Panama – The Oligarchy under Fire
In the mid-1960s, the oligarchy was still tenuously in charge of Panama’s political system. Members of the middle class, consisting largely of teachers and government workers, occasionally gained political prominence. Aspiring to upper-class stations, they failed to unite with the lower classes to displace the oligarchy. Students were the most vocal element of the middle class and the group most disposed to speak for the uneducated poor; as graduates, however, they were generally coopted by the system.
A great chasm separated the rural section from the urban population of the two major cities. Only the rural wageworkers, concentrated in the provinces of Bocas del Toro and Chiriquí, appeared to follow events in the capital and to express themselves on issues of national policy. Among the urban lower classes, antagonism between the Spanish speakers and the English- and French-speaking African American and African Caribbean people inhibited organization in pursuit of common interests. Continue reading