Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 07:59 GMT

Chronology for Blacks in Panama

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Blacks in Panama, 2004, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
May 1989 Guillermo Endara wins the presidential elections with the support of both the middle (white) classes as well as the lower classes, including the Black populace. The Blacks supported Endara despite the fact that Noriega's control of the government placed Blacks in Panama in a more favorable position than they experienced under Arias and the Panamanista Party.
Dec 1989 The U.S. military intervenes in Panama to oust Panamanian dictator General Manuel Antonio Noriega. Gen. Noriega eventually surrenders to U.S. forces and is taken to the U.S. on drug and racketeering charges. Guillermo Endara, the opposition candidate who presumably won the previous election, was placed in office as the President of Panama.
1990 Despite the support of the Black populace in the 1989 elections, Guillermo Endara does not have their support and has been forced to call for new elections. Endara is a member of the same party as Arnulfo Arias, the longtime president of Panama who until the time of his death in 1989 advocated deporting all Blacks and Hindus from Panama.
Jan 1991 Elections for the National Assembly are held and a conservative coalition forms the government. The government is headed by Arnulfista supporters. The Arnulfista Party of Panama garners 37% of the vote. The party is considered highly racist and in the past has called for the deportation of the Hindu and Black population of Panama.
May 1994 New National Assembly elections are held and the Arnulfista coalition is ousted by a left-leaning coalition headed by the Democratic Revolutionary Party.
Sep 1994 Continuing the anti-right trend, Ernesto Perez Balladares Gonzalez is elected president of Panama with only 33% of the vote. The election was complicated by the candidacy of third-party candidate Ruben Blades.
Jun 1999 A group of Afro-Panamanians formed the Pro-Dignity Committee to formally protest the entrance policies of clubs and discos in the cities. The clubs were legally protected under "the right of admission," but used this to prevent blacks and other ethnic groups from entering. The protests forced other establishments and individuals to look at racism in their fields. Newspapers noted that blacks did not even bother to apply for jobs on television, and that they were denied admission to the National Ballet Company and its training school. (Inter Press Service 6/24/99)
Dec 14, 1999 The United States surrendered control of the Canal Zone to Panama.

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