Realizing one’s independence and becoming a self-governing state is a highlight in the history of any nation. Most countries commemorate their independence days as annual national holidays as a celebration of their freedom and sovereignty.
Panama celebrates its independence day every 28th of November. Known as “Independencia de Panamá de España”, this date marks the independence of Panama from Spain in November 1821.
An equally important national holiday celebrated in Panama every 3rd of November is the “Separation Day”. This day commemorates the formal separation of Panama from Colombia in November 1903 that resulted in the establishment of the Republic of Panama.
The majority of Panamanians consider the “Separation Day” as Panama’s Independence Day. Aside from being most recent, they contend that Panama became a truly independent country when the supreme power is held by the people through their own elected representatives. When Panama gained independence from Spain in 1821, the country was not truly independent because they were still part of Gran Colombia.
Some Panamanians, however, consider Panama’s independence from Spain as the genuine independence because Panama gained freedom from colonizers. They contend that Gran Colombia is a union of independent states. Panama voluntarily joined Gran Colombia. Hence, Panama already enjoys sovereignty and statehood when it became part of the union along with Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru, among others. As part of the union, they also did not see themselves as Colombians.
Aside from celebrating Independence Day on November 28 and Separation day on November 3, Panama also celebrates other important dates related to the political independence of the country during this month. This is why November is considered by the people as the Month of the Motherland or “El Mes de la Patria”, a month dedicated to the Motherland of Panama.
What Is “Fiesta Patria?”
Fiesta Patria generally refers to patriotic holidays celebrated by Spanish- speaking countries. In Panama, this pertains to the series of non-religious holidays celebrated in November, the patriotic month also termed as “El Mes de la Patria”. The Fiesta Patria in Panama is composed of 5 official holidays in November. The days in between the said holidays become de-facto holidays, which make the celebrations longer. Following is the list of Panama’s National Holidays during “El Mes de la Patria”.
|November 3||Separation Day||Día de la Separación|
|November 4||Flag Day||Dia de la Bandera|
|November 5||Colón Day||Dia de Colón|
|November 10||Los Santos Uprising Day in Panama||Primer Grito de Independencia de la Villa de los Santos|
|November 28||Independence Day||Independencia de Panamá de España|
When Is Panama Flag Day?
The Panama Flag Day or Dia de la Bandera is celebrated every 4th of November, a day after the celebration of the “Separation Day”. It is part of a series of patriotic holidays held in the country every November.
The Panama Flag Day marks the date when the national flag of Panama was officially adopted by ley 48 de 1925 (Law 48 of 1925) on November 4, 1925. However, it must be noted that Panama has already been carrying the flag since 1903 when it declared separation from Colombia. The creation of the flag is important for the creation of a new Republic of Panama.
Panama’s flag was made by María de la Ossa de Amador, first lady, and wife of the first president of the Republic of Panama, Manuel Amador Guerrero. The first lady is also called the “Mother of the Nation” for her important role as a separatist who struggled for Panamanian independence from Colombia. The flag was designed by the son of Manuel Amador Guerrero’s son, Manuel Encarnación Amador. The design of the Flag is critical because it represented Panama with a new identity that is free from outside influence.
Panama celebrates Flag Day not only for its importance as a symbolic identity of the country. The people’s strong reverence of their flag also led to their attainment of genuine sovereignty. The desecration of the Panama flag by US Zonians in 1964, triggered demonstrations that would eventually result in Panama gaining full control of the Panama Canal in 1999.
How Is Flag Day Celebrated in Panama?
While November 4 is the celebrations of Panama Flag Day or Dia de la Bandera, this day is now known as the Day of the National Symbols with the approval of Law 2 of January 2012 on Jan 22, 2014, which amended Law 24 of 1949.
Along with the national flag of the country, Panamanians also celebrate the day to honor the National Pavilion, the National Anthem and the Coat of Arms, which together comprised the symbols of the nation, as defined in Panama’s constitution.
The day of the national symbols is carried out with various activities, such as flag hoisting ceremonies usually performed by the president at the national pavilion of the Palace of the Herons, reading of the Act of Independence culminating with the singing of the national anthem. A series of colorful military parades are also performed displaying national pride. Other fanfares, music, and festivities are also held to commemorate the role of the flag in the making of the nation.
How Is Independence Day Celebrated in Panama?
Because of its patriotic character and historical importance, Panama’s Independence Day is carried out with various military and civilian parades, commemorative political speeches and cultural events that highlight the identities of Panama across the country.
Aside from parades, celebrations are highlighted by firework displays in the capital city of Panama. Locals wear their traditional costumes and traditional food is served throughout the country. There is also a wide range of student and independent parade bands marching in the streets. Mini concerts and performances are held throughout the country featuring local music and rhythms. The parades are very peaceful and laid-back as locals go out to see the marches and dance with the bands all day.
Moreover, “El Mes de la Patria” is a period of strong internal tourism. There is no work in government, banks, schools and other non-tourism private companies. Cities tend to be empty as folks flock in beach towns and families visit local tourist destinations.
Tourists going to beaches should expect traffic and overcrowded inland places swarming with people. For those planning to see the parades in the city, it is highly recommended to bring an umbrella because November is also the rainy season in Panama.
How Did Panama Gain Its Independence From Spain?
On November 28, 1821, Panama finally gained independence as a colony of Spain after over 300 years of being under the rule of the Spanish Empire. Today, this is celebrated annually as Independencia de Panamá de España, which is part of the country’s national holidays in November.
Panama became a colony of the Spanish Crown in 1591 with the establishment of Panama la Vieja, which is the first Spanish settlement on the shores of the American Pacific Ocean. After 321 years, Panama freed itself from the colonial ties of Spain and become part of Gran Colombia.
Panama was an important colony of the Spanish kingdom for its strategic position. The Isthmus of Panama served as a passageway for trade and commercial transactions between the American countries and their other colonies.
Earlier attempts to liberate Panama from Spanish colonizers failed. This included uprisings led by Venezuelan Francisco de Miranda in 1787 and Scotsman Gregor MacGregor in 1819. The struggle for independence only materialized under the auspices of a Venezuelan military leader named Simón Bolívar, who initiated the idea of uniting Latin American colonies of Spain against the imperial empire. This led to movements from different Spanish colonies including Panama to seek independence.
With the waning military might of Spain because of invasions from Napoleon and the uprisings from different colonies, Panama gained independence from Spain through a bloodless revolt. When the Spanish governor left Panama to deal with uprisings in Ecuador, José de Fábrega headed the drive for independence. Separatists from a small town of Villa de Los Santos made the first declaration for independence on November 10, 1821. The crusade swiftly spread to other cities such as Penonomé, Nata, and Ocú among others.
After defecting from the Spanish Empire, Jóse de Fábrega proceeded to join forces with other separatists in the capital to hold a national assembly, which was participated by other regions. The assembly was convened on November 28, 1821, where the Independence Act of Panama was declared.
The Independence Act was prepared by Don Manuel José Hurtado, who is now known as “the Father of Panamanian education”. The articles of the act were read to the people in Plaza de la Independencia. After the declaration, Panama then freely joined Bolivar’s Gran Colombia to gain protection for the potential retaliation of Spain.
How Old Is Panama?
The age of Panama would differ depending on your point of reference.
If you consider the earliest artifacts discovered in Panama, Panama is estimated to have already existed over 12000 years ago. Articles found included projectile points or objects used as weapons or tools from the Paleoindians, the first inhabitants of the Americas from the late Pleistocene period.
As a sovereign state or entity, however, Panama is 198 years old. Panama became a sovereign nation when it declared independence from Spain on November 28, 1821, after 300 years of colonization. However, it joined the Republic of Gran Colombia immediately afterward on its own accord.
Finally, as a republic, Panama is 116 years old. On Nov. 3, 1903, the country declared its separation from Colombia and founded the Republic of Panama with the help of the US. As a republic, the supreme power of Panama is assumed by the people, who elect their representatives and president that will govern them and make decisions for the country on their behalf.
Who Liberated Panama?
Simón Bolívar or Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte-Andrade y Blanco is considered as the liberator of Panama. He was a Venezuelan military leader, who campaigned for the end of Spanish control in Latin America and envisioned a united alliance of Latin American countries.
Bolivar, dubbed “El Libertador” (The liberator), did not actually go to Panama to free the country. He had nothing to do with Panama’s independence from Spain, nor with the development of the autonomous Republic of Panama. However, he advocated for Panama’s independence along with other Spanish colonies in South America, like Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. He believed that Panama’s independence is crucial in facilitating commercial trade among the adjoining nations.
After declaring independence from Spain, Panama joined Bolivar’s Gran Colombia. As part of this union of nations, Panama became the site of the first Amphictyonic Congress of newly liberated Spanish colonies in 1826.
At the End, What Is the Motto of Panama?
The motto of Panama is ‘Pro Mundi Beneficio’, which means ‘For the Benefit of the World.’ The motto can be read in its national coat-of-arms which was designed by Nicanor and Sebastián Villalaz. The motto pertains to the Panama Canal, which physically divided the country for the sake of the world. The man-made waterway sliced and split through the Isthmus of Panama but connected the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and became a major trade route in the Americas.
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