History of Rioja Peru
In the Alto Mayo in the Department of San Martin

Rioja's central square or plaza de armas

In the Inca period the zone which is now the province of Rioja was inhabited by two tribes - the Uquihuas and the Chepenes.

At the end of the sixteenth century archbishop Toribio de Mogrovejo arrived at Uquihua.  He was one of the first catholic missionaries.  Later, in the 18th century with the same mission archbishop Baltasar Jaime Martinez de Compañon, the Intendent of Trujillo Don Juan Jose Martinez de Pinillos and the mayor don Felix de la Rosa Reategui and Gaviria arrived. The latter founded the village of Santo Toribio de la Nueva Rioja, now Rioja, on September 1782 on the instructions of Martínez de Compagñón.

Rioja played an important part in the consolidation of the Maynas Independence since, after proclaiming independence on 19th August 1821, a group of royalist rebels continued disturbing the peace of many of the Amazon towns and villages, amongst these Moyobamba which they had made their centre of operations.

On 4th September 1822 the patriotic troops lead by colonel Nicolas Arriola left Chachapoyas to go to Moyobamba.  Passing through Rioja they engaged in three battles: The battles of Ventana, Tambo del Visitador and Rioja.  Having won these battles the patriots advanced with the help of many of the inhabitants of Rioja towards the town of Habana where they engaged in the battle of La Habana.  With this they succeeded in finally defeating the Spaniards permanently and proclaimed the independence of Maynas on 25th September 1822.

By decree Nº 8142 in 1935, the province of Rioja was created.  At that time it had only four districts: Rioja, Pósic, Yorongos and Yuracyacu.  Later, following the opening up of the main highway, new villages were established and five more districts were created: Pardo Miguel, Nueva Cajamarca, Elias Soplin Vargas, San Fernando and Awajun.  These nine districts are the current districts in the province of Rioja.

Text Copyright Ludwig Cárdenas
Translation: Richard Dobson

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