Independence Movement in La Villa de Los Santos

 

Date: November 10, 1821

The first call for independence was made in the province of Los Santos, and not in Panama City, because those living in what the Spanish Crown had called the "Loyal and Very Noble Panama City" still supported the Spaniards' presence in hopes of being awarded certain trading privileges. Upon realizing that their promises of sinecures would not come to fruitition, however, the city joined the independence movement.

Rufina's cry for independence

Rufina Alfaro was a beautiful young woman who won over the sympathy of the Spanish soldiers stationed in the town of La Villa de Los Santos. The commander of the barracks instilled his confidence in Rufina and granted her entry to the compound to have a conversation.

Segundo de Villarreal, a man who held sway over the political opinion of La Villa citizens, took advantage of Rufina Alfaro's intimacy with the soldiers to invite her, along with a group of volunteers, to a meeting on the outskirts of the town. There he asked Rufina to do him a favor and spy on the Spanish soldiers. Rufina was aware of the deep popular resentment against the Spanish crown, which convinced her of the urgency in acting quickly to support the independence movement. She made use of the meetings with the Spanish soldiers to infiltrate information from them, intending to do so without causing bloodshed.

Following Segundo's instructions, Rufina entered the barracks of the Spanish soldiers and saw that the soldiers were at ease, some chatting and others playing, and without their weapons at hand. So she decided to go back out and signal to the conspirators that they could control the city and surround the barracks, without risking any resistance from the soldiers. The barracks were siezed with sticks and stones, until the power passed into the hands of the townspeople. At dawn on November 10, 1821, Rufina led a march, shouting "Long live liberty", which came to be known as the Shout of Independence at La Villa de Los Santos. This event would start a series of uprisings in cities across the isthmus, culminating in Panama's declaration of independence of on November 28, 1821.

The main activity held in this district to celebrate the date is a civic parade, starting on Simón Bolívar street. The parade follows the regulations issued by the Ministry of Education, particularly concerning the participating delegations of marching bands and schools.