History of La Quiaca

La Quiaca, A Real Poscard

Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the omaguacas used to dwell the northern region of Jujuy, the Puna, the narrow gorges that reach the Great Humahuaca Canyon, the small dales and the mountain range slopes. They were the most advanced culture in the province, they made wool fabrics, tools and bronze weapons. They would blow metals, work with rock and wood. Furthermore, they would make pots, jars and other items with clay. They stood out in agriculture and shepherding. As they lived in a rocky area, with slopes and scarce water, they would build terraced crop fields in the Incan fashion, which they kept thanks to clever systems of irrigation. Their diet was based on corn. They would domesticate the llamas and also use the meat and the fur of other animals, mainly the vicuñas, guanacos and deer. Their dwellings, which had a quadrangular shape, were built with very well-carved stones and their roofs were made of straw and mud. When the Spaniards arrived, its geographic location turned the location where the town of La Quiaca stands today into an important stop on the road to Upper Perú. In those days, it was called La Florida. The first record of the town dates back from 1772, when commissioner Alonso Carrió de la Vandera created a stop 19 leagues from the Los Colorados stop. The point was discussed later, as the jurisdiction of Buenos Aires was considered to end there, where the Potosí jurisdiction was supposed to begin. This led to intense battles that finished in 1878, when the authorization for a telegraphic office was passed after the creation of the two offices of Tilcara and Humahuaca. A few years after the establishment of this office, the first steps for the official foundation of the town were taken and in September 10, 1883, the “area of lawn for settlement plots and common land” was outlined according to the instructions provided by Governor Tello. In May 12, 1886 the first school was opened, even when the city did not have an effective official foundation date. By 1900, La Quiaca began to take shape as a village. The pronouncement made by the Argentinian-Bolivian International Mix Committee had a decisive influence on this matter, as in 1900 and under the administration of engineer Miguel Iturbe, resolved to build an extension of the international railway system from Jujuy to La Quiaca. This dream came true in December 30, 1907, when the first border train arrived in La Quiaca. In February 28, 1907, law Nbr 134 was passed, which provided for the creation of the town of La Quiaca and, after years of formalities, this was materialized. Thirty-eight blocks and twenty-five lots would outline the created town. By then, several shops had been established as a result of trade between Argentina and Bolivia. In September 27, 1914, the Higher Government of the Province appointed the first Municipal Committee of La Quiaca. In June 1, 1917, under the presidency of Ernesto Claros, the legislature of the Province of Jujuy declared La Quiaca capital of the department of Yavi, by law Nbr. 325. In December 9, 1945, Squad 21 “La Quiaca” of National Gendarmery was established in the facilities that would belong to a unit of the Argentinian Army. Its first chief was second commander Fernández Castellanos. This border city surrounded by rivers, one of which represents the border with Bolivia, is a small settlement that has grown with its own features to this date. Buildings rise in a valley surrounded by hills and most of them are made of plastered adobe or bricks, very common in the northern lands. Today La Quiaca is a restless city, twined with the border district of Villazón in Bolivia through a bridge that is crossed continuously by workers and tourists from one country to another. This is the only city in the North of the Puna which has all basic services, one of the most important urban settlements in Northwestern Argentina.

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