Melva Lowe de Goodin responds to the article of opinion by Javier Saez-Llorens

As a human rights activist for the Afro-descendant population of Panama, I am extremely annoyed by the title and focus of the article that Dr. Xavier Sáez-Llorens wrote in the newspaper La Prensa on Sunday, March 10, 2019.

When I saw the title A Little Africa in Panama, I was attracted because I thought immigrants from the African continent were establishing their residences in Panama. With great disappointment, upon concluding the reading of the article, I saw that Dr. Sáez-Llorens was simply contributing to the negative stereotypes of Africa that crop up in our environment. In other words, I was describing the serious health deficiencies that exist in the Ngäbe Buglé comarca and associating them with the deficiencies that exist in the African continent.

The sad thing about this comparison is that it leaves in the mind of the reader that Africa, which is the name of a continent of great diversity, is synonymous with chronic diseases, mortality, and the wide range of health deficiencies that human beings face. There is no doubt that these conditions exist in the African continent, but they also exist in other parts of the world. Why use the name of the African continent as synonymous with these conditions?

The struggles for the human rights of the black in the world also include the fight against the proliferation of images and stereotyped concepts of the African continent. It is obvious that Dr. Sáez-Llorens has a negative image of the African continent, so he ends his article with the following sentence: We have a small Africa in Panama. A shame.

What will be your next statement? To blame the Afro-descendants of the situation in the region? I think it is necessary to continue raising the voices of alert to the health conditions that exist in the indigenous regions and other parts of the isthmus, but without contributing to the negative stereotypes that feed racism and negative images of the diverse African continent.

The author is president of the Society of Friends of the Afro-Antillean Museum of Panama (SAMAAP)

2 Comments

  • CHARLES L. MEYERS

    Well said. I often wondered why can’t we just get along without all the negativism. God bless.

  • Keith Darby

    First, congratulations on going online,long overdue but very well done.

    Now the article about Africa and African Descendants in Panama Those that are present in Panama today are the descendants of those that made this country such a great place to live and they should be justly proud of the fact It doesn’t alter the fact that the Africa Continent is still today a hotbed for every desease known to man and if it weren’t for a few white volunteer Doctors and Nurses would be out control and spread even more so than at present Africa has not been
    the same since the White an was forced to leave. Newsreel of the day showed Africans properly clothed and apparently well fed, not so today!

    As an immigrant to Panama myself, i feel welcome, and the fact that I am white doesn’t seem to make any difference. I am currently housebound and unable to walk unaided and need 24 hour care
    and this is provided by 3 Panamanians who look after me like a baby. My Thanks to them

    My only regret in coming to Panama is the loss of voting rights in the U,K,and not having a vote in Panama still that is a small price to pay for living in such a beautiful Country

    Keith Darby

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