History of Rotary

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Courtesy of Rotarian Juan Surgeon (RIP)

The first Rotary Clubs to be founded in Latin America were the CR of Havana, Cuba (1915-1916) and the CR of Montevideo, Uruguay (1918) which obtained its Charter in 1919. With a few months apart, the Rotary Club of Panama had its first meeting on July 3, 1919, chaired by Rotarian Federico A. Pezet. At the meeting of July 10, 1919, it was founded under the name of the Rotary Club of Panama, the date on which the first Board of Directors was named. Its Charter was received on November 1, 1919.

Federico Alonso Pezet, Ramón Morales, Albert Lindo, José Maréa Chiari, Tomas Gabriel Duque, Jorge Boyd and Harmodio Arias Madrid participated in this meeting, who was elected the first President of the Club, among others.

The Rotary Club of Panama is the second oldest in Latin America in existence after the Rotary Club of Montevideo, since the Rotary Club of Havana ceased to exist. Which is why, Panamanians should be proud of being an epicenter country for the Rotary movement in the region.
Since February 1920, the first meetings of some groups of colonists began supporting the Rotary movement and working for the community and those most in need. It was not until March 1, 1921 that the Constitutive Charter of the new Cristóbal-Colón Rotary Club was obtained, one of the oldest clubs in the American Continent.

Continuing Rotarism in Panama, other clubs followed, totaling 13 Rotary Clubs, all serving education, health, well-being through service, promoting fellowship and a better understanding.

The dates they received their Constituent Letters from the different clubs are:

  • Rotary Club of Panama – November 1, 1919
  • Christopher Columbus Rotary Club – March 1, 1921
  • Rotary Club of David – November 1, 1932
  • Rotary Club of Santiago – December 24, 1969
  • Rotary Club of Panama Sur – June 7, 1971
  • Rotary Club of Panama Oeste – August 30, 1972
  • Rotary Club of La Chorrera – December 6, 1979
  • Rotary Club of Northeast – August 26, 1981
  • Rotary Club of Panama North – November 21, 1996
  • Rotary Club of El Dorado – April 25, 2001
  • Rotary Club of Chitré – October 2002
  • Rotary Club of Boquete – June 18, 2005
  • Rotary Club of Panama Metro – Jan. 11, 2010
  • Rotary Club of Playa Coronado – June 17, 2014

Part of the history of Rotarism in Panama is completed by pointing out about the visit to our country of the founder of Rotary Paul Harris and his Rotarian Jean on January 24, 1936, who were entertained by the Rotarians and Rotarians of the Panama clubs, Cristóbal -Colón and David at a banquet at the Club Unión de Panamá, which was attended by the President of the Republic and the most distinguished men of our country and their ladies.