Band of My Home (La banda de mi hogar)

La Banda de mi Hogar (The Band of My Home).

Humberto Velez was invited to participate in ciudadMULTIPLEcity, the international public art event that took place in Panama City in 2003 curated by Gerardo Mosquera and Adrianne Samos, coinciding with Panama’s centennial as an independent republic. Velez decided to create a performance in collaboration with La Banda del Hogar, a brand and percussion band made up of mostly mestizo and working-class musicians and majorettes of all ages who are affiliated to the Sanchez family-operated vocational school calledEl Hogar.

Though widely popular, at the time The Banda del Hogar was only permitted to parade publicly during the national independent celebrations. Breaking with traditions, in the course of several days Velez and the band marched at the “wrong” time in the “wrong” places, such as the hugely iconic Bridge of the Americas that crosses the Panama Canal and connect North and South America. Velez’ band parade was denied entrance to the ex USA Canal Zone area, although he had the municipal authorities permission, thereby exposing an invisible order that still remains.

This performance instigated a heated debate in the media, by challenging the strict hierarchical conventions of Panama. It questioned the power structures that have taken over the city’s public spaces, and warned against the marginal participation of the working classes in the ex Canal Zone, which the Unites States finally gave back to Panama in 2000.

Velez and his band paraded intensively during the one month duration of ciudadMULTIPLTcity, and were also broadcast by radio and television. As a result, La Banda del Hogar has become a widely-acclaimed musical ensemble, far beyond the national independence festival.