On Martyrs Day, Thursday The Panama Government, led by President Laurentino Cortizo. civil groups and organizations joined survivors and family of the events of January 9, 1964 when 21 Panamanians died while confronting American authorities over a dispute over the raising of the Panamanian flag at a school in the Canal Zone.
It was a date that marked the struggle for the sovereignty of the country leading to the Torrijos-Carter accord and the handing over of the US-built Canal to Panama at the start of the century.
On Ancon hill, and across the country Panama flag flew at half-mast as a sign of respect and remembrance of the martyrs those who gave their lives.
A few weeks ago the country celebrated 20 years of the Panama Canal reversion, which
would not have been possible without all the events that were the outcome of the tense relationship between the Panamanian and American population with a presence in the former Canal Zone reports TVN.
It recalled that after negotiations it had been agreed in 1962, that the flags of both nations should fly in civil places of the Canal Zone, however, when the date for implementation arrived January 1, 1964 a group of Zonians ignored the orders and refused to raise the Panamanian flag.
The news angered many Panamanians and on January 9, students from the National Institute marched carrying the flag to be raised at Balboa High School, where a crowd of American students and their families were waiting.
Fights broke out and from then spiraled downwards with the Panamanian population believing that it had been outraged and the ensuing confrontation with the US military-led to the death of at least 21 Panamanians.
Memorial activities on Thursday began in the Garden of Peace, where the martyrs are buried. and continued In the Ascanio Arosemena Training Center, which maintains the eternal flame.
This report is not entirely true. The delay in implementing the Chiari-Kennedy agreement was partially due to Kennedy’s assassination in November, 1963. Canal Zone authorities removed the US flag from all American schools in the CZ which was the beginning of the implementation of the agreement. The BHS students were protesting the removal of their own flag and not the display of the Panamanian flag. Many if not most of the casualties were the result of Panamanian citizens protecting their businesses from looters and arsonists. At the request of Panama the International Court of Jurists based in Geneva was brought in to investigate what happened. Their report can be found here: Panama-disturbances-fact finding mission report-1964-eng