General Victoriano Lorenzo- Imprisoned Caudillo

The deal between the so-called Liberales and the Conservadores, who had been sworn enemies of people of the lower caste, was consummated to save face. For them the war and the trail of hatred that it left would, with pats on the back and tears quickly wiped away, wash clean all the blood spilled in the Thousand Days War.

The generals met as one in secret meetings where in their conversation and rallying speeches they were reminded that, regardless of factions, theirs was a pedigree with roots in Spain and Europe. Their attention was then directed back to the humiliation they had experienced at the hands of Indian warriors and, especially, “that little Indian Man;” the man who was, at that very moment, still the power and influence and surely a potentially dangerous person to their consolidated power.

La Negrita in Coclé remained suspenseful awaiting word from their leader now detained in his quarters in one of the officers’ barracks in Panama City. His enemies, however, were now the Generals of both factions, people he had trusted and supported since the year 1900. Victoriano Lorenzo was trapped, and he contemplated his errors as he remained in the hands of recognized officers who he abhorred, sworn enemies of the Indian people of the interior. The same men he had known as homicidal rapists and harassers of his own people had him incarcerated. All General Victoriano Lorenzo could do in his incarceration was try to maintain hope and remember the people who had fought at his command.

These were times to remember the enemy and the many people who had appeared in his camp to plead that he accept them in the fight against the tyrannical Colombian Army. He remembered meeting people of the lower caste of the population of Panama, blacks, mulattos and Indian people- the real Panamanians those were the kind of people who had showed up in Penonomé. These people had come from all over the country of Panama, women, men and whole families, old acquaintances whom he had met during those tragic nine years in prison in Chiriqui, those who had showed up with arms and demanded they be included, arms they’d gotten from the bodies of dead Colombian soldiers, arms which they were using to fight the elite Colombian army garrisoned all over his country.

General Lorenzo lay in the room he considered a prison cell, a place with guards posted at the entrance and all over the building, even under his window. Trapped without a way to get word to his troops, he thought of the deception, the snare he had fallen into. If only he could get word to his people, he thought, as the hours and days ticked away. He was a Christian, after all, and he requested to speak to a priest to prepare for his eminent death but, surprisingly, his request was denied.

Meanwhile, other Christians who were later to experience the sting of the same kind of treachery were at this time making their daily evening trek along Central Avenue. They were not the usual Black Panamanian, but Black foreigners easily recognized because they spoke in an English born in the Americas.

The atmosphere in the city of Panama, however, did not reflect what was occurring in the rest of the country. The countryside seemed unusually deserted. The Indian countryside Victoriano Lorenzo had known as always alive with the coming and going of people was now a sparsely traveled town of Penonomé, in which people did not venture to walk the pathways for fear. The mountain camps were quiet and fires were only lit at night. Most people moved their homes into the surrounding mountainous secret hiding places. In fact, the rest of the country people who had been accustomed to living in the forest and mountainous areas would continue to whisper the oral history of the brave Indian General from Penonomé.

This story will continue.

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