An Epitaph to an Indian Patriot of Panama

From the moment he had discovered what was afoot General Lorenzo had unequivocally opposed the giveaway called for in the Wisconsin Accords. Only until today, in this precise moment, has it been recognized that General Victoriano Lorenzo, “that little Indian man,” was really the only who had gained vindication in the many battles his people waged and won. As some historians have said, “Victoriano Lorenzo, the only protagonist of the War of 1899, was a country farmer and an anonymous hero. (Tamayo 1940)

The masses of the lower barrios of Panama City and of the countryside of Coclé, places once despised and derided as the Arrabal by the elite classes of the country, would be left to remember a shameful episode in their history that would never be taught in the schools of the republic. No place in the memorials of Panama would be dedicated to the only hero of that Thousand Days War, which had turned out to be a losing proposition for the elites.

Victoriano Lorenzo was the only hero left for the common people; one of the true heroes of the Thousand Days War. The Spanish leaning classes or elites of the nation had started that war and had decided when it would end. For them, General Lorenzo had only been an insignificant Indian whose exploits had meant nothing. Individuals like General Victoriano Lorenzo, and all who shrank from memorials of a war that had made no sense to them, would be forever silenced. We, the common people of Panama, would have no place in the making of the country that cried still as her bowels were carved up into a divided country.

After the execution of General Victoriano Lorenzo and the coming together of all the former warring groups, the common people would vanish from the scene and the focus of a country that would forever be tied historically to a neglectful government that was always willing to surrender Panama to foreigners.

The people of Panama, for decades afterwards, would be left with an insignificant plaque that no one since has bothered to read.

“Rest in peace Great Warrior of the people, you illustrious son and Father of the Panamanian people.”

These pages have been our epitaph to General Victoriano Lorenzo, the great Indian warrior who, with his grass roots army, was on his way to routing the entire, well fed, well armed and professionally trained Colombian army from Panama, and who also voiced opposition to the great giveaway that left the Panamanian people poor and defenseless for more than a century.

This story continues.

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