Barrio Las Cruces
7 Feb 2008
In 1726, the Las Cruces neighborhood (Bogotá, Colombia) was raised with ranches and a chapel that now, carry its name. Kids and adults from the area constructed and decorated the context, the houses, from different and unusual belongings they conserved.
Las Cruces used to be a very important center for economic and political activities; it's now deteriorating plaza serves as evidence of these past interests. Along my way to work, I get to cruise these streets, and the decadence is obvious, but the people and surroundings, seem to carry its history along with them.
Apparently, the inhabitants still keep images of the past political leader, Jorge Eliécer Gaitan, as a way to honor the memory of one of the neighborhood's most influent son in Colombian history. There have been a lot of words written about him; the saying is that he was born in Las Cruces in 1898. He was a doctor in laws and political science and was the head of the "liberal" political party, occupying important figures in the Colombian government, including —among others— city mayor and minister of education. He gave important support to the low socio-economic classes, gaining great popularity among these. After postulating himself to the presidency of the country, Gaitan was assassinated in 1948, event that provoked probably the greatest popular reaction in Colombian history, this is called "El Bogotazo", also recalled as the Colombian Violence Period.
After his assassination, Las Cruces suffered vast transformations, the neighborhood was affected by the economic depression, and some say an important part of its pitfall was the prohibition of a traditional Inca drink, "chicha", which was an important income source. Now some corners reveal small secrets of the people that lived in flesh and blood the violence between the political parties, Gaitan's death and the degeneration of "los barrios" of Colombia...