Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Cross of Plaza Elguera (once the Plazuela de La Salud)

In a recent post I talked about Jiron Quilca, and mentioned that at the intersection of Quilca and Av. Garcilazo de la Vega there used to be an Inca way station, or tambo.

In time that tambo gave way to a house of healing run by a religious order, and the spot became known as the Plazuela de La Salud (Plaza of Health).  Today it is the Plaza Elguera.

In one corner of said plaza there is a cross affixed to the wall of a building.  No inscription accompanies it and it could easily pass unnoticed.  However, it is not a mere decoration.

In 1884, during the Chilean occupation of Lima resulting from the War of  the Pacific, two Chilean soldiers were attacked in that vicinity.  The Chilean military governor ordered a search and five men were arrested.  After questioning some of them were released, but a couple were kept.  Unable to assign assign responsibility to each, as they would not cooperate, the commander drew lots and put one of the Peruvians up against a long adobe wall that then ran along that spot, whereupon the man was executed by firing squad as a lesson to the populace.

The spot of the execution became a symbol of patriotic resistance and not long afterward a wooden cross was placed upon it.   Decades later, when the modern buildings of downtown Lima were going up, the building company respected tradition and marked the spot with the cross we see today.

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