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La Rioja Province (Argentina)

Provincia de La Rioja

Last modified: 2013-06-17 by francisco gregoric
Keywords: la rioja | provincia de la rioja | bend | wreath | fruit | quiroga (juan facundo) | araoz de lamadrid (gregorio) | sarmiento (domingo faustino) | rn.o.m. | religion o muerte | religion or death | cross: (red) | skull | bone |
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[Province of La Rioja flag] 9:14
image by Jaume Ollé, 18 Dec 1996 and 26 May 2008

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Description of the flag

Adopted 14 August 1986. The 18 red fruits symbolise each department of the province. Ratio: 9:14.
Jaume Ollé, 18 Dec 1996 and 28 Aug 2000

La Rioja became an autonomous province in 1815. Before that it had been a part of the Province of Córdoba.

Although the flag of the Province of La Rioja is a modern designed one, it is obviously inspired by the two stripes of the Andes Army flag and the red diagonal of the Artigas Flag and the federalist flags used around 1815-1820 in the Río de la Plata area.

It is believed that around 1815 the Artigas Flag was raised in La Rioja to show the support of the province to Artigas federalist ideas and protectorate.
Francisco Gregoric, 1 Dec 2005

Flag law

    En uso de las atribuciones conferidas por el Pueblo, la Convención Constituyente resuelve:

  • Artículo 1.- Crear la bandera de la Rioja como símbolo de la unidad política de su pueblo y de su identidad social y cultural.

  • Artículo 2.- La enseña provincial estará constituida por dos franjas, de color azul la inferior y blanca la superior. Al medio dos ramas de laurel donde se simboliza con su flor los 18 departamentos de la provincia. Cruzando en sentido ascendente de abajo izquierda a arriba derecha, una franja ancha color punzo.

    Del cuello de la moharra una cinta con ambos colores azul y blanco y en letras negras la inscripción «La Rioja por la unidad nacional y latinomearicana».

    Material: de tela, generos de seda en paño doble sin fleco alguno.

    Dimensiones: la bandera tendrá un metro y cuarenta centimetros de largo por noventa centimetros de ancho.

    Asta: sera de madera de algarrobo lustrada de color natural de dos metros de largo y un diametro de tres centimetros y medio.

    Moharra: Será de plata de veinte centimetros de largo, llevando media luna de base de doce centimetros.

quoted by Jaume Ollé, 28 Aug 2000

English translation:

    Using the powers given by the People, The Constitutional Convention establishes:

  • Article No. 1.- To create the flag of La Rioja as symbol of political unity of its people and its social and cultural identity.

  • Article No. 2.- The provincial flag is of two [horizontal] stripes of blue at the bottom and white the upper one. At the center a wreath of laurel with eigthteen flowers simbolizing the 18 departamental divisions of the province. Crossing from the lower hoist to the to upper fly a wide red stripe.

    From the neck of the top a cravat of blue and white with the inscription in black letters «La Rioja por la unidad nacional y latinomearicana» (La Rioja for the national and Latin-American unity).

    Fabric: A double cloth of silk without fringes.

    Dimensions: the flag will be one meter and forty centimeters long by ninety centimeters high.

    Staff: it will be made of polished algarrobo wood in its natural color of two meters long and a diameter of three and a half centimeters.

    Top: Its a Moharra. It will be made of silver, the spike of twenty centimeters long, and the crescent at the base, of twelve centimeters.

Law translated by Francisco Gregoric and Gus Tracchia, 1 Dec 2005

As noted the law just defines the Ceremonial flag. In outdoors flags the corbata ribbon is not present, and other dimensions could be possible
Francisco Gregoric, 1 Dec 2005

Although the law text defines the color of the lower stripe as "azul" (blue), the color that appears in La Rioja Province flags is sky blue, sometimes of little darker shade than the national flag, while other times the same one.
Francisco Gregoric, 26 May 2008

Historical flags of Facundo Quiroga (1826-1833)

Juan Facundo Quiroga was born in 1788 in a very small hamlet named San Antonio, (nowadays in the Province of La Rioja, Argentina). He was a federalist, a militar leader and a landowner. In the 1810s he went to Buenos Aires where it is believed that he was a soldier of General San Martin’s Mounted Grenadiers Regiment for a short time.

In late 1810s Quiroga was back in La Rioja as the commander of small military forces very influent in local Politics. His power grew stronger and Quiroga became the most important and powerful political figure in La Rioja.

In 1820 the central government of the United Provinces (Argentina) disappears and the Argentine provinces are formed into autonomous states.

In the Province of Buenos Aires, Martin Rodríguez is elected as governor. The unitarian (centralist) politician Bernardino Rivadavia becomes secretary of Martín Rodríguez’s Government (Rivadavia has been a political figure since 1811 in the del Río de la Plata). As Martín Rodríguez’s minister Rivadavia starts to implemente different liberal reforms.

Among those reforms Rivadavia tries to make changes within the religious area. He establishes freedom of religion and also takes actions that affect the collection of money by the Roman Catholic Church. Rivadavia wanted the government to have control of the funds administered before by the Roman Catholic Church. He also wanted to estimulate the immigration from non-Roman Catholic European countries.

These steps are soon imitated by several provincial governments, and even deepened when later the national power is restored and Bernardino Rivadavia is elected as President of Argentina.

These changes produce resistance in a lot of places of the Argentine territory. Lots of Roman Catholics protest against these actions and there are some insurrections. Facundo Quiroga leads some of them and presents himself as the "defender of the (Roman Catholic) religion" against that religious reform sponsored by Bernardino Rivadavia.

For that reason Quiroga begins to use the phrase "Religión o muerte" (Religion or Death) on his flags.

Between 1825 and 1827 and 1831-1833, Quiroga commands federalist armies fighting against the centralists in several occasions. The mention of a flag with the motto "Religion or Death" appears in the memories of General Gregorio Aráoz de Lamadrid, a commander of the centralist forces that fought against Quiroga in several occasions.

The centralists are defeated in the early 1830s and federalists governments are consolidated everywhere, even in the Buenos Aires Province. Quiroga leaves his military commands and establishes himself in Buenos Aires.

In year 1835 he travels to the Province of Santiago del Estero to mediate a conflict. During that trip he is murdered in a place known as Barranca Yaco. The Reynafé brothers that ruled the Province of Córdoba are accused of the crime and executed later.

Juan Facundo Quiroga is buried in La Recoleta Cemetery in the City of Buenos Aires, the same place where most Argentine governants, military and historical leaders are buried, like for example Juan Manuel de Rosas, Juan Lavalle, Bartolomé Mitre and Eva Perón among others. This cemetery is next to the Centro Recoleta, where the International Congress of Vexillology Vexilobaires 2005 was made

According to the information available, Juan Facundo Quiroga used more than one flag in his military campaigns. These flags were not intended as official provincial flags of La Rioja. They were military and political flags.
Francisco Gregoric, 30 Nov 2005

Skull and crossed bones flag

[Flag used by Facundo Quiroga] [Reconstruction based upon written sources only]
image by Francisco Gregoric, 30 Nov, 2005

Perhaps the most famous flag used by Quiroga was a black flag with a skull and crossed bones. It was apparently first raised at the Battle of El Tala on October 27, 1826. Domingo Faustino Sarmiento mentions it on Chapter VIII of his famous book Facundo: Civilización y Barbarie (Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism). Sarmiento writes:

"Facundo enarbola en el Tala una bandera que no es argentina, que es de su invención. Es un paño negro con una calavera y huesos cruzados en el centro"

(Facundo raises in Tala a flag that is not Argentine, but of his own invention. It is a black cloth with skull and crossed bones in the middle).

There is a more detailed description of this flag in the memories of the centralist general Gregorio Aráoz de Lamadrid. He fought against Quiroga in the Battle of El Tala. At the beginning of this battle, Quiroga’s flag was captured for a moment by the Unitarian forces. Finally at the end of the battle the federalists achieved victory and Quiroga’s forces recovered the flag. Araoz de Lamadrid writes:

"mis cívicos llevaban ya en retirada a la columna de Quiroga y le había arrebatado su bandera negra con dos canillas y una calavera blanca (sobre ellas) y la siguiente inscripción: Rn. O. M."

(my milita men made Quiroga's column to retreat, and had taken his black flag with two arm-bones, a white skull over them and the following inscription: Rn. O. M.)

"Rn. O. M." is a short form for "Religion o Muerte" (Religion or Death). It is important to make clear that the flag of Facundo Quiroga, has nothing to do with pirate flags. For Quiroga, the skull and bones have a religious meaning related to death. This symbol is complemented by the phrase "Religión o Muerte" (Religion or Death).
Francisco Gregoric, 30 Nov 2005

Black flag with red cross

[Flag used by Facundo Quiroga] [Reconstruction based upon written sources only]
image by Francisco Gregoric, 30 Nov, 2005

The second black that we know of is a flag that Facundo may have used in the Province of San Juan shortly after the Battle of El Tala. Once again in the same Chapter VIII of his book Facundo, Sarmiento writes:

"Sofocada esta revolución en San Juan, sábese un día que Facundo está a las puertas de la ciudad con una bandera negra dividida por una cruz sanguinolenta, rodeada de este lema: "¡Religión o muerte!"

(Suffocated this revolution in San Juan, it is known that one day Facundo is next to the gates of the city with a black flag divided by a bloody cross, surrounded by this motto: "Religion or death!)

This is the only source of information about this second flag. It must be said that Facundo: Civilización y Barbarie is not a history book but a literature essay that uses some historical facts to show Domingo Faustino Sarmiento Unitarian political ideas. However it is possible that this second flag may have existed.

The possible reconstruction would be a black flag with a red cross (a Christian Cross as Quiroga thought of himself as defender of the Roman Catholic Church), and the phrase "¡Religión o muerte!" (Religion or death!).

The motto may have been written in full "RELIGION O MUERTE" or maybe the short version described by Aráoz de Lamadrid: "Rn. O M.". However since Sarmiento mentions "una cruz sanguinolenta, rodeada de este lema" (a bloody cross, surrounded by this motto) I have reconstructed the flag with the complete phrase, due to the word "surrounding" the cross and due that the full version of the motto would be needed to achieve that. But both variants could have been possible.
Francisco Gregoric, 30 Nov 2005

Flag made by the Ladies of Mendoza

(As preserved nowadays)

[Flag made by the Ladies of Mendoza and used by Facundo Quiroga]
image by Francisco Gregoric, 1 Dec, 2005

There is another and the third flag used by Juan Facundo Quiroga that is perfectly known because it is nowadays preserved at the Museo Histórico Nacional - MHN (National Museum of History) in Buenos Aires. It is the flag given to Quiroga as a gift by the Ladies of the Province of Mendoza.

It is a flag similar to the flag of the Andes Army used by General José de San Martín, with an Argentine Coat of Arms. The part preserved has two vertical stripes red and white, with a golden embroidered coat of arms at the center.

Only the coat of arms and a little of the original fabric is preserved of the original flag. However this part was restored by the MHN by sewing it onto a bigger rectangular piece of cloth of two vertical stripes red and white.

The color red is the color of the Federalist Party of which Quiroga was a member. Federalist political flags had red combined with white in several times.
Francisco Gregoric, 30 Nov 2005

  • [???47] Gregorio Aráoz de Lamadrid (1947): Memorias
  • [???88] Félix Luna (1988) Los caudillos
  • [pzz02] Alberto Rubén Perazzo (2002): Nuestras Banderas - Vexilología Argentina (second edition)
  • [rmm02] Jorge María Ramallo (2002) La bandera de Facundo: "Religión o muerte"
  • [???55] Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1955) Facundo : Civilización y barbarie

  • Museo Histórico Nacional (National Museum of History), Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Anything below this line was not added by the editor of this page.

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