January 9 of 1964 in Panama
Stories from the United States' relationship with the Panama Canal, in celebration of its centenary
The events of January 9, 1964 represented a momentous turning point in the relationship between Panama and the United States. It is considered one of the most important factors in the U.S. decision to transfer the canal to the Panamanian government.
After several years in which relations between the Panamanian people and Zonians became increasingly tense, the situation erupted in protest.
Many students from the National Institute entered the Canal Zone that day to hoist a Panamanian flag at Balboa High School. This attempt was negatively received by students from Balboa High School, despite the Kennedy-Chiari government agreement which required the use of both flags in the Canal Zone.
In a still unclear situation, the Panamanian flag was damaged. This led to the escalation of events and physical violence, which resulted in the tragic death of over 20 Panamanians and 4 Americans.
Panama briefly broke diplomatic relations with the United States over this event. The social pressure following January 9, 1964, now known as ‘Martyr’s Day’ in Panama, is considered one of the most important factors in the negotiations to transfer the Canal from U.S. to Panamanian control.