I glanced once more at the television. Something, had my interest the entire day. The horse owners, those parading around in jackets under burning sun, their women in heels and hats, all smiling glowingly toward the cameras, seemed to be white- or at least in comparison to my pals.
‘Rabi Blanco’s.’ Enrique said this perfunctorily, as if the observation was unimportant. The Panamanian elite.
It was their connection to the conquering Spaniards that gave them their stature and lightness of colour, encouraged their dubious financial behaviour. There were other communities that had wealth in Panama: The Jewish diaspora did well. On the Caribbean coast were the Arabs: shoe men. One even owned a football team.
But the Rabi Blanco’s were the only ones with hands on the politics of the country, the finances, and the industry such as it was. The canal with its comings and goings of great ships. That was where the real money and power was. It gave them the freedoms of their excess, kept the rest of the country crawling.
I’d lived in many Central American countries, visited most, and it seemed to me that it was the same up and down the Isthmus- wherever the Spaniards had landed. But that same experience had left me convinced that had my friends been in charge, it would not be any different.
One more glance. The Rabi Blanco’s seemed stiff and self-important while congratulating jockeys blazing in gay silks. Well, they may have the money, but I knew who was having the most fun. We left unsteadily. Agua sober and responsible, walked us the line.