Panama at a Glance

Report
A Look at Global
Brigades in Panamá
1
A Look at Panamá Outline
I.
Title Page
p. 1
II.
Packet Outline
p. 2
III.
Introduction
p. 3
IV.
Culture
p. 4
i.
Latino Culture
p. 4
ii.
Wounaan Culture
p. 5
iii.
Emberá Culture
p. 6
iv.
Guna Culture
p. 7
V.
VI.
VII.
History
p. 8
i.
Panamá History
p. 8-9
ii.
Darién History
p. 10
iii.
Global Brigades Panamá History
p. 11
Health
p. 12
i.
Panamá Statistics
p. 12
ii.
Panamá Healthcare System
p. 13
Conclusion
p. 14
2
Introduction
Hello future and returning Panamá brigaders,
We, the Global Brigades Panamá team, cannot express how excited
that we are to learn that you have expressed interest in learning more about
Panamá! In this packet, we describe three topics that are paramount to Global
Brigades’ operations in Panamá: the country’s rich culture, eclectic history, and
divided healthcare system. We ask that you familiarize yourself with this
information during the time before your arrival in-country. During your time in
Panamá, you will be exposed to all three of these themes in both obvious and
subtle ways. The culture, history, and healthcare system of Panamá divide the
country socially and economically. These divisions greatly impact the daily lives of
the communities with which we work. Keep in mind that there is much more
information about these topics available online at our website,
www.globalbrigades.org. Also, please feel free to contact us with any questions!
Sincerely,
Amy, Grace, and Daniel
Global Health Program Associates
Global Brigades Panamá
[email protected]
3
Latino Culture
Latinos form the largest ethnic group within Panamá;
they make up approximately 74% of the country’s 3.5
million person population.
Latinos speak primarily Spanish; approximately 10% of
the country also speaks English. Global Brigades Panamá
works with many Latino communities in East Panamá and
Darién, the province closest to Colombia.
Everyday Latino attire is easy to recognize: t-shirts,
polos, button-down shirts, jeans, and khakis. Latinos
living in East Panamá and Darién frequently work in
agriculture, cattle-farming, and the lumber industry.
Traditional Panamanian Latino cuisine includes chicken,
rice, beans, Panamanian tortillas, and local fruits.
The pictures above depict traditional Latino
architecture in East Panamá. The buildings are
constructed with cinder blocks and cement.
The most popular sports in Panamanian Latino
culture are soccer, baseball, basketball, and
boxing. The overwhelming majority of Latinos
are Roman Catholic.
The large skirt in the above picture is known as the pollera,
a traditional Latin American dress usually decorated with
flowers and animals. The pollera can take a year to make.
4
Wounaan Culture
The Wounaan population is an indigenous group with its
own language, Wounaan. However, the majority of the
Wounaan have learned Spanish as well, particularly the
younger generations that have been taught Spanish since they
were children. The Wounaan are the smallest of the tribes
with which Global Brigades Panamá works; their population in
Panamá only numbers around 7,000 people.
The Panamanian Wounaan tribe lives in the eastern half of
Panamá. The tribe shares a Comarca with the Emberá tribe
near the Darién province. The Wounaan traditionally color
themselves with an ink made from fruit called jagua. Each
pattern represents different aspects of nature. The Wounaan
The above pictures show Wounaan
community members in traditional attire.
This basket is woven from palm strands.
Wounaan artisans dye the material from its
natural white. Baskets can take months of work.
work in agriculture and make artisan crafts.
The size of this Wounaan building indicates that it would be
used as a community building, not a family’s house. Note that
the structure is built to withstand flooding.
5
Emberá Culture
The Emberá tribe is similar to the Wounaan in
appearance and architecture. The Emberá also have a
language that is only used by their tribe; however, the
majority of the tribe also speaks Spanish. The Emberá
population in Panamá numbers around 31,000 and is
located in East Panama, Darién, and the Emberá-
Many Emberá and Wounaan live in the marked Comarca,
a province that allows indigenous groups a good deal of
autonomy from the central Panamanian government.
Wounaan Comarca.
Like the Wounaan tribe, the Emberá frequently
paint designs on their skin with ink made from jagua
fruit. The jagua designs have religious significance to
the Emberá; the designs that each person has
represents different aspects of nature and are
traditionally decided by a religious leader. The
preservation and appreciation of nature is very
importance to Emberá society.
Emberá buildings, like those in Wounaan communities,
are raised off of the ground in case of floods. This
building is one family’s home. They use tree trunks as
ladders by carving footholds into a trunk. The roofs of
the building are made from palm leaves and must be
redone around every five years.
The cacique is the title of the community’s leader. The
caciques lead their communities with the consent and
input of their community members. Community land is
usually communally owned, maintained, and farmed.
The Emberá living in the Comarca enjoy a great deal of
These Emberá women are dressed in traditional attire.
independence through self-governance.
6
6
Guna Culture
The Guna tribe is mostly located in East
Panamá, Darién, and the Guna Yala comarca,
which is also known as San Blas. Living on the
Caribbean, those in Guna Yala enjoy some of
the most beautiful landscapes in Panamá.
Many Guna live in the Guna Yala Comarca, a province that
is Northeast of Panamá City along the Caribbean coast.
There are approximately 80,000 Guna living in
Panamá. Many Guna live in fishing villages, but
some Guna have also moved to Panama City.
Of the indigenous populations with which
Global Brigades works, the Guna are typically
the most reserved and shy. Like the other
indigenous populations in Panamá, the Guna
have their own language, but many speak
Spanish.
Guna houses are built along the ground, unlike Emberá
and Wounaan houses. Many are directly along the beach.
Many Guna work in agriculture, cattle-ranching, and
fishing. Also, many Guna women produce artisan crafts
that are sold in Panamá City; the Guna are famous for their
colorful molas. The women in the image on the right
represent the daily outfit for Guna women. Guna women
keep their hair cut much shorter than Emberá or Wounaan
women. Another note of interest, the Guna population has
an abnormally high prevalence of albinos; Guna albinos are
highly valued within their culture.
Traditional Guna attire for women includes strings
of beads that cover the forearms and lower legs.
7
Pre-Independence Panamá History
Panamanian history is full of interactions with a diverse group of nationalities, ethnicities, and religions. This is
mixture of cultures is evident today – the largest ethnic group today is mestizos, those descended both from
indigenous populations and European colonists. Developments in Panamá’s history has been driven by North
American, European, Asian, African, and indigenous populations.
YEAR
PRE-INDEPENDENCE PANAMÁ HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS
Ancestors of modern Panamanian indigenous tribes lived on the Panamanian isthmus for over 10,000
years before European contact. The estimated population in Panamá ranged from 200,000 to 2
million. Trading routes existed from Mexico to Peru.
1501
First European, Rodrigo de Bastidas, arrived in Panamá.
1502
Christopher Columbus established a short-lived settlement in the present-day Darién province.
1519
Panamá City is founded by Spaniard Pedro Arias de Ávila. The city served as a military supply base during
the Spanish conquest of the Incans in Peru.
1538
Spanish Empire established Panamá as a territory.
1582
Native Panamanians and the Spanish established military alliance to combat English and Dutch piracy.
1671
English privateer Henry Morgan sacked Panamá City.
1700
Spanish military ended Scotland’s attempt to establish a colony in Darién. The event is known as the
“Darién scheme” or the “Darién Disaster.”
1717
Panamá is grouped with northern South America by the Spanish in the protectorate known as New
Granada; the area included present-day Panama, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Costa Rica.
1807
Napoleon seized control of Spain. As a result, the Spanish lost control of many of its colonies.
1821
Panamá claimed full independence from Spain. Panamá joins Gran Colombia confederacy with Colombia,
Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
1830
Gran Colombia collapsed. Panamá became part of Colombia.
1846
Colombia allowed the United States to construct railway across Panamá. The laborers were primarily of
Chinese descent.
1824 Map of Gran Colombia
1854 Lithograph of Panamá Railroad
8
8
Post-Independence Panamá History
As demonstrated from the previous page, Panamá’s pre-independence history was largely a competition of
European powers that were vying for the control of Panamá’s luscious landscape and strategic placement. During
the 1900s, the United States played the biggest role in influencing Panamá’s affairs. From the time of Panamá’s
independence from Colombia in 1903 until (literally) the last day of the 20 th century, the United States has played
a major role in shaping the Panamanian government and economy.
YEAR
POST-INDEPENDENCE PANAMÁ HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS
1903
Panamá split from Colombia by means of US political, military, and financial support. The United States
assumed control of the construction of the Panamá Canal and buys the land 5 miles in either direction
from the Canal, an area known as the Canal Zone.
1914
Canal construction completed.
1939
Panamá ceases to be United States protectorate.
1968
National Guard chief Omar Torrijos overthrows democratic government and establishes a dictatorship that
lasted until his death in 1981.
1983
CIA informant and Panamanian intelligence chief Manuel Noriega becomes head of National Guard and
takes control of country. Noriega’s National Guard is rebranded as the Panamá Defense Forces.
1988
A failed coup, supported by the US, caused Noriega to declare a state of emergency.
1989
Opposition party won general presidential election, but Noriega declared the results invalid. In December,
the US invaded Panamá to depose Noriega. The US established the opposition candidate, Guillermo
Endara, as president.
1991
The Panamanian Parliament abolishes its standing army.
1992
Noriega found guilty of drug charges in US courts and is sentenced to 40 years of imprisonment.
1999
Panamá elected its first woman president, Mireya Moscoso. Panamá assumed all control of the Panamá
Canal from the US on December 31.
2006
Panamá voted to expand canal in a $5.2 billion project. US and Panamá agreed to a fair trade agreement.
US Invasion of Panamá
Modern day Panamá Canal
9
Darién History
The Darién is a Panamanian province to the east of Panamá City that borders Colombia and two
indigenous areas (comarcas) that are similar to Native American reservations in the United States. The
Darién region is entirely rural and is a primary area of Global Brigades’ focus. Due to its proximity to the
traditionally indigenous lands, many of the communities that Global Brigades visits are either Emberá or
Guna. Additionally, many descendents of African slaves live in the Darién region.
YEAR
DARIÉN HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS
1502
Christopher Columbus established a short-lived settlement in Darién.
1538
All of Panamá is claimed as a territory under the Spanish Empire.
1698
5 Scottish ships established a colony known as New Caledonia. The Scottish settlers established an
alliance with a local indigenous tribe.
1699
The Scottish-Indigenous alliance successfully repelled a Spanish attack. However, disease forced many
of the Scottish settlers to retreat to Jamaica.
1700
Despite an arrival of more Scottish settlers, the Spanish successfully forced Scotland to abandon New
Caledonia. Scotland then abandoned its colonial aspirations to avoid further confrontation with
Spain. This failure partially lead to the unification between Scotland and England in 1707.
1821
Panamá became independent from Spain and became part of Gran Colombia.
1830
Gran Colombia collapsed and Panamá became part of Colombia.
1903
Panamá became independent from Colombia.
1923
The idea of the Pan-American Highway was conceived at the 5th International Conference of American
States.
1937
13 American countries signed Convention of the Pan-American Highway.
1971
Interest began to be discussed to finish the Pan-American highway by closing the “Darién Gap,” the last
stretch of uncompleted land between Panamá and Colombia.
1974
Potential environmental damage prevented the completion of the Pan-American highway through the
Darién Gap.
10
GB Panamá History
YEAR
GLOBAL BRIGADES PANAMÁ HIGHLIGHTS
2003
First Brigade in Honduras completed by Marquette University.
2005
Global Medical Brigades founded.
2007
Global Brigades Inc. formed.
2007
Global Business Brigades and Global Water Brigades formed.
2008
Global Business Brigades moved to Panamá.
2008
Global Environmental Brigades founded in Panamá.
2008
Global Public Health Brigades founded.
2008
Global Law Brigades founded in Costa Rica. The program soon moved to Panamá.
2009
Gabriella Valencia became Executive Director of Global Brigades Panamá.
2010
Global Medical and Dental Brigades expanded to Panamá.
2012
Global Public Health Brigades is expanded to Panamá.
11
Panamá Health
The healthcare system in Panamá City is quite different from the rural areas in Panamá Este and Darién.
Below are some statistics about health in Darién and in Panamá, relative to health in the United States.
Indigenous
Populations
Darién
Panamá
United States
417,559
48,378
3,802,000
318,000,000,000
Life Expectancy
(Male)
69
73
74
76
Life Expectancy
(Female)
70
73
80
81
Most Frequent
Causes of Death
Parasitic
Infections and
NutritionRelated Illness
Heart Disease
and Cancer
Heart Disease
and Stroke
Heart Disease
and Cancer
Under 5
Mortality Rate
Unknown
4.3%
2.0%
0.8%
Maternal
Mortality Rate
Unknown
Unknown
0.092%
0.021%
Poverty*
96.7%
52.7%
32.7%
16%
Contraceptive
use
22.3%
60.3%
62.5%
78.6%
Population
*Poverty in Panamá is defined as earning less than $3.13 per day.
46% of documented diseases in Panamá are
associated with contaminated water.
GB Panamá works in conjunction
with Panamá’s Health Ministry.
12
Panamá Health
The hospital system varies greatly between Panamá City and rural Panamá, where Global Brigades
Panamá works. For instance, private hospitals in Panamá City provide first rate care to patients with medical
insurance or the resources to pay for procedures and consultations out of pocket. For populations without
those resources, the public health system is the only option.
There are two hospitals that the populations that we work
with use in emergencies: Chepo and La Palma. However, both of
these hospitals are a 2-3 hour bus ride from many of our
communities. In between the hospitals are health centers and
health posts. The health centers are essentially health clinics,
staffed by a few doctors or nurses. They have very basic
resources such as consultation rooms, dental care, a delivery
room, and a small pharmacy. Although these health centers are
much closer than the hospitals, often patients still must travel
hours to visit them. Patients often wait several more hours to see
a doctor. Sometimes no doctors are present at the clinic and
sometimes necessary medicines are not located in the health
center’s pharmacy.
Health posts are run by
single community health
workers. They generally
have first aid equipment,
basic immunizations, and
other basic care equipment.
At both health centers and
health posts, patients who
cannot afford their health
care are still provided the
care at little to no cost.
Hospital Nacional, a private
hospital in Panamá City.
The statistics below represent the general Panamanian population. The “regional average” was determined from
both North and South America.
Obesity (age 20+)
High Blood Pressure
(age 25+)
High Blood Glucose
(age 25+)
Cigarette Smoking
(age 15+)
32.1% women
23.2% women
11.2% women
4% women
19.4% men
33.1% men
10.9% men
17% men
Similar to
Regional Average
Higher than
Regional Average
Similar to
Regional Average
Below Regional
Average
13
Conclusion
This packet attempts to summarize a diverse country’s culture, history, and
healthcare system in a few pages; clearly, there is a lot more information about
Panamá that is not included in this packet. Regardless, you can see that Panamá’s
culture and history are a combination of indigenous, European, North American,
African, and Asian populations. The availability and quality of healthcare and
health education are staggeringly divided between the rural and urban areas of
the country. However daunting the task may be, Global Brigades volunteers have
been and will continue to assist the development of communities in rural
Panamá. We look forward to your arrival and cannot wait to work with you!
Stay Connected:
Main Website: www.globalbrigades.org
Volunteer Resource Site: brigaders.wikidot.com/
Blog: www.globalbrigades.org/blog
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/BrigadeVideos
Contact your Global Brigades Panamá staff
For information about Medical, Dental, and Public Health brigades in Panamá:
[email protected]
14

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