Thursday, May 3, 2007

Great Scot! Is Panama to blame for Scotland’s union to the Brits?

The annals of history serve as a rich tapestry of events that may seem far-fetched but are actually true. Take the case with the push for Scottish independence that was hindered by a disastrous attempt to colonize in Panama.

By the late 1600s, the Scottish economy was doing poorly from constant warfare, lack of a sustainable market outside its borders, and widespread famine. As a solution, the Bank of Scotland established a colonization company which then decided to create an outpost in Panama. It was a huge gamble in that half of Scotland's liquidity was invested in the project despite the raising of private funds.

What did the colonists find in Panama? Certainly not the welcome wagon:

“The conditions were horrible. It was unsuited for agriculture and the Indians they met were uninterested in the trinkets they brought them. This is probably because they only brought useless things like wigs, combs, and mirrors. During the spring of 1699, torrential rain brought disease to the colony and many died from malaria and yellow fever. About 10 colonists were dying each day and the rest had to live on a pound of nasty, moldy flour per week”.

With the economy in absolute ruin the Scottish government would soon sign the 1707 Acts of Union which politically incorporated Scotland into the United Kingdom.

Three centuries later all is not lost in the campaign of Scotland’s independence. Pro-independence factions are expected to win in today’s Scottish parliamentary elections.


Links- Wikipedia, The First Post, Scotland’s Past, The Panama Report, Bloomberg

Image- WorldAtlas.com

2 comments:

Mariposa said...

I didn't know that! Thanks, latin Americanist, for teaching me new things.

Erwin C. said...

No prob!

Thanks for reading & commenting.