Issue - February 2010

February 2010


In this edition, Lena Midrez tells us about nutrition in Bolivia; Justin Gouin writes about Bolivian female migration looking for employment opportunities; Bolivia needs Ecological education; Walter Sánchez tells us about the history of transport in more...

February 2010

Stagecoaches, trams and buses

In the 1930’s, “gondolas” (buses) and “rapiditos” (vans) started to monopolize the hole transport system in Cochabamba, generating new changes.

Walter Sánchez C.
Instituto de Investigaciones

We do not know much about the history of transport in Cochabamba. It has been showed that big troops of llamas, of up to two thousands animals, travelled across the main roads during the Inca period, carrying corn, mainly to Cuzco.

During the Spanish colony, the traffic of llamas continued until the XVIIst Century. In the XVIIIst century, Hispanic people started to use mules because of their high stamina and resilience for long-distance trips. Donkeys were used only for local transport, and horses were the means of transport for landowners, soldiers and priests.

A formal public transport system was created in the XIXst century in Cochabamba, with the expansion of the regional markets and the amelioration of the people’s mobility. In 1863, according to “La Voz de Bolivia” (Oruro, Nº 72, 30-VII-1863), the North American company “Haviland Keay & Cia” purchased – by an exclusive ten year franchise – the establishment of a route for horse drawn carts between Cochabamba and the Quillacollo and Cliza’s valleys. Because of this contract, the company had to charge a toll for animals and carriages; this was done on the Angostura passage, and was made to build a new and modern road reaching these areas. According to Cochabamba’s Historic Municipal File (AHMC), the company was still in charge of public transport, the toll, and the conservation of the road between Cochabamba and the villages Tarata, Cliza, and Arani (Libro 507 [Protocolos], 1874).

Because of some internal problems between its members, the company fell apart in 1876. Afterward, the North American F. Haviland and F. Smith created a new cars’ company named “Haviland Shmith & Cia”, with an 85,800 US $ capital. This company owned six new or used horse drawn carts with which it provided its service. Moreover, it owned two omnibuses, some cars for freight, trains and roads in good state, and eighty six horses. As owner of the Arani’s station, it operated all the way up to the Cliza’s Valley (AHMC, Libro 509 [Protocolos], 1876) and, sometimes, widened its services to Quillacollo.

This transport system, which was based on carts being pulled by animals, was important until the beginning of the XXth century. In 1902, in his book called De Los Andes al Amazonas (1902), Jose Aguirre Acha described the service the company had to offer during his trip in the Valle Alto: “A cart, pulled by six horses, waited for the passengers at the station’s gate. The passengers arrived from all the directions, carrying their suitcases and shouting to the charioteer to be patient as he cracked his whip, indicating it was time to leave.”

With the beginning of the new century, machinery was becoming more modern. According to the journalist Wilson García Mérida (Recuerdos del Primer Viaje en Automóvil. Los Tiempos. Revista OH.29.I.2006), a trader named Jesús Aguayo celebrated the arrival of two French model cars which were made in North America. They arrived at Oruro’s train station, before coming to Cochabamba. The arrival of these vehicles was a big event, and demonstrations took place, driving people to Cliza, Tarata, Punata, and Arani. Afterward, these vehicles were given to the public service, and were used on the roads to the countryside (Alameda, Cala Cala, and Quero Quero) and to Quillacollo and Vinto’s valleys.

The electric power station’s arrival gave another boost to the transport system. In 1910, the Empresa de Luz y Fuerza Cochabamba (ELFEC) obtained special permission to build an electric railway which went to Vinto, and to build a steam train line to cover the stretch from Cochabamba to Arani. The route to Vinto is the oldest tram system in Cochabamba. According to José Montaño Vergara (Monografía de Vinto), the road’s construction was authorized by the Bolivian government on 6 of January of 1910, and the inauguration was on14 of September of 1912. This electric tram followed the road going through Cochabamba, Chimba, La Maica, Santa Rosa, Colcapirhua, Quillacollo, and finally arrived in Vinto where sheds were used as tram stations, in the area where nowadays lies the temple of Nuestra Señora del Rosario.

The choice of this road was not a coincidence. Vinto had a high population because many estates were established in the area and produced lots of vegetables which were sold in the town. On the other hand, Vinto attracted people from the city who came to the village to enjoy cereal and fruits sold in Anocaraire, Convuyo, Iscaypata and Falsuri, as well as to enjoy its pure air and spa. The vast amount of horses in the region allowed the passer-bys to enjoy all its benefits.

In 1929, a tram network in the city already existed and transported people to various valleys and areas in the country side. Among the main routes, the two which went to Vinto and left from the Central Station of the ELFEC at 5:45 and 5:50 in the morning were of much importance. At 6:00 am, leaving from the main Square, the tram followed the road in the countryside of Cala Cala, and continued its way all day long with half hour breaks during the trip.

Another important route connected Cochabamba with Arani, and was used by locomotives powered by wood

During its return journey, this tram’s main stop was in the Plaza 14 de Septiembre, even though it finished its journey at the Railway station. Another tram, which started its trip at 6:00 am, went to the hospital of the Muyurina area. This journey was only a part of a project bound to link the city of Cochabamba with the Sacaba valley, but this project has never been achieved. Another important route connected Cochabamba with Arani, and was used by locomotives powered by wood. Inaugurated in 1913, the railway passed behind the slaughterhouse, went through Jayhuaico, the low lying part of Angostora’s field, and the villages of Tarata, Cliza, Punata, before it arrived at its final destination: Arani.

This tram system had, at all times, six electrical trollies and six steam trains. These machines had emblematic names such as “14 de Septiembre” (the first tram to reach Vinto), others being: “Eliodoro Villazon”, “Capriles”, “Tarata”, “Punata”, “Cliza”, or “Arani”.

The most important change was the closure of the tram system which accelerated the modification of the public transport system, which started to be dominated by motor cars.

Calendario febrero 2010

Ciclo de cine “Opera prima”
Lunes 1En las cuerdas” (Dans les cordes)
Magaly Richard- Serrano

Martes 2 Todo está perdonado” (Tout est pardonné)
Mia Hansen- Love

Expo. fotográfica “Comunicación, cuerpos y Sida”
Lunes 8 al viernes 12 Romero
“La cabeza de mi madre” (La tête de maman)
Carine Tardieu

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