History of the Pozos Colorados salt deposits

But the projection collapsed when the area was declared as Tayrona National Park under the Resolution 191 of 1964. The illusions of those who wanted to see the north coast of the city urbanized vanished and with the purpose of the growth in the tourism industry, the National Government offered some land in those years: the Pozos Colorados salt deposits, a vast and peculiar territory, to which which almost none bet on. It only had a highway that communicated with the rest of the country, without basic public services and swampy areas, all this in exchange for declaring as a protected zone the opposite pole of the city.

By then, Pozos Colorados was under the domain of the Colombian Institute for Agrarian Reform, Incora, an entity that gradually began to award land to those who did not doubt its promising future.

As of today, Pozos Colorados belongs to the urban area of the city and in it are built hotels, apartments, convention centers, residential complexes and restaurants, framed in the tourist vocation for which it was awarded.

Chapter I: Salt of our older brothers?

In pre-Hispanic times, Pozos Colorados was inhabited by natives dedicated to agriculture and fishing, grouped in a small Tayrona town called Durcino During droughts and by the coast, some natural lagoons formed saltwater ponds, which with the sun crystallized the sea salt, reaching a point of oxidation, for which the Spanish baptized the area as Pozos Colorados. The exploitation of salt, according to historical records, was in charge of the small settlement of Durcino between the 10th and 16th centuries AD, to be used as a preservative for non-perishable foods and some medicinal properties: This gave the area a special meaning, which during the indigenous period generated the creation of chieftains in most of the sea salt deposits in the region.

Chapter II: the king’s dominions over the salt mines

Taking into account that from the 16th century, with the conquest of the New Kingdom by Spain, the domain of the salt mines continued to belong to the indigenous people, the conquerors began to settle in some sectors around the exploitation of salt.

Only until the 17th century, when in 1777 King Carlos III ordered the absolute administration of the salt mines and later, after National Independence, the State declared the absolute ownership of the exploitation.

At that time, the lands of Pozos Colorados belonged to a large piece of land known as Los Cerritos, an extension of 5,800 hectares that once started from the parish of San Jacinto in the town of Gaira, up to the El Doctor quebrada, now bordered by Ciénaga. The few indigenous people that remained by then exploited the precipitated salt in the lagoons that the sea left with the floods, having to pay tribute not to the owners of the land, but to the Spanish kingdom itself.

Chapter III: the land was divided

The great globe of land of Los Cerritos passed into other hands and a division began among the heirs of the family that held its property. Children, cousins, nephews, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all the descendants, divided the 58 million square meters into small lots, from 1904 to today, an area subdivided into more than 200 parts.

Chapter IV: The Nation comes into play

Although it is true that the right of domain over the exploitation of mineral resources for almost four centuries was exclusive to the Nation, its rulers were forced to negotiate with the owners for titles to those lands.

In the middle of the 19th century, the production of sea salt in Santa Marta was one of the most appreciated in the national territory Next to Pozos Colorados was Chengue to the north of the city, and by 1869, 8.3% of all the salt in the country could be extracted, surpassed only by the Galerazamba salt flats, which constituted 25%.

Such was the interest of the State in consolidating the domain that in 1871 the Minister of Finance of the government of President Eustorgio Salgar, Salvador Camacho Roldán, said: The salt mines have always been a national property, as evident, as indisputable, as the property of a house with respect to the one who built it.

Property firstly of the Crown of Spain, of the old Colombia later, of Nueva Granada and of the Confederation of Granadina immediately after, of the United States of Colombia today, are their property titles consigned especially and expressly in all the constitutions sanctioned in the name of of all the Colombian people from 1821 to 1863.

Data from the National Historical Archive describe that by the end of the 19th century the Pozos Colorados salt flats were administered by José Domingo Dávila, establishing a kind of lease for the exploitation of the mineral. Then, the Thousand Days War, which took place between 1899 and 1902, considerably reduced the Nation’s power over the exploitation of its resources, considerably lowering the profits that had been observed in the 19th century.

Chapter V: Up goes Manaure

Pozos Colorados` time was passing little by little, the drops in the prices of bags of salt, due to the postwar period, affected production in the first two decades of the 20th centur Galerazamba continued with its hegemony due to its proximity to Cartagena and Barranquilla, but around 1920 the future of salt in Colombia emerged: Manaure.

Circa 1941, the State appointed the Republic Bank as the managing entity of all the salt mines in the country, thus implementing the modernization of the facilities through the Salinas Concession agreement.

The appearance of new techniques in food preservation and the prohibition for human consumption, added to the scarcity of the mineral due to the new constructions that blocked the entrance of sea water to the lakes, caused that in the 70s and 80s, the Salinas de Pozos Colorados were closed. Colombia was satisfied with Manaure, which at that time supplied 70% of the salt consumed in the country.


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