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Fox News’ Juan Williams and Son Criticized After Homecoming Visit to Panama

By Bruno Gaston

International Editor

 
ATLANTA, July 21, 2012, 6 p.m. - Panamanian activists from the city of Colón are not thrilled with the description of their city offered by political consultant, Raphael Williams who is the son of Fox News contributor, Juan Williams.

 
Speaking to Fox and Friends anchor, Brian Kilmeade on the fourth of July, Williams talked about the poverty he witnessed during the visit with his father who recounted his parents fleeing a dictatorship decades ago when he was a child.

 
“It was amazing to me when we went to a church where he was baptized and they had their gold cross stolen…you know the kind of desperateness of these people...and then we went to his [Juan] apartment and I saw five people cramped up into these tiny three room apartments with cockroaches on the floor and bars on the windows,” Raphael said.

 
“He [Juan] always worked with this kind of energy that I had never understood because he had always provided me such a life of comfort, but it wasn’t until I went back to Colón that I realized that Wow!...no wonder he worked so hard.”

 
Boston-based activist, Yvette Modestin is from Colón and says the whole story is not being told.

 
“To talk about Colón, to be real and not make any mistakes, you need to live here or be a frequent visitor.  We are more than barred windows and cockroaches,” she said.

 
“A person who left as a child and never looked back cannot see the Colón through eyes of truth. Colón’s rise and many may say its demise has many layers but you will need a historical context that includes colonialism, denial of the government, and the end of a segregated era.

 
Texas-based political activist, Egberto Willies also blasted the two on his blog after hearing the comments.

 
“Juan can be excused for not knowing Panamá’s history given that he was two young when he left to understand the politics of the country,” he said.

 
“What is sad is his son’s reaction to the apartment in Colón. The reality is that Colón as a city has deteriorated since the time we all left (I left in 1979) given that the Panamanian Plutocracy has refused to invest in either the infrastructure or people in that area in any substantial manner.”

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Colón is Panama’s second largest city and remains the center of the country’s black population with a long history of migration from Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Martinique  during the nineteenth century to build the Panama Canal.

 
Residents of Colón often grapple with the city’s mixed image as a place battling violent crime and poverty while it is hailed by many visitors for its beaches and rich culture.

 
Photographer, Mauro Martinez is based in Colón and says there are plenty of travelers who enjoy their visit there.

 
“People come from all over to swim in these relaxing waters,” he said. “We have a long history of slave resistance in our Afro-Colonial community or as we refer to them, 'Congos.'

 
“I agree that the City does not look good but we are moving towards more organized community groups that will promote ideas and work closely with the government in creating good projects that will benefit us all.”

   

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