The Blood of Victoriano Lorenzo

An Ethnography of the Cholos of Northern Coclé Province, Panama


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About the Book

People living in northern Coclé province, Panama, are proud to be independent. Hereditary leaders make decisions in consensus, a practice understood as continuous from pre–Columbian times. The term cholo, derogatory in some contexts, is valid here to discuss self-determination.
Victoriano Lorenzo led the “War of a Thousand Days” (1901–1903) that is understood in northern Coclé as a fight for indigenous land rights. While state bureaucracies later labeled the region an “area of extreme poverty” and imposed programs seeking to eradicate “poverty,” local oral history narratives focus on the interdependence of the natural environment and the human community. The indigenous political structure found liberation power through Catholic theology, and participated in a social movement that stopped a planned expansion of the Panama Canal. This book presents a new understanding of the people and their social structure, informed by extensive archival research and by oral history interviews the author conducted while living in northern Coclé for approximately four years.

About the Author(s)

Nina K. Müller-Schwarze is a Lecturer at the University of Washington, and teaches voice and piano lessons in the Seattle area.

Bibliographic Details

Nina K. Müller-Schwarze
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 280
Bibliographic Info: 47 photos, 3 maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6034-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0631-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface  1
Introduction: Promised Land  9
I: In the Time of the Indians, Before Before (En el Tiempo de los Indios Antes Antes)  45
II: In the Time of the Spaniards (En el Tiempo de los Españoles)  78
III: In the Time of Victoriano Lorenzo (En el Tiempo de Victoriano Lorenzo)  110
IV: In the Time of the Reserve (En el Tiempo de la Reserva)  140
V: In the Time of the Lakes (En el Tiempo de los Lagos)  177
VI: Current Realities (Hoy Día)  221
Chapter Notes  249
Bibliograhy  253
Index  267

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Müller-Schwarze takes pains to set local patterns into regional, national, and even international perspective, interweaving theoretical controversies with local realities. Her major achievement is that she makes these people come alive and earn readers’ respect, despite locals dismissing them as ‘the poor’ or ‘uncivilized’…recommended”—Choice