sábado, 31 de octubre de 2009


By: Felipe Argote

50 years ago, a group of young students peacefully decided to walk our flag in the Canal Zone. Ezequiel Gonzales Meneses, from Cocle, a former student of the Instituto José Dolores Moscote, born on November 3, 1936 in Penonomé was one of them. He was beaten and arrested by the zonian police who did not speak Spanish. He was brought before a U.S. judge. He had no right to lawyer counsel as they used the laws of Louisiana. Panamanian lawyers were not recognized by the Louisiana bar, so they were excluded from exercising as lawyers in their own country.

The judge told Ezequiel in English that it was imposed a fine and banned him for life to enter the Canal Zone. Ezequiel Gonzales Meneses replied in Spanish that he would come back as often as necessary. The fine was paid in pennies collected by the Panamanian population.

Five years after, the ninth of January of 1964 Ezequiel Gonzales Meneses kept his word and with many Panamanians crossed the fence that divided the Canal Zone from the rest of Panamanian territory. The zonians not forgive this insult. Along with 20 other Panamanians he was killed during the night of January 9,  1964. He was armed with a Panamanian flag in his right hand and a determination not to live in an occupied country in the heart.

Today, as we walk with our children in the Causeway, when we sit down to eat at one of its restaurants, fly a kite in Amador or just walk around to see this magnificent visual spectacle that is Panama City from the other side of Bay, we must not forget that we owe in part to Ezequiel Gonzalez Meneses and other Panamanians who gave the most precious thing is the human being: his life, for the right to walk freely in the country without being detained by a foreign soldier.

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