The History Of Spaniards Working On The Panama Canal
Thursday, June 14 2012 @ 09:58 AM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
The e-book "The Spanish participation in the Panama Canal: History past and present of Spanish emigration to the Panama Canal," details how the construction of one of the most challenging engineering projects of all time attracted thousands of foreign workers, including more than 8,000 Spaniards. Speaking to EFE, the president of Direct Foundation, Maria Angeles Sallé, explained that this book is part of the "Migraventura Project" that aims to rescue the history of Spanish emigration to America. Sallé said this project is to show the unknown and powerful ties between Spain and America, besides the economic and family ties, and to note that migration is a two way street. If during the past century millions of Spaniards emigrated to the Americas, today a flood of Spaniards are coming to the Americas, while recently thousands of Latin Americans have settled in Spain.
This book aims to pay tribute to the Spanish emigrants "who one day were given the task of opening with their own hands a vital path of water in a distant and inhospitable land from where many would not return." The Panama Canal, built by the United States between 1904 and 1914, has marked the history of Panama since its birth as a Republic in 1903, and for the rest of the twentieth century until 1999, when control of the waterway was passed to Panama.
Although the United States realized their dream of uniting the Pacific and Atlantic, who first to envision the idea of building a canal through the Isthmus of Panama was King Charles I of Spain, who also held the title of Emperor of Germany under the name Charles V, in 1534. (Panama America)
Editor's Comment: I just happen to be re-reading the book "The Land Divided, The World United" by Paul Rink, and in Chapter 9 on page 111 he talked about the labor force used to build the Panama Canal; "In addition to skilled American personnel, thousands upon thousands of laborers were needed. During Stevens' regime, the vanguard started rolling in. West Indians, Greeks, Frenchmen came from all over the world as the word went out that there were jobs begging in Panama. Stevens especially favored the Spaniards. These tough, hard-working men from the plains and the high mountains of Spain were people he liked and understood. He set up an office in Paris for their recruitment, and eventually over seven thousand of these industrious and frugal workers were hired and brought to the Isthmus."