Lorenzo Troya, Victoriano (1864–1903)

views updated

Lorenzo Troya, Victoriano (1864–1903)

Victoriano Lorenzo Troya (b. 1864; d. 15 May 1903), native leader in the Panamanian province of Coclé during the War of the Thousand Days (1900–1903). In 1891, Lorenzo was accused of murder and the following year was sentenced to nine years in prison. He remained in jail until 1898. When the war broke out, he joined the liberal side and fought with Belisario Porras in Panama (then a department of Colombia) hoping that a liberal victory would end the abuses against the Indians. Lorenzo and his Indian followers made a formidable fighting force, practically unbeatable in the mountains. Their exploits became widely known during the war. After the failure of the liberals to take Panama City with their defeat at the Calidonia bridge (24 July 1900), Lorenza went back to Coclé, where he organized a guerrilla group and rejoined Porras. In 1902 he was betrayed by the liberal general Benjamín Herrera, who handed him over to the government. Despite the fact that he should have been protected under the terms of the peace of 21 November 1902, which ended the civil war between liberals and conservatives, the government executed him by a firing squad.

He execution was considered by many a great miscarriage of justice and there are many theories as to why he was executed. First, General Herrera, a Colombian liberal always looked with disdain to the Panamanian liberal leaders and wanted to impose his own authority on them. The fact that Lorenzo was only loyal to Porras—who at the time of his execution was in El Salvador—may have contributed to his arrest by Herrera. Second, the conservative government feared him a great deal and he was seen by them as an obstacle to a permanent peace. During the war, the conservatives had sent an expeditionary force to Coclé to capture him, but failed. Many Panamanian historians speculate that during the peace negotiations between liberals and conservatives, a secret agreement was reached by which the liberals would hand Lorenzo to the conservatives. In 1966, the Panamanian National Assembly, as a tribute to this popular leader, invalidated the proceedings in Lorenzo's trial, indicating that it was a violation of the peace treaty.

See alsoWar of the Thousand Days .


Jorge Conte Porras, Panameños ilustres (1978) and Diccionario biográfico ilustrado de Panamá, 2d ed. (1986).

Ernesto De Jesús Castillero Reyes, Historia de Panamá, 7th ed. (1962).

Additional Bibliography

Galindo H., Julio Roberto. Benjamin Herrera, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán: Grandes caudillos liberals, gestores de la Universidad. Santa Fé de Bogotá: Corporación Universidad Libre, 1998.

Pedraja Tomán, René de la. Wars of the Latin America, 1899–1941. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2006.

                                   Juan Manuel PÉrez