Visit to the Bazurto market in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.


What used to be in the place where Bazurto is today? This is how Cartageneros remember the history of their neighborhood and the arrival of the market 41 years ago.

The history of the Bazurto market

Basurto market with s and not with z, as it is written today in Cartagena de Indias, is a Basque surname, originally from the neighborhood of Albia, near Bilbao. “The owner of this surname must have had a kind of orchard or a small farm on the edge of this pipe, hence the name”, explains the Nomenclátor Cartagenero (Donaldo Bossa Herazo), on the possible origin of the name of the pipe that runs along the Lake AvenueThe name with which the busy public market of the city was baptized.

Bazurto was also the name of the dredge that filled the land where the market and the streets of Martínez Martelo are located today, according to an account of this neighborhood. The land extended from Barrio Chino to where the Bazurto Bridge is today. This land belonged to the municipal public companies, a swampy area with mangroves and water, which was filled with the dredging of the Bazurto canal (today the Las Quintas swamp).

The first stage of this neighborhood

-which runs from 37th Street to 33rd Street

– was inaugurated in 1951 and named Bazurto, after the dredge with which the entire area was filled with caracolejos.

In 1953 the second stage was inaugurated and it was then that the neighborhood really began to bear the name of the mayor of the time, Vicente Martínez Martelo, explains Fernández.

Life in the Martínez Martelo neighborhood

Martínez Martelo is one of the first neighborhoods built by the Instituto de Crédito Territorial. The houses were raffled among interested persons who met the following requirements: Be over 50 years old, be a Catholic married couple, have at least eight children and have three letters of recommendation from wealthy families. The neighborhood did not neglect religious celebrations, especially the Christmas novenas, where there was a fraternity around them. Older people remember Pedro Ovidio Osorio, who presided over the first Junta de Acción Comunal, and built the first chapel inside his house, on transversal 27, where the entire neighborhood would gather to receive Sunday mass, led by the priests of the archdiocese. A statue of Our Lady of Fatima, to which he was devoted, still stands on the terrace.

U.S. priest Robert Whisite raised funds to build the parish in Martinez Martelo. There was even a controversy between those who preferred to have a stadium and those who opted for the church. Finally, in 1972, the priest saw his dream come true, the parish of San Luis Beltrán. The joy thatthe church building brought to the neighborhood contrasted, years later, with the sadness of its unexpected departure. One day, they woke up to terrible news. In the church archives it is written: “On October 30, a carpenter who was repairing a window saw the priest lying on the floor of his room. He called immediately, but it was too late, according to the medical report, the priest had died of a heart attack. Today, the parish is just a memory broken by the wind and the ground, from where it has not been able to rise since May 2017, when it collapsed.”

In its beginnings, Martínez Martelo agglomerated people from all walks of life, “it was an epicenter, with residents from other neighboring neighborhoods, such as Bruselas, El Bosque and Alto Bosque. It is also said to be the center of the city, geographically speaking. There was a lot of sports, competitions, baseball and soccer championships. There was a lot of unity in the neighborhood,” says Fernando Fernández.

The adjacent canal (Las Quintas marsh) was a swimming pool for locals and foreigners, as well as a lake for artisanal fishing and a natural place for harvesting mussels and oysters. It was also considered a romantic setting and served as a sporting venue for the nautical outings of this first generation of the neighborhood,” the magazine points out. The neighborhood was adjacent to the emerging El Bosque and, in its early years, to the lands of the old Playón de Gávalo, where the Bazurto market building was constructed.

The arrival of the bazurto market

The chaos and disorder in the old Getsemaní market “had begun to provoke protests, among them were articles in the newspaper ‘El Universal’ signed by Gustavo Lemaitre Román under the headline. name of Panoptesalso assumed by José Vicente Mogollón, director and owner of Mogollón & Cia”. José Henrique Rizo Pombo wrote in his book “History of the Cartagena Convention Center”.

The endless problems generated by the Gethsemani market led the elites to think about relocating it and to look for other options to locate it. One of them was the location of the Calamar railroad workshops in the neighborhood of El Espinal. But this alternative provoked a great deal of debate.

Panoptes’, in his column “Mirando por la Rendija” of September 29, 1962, showed “a general plan of Cartagena and a circle covering the entire urban area, whose center was the site of Bazurto, to indicate that this was to be the site of a new market because the roads met at this point from all parts of the city,” reads the same book.

New Mayor of Cartagena de Indias

In 1967, Gustavo Lemaitre Román was elected mayor of Cartagena de Indias. With the invaluable support of Alberto Araújo Merlano, whom he appointed to the management of Cartagena’s municipal public enterprises, Lemaitre immediately began to prepare for the displacement of the Getsemaní market,” the book states.

Just as it would be today, at the time the idea of relocating the Gethsemani market was considered unfeasible and took many years to materialize. “The works were directed by the engineer Alfonso Martínez Emiliani, until the initial projectof the building was completed. This building was delivered in July 1975. At that time the interior furnishings were still missing, which was completed in 1976, the paving of the access roads and the parking lots, which were in the process of being acquired with the purchase of some neighboring properties”. It was under the mandate of José Henrique Rizo Pombo that the market was moved. It was inaugurated on January 22, 1978, 41 years ago, and was called Bazurto. It is said that when Getsemaní began to oxygenate and renew itself, the market not only brought commerce to its new home, but also all the problems it created in El Arsenal, and which persist in the largest market place in Cartagena de Indias.

Although some in and around Martinez Martelo thought that Bazurto would bring progress, displeasure soon began to surface. Martinez Martelo has had to change its dynamics with the new market, adapting to the high pollution and insecurity that brought them four decades ago. They are awaiting compliance once and for all with the court decision that ordered eight years ago to move the market to another area of Cartagena de Indias.

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