43 years later…
by Miguel Antonio Bernal V.
Today, Monday, December 19, marks exactly 43 years since I was savagely beaten by agents of the military dictatorship for protesting against the presence of the bloodthirsty Shah of Iran in Panama, as a guest of the prevailing militarism.
The peaceful demonstration convened that December 19, 1979 in front of the Don Bosco Church, gathered a hundred citizens and a short distance away, numerous radio patrols and motorcyclists of the Guardia Nacional, all with combat harnesses. Also present were countless agents of the G-2, disguised as civilians.
As we grouped together to march, more than 20 motorcycles advanced towards us. Panic ensued. The demonstrators ran towards the sidewalks. The motorcycles stopped a few meters from where I was. Megaphone in hand, I walked towards the guardia in order to parley. In seconds, with an unprecedented ferocity, hose in hand and shouting a whirlwind of vulgarities and shouting: “Here is Bernal, hit him, kill him.” They came at me, supported by numerous G-2 and other armed elements. They pushed each other in order to hit me. The hoses, punches and kicks fell on me with brutal fury. There were too many of them. I was this immense stain that they hit and hit without any scruple. They picked up their victim when I fell, to continue their blows.
The brutal beating also reached Victor Navas King, who intervened to try to pull me out of the mortal circle, as well as Doña Elvia Lefevre de Wirz and another unknown lady. The voices of the executioners repeated: “Hit him, kill him!” The fiercest of them all, the one who commanded the aggression, was Fritz Gibson Parrish, known by the nickname of “Sangre.”
Then, in a state of unconsciousness, I was taken to the Central Barracks and much later, to the Santo Tomás Hospital where the doctors gave me the assistance that would save my life.
Those directly responsible for the aggression were duly denounced to the judicial authorities in 1990. I am still waiting for justice.
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