Victoriano Lorenzo Appointed General

The Liberal forces now joined the Indian army fighting in total rebellion. Victorious in battle their insignia and battle cry was “Land and Liberty!” Their success was such that they pushed the war into the area of the railroad and the cherished Panama City of the colonial minded Conservative Army.

Victoriano Lorenzo was now the most dangerous Indian chief of all the rebellious forces. The battles were so fierce that the Conservadores sued for a truce, and the Liberal military leadership, tired of war, saw an attractive alternative in the offer. However, the peace meetings with the Conservative forces suddenly turned into a fraternal reunion and, as suddenly, the two once antagonistic groups contrived a master plan with the central issue being the demobilization of Victoriano Lorenzo’s army.

Lorenzo was asked to come to Panama to accept an offer of an appointment to Division General of the Liberal forces. He accepted the offer thinking that the war would continue. A few days later the plan involving the peace treaty was divulged to General Victoriano Lorenzo and he almost immediately rejected it on the grounds that it did not provide for his men who had been fighting as hard as any army and, in fact, winning the war.

Lorenzo was then ordered to appear before the high command, called before a junta of higher ranking officers. Upon arrival he found himself face to face with his former enemies, some of whom he had met in battle and defeated. He was summarily informed that a truce had been declared between the fighting forces and that he, as a ranking General, a leader of the Colombian Army had to follow orders. General Victoriano Lorenzo countered saying, “My people suffered and are still suffering and now you have betrayed them and I will not betray my people. Tomorrow I will not be present on that American Ship to sell my country or my people.” The meeting ended with the orders written in the minutes that General Lorenzo had been ordered to quarters and his troops would be under the leadership of the high command until further orders.

The secret word went out amongst the Indian troops that they should hide and await orders from their chief in Panama. However, word did not come back to them, and no further orders were given from that date onwards which was the 21st of November of 1902. The following day the Conservador and the Liberal factions met and signed the “Peace Accord of the Wisconsin,” a jubilee of cheers went up amongst the crowded docks and all along the shores. The whole day there were speeches in the Santa Ana Plaza and the troops were given leave to celebrate.

The streets came alive with parades and celebrations and amongst the bewildered crowds, looking on in complete awe remembering the carnage of the battle of Calidonia Bridge, were the poor people of the Arrabal, the outsiders. Amongst the onlookers who observed the celebrations were the thousands of unemployed West Indian laborers, who were the only foreigners in the eyes of the ruling elites. Left alone and never questioned, they were under the protection of their former employers of the Panama Railroad Company, the Americans.

Still the undisputed rulers of the area, the Americans wielded the control which the Panamanian elites welcomed. They represented SECURITY in all respects and the Americans possessed power unimagined in those times. The United States Armed Forces had finally had a hand in putting an end to the conflict in the area. They were viewed as the hallmark of peace, security and economic stability which was evident in the very modern railway and the neatly ordered structure and efficiency of the banana plantations.

This story will continue.

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