Pioneers of the Aviation and Petroleum Industries of Colombia The General Rafael Maria & Gregorio Palacio Vargas
El Heraldo 12 de Julio 1992 Section Panorama Page 2E Andres Viloria Ter

These Colombian natives from Barranquilla’s Atlantic Coast are still waiting for their posthumous homage: the generals Manuel Maria, Gregorio, and Rafael Maria Palacio Vargas. Homage in honor of their contributions to the industrial activities, excellent political development, and the public administration…notwithstanding their military participation in wars of revolution during the last decades of the 19Th century, is long overdue.

These Generals Palacio Vargas were the sons of the Cartagenan Captain Gregorio Palacio Garcia Del Fierro and Doña Maria Mercedes Vargas de Barros from the municipality of Tubará. Their paternal grandfather, the Colonel Joaquin Maria Palacio, whose family tree included the South American liberator Simón Bolivar Palacio, arrived in Cartagena from the Republic of Jamaica; the Colonel was a member of a body of Nobles from Vizcaya, Spain. Their grandmother, Maria Manuela Garcia Del Fierro de Velacorte, hailed from the city of Cartagena.

The Generals Palacio Vargas maintained a long heritage of military tradition, which they received from their grandfather: Colonel Joaquin Maria Palacio participated in the war between the Creoles and the Royalists in favor of the federation just as his son (Cartagenan Captain Gregorio Palacio) did in the War of 1840 to prevent the advances of the General Jose Maria Obando. His battles in Cartagena were what earned him the rank of Captain. Captain Palacio did not only dedicate himself to military activities... he also performed public service and maintained his personal industrial ventures. He was an importer and exporter of various goods through the port of Santa Marta, Cartagena, and Barges leaving Puerto Caiman, Morro Hermosa y Caja (Known today as Playa Mendoza). During his endeavors in public service he was Governor of Galapa in the year 1842 and in 1849 he was Governor of Barranquilla... he died that same year in Barranquilla, a victim of the Cholera Epidemic. His Widow then returned to her native town, Tubará, with her three sons. There she would be accompanied by her family’s sugar plantations; where mills would produce syrups for “panela” and Rum. Hectares of cotton plantations lined the coast by the coral reefs. The cotton was of a variation called “Perenna”. There then was where the three brothers Palacio Vargas would pass there childhood, grew-up, learned their “first letters”, and two of them would wed. It is important to note that the brothers were self-taught. Besides the military training of the three brothers, they all specialized in aspects concerning economic, social, and political development for the region and the country.

TimetableRafael Maria Palacio Vargas was the youngest of the three brothers and the one with the biggest talent for politics; he was born in Barranquilla on the 24th of October 1848 and died on the 10th of July of 1945. He was the minister of Government during the administration of President Ignacio Sanclemente (1898-1900), he was also the governor of the Atlantic (a Departmental State of Colombia) between January 1st and April 15th 1913, and before that he was the administrator of the Customs in 1983; notwithstanding, he held positions of Representative, Councilman, and Senator of the Republic.

Rafael Maria Palacio Vargas was one of the five Colombians who took part in the first commercial airlines in the Americas, Scadta (Sociedad Colombo-Alemana de Transportes Aereos). For initiating aviation in Colombia on June 5th 1919 he was honored with a bust of his person being placed in the Park of the Founder Fathers. Today Scadta is known as Avianca and continues the Colombian tradition of aviation.

Tubará was the First Exploring Well in Colombia CARTA PETROLERA No. 65 1995 Del Ministerio de Minas y Energia The first exploring well in Colombia was really drilled in 1883. It was called Tubará and the pioneers were Manuel Maria Palacio Vargas and David Lopez, assisted by geologist Luis Strifler. The work was done at open cut, that is to say pure oil minery. The drilling rig was a wooden structure 10 meters high; in its top there was a crown block with a steel cable tied to a drop hammer that when if hammered entered the earth's crust. The result: a production capacity of 50 barrels per day. On July 4th 1910 the Minister of Public Works (now the Ministry of Mines and Energy) stated in his review of the registration of Tubará: "Petroleo de Tubará, 58, el mejor petroleo conocido."... Tubará's Petroleum is 58 grade and the best known petroleum. This Presentation was done by Rafael Maria Palacio Vargas and associates as the Colombian Oil & Gas Company [Petroleum Company of England]

General Gregorio Palacio Vargas, the oldest Brother, dedicated his life to politics of less notoriety with exception to his term as Mayor of the District of San Roque (known to day as Barranquilla) in February of 1882.


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