Victoriano Lorenzo "The Indigenous Guerrilla Leader"

Lorenzo was a popular commander who led guerrillas against the Conservative government starting in October 1900. After the defeat of the Liberals at Calidonia Bridge, he set up barracks at Negrita (Coclé) and from there ventured to overtake various villages in the countryside and fight the government on the railway.

He was born in the province of Coclé in 1867 and died in Panama City in 1903. A charismatic leader of the indigenous movement, he rose up against the centralized power of Colombia when the Panamanian territory was not yet independent. From a very young age, Victoriano Lorenzo defended the rights of the underprivileged.

Confronting the injustices and inequality committed by the local chiefs against the indigenous population (the colonial chiefdom, supported by the conservatism of the central Colombian government, treated the AmerIndians as if they were beasts of burden), Victoriano Lorenzo unleashed and led an Indian rebellion. He also took an active part in the Thousand Day War, an armed conflict that was initially a dispute between Liberals and Conservatives but unfolded into the independence of Panama from Colombia.

Leading the so-called "mountaineers" or "mountain guerrillas", Victoriano Lorenzo was drawn into the fight by promises of land and freedom, which was one of the battle slogans of the band of Liberals. From their first demands of justice and equality, his influence among the indigenous population made him become one of the most dangerous leaders, since other disenchanted fighters were increasingly attracted to join their ranks.

In November of 1902, the Conservatives and the Liberals signed a pact that would signify the beginning of an end, but behind Victoriano's back. His attempts to escape were futile, and Lorenzo was captured by the army and sentenced to death. On May 15, 1903, he was executed in the Chiriquí Plaza, now called France Plaza.

In 1966 the National Assembly of Panama announced that his execution was unjust and declared him a national hero.