Last modified: 2006-06-03 by dov gutterman
Keywords: el oro | portovelo |
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image by Ivan Sache, 17 April 2004
Flag and Coat of Arms of Portovelo in El
Oro Province at <www.portovelo.com>.
Dov Gutterman, 16 April 2004
The flag is yellow with a red (descending) diagonal stripe
separated from the yellow field by a thick black line. Proportion
of the flag seems to be 4:7.
Ivan Sache, 17 April 2004
On 23 March 2006, the "Diario Carreo"
announced the death of Juan Aurelio Z˙˝iga Galarza, who passed
away in Guayaquil, aged 86. He was a famous chronicler of
Portovelo, where everybody called him "Don Juan",
especially in the borough of La Deportiva where he spent all his
life. Don Juan was awarded in 2003 the title of Best Citizen of
the Canton of Portovelo. Juan Aurelio Z˙˝iga Galarza is the
designer of the flag and coat of arms of the Canton of Portovelo.
The city of Portovelo (15,000 inhabitants) is the capital of one of the 215 Cantons of Ecuador (20,000 inh.; 286.2 sq. km), located in the south-west of Ecuador, 570 kilometers from Quito and 240 km from Guayaquil.
Portovelo is famous for its gold mines, including one of the biggest in South America and perhaps in the world. The mine can be visited with the carts used to transport raw ore. The inhabitants of Portovelo claim that their village was the Inca Eldorado dreamed by the European explorers; the Quechua name of Portovelo is Curipamba, lit. the Land of Gold, and the city was probably one of the most important in the Inca empire. Curipamba was inhabited by the Paltas, members of the Ca˝ari Confederation, who fled to the mountains when the Spanish conquistadores came. Those, led by Alonso de Mercadillo, founded there the settlement of Asiento de Minas; after 40 years of struggle against diseases and floodings by river Amarillo, they moved 600 m uphill and founded the city of San Antonio de Zaruma.
The legend says that the local chief (cacique) Quinara took from Portovelo a huge shipment of gold in order to pay the ransom of Emperor Atahualpa; when he was told that Atahualpa had been murdered by the conquistadores, he buried the gold in a cave somewhere between Portovelo and Cajamarca.
In 1896, the South American Development Company (SADCO), from the USA, exploited the mines of Portovelo, rebuilt the village and became one of the richest in the world. The Mining Chamber of Ecuador believes that 120 tons of gold have been extracted in Porotvelo since the beginning of the XXth century. The company de facto ruled most of the province of El Oro and a part of the neighbouring province of Loja; it paid the workers with its own currency to prevent them from deserting. The company was expelled from Ecuador in 1946.
On 13 May 1968, Portovelo ceased to be a miners' camp and became a parish. On 5 August 1980, the Canton of Portovelo was formed, including the parishes of Portovelo, Curtincßpac and SalatÝ. The Canton then had only 4,500 inhabitants.
Ivan Sache, 17 April 2006
image from <www.portovelo.com>, located by Dov Gutterman, 16 April 2004