Re: Settlements in Curaçao and St. Thomas #sephardic


I grew up in Panama City and went to school in what was then the Canal Zone.  I had my Jewish education with these same families and was confirmed with a Lindo and a Maduro, and the president of the temple at that time was a DelValle.  There are many families with those names in Panama many of whome have 400 year old family trees!  

Panama is the only country besides Israel that has had two Jewish presidents in the twentieth century – Max Delvalle Maduro and Eric Arturo Delvalle Cohen-Henriques. Interesting families to be connected to!!

The use of US Columbia as place of birth tells me that the family and maybe the census taker were a bit confused about the details of the area.  In 1900, the area we know as the Republic of Panama and the part that was the Canal Zone were both part of the country of Columbia.  Teddy Roosevelt set in motion a series of negotiations and military activities which culminated in the creation of the independent country of Panama and the purchase of land from Panama to construct the Panama Canal.  The canal was built from 1903-1914.   From 1903 to 1979 the area known as the Panama Canal Zone was an unincorporated territory of the US until it was turned over to the Republic of Panama.  Residency in the Canal Zone was restricted to individuals and their families who were employed by the civilian government of the Canal Zone, and members of the armed forces who were stationed at any of the bases.  Anyone born there derived their citizenship from their parents, the vast majority of whom were US citizens. It was a little more complicated at certain times, but there is a clear distinction in citizenship between those born in the Zone and those born in Panama.   Someone born in Panama would not be a US citizen unless their parents (or one parent) were US citizens.  It is likely that many of the Jewish families living in Panama in the 20th century had a variety of citizenships in their family trees.  Those who were US citizens  would most likely have been naturalized in the US. 

Diane M. Jacobs
Winter Park, Florida 

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