Thursday, September 18, 2014

”Great Scot!” Revisited

With Scotland’s independence referendum taking place today, which may not have taken place where it not for a failed colonization in Panama centuries ago.  The following is text from a post we first published in 2007:
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.

Over three centuries later all is not lost in the campaign of Scotland’s independence. Recent polls have indicated that it’s a toss-up between the pro- and anti-independence options.

Should Scotland gain its own independence, it remains to be seen how this would affect members of the British Commonwealth such as numerous Caribbean countries.

Video Source – YouTube user CGP Grey (Video uploaded in 2011).

Online Sources – Wikipedia; The First Post; Scotland’s Past; The Panama Report; Global Voices Online; The Guardian; The Latin Americanist

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