President Varela in the Garden of Peace
The lowering of the national flag to half mast on Wednesday in the Plaza Independencia, in Casco Viejo, by President, Juan Carlos Varela, accompanied by Cabinet Ministers and relatives of the victims, was the first of multiple commemorative acts to mark the martyrdom of high school students on January 9, 1964 which ultimately led to control of the US-built canal passing to Panama.
The president and entourage later paid tribute at The Garden of Peace .
Wikipedia has a detailed account. Other witnesses say Anerican students ripped the flag. Per Wiki, at least some of those killed sound innocent of any capital offense.
The events at the flagpole could be considered the spark that set off the riots but no students were killed or injured there. Panamanian students accused the American students of ripping their flag but the ICJ report mentions an observer who said the flag, which was quite old, got ripped when a running student stepped on it.
Are the intial events at the flagpole considered part of the riot?
The most thorough report on the 64’ riots can be found here: “International Commission of Jurists Report on the Events in Panama January 1964”. The one that has about 50 pages.
Here's Wikipedia's version: "The riot started after a Panamanian flag was torn and Panamanian students were killed during a conflict with Canal Zone Police officers and Canal Zone residents. It is also known as the Flag Incident or Flag Protests. "U.S. Army units became involved in suppressing the violence after Canal Zone police were overwhelmed, and after three days of fighting, about 22 Panamanians and four U.S. soldiers were killed. The incident is considered to be a significant factor in the U.S. decision to transfer control of the Canal Zone to Panama through the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties." It seems there are two parts to this event, the first at the flag pole, where the flag was torn and students killed, and the second the ensuring riots.
Every year we have another attempt by the severely uninformed to re-write history. " ... 1964 which ultimately led to control of the US-built canal passing to Panama." The Canal was going to be returned to the control of the Panama government regardless of demonstrations. US military guards were being shot at by home-based patriots. What galls me is there is no one responding about what really happened with the exception of "Ancon Harpy'. Generally history is written by the victors. There were no victors in the invasion. The losers still try to spin truth.
Rioters are now martyrs?
This is the ICJ report covering the 64’ riots: http://icj.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/1964/01/Panama-disturbances-fact-finding-mission-report-1964-eng.pdf
Few high school students were killed in the 1964 riots and no Instituto Nacional students died in the chaos. The original protest was not even necessary inasmuch as the Kennedy administration had already agreed to fly the Panamanian flag in the Canal Zone. The implementation was delayed after Kennedy was assasinated and the new Johnson administration was still organizing. The governor of the Canal Zone was in Washington to discuss the implementation when the riots broke out. Despite the repeated claim that Balboa High School students were protesting the flying of the Panamanian flag they were actually protesting the removal of their own flag by the Canal Zone authorities. There was no incidents or protests when both flags were eventually raised in the Zone, The fact that looters and arsonists are now considered martyrs is a severe distortion of history. The Int. Court of Jurists report on the riots bears this out.
I guess when you go into a secure area and start damaging property and Die you become a Martyr. Who knew?