General Victoriano Lorenzo, the Revolutionary

The missive complained about a project in particular to which the government had allocated funds. The project involved the construction of a large docking port and the labor was being done exclusively by the people of the Indian community. Such labor, the complainant protested, was for the exclusive use of the leading merchants of the area and others who owned large boats.

The members of the Indian community were being forced to labor under police guard as if they were prisoners. He described how they were sought out at their homes and force marched to the work site. That citizen’s memorandum closed with the request that they, the citizens, should be freed from “forced labor,” and that they should have guarantees of their liberty which they used to enjoy before these events. They further requested that the government appoint a new Indian governor.

The events that followed the “citizens’ Memorandum” would focus even more hatred upon the man the local officials had sworn vengeance against, as the local white elite, the Creoles, retreated under fire from their bosses in the Capital City of Panamá. The resulting truce-like peace brought a modicum of progress to the Indian community and Victoriano Lorenzo was summarily appointed Secretary to the governor of the Indian “Cabildo,” the representative town governing body for the community, held at his residence. In fact, as expected, Lorenzo was the new chief and leader the people had clamored for.

Much appreciated and respected by his people he ruled in justice and continued to keep in touch with what was occurring in Panama for the good of his people. The people continued their vigilance posting guards over Victoriano’s home and property for as long as he lived there.

Soon they all would be sending dispatches all over the region of Coclé from Victoriano who was immersed in another struggle against the military garrison called the Gamonales, who had been abusing the Indian community. The struggle had intensified in that year of 1900 because of the Colombian civil war, which had infected even the tranquil region of Coclé. The conflict would be known in history as “The Thousand Days War,” in which the Spaniard-leaning central government supporters, the Conservadores, struggled in a hot shooting war against the Liberales and their allies. Victoriano and his people backed the rebel band of Liberales, being a much needed resource hidden in the underdeveloped interior of the Coclé province.

In July of that year of 1900 the Liberal factions were mauled in Panama City, in an almost decisive battle that would be known in Panamanian history as “The Battle of the Calidonia Bridge.” Victoriano Lorenzo and his people had been more than actively supporting the rebellion. His knowledge of warehousing suddenly became valuable as he organized intelligence to stash and deliver arms to the comrades in the war zone. Victoriano, however, decided to keep the arms and arm his people since the Gamonales had been raping and pillaging the Indian tribes prior to the conflict. After the defeated army of the Liberales was expelled from Panama, the local militia turned on the Indians to recuperate the arms forcing them to abandon their villages and head for the mountains.

Converting the Indians into “Montañeros” was the worst thing the militia could have done, however, because those loose bands of supporters soon became a disciplined fighting army shooting at them, instead of running away.
This story will continue.

One response to “General Victoriano Lorenzo, the Revolutionary

  1. Very interesting story. It’s amazing how if people just realize that if they take a stand (which may include sacrifice), they can make a huge difference.