, as part of the "dream of the Panamanian Isthmus."

Among the promises were that he would have a good salary, that he would allow sending money to his wife Lay and their two children Willy and Yazmila, who could not go with him to the Isthmus. 

Another promise was that the salary would also allow him to bring his family in case he wanted to.

They also offered him food, lodging in areas near the Canal, and a return ticket for when his contract ended, in case he preferred to return to his country instead of bringing his family to stay in Panama.

With so many promises ¿how could Williams despise it? He and his family were filled with dreams, thinking of a more promising world for him and his family, since the situation in his country was not the best. 

But soon he would realize that the reality was very different from how the NorthAmerican company had painted it, because when he reached Isthmus soil, he would soon discover the harsh reality of his unfortunate decision to pursue a dream that, in reality, never existed.

As an Antillean he had the hardest and heaviest tasks in construction, Afro-Antillean people were exploited two and three times more than the rest of the workers of other nationalities. 

In the construction there were people from many countries, from Italy, Spain, and other regions from Europe, also from the African continent and America, for example, Colombians.

Williams worked every day, 12 hours or more, no matter the weather or conditions, and was at the bottom of this mega construction´s organizational structure. 

In his first week as a worker, he soon learned that he had to pay for his food and the worst of this it was that he had the worst food and most expensive menu, and to top it off the Antilleans did not have a dining room, so he had to find a sidewalk or somewhere to seat for eating. 

They also could not enter inside of any establishment because Afro-Antillean people were treated with much contempt by everyone else for being Afro-Antillean.

But things did not end there, in the lodgings that had been promised him for living there was little space and the buildings were narrow. 

The buildings were full of people and with few beds, so there were not enough for everyone and unfortunately, he did not get one of those beds. Williams soon made some friends because the Antilleans people were very close to each other, this allowed them somehow to endure the precocious conditions in which they had to live.

Some of his friends chose to move away to live farther from the construction and construct their houses, to be a little more comfortable and have their privacy. 

Six months passed after his arrival on the Isthmus when he learned that the American company was deducting from his miserable salary the passage with which the American company had taken him to Isthmus. 

That salary was not enough to feed himself and it was not enough to send to his wife Lay and children Willy and Yazmila.


You will soon know the second part of this story...

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