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History of Diriamba

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Introduction

Diriamba is situated 35 kilometers south of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, on the highlands of the province of Carazo. The city has a population of 60,000 people within an extension of 345 square kilometers. The climate of Diriamba is very pleasant with an annual average temperature of 22 degrees Celsius. Its excellent ecosystem allows the city to produce a variety of agricultural products. The high lands are very good for cropping high quality coffee, while near the ocean the lands are excellent for livestock and basic grains production. Its humid subtropical climate is very good for sugar cane and citruses production as well. In addition, the industry of stone operation of quarry, cut of volcanic tufas, has bloomed in this area recently.

Diriamba has beautiful beaches, which are visited by many local and international tourists. The beaches, located less than half an hour away from the city, have their own tourist centers with several restaurants, hotels, and bars. Some beaches have rocky areas from where you can enjoy the sun, but there are also plenty of sandy parts perfect for swimming and surfing. Artisan marine fishing is practiced in these seas.

Origin of Diriamba

Vague traditions exist about the origin of Diriamba. However, it is known that the establishment of the village of Diriamba goes back to the time of the Chorotegas and Nicaraos, people of Mesoamerica that used to live in southwestern Nicaragua when the first Europeans arrived in the fifteen century. In fact the name of Diriamba means “Great Hills”, and the city took its name from Diriangen, who was the chief of a Chorotega tribe.

There are not historical sources that could indicate exactly the place of the ancient Diriamba. Some historians suppose that it was located in the Apompua Valley, site near the ocean, where vestiges of urban foundations have been found. Others historians believe that Diriamba was built in the current place where the city is located. Father Morel, a traveling catholic bishop that passed by Diriamba in the XVII century, described the city like “a village of twenty small houses, where its people crop corn and cotton. They spun the fiber of cotton into thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile, which was dyed of diverse colors for clothing”. The Nicaraguan Poet, Carlos Aleman, native of the place says that the village of Diriamba since the beginning has been located in the high lands of Carazo, known at that time as the Manguesa, that means the land of the Mangues or Chorotegas.

Colonial Era

From 1500 to 1800, the blending of two great cultures took place, the integration of the Mesoamerica and the Spanish civilizations, giving birth to the people of Nicaragua.

During that period, Diriamba produced a strong folklore, music and religious traditions, deeply influenced by the Iberian Peninsula culture but enriched by Mesoamericans sounds and flavors. Diriamba has historically been an important source of folklore in Nicaragua, with internationally renowned contributors such as El Güegüense. "El Güegüense' or 'Macho Raton' is a satirical drama well known throughout Nicaragua, which is performed each year from 17 to 27 January during the Festival of San Sebastian, patron saint of the city of Diriamba. El Güegüense, a synthesis of Spanish and indigenous cultures combining theatre, dance and music, is considered one of Latin America’s most distinctive colonial-era expressions.

Throughout the colonial era, the agriculture of the city was limited the production of cereals, but without exceeding the consumption that the families needed during the year. Corns, red beans and bananas were the daily diet of the people of Diriamba. Some families had one or more cows to milk. The family property was reduced to a house and a small orchard destined to crop food. In those years the population did not have to worry to produce great harvests, because life was simple and there were no great demand of food. However, there were great extensions of virgin lands that expanded from the city of Diriamba to the beaches of the Pacific Ocean. The land was acquired by simple occupation.

Later, probably around year 1700, the crop of sugar cane was introduced as business culture. The sugar was transported to the city of Leon to be commercialized it in that place. The currency that circulated was the silver. In addition, the tallow candles and the cacao grains were used as currencies to buy cheap things.

Golden Years

The “modern” history of Diriamba begun in 1837, when the Nicaragua government triggered off the production of coffee. The “Renaissance” of Diriamba was between 1891 and 1973, period considered the golden years of the city. During these years the expansion of Diriamba was accelerated due to the coffee boom. That was the time when the urban development of the city began, creating a unique architecture of churches, towers, theaters, parks, museums, training center and markets. All this progress along with its excellent climate made Diriamba a beautiful city, very colorful and with matchless traditions. Diriamba was elevated from town to village in 1883, and from village to city on October 10, 1894 by a decree of the national congress during the government of the President Jose Santos Zelaya.

The Gold Grain

The gold grain of Diriamba, as the coffee bean is known, is considered one of the best quality coffee in the world. During the coffee explosion a lot of benefits were brought to the city. Hundreds of small coffee growers emerged and the standard of living of the people of Diriamba improved considerably. The small coffee growers learned from the bigger ones the skills to cultivate coffee. After each harvest, the coffee beans were processed in local facilities and then exported to the international markets, mainly to the United States and Europe.

Traditional families of European immigrants played key roles in developing Diriamba. They were the Baltodanos, González, Lacayos, Rappacciolis, Mendietas, Chamorros, Gutiérrez, Garcías, Párrales, Alemanes and the Briceños. All of them owned big coffee plantations and many of their members studied in the best universities in Europe and in the United States.

It is worth mentioning the name of José Esteban González Párrales, who was regard as the most progressive man in the city during those days. He owned large coffee plantations and was considered the “coffee king” of Nicaragua. He built the first public illumination system for the city. Gonzalez also built a train station, improved the roads and brought the first automobile to Diriamba. José Esteban, was married to Teresa García, daughter of Matilde Garcia, who was another prominent coffee grower. They had many children who were as progressive as their father. One of the son of Gonzalez, Ramon Ernesto, introduce from Belgium the habit to play football. Another son of Gonzales, Carlos Alberto, built the first hydroelectric system and found the first Electrical company in Diriamba.

Two others prominent coffee growers, Crisanto Briceño and Buenaventura Rappaccioli, founded the first Social Club of the city in 1890. The well-known Dr. Moisés Baltodano constructed the first dam to retain potable water for the city. His sons founded Baltodano & Brothers Cia., one of the most prestigious coffee company in the city, which later founded CISA, company that has became the bigger exporter corporation of coffee in Nicaragua.

 


 

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