Plaque commemorates Caribbean contribution to building the Panama Canal

It’s been 100 years since the Panama Canal became functional. Built over the course of 10 years, following previous failed attempts, the Panama Canal helped connect distant countries, boost trade and open up the world.

The vast majority of workers who made this project possible came from the West Indies, particularly from Barbados and Jamaica. Over 20,000 individuals travelled from Barbados to work on the canal, which is estimated to be a substantial percentage of the island’s population at that time, while Jamaican labourers had long been active in infrastructure projects on the isthmus.

To honour the contribution of the West Indian workers, Foreign Office Minister for Latin America, Hugo Swire M.P., recently presented a bronze plaque at the Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre commemorating the contribution the people of the West Indies made to its construction.

To honour the contribution of the West Indian workers, Foreign Office Minister for Latin America, Hugo Swire M.P., recently presented a bronze plaque at the Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre commemorating the contribution the people of the West Indies made to its construction.

Speaking at the unveiling last month, the Minister said he was “enormously honoured to be unveiling today a new bronze plaque here at the Miraflores Locks that will memorialise the important contribution of the people of the British West Indies in the construction of the Canal. I hope this plaque will be seen by all the visitors to the Canal for the next 100 years.”

With the agreement of the Panama Canal Authority, and in consultation with the leading community groups of the West Indian people in Panama, the British Embassy in Panama paid for the production of a bronze plaque to commemorate the important contribution of the people of the British West Indies in the three phases of Canal construction in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

With the agreement of the Panama Canal Authority, and in consultation with the leading community groups of the West Indian people in Panama, the British Embassy in Panama paid for the production of a bronze plaque to commemorate the important contribution of the people of the British West Indies in the three phases of Canal construction in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Following the presentation, the Minister had the chance to meet members of the West Indian Community in Panama, in some cases direct descendants of those whose labours had build the canal one hundred years ago.

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