Panama: Alma Montenegro de Fletcher

In the National Commission for Reconciliation, I represented all the people who had died because of the invasion of Panama by the United States.

— Alma Montenegro de Fletcher

When Alma Montenegro de Fletcher was 11 years old, she taught her first pupil: her mother. She studied for a Law degree because she wanted justice for everyone. Before she accepted the post as Tutelary Judge of Minors, she learned everything the Faculty of Law did not teach her during her studies. She studied even more when she was nominated as Attorney for the Administration. After the USA's invasion in 1989, she became involved with the National Commission for Reconciliation.

“The pot was huge: The milk, oats and ‘guinea’ boiled inside it. That was the food for the day: My father's wages were poor and our family was big. There were 12 children.” When Alma Montenegro was 11 years old, she studied to be a teacher. “Then, I discovered a secret. My mother was illiterate. ‘Come on, I will teach you,’ I said, but she resisted. I insisted until I caught her interest saying: ‘You will see how nice it is to learn to write your own name.’ Today, being 70 years old, I can tell you that my mother was my first pupil.” “I always wanted justice for all people and, therefore, I began to study Law. Later on, I realized that justice does not always take the same path as the Law, but I still graduated in 1961.” She worked as Tutelary Judge of Minors. Since 1995, she has worked as Attorney for the Administration. ‘Never forget December 20th, 1989’ is written on a wall in the capital city. That was the date of the American invasion of the country. When the National Commission for Reconciliation was formed, Alma joined it. “The final report recommended clarification of the amount of people who had died and that the Americans should leave.” They finally left in June, 1990. “There has not yet been any justice for the people who died.” “Are you sure?” asked the instructor for the third time. The young man kept asking the same question because he did not know the life history of Alma Montenegro, the 60 year old woman who stood in front of him. “Yes!” she answered impatiently. “Then, you have to run, run fast and hold on very tight,” said the instructor. “I ran very fast until I had no ground under my feet and then I was flying! Do you know how much I had wanted to fly? Justice will also arrive, even if we are the last ones to receive it.”

Attorney for the Administration