From Sal Perkins, describing indigenous Panamanian customs at MEL:
I first heard about the fights at Mi Lucha from my fellow expats in Volcan. The legend they perpetuate is that these impromptu street-boxing matches between Ngäbe men are for each other’s wives. Specifically, the wife of the loser can go with the winner of the fight if she so chooses. It’s not obligatory, they swear, but she often does. It’s Darwinism in action, they argue: She chooses the winner because he’s proven to be a stronger mate who can likely provide for her better. “The great thing about living in Volcan is if you get tired of your wife, you can just go down to the bar and pick a fight with one of the Ngäbe, take a jab on the chin, fall down and not get up,” a 70-something Georgian named Alex once joked to me. “Then the Ngäbe guy wins your wife from you.”
When I ask Rios whether or not the men at Mi Lucha are fighting for wives, he shakes his head no. “The Bible says that husband and wife are one for their whole lives.”
Thirty-three-year-old agricultural worker Miguel Carrasco has stronger ties to the Comarca. The most apparent piece of evidence: There’s a faded bruise under his eye from a fight a week ago at Mi Lucha. “Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but I never fight for wives; I’m too good-looking to have to fight for wives,” he jokes. “Most of the time the fights aren’t over women, anyway. Only about one out of three are. Most of the fights are over disrespect or problems from the Comarca. The men see each other at the bar and fight. And some young men fight for fun and for pride.”
It’s similarly common for the wives to instigate the fights, he says, pointing to a few Ngäbe women standing with their arms folded in the parking lot of the bank across the street from Mi Lucha. “If the husband drinks all the money away, she might get mad because they can’t buy food. She will go into the bar and find another man. She will provoke the fight, and even if her husband wins, she goes with the loser of the fight because she doesn’t want to be with her husband anymore.” More.
So we need not get shots for Panama; we could see and hear the same things at Duffy’s Bar and Grill on weekends…
See also: Trying to rescue social Darwinism from Darwin’s sinking ship? Floundering. Either Darwinian theory is any use in science or else it isn’t. The answer is getting clearer all the time.
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