General Victoriano Lorenzo (1867-1903)


It is my intention through these written lines at this time in the history of Panama to honor the memory of another hero and patriot of the natural people of Panama.

Victoriano Lorenzo embodies the Spirit of Panamanian freedom in its entire ethical and moral context. Victoriano Lorenzo was born about 1867in the area of Penonomé, one of the traditional forgotten regions of the Panamanian countryside. His birth was one of a numerous and precarious births amongst native Panamanian Indian women. The Ngawbé (often spelled Ngobe) were a people amongst the various tribes of hunters and gatherers who populated the foothills of this mountainous area of the Province of Coclé, and who often mixed with the arriving throng of European and Black African slaves and runaway slaves. The intermingling with these other races, to them outsiders, transformed their descendants into the Cholos of Coclé Province.

As indigenous people in these far flung areas of this little known country they were looked upon as virtual slaves as the white Europeans invaded these, so called, conquered regions everywhere in the Americas. Under the tutelage of Catholic priests these native people lived under constant threats and harassment. Poverty stricken, they were dispossessed of their lands by the constant streams of newly arriving poor Europeans, who were protected by army garrisons which remained long after Panama’s independence in 1821 and its subsequent voluntary accession to the South American Colombian Government. These whites continued to arrive in the area claiming lands appropriated to them by the Spanish Colonial government based in the capital city of Panama long after the dates of so called independence.

Historians and anthropologists have concluded that, “The mixing of these people with the Negro race has enriched the hardiness and aggressiveness in the Indian people called the Cholos of the area of Veraguas.” (Arias, La Prensa, 2004). Some Panamanian pundits seeking to know the reasons for the zeal for freedom and integrity in these indigenous people have claimed the above; however this writer recognizes the divinity in the Spirit of Freedom of the Motherland and of her people.

Victoriano Lorenzo, then, is one of these divinely endowed individuals of whom Providence in her wisdom chose for this mission. As a youth Victoriano attached himself to the priest of the parish of Capira. At this time in history this little chapel, with its Indian acolyte, would be brightened with the divine light of learning, for learning was why the young Victoriano was really there and he learned to read and write between masses. As the distance between Capira and his hillside home in the bush was great, the boy, Victoriano, had to walk great distances to get home every week.

It was the year 1889 when Victoriano was appointed Regidor, one of the ruling alderman of his native city of Penonomé. This appointment as a noted community leader would place him in the limelight of jealous men who thought that no Indian should be his equal. One Pedro De Hoyos, who shared office with Victoriano Lorenzo, was just such a man, and his anger and hatred came to light as Victoriano confronted him over his arbitrary taxing of the Indian community with outrageous tithes. That memorable year of 1890 caught Victoriano off guard when he was attacked by the man with a sharp machete in hand, intending to murder him. Victoriano, much younger (he was only 23 years old) and agile as a mountain lion evaded the vicious chop after chop of De Hoyos’ machete who intended to lay him in a grave. Retaliating to save his life he saw De Hoyos fall and, afterward, he lay immobile, surely dead.

Awakening from this tragic event Lorenzo decided to flee the scene and hide in the mountains for a few days. Then, when his head had cleared, he decided to give himself up to the authorities. He was arrested, tried and condemned to 9 years in prison.

This story will continue.

3 responses to “General Victoriano Lorenzo (1867-1903)

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