In Panama November is the Month of Muchas Fiestas

By Maudy Bom (maudybom@gmail.com)

People, get ready for a month full of activity and fiestas, Panama is celebrating!!!

November 3rd 1903.
The Separation of Panama from Colombia “Acta de Independencia del Istmo,”
With the support of the U.S. government, Panama issued a declaration of independence from Colombia. A Panamanian organization backed by the Panama Canal Company, engineered the revolution corporation that hoped to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans with a waterway across the Isthmus of Panama.

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An agreement was to be signed with Colombia, granting the United States use of the Isthmus of Panama in exchange for financial compensation. The U.S. Senate approved the agreement, but the Colombian Senate, fearing a loss of power, refused. In response, President Theodore Roosevelt gave approval to a rebellion by Panamanian nationalists, which began on November 3, 1903.

November 4th 1903 “Flag Day”
This public holiday in Panama forms part of two days of celebrations, with 3rd November being the day on which Panamanians remember their separation from Colombia.

The flag of the Republic of Panama consists of a divided rectangle of four quarters:
-The upper field close to the pole white with a blue star of five points.
-The upper field further from the pole, red.
-The lower field near the pole, blue.
-The lower one further from the pole, white with a red star of five points.

This flag was to reflect the political situation of the time.
Blue was intended to represent the Conservative Party.
Red was intended for the Liberal Party.
White was intended to stand for peace and purity.
The blue star stands for the purity and honesty of the life of the country.
The red star represents the authority and law in the country.
And together the stars stand for the New Republic.

November 5th
Independence celebrations continue because it was on this day that Panamanian officials bribed Colombian forces stationed in Colon not to fight Panama’s separation from Colombia:

Colombian forces arrived at the Bay of Colon. 
On board of the Colombian ships were 500 well-armed Colombian soldiers, commanded by the generals Tobar and Amaya, their intention was to seize the port and then march to the capital, which was made not possible because the American railroad authorities refused the transfer of troops from Colombia to Panama City. Only the generals were transferred and once in the capital they became prisoners.

In Colon the residents dealt with moments of great danger and tension. The 500 Colombian soldiers remained in Colon under the command of Colonel Torres. The colonel got angry and threatened to kill every man, either Panamanian or foreign that opposed the transfer of his troops to Panama City.

Conversations began between members of the Revolutionary Council, with the aim of persuading Coronel Torres and the Colombian troops to leave Panama. This was finally achieved with a money payment. The Colombian ship “Orinoco” left and it was when Juan Antonio Henriquez, a member of the Revolutionary Council of Colon sent a telegram to Panama :
Only now, 7:30 pm can be said that Panama’s independence is assured.

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November 10 1821, “Primer Grito de Independencia de Panama de España”
At dawn on November 10, 1821, Rufina Alfaro led a march, shouting “Long live liberty”, which came to be known as the Shout of Independence at La Villa de Los Santos. This event would start a series of uprisings in cities across the country, starting Panama’s declaration of independence on November 28, 1821.

The first call for independence was made in the province of Los Santos, and not in Panama City, because those living in what the Spanish had called the “Loyal and Very Noble Panama City” still supported the Spaniards’ presence in hopes of being awarded with certain trading agreements.

November 28, Independence Day from Spain in 1821.
After being under Spanish control for more than 300 years this is the day That Panama was officially declared Independent from Spain.

During these festive days there is traditional folklore dancing in the streets of Panama where both children and adults dress in traditional clothing.
There is a lot of “tipico” music and entertainment.
It is definitely worth bringing your camera to the parades!!

In case the above is a little confusing, just remember:
Panama gained its “independence” from Spain in 1821 and “separated” itself from Colombia in 1903.

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