A GROUP of 144 Panamanian citizens is seeking to give more prominence to a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, pacifist, political leader and philosopher, and to better mark an important event on Panama’s road to independence.
The statue donated to the city in 1969 by the Indian Government, currently sits in Plaza Cinco de Mayo in what is officially The Park of the Thousand Days, but known to passers-by as ‘Gandhi Park’ with only a concrete post carrying its true name.
The Municipal Council named the Park in the sixties because nearby was the site of the battle of the Bridge of Calidonia, in July 1900, when Conservatives defeated the Liberals, Over 500 died in the bloody battle, a precursor to independence from Colombia in 2003
To further their quest The group has forwarded a proposal to the municipal, and provincial government and the Indian Embassy in Panama to both rescue the true meaning of the park and find a better place for the statue of the only man who peacefully took on the British Empire and won independence for what was once a “jewel in the crown.”
The proposal says that it is necessary for the people to keep alive the history of those who have shaped the world and Panama. “It is not enough that they are in the books, they have to be brought into the light for future generations,” it says.
Olimpo Sáez, politician and historian, says that when in 1969. the Indian embassy donated the statue of Gandhi to the Government of Panama, the City Council made the decision to place it “provisionally” in the mini-park. It has been there ever since.
The group hopes to persuade Mayor, José Isabel Blandón, who is intent on revitalizing the city, to “recover the park and raise a monument in memory of those who died in the battle. to defend their political ideals” and who prepared the road to independence in 1903,” the proposal says.
One of the alternatives suggested by the group is to move the statue of Gandhi to the Cinta Costera, where it will be more visible and keep alive the memory of a leader, who continues to inspire generations.
The group has sent a copy of their proposal to the Embassy of India hoping to gain support for the initiative in time for 2019 when the city celebrates its 500th anniversary and will host the XVII Plenary Assembly of the Union of Ibero-American Capital Cities and in January the World Youth Day, attracting some 400,000 visitors from around the world. “These three events are good reasons to make the city look more beautiful, a concern we share with the mayor.”said Saez.