It is again November and streets are closed, banks are closed, public offices are closed. The country seems to go on pause. It is Panama´s Independence month. Four of the most significant days in Panama´s history are in November. November 3 is the day of Panama´s separation from Colombia, November 4th was designated as Flag Day, November 10th is the day of the First Cry of Independence in La Villa de Los Santos and finally November 28th is Panama´s Independence Day from Spain.
Panamanians just love a celebration so November is a month for celebration. On November 3rd and 4th there is an official parade in which government entities, public and private schools participate. The schools, the police and the firemen are accompanied by their own music bands and all wear full dress uniforms. The parade generally takes place on one of the main streets of Panama City which is closed for those two days.
Celebrations start at 12 midnight with the Firemen Band playing “dianas”. “Dianas” are the typical way Panamanians receive and celebrate their national days. Bands that play “dianas” are composed of bugles, trumpets and drums. The parades in Panama City this year are scheduled to be held on Via España and in Casco Viejo.
A brief overview of what exactly is celebrated in November will help understand at least what the hassle is all about. On November 28, 1821 Panama declared its independence from Spain. In an open town meeting Panama was declared a sovereign entity and was freed from the control of the Spanish Monarchy. This formal declaration of independence was preceded by the First Cry of Independence in the Villa de los Santos (a small town in the interior of the country) on November 10, 1821. After the independence, fearing an invasion from Spain who still had a very strong Armada and lacking a budget to run its affairs Panama looked towards a stronger neighbor to protect it and became part of the Republic of Colombia.
This turned out to be a costly decision. What followed were years of neglect and isolation by the Colombian government. As part of Colombia, Panama was also a battleground for the constant wars that raged throughout this country. The final straw was the refusal of Colombia to sign the Herran – Hay agreement between the US and Colombia for the construction of a canal through Panama. Panamanians had their hopes set on this canal as the means for improving their economic and social conditions which were deplorable as part of Colombia. Colombia declined on August 12, 1903. A formal separatist movement started to form and plans were made for separation. Rumors abounded and Colombia started troop movements towards Panama which forced Panamanian leaders to finally declare the Republic of Panama a fully sovereign nation on November 3, 1903. On November 4, 1903 the first Panamanian flag had been sown and was paraded through the streets.
During this month the whole country dresses itself in national colors of red, blue and white which are the colors of the flag. Public offices, private enterprise and private residences sport flags and red, white and blue wreaths and streamers. After the 3rd and 4th of November there are no more parades in Panama City although there are parades in Chorrera, San Miguelito and other localities in the interior of the country.
For more info on Panama: PanamaQmagazine