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Panama Fever:
Colombian Fears of Secession on San
Andrés and Providencia Islands,
1903–1913
Sharika Crawford
ABSTRACT
In this essay, I explore the impact of Panamanian secession and lost
canal rights on Colombian domestic affairs. In particular, I focus on
Bogotá officials’ efforts to assert greater control over the nation’s only
insular Caribbean territory: the archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia. These islands are located less than one hundred miles away
from the Canal Zone and their populations have a long history with
coastal Panama. Through an examination of official correspondence,
newspaper publications, travel accounts, and published memoirs; I put
forth a two-part argument. First, I contend that the loss of Panama
and rights to the canal forced central authorities in Bogotá to reengage
generally with their frontier populations—and more specifically, with
the English-speaking Afro-Caribbean populations of San Andrés and
Providencia. Second, the historically loose commercial, cultural, and
even kinship ties to mainland Colombia weakened central and local
functionaries’ claims of territorial sovereignty to these islands, which
in turn forced functionaries to compare island agitation, mobilization,
and demands for political autonomy with the earlier efforts of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Panamanians.
On August 15, 2014, Panama and the United States will commemorate the
centennial anniversary of the completion of the Panama Canal—a transisthmian route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This architectural feat
was the culmination of seven decades of geopolitical struggle and domestic
maneuvering, resulting in the separation of the Department of Panama from
Colombia in 1903, costing 5,000 lives and $350 million. The commemoration
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will also serve as a bitter reminder for Colombians, who lost Panama and control of the canal in the last century. Despite this momentous milestone in
Colombian history, the subject has failed to capture significant attention from
either Colombian academics or foreign scholars, some of whom have argued
that Panamanian secession remains a symbol of Colombia’s fragmented nationality.1 One Colombian historian described Panamanian independence as a
“metaphor of a failed model of the nation” (Múnera 101). While scholars have
acknowledged the significance of Panamanian secession, few have closely examined the impact Panamanian independence had on Colombia’s domestic
political affairs, or state’s efforts to prevent future territorial losses (Bonilla 19).
A close examination of Colombian responses to Panamanian independence
reveals how territorial loss provoked national reforms and motivated political
leaders to strengthen national unity.
Scholarship on Panamanian independence and the subsequent creation of
the Panama Canal is extensive and largely divided into two arenas. The first focuses on the creation of an interoceanic communication waterway and its impact
on society from the perspectives of multiple actors, including local merchants,
foreign entrepreneurs, local administrators, diplomatic agents, and national officials from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.2 U.S. scholars have tended
to emphasize their country’s role in providing financial and military support to
Panamanian secessionists, which led to the country’s separation from Colombia
in 1903.3 These interpretations suggest U.S. interests ultimately created Panama,
which then became a quasi-colony. Much of this scholarship focuses on diplomatic disputes and resolutions between the United States, Panama, and Colombia, which Colombian officials demanded reparations for its lost canal rights.
This body of literature primarily charts and privileges the rise of an imperialist
United States and subsequent U.S. hegemony in the hemisphere. While some
authors revile the growing presence of an informal U.S. empire in the region,
others champion the United States’ technological accomplishment. Labor historians also have concentrated on canal construction, examining the roles of foreign laborers—largely British West Indians who migrated to work on the
canal—and the following social and political impact on Panamanian society.4
The second body of scholarship addresses the cultural and political tensions
between Panamanians and Bogotá authorities in the Andean highlands during
the decades preceding the separation. Most Panamanian historians stress Colombian neglect, U.S. government interest in an isthmian route, and Bogotá
officials’ inability to produce a canal, as the sources of Panamanian independence.5 Colombian historiography on Panamanian secession argues that the
separation and ultimate loss of the territory were due to either an avaricious
Panamanian merchant elite, or an impotent Colombian leadership unwilling to
jeopardize its economic position in the global market.6 Most recently, Colombian scholars have argued that Bogotá intellectual and political figures often
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viewed Panamanians as outsiders and repeatedly represented them with the
racist imagery of uncivilized blacks in the tropics. These scholars have suggested the region was racialized according to climate, culture, and population
(Bonilla 11–13).
Building on this extensive literature, I seek to contribute to Panamanian
scholarship through a different lens. My research focuses on the consequences
of Panama’s separation and lost canal rights on Colombia’s imaginings and
articulations as a nation? I am building off the work of Heraclio Bonilla and
Gustavo Montañez of the edited volume titled Colombia y Panama: La metamorphosis de la nación en el siglo XX, which offers an expansive examination into
the ways separation affected the national aspirations of Colombia and Panama. Following the incipient work of these authors, I argue that the loss of
Panama and rights to the canal had a profound impact on Colombian domestic politics—specifically efforts to preserve the territorial integrity of the nation and strengthen a sense of national belonging. The effect of Panamanian
secession on these reforms is best revealed through an examination of the
state’s intervention into the local affairs of its most isolated territory, the islands of San Andrés and Providencia, located in the western Caribbean some
four hundred miles from mainland Colombia, and less than one hundred
miles from Panama.
Initially, English Puritans colonized the islands in the seventeenth century. Thereafter, San Andrés and Providencia joined the Spanish empire—and
ultimately Gran Colombia. While most Colombians portrayed San Andrés
and Providencia islanders as outsiders due to their inability to speak Spanish,
their non-adherence to Roman Catholicism, and their Afro-Anglo origins,
the islands were strategically located, and thought to benefit financially from
commercial traffic moving to and from the Panama Canal.
Beginning in 1903, and with rapid intensification around 1910, state actors took an interventionist approach to the political and economic affairs of
San Andrés and Providencia, which culminated in the removal of the islands’
administration from the Department of Bolívar to the Ministry of Government. In 1913, the islands became the National Intendancy of San Andrés and
Providencia. I argue that this impulse toward greater administrative control
over the islands only crystallized as a state project in the years after Panamanian independence, in spite of earlier attempts to reform the governance of
Colombian frontiers (Rausch 15–20). Thus, state action toward the islands
was both reactionary and preemptive; interventions into the political affairs of
San Andrés and Providencia constituted examples of a proactive state. Moreover, this essay reveals how the separation of Panama from Columbia, and
settlement negotiations over the canal, figured prominently in the ways subsequent Colombian leaders attempted to strengthen the physical boundaries of
what was left of their nation. Leaders’ anxieties over further territorial loss,
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and sedate bitterness about Panamanian independence, provoked a fierce defense of the Caribbean islands of San Andrés and Providencia.
This essay is divided into four interrelated parts. First, I focus on nineteenth-century Colombian state actors’ inability to effectively govern Panama,
which led to popular independence and separatist movements. Then, I show
how Colombian officials also had difficulty governing the islands of San Andrés and Providencia, which produced episodic expressions of antigovernment
islander sentiments. These episodes ultimately led to a failed attempt to join
Panama in its 1903 secession, forever linking the islands to Panama in the official Colombian imagination. Next, I examine the motivations leading Bogotá authorities in 1910 to take an interest in San Andrés and Providencia.
This interest resulted in the transfer of the islands from the Department of
Bolívar to the Ministry of Government in Bogotá. Finally, I analyze local and
national debates surrounding plans to transform the islands into a national
intendancy under the auspices of the Ministry of Government in Bogotá.
Much of the public discourse compared islander agitation for political reform
to earlier secessionist aspirations in Panama.
COLOMBIA, PANAMA, AND SECESSION
At the turn of the twentieth century, Colombians endured a loss that threatened the integrity of the nation. On November 3, 1903, Panamanian secessionists led an independence movement with military and financial support
from the United States. Despite efforts by the Colombian diplomatic corps
and military, to the chagrin and disgust of many Colombians, other Latin
American nations and the United States immediately recognized Panama’s
newfound sovereignty. Panamanian independence signaled not just a territorial, but also a financial loss for Colombia, as diplomats and congressional
representatives scrambled to devise a suitable settlement for the country’s former rights to the interoceanic canal. Independence also reflected decades of
struggle by Panamanian merchants and provincial politicians to disentangle
the territory from Colombia and move forward in strengthening Panama’s
more cosmopolitan maritime economic interests.
Since the colonial era, Panama has served as a nexus for transporting people and goods between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Spanish conquistadores Francisco Pizarro and Vasco Nuñéz de Balboa first crossed the isthmus in
1513. Within five years, Spanish colonization had begun. While the territory
failed to hold immense deposits of gold or silver, it proved to facilitate an elaborate transit and economic system. Known as the camino de cruces, the transisthmian route across Panama linked Panama City on the Atlantic side to Nombre
de Dios on the Pacific side. Through this path the Spanish fleet of cargo ships
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transported as much as sixty percent of all the gold discovered in the Americas
to Spain. Thus, the path became an integral tarriance in subsequent conquests
in South America (McGuinness 17–18).
The strategic and economic importance of the Panamanian route continued into the nineteenth century. After declaring independence from Spain in
1821, Panama joined the short-lived republic of Gran Colombia, which, until
1831, encompassed present-day Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and northern
Peru. Throughout the turbulent decade, Panamanian commercial and political
elites struggled to recapture control of the region’s wealth and status as a transit
route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. With the region’s deteriorated
infrastructure, Panamanian merchants realized they lacked the technology and
financial resources to improve the transit route. They soon sought foreign investors, which brought the merchants into greater conflict with Bogotá authorities,
who were concerned about challenges to their own authority. By the middle of
the nineteenth century, elite Panamanian political figures increasingly demanded greater autonomy for Panama (McGuinness 18).
News of the Gold Rush in California revived Panama’s role as a principal
transisthmian route. In the late 1840s, thousands of men and women from the
Americas and beyond scrambled to take part in California’s “gold fever.”
American passengers departed on ocean liners from New York and Boston,
arriving on the Atlantic littoral of Panama. They then crossed Panama by way
of the Chagres River and, upon reaching the Pacific, took another ship to
California. Soon thereafter, the country erupted with a multitude of businesses—such as hotels, restaurants, and muleteers—servicing passengers who
crossed the isthmus. By 1850, the New York City–based Panama Railroad
Company had begun to build a transisthmian railroad between Colón (formerly known as Aspinwall) on the Atlantic side, and Panama City on the
Pacific littoral. The presence of North American businessmen in Panama
brought more U.S. oversight and intervention. Due to the Mallarino–Bidlack
Treaty of 1846, Nueva Granada gave the United States full access to the transit route, as well as an allowance to intervene in order to protect U.S. citizens’
property and the route. Historian Aims McGuinness has shown how a growing U.S. involvement in Panama’s transit route increasingly turned Panama
into a transnational place rather than a Colombian province, which provoked
merchants and local officials to debate on how to best govern such a place.
Indeed, an upsurge in demands for Panamanian independence from the republic of Nueva Granada must be understood within the context of growing
U.S. interest in the region.
With new acquisitions in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia after the Spanish–Cuban–American War of 1898, the U.S. government returned its attention
to securing a safe and effective interoceanic canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. After strongly considering Mexico and Nicaragua, in 1902, U.S.
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investors turned to Panama (Pizzurno 331). Ultimately, Washington politicians
and businessmen favored Panama because the French had begun develop an
infrastructure in the country before abandoning the canal project. The Panamanian commercial elite also heavily lobbied for U.S. financial and political support of the canal in Washington. But U.S. political leaders thought they could
quickly sign a treaty with Colombia (the former republic of Nueva Granada)
over the construction of an interoceanic canal. They proved to be wrong.
Negotiations over the Panama Canal between the United States and Colombia proved difficult. Bogotá officials delayed in responding to the terms,
and in August of 1903, the Colombian Congress unanimously rejected them.
Congressional representatives argued that the treaty violated their sovereignty
over Panama, as the U.S. desired perpetual ownership of the canal, the ability
to create separate legal systems, and its own police force in exchange for $10
million (Lael 6–7). Overwhelmingly Colombian political leadership thought
the canal terms too favorable to the United States. “The government would be
exposed to the charge afterwards that it did not defend its sovereignty and that
it did not defend the interests of the nation,” explained President José Manuel
Marroquín (Lael 7). In spite of these setbacks, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt refused to give up the canal, and soon conspired with Panamanian merchants and those connected to the canal project to separate Panama from
Colombia. Three months later, Panamanians seceded from Colombia with the
support of the United States.
COLOMBIA’S OTHER CARIBBEAN FRONTIER
Much has been written about Colombia’s failed to take military and diplomatic actions against Panamanian secessionists. Less is known of Colombian
troops’ successful prevention of the secession of San Andrés and Providencia
in the immediate aftermath of Panamanian independence. Located one hundred miles off the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, San Andrés and Providencia
form an archipelago under the political jurisdiction of the Republic of Colombia. Months after Panamanians seceded from Colombia, a group of islanders
petitioned the Panamanian provisional government, alerting it of their desire
to join the independent nation. The secessionist plans became known to mainland authorities, who quickly sent a battalion of five hundred soldiers to the
islands to quell separationist inclinations. Despite inquiries by the U.S. government into the territorial status of San Andrés and Providencia, the United
States never intervened, and the islands ultimately remained with Colombia.
Why did a group of islanders attempt to secede from Colombia, and what were
the short- and long-term state responses to the failed separationist plot?
Colombian authorities in Bogotá knew they held a tenuous link to the Caribbean islands of San Andrés and Providencia, which were first settled by
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English Puritans in the seventeenth century (Ordahl Kupperman 25). Not long
after driving the English out, Spanish imperial officials abandoned attempts to
colonize the islands, eventually allowing itinerant settlers from the British and
Dutch Caribbean, along with their enslaved Africans, to reside on the archipelago as loyal Spanish subjects. The islands became a node in the frontiers of
the Greater Caribbean. After the Spanish–American wars of independence, the
island populations joined the Republic of New Granada (today Colombia). Despite their Colombian nationality, the inhabitants of these islands most frequently had contact with nearby English-speaking locales such as Jamaica, and
Grand Cayman, as well as the Atlantic coastal communities in Nicaragua, Costa
Rica, and Panama, where they engaged in turtle fishing and trade. Evidence
exists indicating marriages took place between islanders and Anglophone West
Indians (Crawford 38–41). Islanders also relied heavily on an export trade in
coconuts with the United States for income. Figure 1 shows an 1877 sketch of
islanders cutting and hauling coconuts on San Andrés Island. These commercial
and kinship linkages fostered a transnational sensibility on the islands that did
little to strengthen a sense of Colombian national belonging. Language barriers
and the physical distance between the archipelago and mainland further alienated the islanders, who were often neglected by central authorities in Bogotá.
Like their counterparts in Panama, Colombian authorities repeatedly encountered a strong resistance to their authority on the part of the islanders.
From the 1870s to the early 1900s, islanders occasionally challenged state authority and ruminated over plans to join another country, the United States. In
1870, unidentified islander assailants reportedly tried to assassinate prefect
Polídoro Martínez, who narrowly escaped to inform the secretary of the Interior and Foreign Relations. The prefect insisted this was an example of islanders’ refusal to submit to a mainland authority (Mamby 493). While Martínez
survived the assault, in 1883, The New York Times reported that an unidentified
person shot and murdered prefect Leonidas Toledo. Beyond these violent confrontations between officials and islanders, the inhabitants of San Andrés and
Providencia rebuffed Colombia through their attachment to the United States.
In the wake of a devastating hurricane, prefect Richard J. Newball petitioned
the United States to provide financial assistance (6). This angered and embarrassed the newly arrived prefect Manuel de la Torre, who lambasted islanders
for their disloyalty (7). For many late nineteenth-century Colombian visitors,
the islanders seemed like outsiders, as many were much happier “to call themselves British subjects or American citizens” (Vergara 27). While it is difficult
to confirm the accuracy of this portrayal of islanders, it is certainly true that
some islanders contested their national affiliation to Colombia, as evidenced
by their unsuccessful attempt to secede.
News of the San Andrés and Providencia movement to join the newly
independent Panama emerged within months of the latter’s secession. Various
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Vol. 6:2 21
Figure 1. Alfred Tremble, “Among the Cocoanuts: A Jaunt on the Island of St. Andrews.” Leslie’s
Popular Monthly (1877): 696.
newspapers in the United States, from Kentucky to Missouri, reported that
isthmian newspapers were pressuring Panamanian provisional authorities to
annex the islands, arguing that the country’s new government could negotiate
the transfer of the islands to the United States as a coaling station. Recognizing the strategic importance of the archipelago’s location, which was around
one hundred miles from the Caribbean port of Aspinwall (e.g., Colón), Americans and Panamanians considered the merits of annexing the islands. However, the inclusion of the islands also meant a entering into more direct conflict
with Colombia, as the New-York Tribune reported that a Colombian battalion
of 300–500 soldiers had arrived in December of 1903 to protect the inhabitants of the islands. The battalion’s presence aggrieved the islanders, and reports quickly surfaced of soldiers abusing the archipelago’s inhabitants,
demands to pay exorbitant property taxes, and prohibition of trade with U.S.
ships. In response, as the La Estrella de Panamá reported, some islanders fled
to Bocas del Toro, a Panamanian archipelago, with a petition asking Panamanian authorities to annex San Andrés and Providencia. Bocas del Toro was an
obvious destination for the secessionists; it had a significant English-speaking
population with origins on San Andrés (Parsons 116; Reid 52).
Although islander accusations of Colombian maltreatment may have fueled
interest in joining Panama, it appears as though only a small segment of the
archipelago’s population was invested in challenging Colombian authority or
fully separating from Colombia. In fact, years later, Rodrigo Sánchez identified the Bent brothers as “the first to sign [the petition] for annexation of the
islands to Panama” (361). This is the only reference specifying any names on
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the Panama petition. Although the brothers’ first names were not mentioned,
other evidence exists that might reveal their identities. According to local historian Walwin Petersen, Mark and Francis Bent shot and killed prefect Leonidas Toledo, who administered the islands between 1882 and 1883 (102).7
Panamanian authorities responded to the solicitation for annexation by
sending a commission on board the U.S. gunboat Nashville to meet with island
leaders. At the meeting between a group of prominent islanders and local officials and the Panamanian representatives, it was determined the islands would
remain with Colombia. Though not enough exists to give a clear picture of what
occurred during that encounter, most Colombian historians have tended to emphasize islanders’ rejection of an annexation offer (Galindo 66–67). Contemporaries like Eugenio Garnica, a former prefect of San Andrés and Providencia,
explained that fears over American maltreatment of people of color quelled islander support for Panamanian annexation. Yet, historians have also overlooked
evidence suggesting Panamanian authorities refused to annex San Andrés and
Providencia in order as not to risk their new nation’s fragile sovereignty over a
pair of islands whose waters may have been too shallow for a US coaling station
(Shaw 143). Reliant on the U.S. Navy for maritime defense and focused on
uniting disparate or resistant provinces in the country, Panamanian authorities
most likely decided not to pursue annexation of San Andrés and Providencia.
Although the islands were not incorporated into an independent Panama,
San Andrés and Providencia remained part of subsequent settlement negotiations between the United States, Colombia, and Panama. In 1905, President
Rafael Reyes sent instructions to his U.S. Minister, Diego Mendoza Pérez, to
offer the islands as coaling stations for the U.S. naval fleet. Thus, San Andrés
and Providencia became indelibly linked to the Panama Canal. A 1905 political cartoon published in The Cleveland Leader reflects the role of the islands
within US–Colombian settlement discussions, and confirms the existence of
islanders’ growing fears of U.S. anti-black racism. Figure 2 uses racist imagery
to depict San Andrés and Providencia islanders as insouciant, money-grubby
“darkies” seeking to join in on the $10 million deal between the United States
and Panama.
During the eighteen years leading up to the ratification of the Thomson–
Urrutia Treaty, whereby the United States gave Colombia $25 million dollars
in recognition of Panama’s independence, Colombian national politics had
grown more responsive toward strengthening national boundaries and asserting greater control over the country’s marginal populations. Both local officials
in San Andrés as well as national authorities in Bogotá had grown increasingly
concerned about the potential loss of another territory, discussions about selling the islands became polemical, often comparing San Andrés and Providencia to Panama.
Panama Fever / Sharika Crawford
Vol. 6:2 23
Figure 2. W.L. Evans, Cleveland Leader, ca. 1904.
STATE INTERVENTION IN SAN ANDRÉS AND PROVIDENCIA ISLANDS
In the years after Panama declared independence, Colombian authorities in Bogotá devoted more attention to strengthening their authority and strictly defining territorial boundaries along the national frontiers of the Llanos, Amazons,
the Chocó, and San Andrés and Providencia. By 1910, the latter Caribbean islands captured the attention of central authorities eager to defend their offshore
territory and benefit from its proximity to the Panama Canal. Although the U.S.
government had lost interest in acquiring San Andrés and Providencia for use as
coaling stations, several political figures in Bogotá remained hopeful of the islands’ geostrategic potential. Moreover, there was a sense of urgency to
strengthen the nation, which was fragmented by regional, cultural, and political
differences. Leading the country in this effort was President Carlos E. Restrepo,
a conservative elected by the Colombian Congress in 1910. His agenda was
simple; he focused on rebuilding the economy, reaffirming Colombian nationalism, securing national borders, and incorporating frontier populations, including the islanders of San Andrés and Providencia. Having attempted to secede
once, Colombian officials feared losing the islands again.
Colombians were increasingly alarmed by the United States presence in the
circum-Caribbean and Colombia. In the aftermath of Panamanian secession,
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the U .S. government began constructing the interoceanic canal, which was seen
as a testament to the spiritual and financial strength of the industrial United
States. President Theodore Roosevelt insisted engineers “make the dirt fly.” U.S.
companies and individuals were also investing heavily in Colombia, a fact that
had not gone unnoticed by embittered Colombians. Surprisingly, in spite of difficult negotiations over the Panama settlement, trade between the United States
and Colombia expanded substantially. By 1905, the United States surpassed
Great Britain and Germany as Colombia’s leading economic partner (Randall
92). A growing number of Colombians, still resentful of U.S. political and economic power, especially during negotiations over reparations for the loss of Panama and the canal, lashed out and occasionally attacked political and religious
figures who appeared to support the U.S. government (Vega 18–19).
American diplomats sent reports back to Washington describing rampant
anti-Americanism among the Colombian public. “It must be remembered that
the very foundation of the Colombian character is hatred for the United
States,” explained U.S. Minister Elliot Northcott (Randall 93). Unable to forget the United States’ role in Panama’s independence and the construction of
an isthmian canal, Colombian political figures refocused their attention on
shoring up the country’s economic and geopolitical interests in the Caribbean.
Seeking to preserve and extend their influence in the region, Bogotá political
leadership turned to San Andrés, which, with its proximity to Panama and the
Greater Caribbean, made it an attractive target for such pursuits.
Responding to concerns over the weak presence of the Colombian state in
the country’s peripheral territories, President Restrepo sent his nephew, Pedro
Pablo Restrepo, and a fiscal administrator to San Andrés and Providencia in
1910 to gather information about the social and political situation on the islands. Over the decades, Bogotá officials had received very little information
regarding the islands and their populations; indeed, it had been nearly thirty
years since cartographer Francisco Javier Vergara published his findings on the
archipelago. Since 1886, the year the Department of Bolívar took over the responsibility of governing the islands from the national government, all relevant
information had been directed to departmental, rather than national, authorities. Thus, the 1910 Restrepo study was an essential fact-finding mission.
After five months of investigation, Pedro Restrepo presented a disturbing
report, describing the political situation as dangerous. This was partly due to
the presence of corrupt departmental authorities, more interested in filling
their own pockets than public administration. Restrepo informed the president, that “San Andrés has been exploited in a cruel and barbaric manner for
some time by authorities” (Restrepo 238). For decades, Bolívar departmental
officials Maximiliano E. Vélez, Juan Arias, and Héctor Brid, acting as “caciques,” or local chieftains, had filled the positions of prefect, secretary, and
fiscal administrator. These men, originally from Cartagena, came to serve as
Panama Fever / Sharika Crawford
Vol. 6:2 25
public administrators on behalf of the department of Bolívar. They retained
government power by alternating between these three positions. Restrepo explained that this arrangement was left undisturbed by new arrival Eugenio
Garnica—and later Rafael de H. Morales—who came to replace Vélez, Arias,
and Brid as prefect. These newly appointed officials joined Vélez, Brid, and
Arias in their corrupt activities (Restrepo 239). Restrepo suggested to his
uncle, the president that the consolidation of state power in the hands of a few
officials allowed them to hire and to fire employees at will.
Possible alliances between departmental authorities and U.S. residents on
San Andrés also alarmed the president’s nephew. Although U.S. residents represented a small group, less than twenty were engaged in the coconut trade.
Restrepo suggested departmental officials received bribes from U.S. merchants, including Henry and Ambrose Bradley, William and John Matheson,
and Isidore E. Rubenstein and his son. Restrepo also informed the president
of leases permitting North American residents to rent nearby cays for twentyyear periods at a rate of eight pesos annually (Restrepo 240). This undoubtedly
brought up old scars related to the U.S. government and its shrewd negotiations over a settlement over reparations for Panama. When confronted with
these allegations, Governor de la Vega in Cartagena denied having known of
the leases with US residents, saying that he found them outrageous and calling
for their immediate nullification (Restrepo 240).
Pedro Restrepo noted frustration on the part of islanders, too. Disgusted
by departmental authorities, the municipal council of Providencia abstained
from participating in the election of a deputy to represent the island at the
departmental assembly in Cartagena. The councilmen explained that the Colombian government appointed officials who sought to deplete the island’s
scarce riches and demanded islanders’ votes upon taking office (Restrepo 239).
Additionally, Restrepo learned that the San Andrés municipal council members only participated in the election because mainland public employees held
four of the five council seats and thus, were unwilling to refuse to vote for a
representative. The islanders whom Restrepo reportedly met and spoke to during his 1910 visit to San Andrés and Providencia revealed an ambivalent and
distrustful sentiment toward public officials from mainland Colombia.
Based on his findings, Restrepo confided to the president that Colombia
might lose the islands to another country. “Today one speaks with uncertainty
in Colón, Panama, of these islands becoming a part of what the Americans
and Nicaraguans call the ‘New Nicaragua’ or to say, the entire Atlantic littoral
of those Republics and their neighboring islands,” he reported (Restrepo 239).
These rumors reflected Nicaraguan officials’ insistence that the islands historically belonged to them, as they formed a part of the Mosquitia, the Atlantic
littoral of Nicaragua long with the Corn Islands in the Caribbean. Since 1890,
Managua officials in Nicaragua had disputed Colombian claims to San
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Andrés and Providencia, insisting that the islands formed a part of Mosquitia.
Restrepo’s fears were also substantiated by rumors of foreign interest in the
archipelago. Several nations had expressed a desire to have a refueling station
for shipping vessels traveling toward East Asia and the Pacific Rim, which
made the idea of acquiring the archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia
appealing (Restrepo 239). In 1911, Rafael Morales, a former departmental
employee and Providencia resident, reported that a Jamaican newspaper
claimed the U.S. government was interested in securing the archipelago as a
coaling station (Morales 2); Japanese and Russian governments held similar
interests in these islands, too.
Fearing the possible loss of the islands, President Restrepo decided to remove the territory from the jurisdiction of the Department of Bolívar. In its
September 30, 1911 issue, the Cartagena newspaper El Porvenir reported that
the Minister of Government, Pedro María Carreño, introduced a bill that
would give a new administrative status to the Colombia’s Caribbean islands.
The bill would transform the archipelago into an intendancy governed directly
by federal authorities (Porras 2). With the spectre of Panamanian secession
looming large, “These islands are a problem and should be resolved wisely,
because if we [Colombians] proceed in this way, we will lose them [San Andrés and Providencia] forever and perhaps painfully” (Porras 2). After representatives from the Department of Bolívar vigorously attacked the project,
discussion of the bill was postponed to the following year.
Meanwhile, the Restrepo administration prepared to send another commission to collect a more detailed report on San Andrés and Providencia. This
new report would assist Colombia in governing the island territories. On November 27, 1911, President Restrepo appointed Santiago Guerrero to conduct
a census on San Andrés and Providencia (Guerrero 450). Guerrero was likely
chosen for this position because he had served as a port inspector at San Andrés in 1909, and because very few officials in Bogotá had ever traveled to the
faraway islands. Since Pedro Restrepo’s 1910 report provided little information on the island populations, focusing instead on its acute administrative
problems, Guerrero was also instructed to describe the economy, history, and
society of San Andrés and Providencia. By educating central authorities on the
island populations they intended to govern, Guerrero’s report to the Ministry
of Government served to remind Bogotá officials of the cultural, linguistic,
racial, and religious differences between islanders and mainland Colombians.
Like Pedro Restrepo, Guerrero found islanders were angry with departmental authorities. Several prominent islanders complained of the increased
tax on coconuts and their general unhappiness with the Department of Bolívar.
They insisted departmental authorities oppressed them daily with new taxes,
from which the islanders received no benefits (Guerrero 457). Guerrero concluded their anger was justified. His report also confirmed Restrepo’s earlier
Panama Fever / Sharika Crawford
Vol. 6:2 27
findings; poor infrastructure with few roads, wells, and wharves to serve islanders, and there was no cemetery in which to bury the dead. Postal service
was infrequent, and even official correspondence from Cartagena was regularly lost. The archipelago’s public schools were in poor condition; each island
had only two, and these were staffed by Jamaicans who spoke no Spanish and
knew nothing of the history of Colombia (Guerrero 455, 468).
Guerrero also called attention to the U.S. residents living on the islands,
whom he perceived as an “imminent threat” (475). North American residents
were increasingly acquiring property on the islands, he reported, drawing the
U.S. government directly into Colombian affairs. Like other Colombians in
the 1910s, Guerrero viewed the United States as an imperialist threat to the
sovereignty of his country. The census taker insisted Colombia could lose the
islands, “and not by the will of the islanders . . . but because of the insatiable
greed of the Yankees.” According to Guerrero, they were “always ready to take
advantage of the islands, and for some time have been looking for the right
moment to do so” (475). Echoing the concerns of Pedro Restrepo, Guerrero’s
report tried to provoke authorities in Bogotá to act before they lost another
territory.
After listening to their complaints, Guerrero informed the islanders of the
government’s intentions to create a new territorial administration for San Andrés and Providencia, governed directly by federal authorities in Bogotá. The
proposed legislation would reduce taxes, improve public works, create more
schools, provide scholarships, and build a stronger Catholic Mission. Islanders
were unaware of the state’s intentions, a fact Guerrero attributed to departmental authorities’ efforts to hide awareness of the interest in removing the
islands from their jurisdiction (458). While he cautioned the islanders that the
bill had not yet been approved, Guerrero also pointed out that the government
had already created new territorial units and administrations for other frontiers like Putumayo and Caquetá. Hearing this revelation prompted a group of
elites, including the newspaper editor of the islands’ only publication and Baptist ministers on San Andrés and Providencia, to draft petitions in support of
federal authorities’ efforts to remove the islands from the Department of
Bolívar (459). The Restrepo administration had offered the islands the means
to transform their relationship with the Colombian state.
ANOTHER PANAMA AND ISLANDER AGITATION
In the 1910s, Colombian officials and political elites increasingly framed San
Andrés and Providencia islanders’ demands for greater political autonomy
within the context of Panamanian secession. Indeed, many authorities saw
similarities between Panama and the islands. Like Panama, the archipelago’s
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commerce was tied more closely to the United States than to Colombia. Due
to their economic relationship with the United States and geographic isolation
from central authorities in Bogotá, San Andrés and Providencia, like Panama,
became more cosmopolitan and outward looking, maintaining cultural and
kinship connections to the Greater Caribbean and beyond. These differences
led to frequent calls for greater political autonomy, or separation, from Colombia. As islanders entered into the archipelago’s political affairs, mainland authorities interpreted their efforts as agitation akin to the Panamanian
secessionist movement. Officials remembered that a group of islanders had
attempted to join Panama in 1903 and feared losing the archipelago as they
had Panama.
In 1912, a frustrated Francis A. Newball created the archipelago’s first
newspaper, The Searchlight, in order to open a public forum to discuss the future of the islands. Publishing articles, editorials, and letters to the editor in
English and Spanish, he invited all residents, including departmental authorities, to contribute. Newball boldly outlined the newspaper’s mission in its inaugural issue: “In establishing this Journal, our principal aim is to seek for the
betterment of this archipelago, our native land. We shall attack all official acts
which may be executed in detriment of the constitutional and legal rights of
the islanders, whether said acts be of a national, departmental, or local character” (‘Purpose of the Paper’ 1).
In this same issue, Newball censured the governance of the Department
of Bolívar and called for the creation of a National Intendancy, a territorial
unit governed under the auspices of the Ministry of Government in Bogotá.
“Our people have been deprived, from time to time,” he bemoaned, “of various
rights and privileges of the Republic, by the arbitrary rulers of the Department
of Bolívar, of which we are an integral part” (“Purpose of the Paper”1). Newball repeated grievances against departmental authorities presented in the two
petitions, and gave assurance that every islander held such opinions: “These
unjust measures have brought a general discontent, and we can say, without
fear of incurring error, that every islander favors the movement made by the
National Government to segregate these islands from the Department of
Bolívar, with the object of converting them into a National Intendancy” (“Purpose of the Paper” 1).
Through The Searchlight, Newball promoted and documented island mobilization against the Department of Bolívar. Referencing the upcoming municipal council elections in his February 1, 1912, issue, Newball advised
islanders “to give their votes only to prominent natives,” (“Election” 3) italicizing the words “prominent natives” to stress support of islander candidates. A
significant number of departmental authorities had sat on previous councils,
especially on San Andrés. However, these men failed to deliver. In taking back
the municipal councils, islanders sought to wield more influence over public
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Vol. 6:2 29
administration. The newly elected councilmen directed funds to public works
and primary schools. More importantly, the council elected a deputy to represent the islands at the departmental assembly sessions in Cartagena.
The political influence of Newball’s rhetoric appeared extensive. Upon
taking office, the councils refused to elect a deputy to participate in the departmental assembly. Since Newball had been elected the previous year—and
the archipelago had yet to see results—many island notables refused to accept
departmental governance. “We have resolved not to put in our appearance,
thus proceeding in accordance with the desire of the majority of the people
(“Election in Providence” 2). In his March 1, 1912, issue, Newball predicted
that the absence of an island deputy at the assembly session would not prevent
departmental authorities in Cartagena from enacting policies on their own
behalf, directing the community’s attention to these measures. “If such a plan
is adopted,” Newball wrote, “we take the liberty of warning our country folks,
regarding their mode of procedure, as in our opinion—that would only be an
invitation similar to the one the spider made to the fly” (“Departmental Assembly” 1). Moreover, in March and June of 1912, the councilmen drafted
more petitions to the president supporting the proposal to remove the islands
from the Department of Bolívar and turn them into a national intendancy
directed by the Ministry of Government.
Islanders’ actions did not go unnoticed. Several Cartagena newspapers
ran articles challenging their complaints and the idea of a national intendancy.
A public debate ensued, focused largely on issues of political autonomy and the
loss of financial resources—in particular, the allocation of bureaucratic posts
and public money. In an effort to impede the intendancy project, officials and
concerned residents in Cartagena framed the debate as a crisis and as another
Panamanian secession. Several editorials were published suggesting a few disgruntled island notables were rousing trouble for departmental officials and
blaming the latter for the islands’ depressed economic condition. These proBolívar advocates repeatedly evoked images of Panama by painting islanders’
dissent as reminiscent of the traitorous secessionists’ protests. These public debates intensified in the summer and fall of 1912 as Congress deliberated on the
project.
On January 27, 1912, Gabriel Porras Troconis, the editor of El Porvenir,
alerted Cartagena residents and higher authorities that trouble was brewing on
San Andrés. An unnamed correspondent, likely a local official, had informed
him there was a movement to transform the islands into a national intendancy
to be governed by the central government in Bogotá. Although the informant
insisted the majority of islanders were content, he noted that a few eminent
islanders desired to live under “an honest, just, and honorable government.”
Porras Troconis’ source reported that a “violent campaign” raged on the island
“against the entire coast, fomenting island hatred against the Atlantic littoral”
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(Porras 2). Porras Troconis claimed these instigators were the same individuals who had petitioned the newly formed Panamanian government to annex
the islands in 1903. Moreover, he argued, the federal government had sent
Santiago Guerrero, in the guise of a census taker, to garner support for its
project to create a national intendancy for the islands. This news had alarmed
Porras Troconis, who called on authorities in Bogotá and Cartagena to pay
attention and to take action.
Bolívar official Gabriel Bustos Villareal precipitated further anxiety with
his condemnation of island “agitators,” such as Newball, who held no “patriotic sentiment” and sought to disturb the island’s “healthy principles” and
“moral order.” In the Cartagena newspaper La Epoca, Villareal described
Newball as a man of “mediocre” skills who behaved as an “absolute lord” over
the majority of the population, which he believed was drifting dangerously
toward anarchy (Bustos 1). The final words of his editorial urged Congress not
to approve the intendancy project.
Copies of Cartagena newspapers and their public discourse on the future
of the archipelago circulated on San Andrés and Providencia, infuriating several islanders. Responding to El Porvenir’s assertions that the majority of islanders were content with the Department of Bolívar in his publication The
Searchlight, Newball cited islander petitions as evidence of widespread desire
for a new government. In the previous twenty-five years, Newball asserted, the
administration of President Restrepo was the only government that “has
turned its eyes toward these islands, which form an integral part of the national territory, and has worried about their welfare” (“La intendencia nacional” 3). Newball did not, however, address or explain earlier attempts by some
San Andrés islanders to join Panama. On the contrary, he insisted islanders
were loyal Colombian citizens.
Two months later, Newball once again took up the issue of the national
intendancy for the islands. He reminded islanders that the minister of government had already presented the bill to Congress, which would be subjected to
vote on July 20. Newball reiterated why the project should be passed. In addition to a reduction in taxes, the islanders demanded it. He then warned departmental authorities to desist from their opposition, adding with emphasis,
“that would not be, at all, a wise policy, as it would probably bring bad results”
(“National Territory” 1). Newball insinuated attempts to prevent the removal
of the islands from the Department of Bolívar could result in severe consequences. While his statement is vague, it underscores both Newball and his
supporters’ commitment to the legislation removing the archipelago from departmental authorities in Cartagena.
This editorial, with its strong language and insistence on an administrative transfer, angered the local press in Cartagena. Carlos A. Capela, editor of
El Caribe, accused Newball of fomenting public interest in a separation from
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Vol. 6:2 31
Colombia. He called on the Colombian Congress to draft a law that would
severely punish any act of treason against the country, including efforts to secede. “If that law had existed and had punished those Panamanian journalists,” Capela wrote, “when, as in San Andrés, they formulated the dilemma of
the Canal or separation, perhaps that idea would not have made headway
among a good number of Panamanians, and Panama would not display this
title of quasi-Republic” (“¿Separación?” 2). Porras Troconis of El Porvenir
agreed with Capela that “these islands are a problem that should be resolved
prudently, because if one does not proceed in that way, we will lose them forever, perhaps, in a painful way” (¿Separación?” 2).
Newball denied allegations of disloyalty. In his June 15, 1912, issue, Newball wrote, “We have never yet conceived the idea of separating ourselves from
our beloved country . . . the fact that we desire to be under the National Government is a conclusive proof that we want to continue forming a part of the
Colombian territory” (“A Misconstruction” 1). He compared the islanders’ desire to become a national intendancy with the desire of the Sabanalarga residents in the Department of Atlántico to join the Department of Bolívar.
Newball asked, “Can the sons of that city be considered antipatriotic for such
an attitude?” (“A Misconstruction” 1). He also denied rumors of an island separatist movement by insisting that some islanders had already emigrated to
nearby countries in search of better treatment (“A Misconstruction” 1). Oswald
L. Robinson, a San Andrés islander and interim editor of The Searchlight, likewise refuted reports published in the Star & Herald, a Panamanian newspaper,
that islanders were seeking annexation to the United States (“A Falsehood” 3).
During the months preceding congressional debates over the bill to create
an intendancy, officials in Cartagena scrambled to garner islander support. In
1912, the Gaceta Departamental, the official publication of departmental authorities, announced Governor Rafael D. Calvo’s intention to make an official
visit to the islands to discuss their grievances. The governor offered to provide
and improve communication between the islands and the capital, and pledged
to find Spanish-speaking, Catholic teachers to instruct the archipelago’s youth
in the nation’s language and religion. Most importantly, he swore “to foment a
love for the great Fatherland through the most appropriate means” (1026).
Moreover, Calvo appointed a new Prefect, Gabriel Jiménez, who promised to
address a host of islander concerns (“Nuevo Prefecto” 2). In response to the
governor’s reforms, Newball encouraged the archipelago’s “country folk” to stay
on the path toward a new administrative status (“Departmental Assembly” 1).
Departmental officials tried unsuccessfully to intimidate and threaten island leaders supporting the bill, including Baptist minister Thomas Livingston. On Providencia, Julius Robinson and Cleveland Hawkins were removed
from their positions as alcalde and school director, respectively, after publicly
announcing their support for Newball (Guerrero 464–65). Instead of stopping
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islanders from pushing for the intendancy, these intimidation tactics intensified desire to rid the island of departmental administrators.
Consequently, the municipal councils of San Andrés and Providencia appointed Newball to serve as their representative in the Bogotá debates (Guerrero 464). As he shared the merits of the bill with Bogota’s newspapers,
Newball’s presence was welcomed by federal authorities. Oswald Robinson,
The Searchlight’s editor, warded off attacks from Bolívar congressman Manuel
Dávila Flores, Senator Lácides Segovia, and others, who continued to argue
that the administrative transfer would be disastrous for both Colombia and
the islands (“Intendancy of the Archipelago” 1).
In addition to comparing islanders’ demands for an intendancy with Panama’s secession, Bolívar officials charged that islanders were incapable of self-governance. Capela identified a lack of competent personnel and the physical distance
between the islands and mainland Colombia as obstacles barring the success of
“administrative independence” (“Islas de San Andrés” 2). The archipelago’s prefect shared similar fears, and proposed the Department of Bolívar retain veto
power over the selection of officials sent to administer the islands (Jiménez 1).
Departmental authorities also charged that the islands barely produced enough
revenue to cover administrative costs. This accusation raises questions regarding
departmental authorities’ interest in retaining control over the islands.
Bolívar officials opposed efforts to remove the islands from their jurisdiction for two reasons. First, the islands’ value rested in their strategic location
near the Panama Canal. In August, 1912, a reporter for a Cartagena newspaper wrote of the islands’ importance to Bolívar not in terms of their ability to
produce revenue, but as an entry point to the Panama Canal, which he called
“the key to the world‘s commerce” (N.T. 1). The archipelago’s prefect agreed
with the reporter’s assessment of the islands’ importance. However, it had not
gone unnoticed that money could procured from leasing the cays to a foreign
government, and Bolívar authorities maintained hope that the archipelago
might become a coaling station (Eder 191).
Second, Bolívar officials feared that the transfer would result in a loss in
bureaucratic jobs and patronage. In opposing the bill, Senator Lácides Segovia
charged that it would give well-paid jobs to Bogotá officials at the expense of
local administrators. An example given was the appointment of postmaster
Eduardo Guzmán Espinosa, a native of Bogotá, earning a monthly salary of
150 pesos in gold. Segovia queried the reasons for selecting a cachaco to this
position. “Those nearest to the tree that bears fruit, have the ability to raise
their hands and take from the tree” (Segovia 2). Segovia’s metaphor harked
back to the Pedro Restrepo’s 1910 report, which portrayed departmental authorities as pilfering from islanders.
Senator Segovia justified his rejection of the intendancy project by claiming
that abusive Bogotá authorities would ultimately push islanders to secede from
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Vol. 6:2 33
Colombia as the Panamanians had done. “It could very well happen that the
chiefs of police will turn into dictators because they find themselves with guns
in their hands, in remote regions” (Segovia 2). Segovia reminded the Senate that
federal officials had governed the islands as a national territory in the 1870s and
1880s, and had done a much worse job than the departmental prefects. It was
during those years of federal administration, Segovia claimed, that islanders
learned to distrust mainland authorities. He argued that federal officials in Bogotá were too far away to quickly address potential problems on the islands noting the efficacy of governance is best “when the authority is closest” (Segovia 2).
Moreover, Segovia recalled how incompetent officials from Bogotá had provoked Panamanians into declaring independence in 1903 (2). Borrowing tactics
employed by Cartagena newspaper editors and departmental employees, who
frequently compared San Andrés and Providencia islanders’ support of the intendancy bill with Panamanians’ efforts to gain independence from Colombia,
Senator Segovia implored the national government to work alongside departmental administrators to improve conditions on the islands.
Congressional debates between Bolívar officials and intendancy supporters in Bogotá and on San Andrés reveal the significance of Panamanian secession to the imaginings of the fragmented Colombian nation. Although many
of the concerns regarding administrative transfer dealt with specific island
concerns, the public discourse repeatedly harkened back to reasons for the
separation of Panama. Bolívar authorities in Cartagena robustly argued that
the central government could not be trusted to effectively govern the islands,
and equated islanders’ demands for transfer to Panamanian treachery. Their
predictions were largely shaped by the difficult experience Bolívar officials had
in communicating with, and bridging the cultural gap between, mainland and
island Colombians. Authorities argued that rather than removing the islands
from the Department of Bolívar, more effort should be placed on assimilating
them into the shared Hispanic and Catholic milieu.
In the midst of vigorous congressional debates on the Intendancy legislation, Francis Newball—with a bit of luck—eventually won his battle to remove the islands from the Department of Bolívar. In an interview in the
1950s, Newball recalled that the federal government almost lost its bid for the
intendancy. During his visit to Bogotá, Newball received news from the Minister of Government that Flores and Segovia had asked José Vicente Concha,
one of the most respected conservative politicians to voice his concerns about
the Intendancy bill. As the former Minister of Foreign Relations, Concha remained embittered about the Panama affair. Fortunately for Newball and supporters of the intendancy, Concha’s mother suddenly died, and he never gave
an opposing speech on the Senate floor (Robinson “The Searchlight”). Unable
to garner sufficient support, the Department of Bolívar lost its fight against
the bill. President Restrepo authorized Law 52 of 1912, creating a National
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Intendancy for the islands of San Andrés and Providencia. Senator Lácides
Segovia bitterly concluded, “The threats of the islanders have triumphed over
justice” (“Las islas de San Andrés y Providencia” 1).
“BOTTOM UP” HISTORIES AND THE CANAL
Nearly a decade after Panama’s secession, the territory figured prominently in
domestic Colombian political affairs. With the canal set to be completed in
1914, Colombian authorities struggled to come to terms with the loss of Panama, even as they strengthened their strategic and economic position within
the Caribbean. I have illustrated how the decision to create a new territorial
unit, the National Intendancy for the Caribbean Islands of San Andrés and
Providencia, was an attempt to shore up Colombian authority over the archipelago and to prevent another territorial loss. Islanders welcomed interest in
their affairs, as they encouraging central and departmental authorities to vie for
their support. However, coastal political figures and members of the media
compared the islanders’ actions to those of traitorous Panamanians, who played
a visible role in a nationally embroiled debate about the future of the islands.
Bogotá officials’ interest in San Andrés and Providencia was limited to
their aspirant dreams of capitalizing financially on the interoceanic canal, as
well as sporadic fears that the archipelago might join another nation, such as
the United States, Nicaragua, or even Panama. Colombian efforts to maintain
a small group of islands some three hundred miles from its mainland counter
narratives depicting a state ineffective in responding to Panamanian secession
and to foreign interlopers such as the United States. Thus, this essay shows
how Panama, or rather the loss of this former Colombian territory, figured
prominently in the imaginings of Colombia’s intellectual and political figures
regarding the territorial boundaries of their country.
Notes
1. Nancy Applebaum, Muddied Waters: Race, Region, and Local History in Colombia, 1846–1948
(Durham: Duke University Press, 2003) 3; Hayley Froysland, “La regeneración de la raza,” in Eds.
Don H. Doyle and Marco Pamplona, Nationalism in the New World (Athens: University of Georgia
Press, 2003), 162; Frank Safford and Marcos Palacios, Colombia: Fragmented Land, Divided Society
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2002) ix; David Bushnell, The Making of Modern Colombia: A
Nation in spite of Itself (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993) 154.
2. Aims McGuiness, Path of Empire: Panama and the California Gold Rush (Ithaca: Cornell UP,
2007); Stephen J. Randall, Colombia and the United States: Hegemony and Interdependence (Athens: U
Georgia P, 1992); Richard Lael, Arrogant Diplomacy: U.S. Policy toward Colombia, 1903–1922
(Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1987); Ernesto Castillero Reyes, Historia de la comunicación
interoceanica y de su influencia y en el desarrollo de la etnidad panameña (Panama City: Imprenta
Nacional, 1941).
Panama Fever / Sharika Crawford
Vol. 6:2 35
3. Ovidio Díaz Espino, How Wall Street Created a Nation: J. P. Morgan, Teddy Roosevelt, and the
Panama Canal (New York: Four Walls, Eight Windows, 2001); Ernesto Castillero Pimentel, Panamá
y los Estados Unidos, 1903–1953 (Panama City: Humanidad, 1964).
4. For recent studies, see Julia Greene, The Canal Builders: Making of America’s Empire at the Panama
Canal (Penguin, 2009); Velma Newton, The Silver Men: West Indian Labor Migration to Panama,
1850–1914 (Kingston: Ian Randle, 2004). For a study of the integration of West Indian migrants into
Panama, see Michael Conniff, Black Labor on a White Canal, 1904–1981 (Pittsburgh: U Pittsburgh
P, 1985).
5. For historians of Panama, see Ricaurte Soler, Formas ideológicas de la nación panameña, 7th ed.
(Panama City: Ediciones de la Revista Tareas, 1985); Catalino Arrocha Graell, Historia de la
independencia de Panamá: sus antecedents y sus causas, 1821–1903 (Panama City: Litho-Impresora,
1973); Alfredo Figueroa Navarro, Dominio y sociedad en el Panamá colombiano, 1821–1903 (Panama
City: Impresora Panamá, 1978).
6. Eduardo Lemaitre, Panama y su separación de Colombia (Bogota: Editorial Pluma, 1980).
7. If this pair of brothers was indeed the same pair mentioned by Sánchez, they probably held a strong
repulsion for Colombian authorities.
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