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Deseado Department, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

Last modified: 2021-12-24 by rob raeside
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Caleta Olivia Municipality

The municipality of Caleta Olivia (36,068 inhabitants in 2001) is located on the coast of the San Jorge Gulf, in the north-east of the Province of Santa Cruz.

The region was explored in May 1901 by Lieutnant Exequiel Guttero, Captain of the "Guardia Nacional", a ship transporting material and workers for the construction of a telegraph line. According to a tradition that was never either confirmed or refuted, Guttero named the place Caleta Olivia, lit. "Olivia Inlet", as a tribute to her wife named Olivia. The telegraphic line to Comodoro Rivadavia was inaugurated on 11 June 1901; on 20 November 1901, the General Directorate of Posts and Telegraph was allowed by the Ministry of the Interior to open to the public of the telegraph station of "Calete Olivia". A telegram supposed to have been emitted on that day was found in 1971, which allowed the municipality to officially adopt 20 November 1901 as the date of foundation of the town, a decision confirmed by Provincial Decree No 279 of 13 February 1975.

Oil was found in Caleta Olivia on 13 December 1907, but it took until the 1940s to start exploitation. The Caleta Olivia drilling was inaugurated on 29 September 1946, which started the boom of the town and attracted several workers from all over the country. The monument "El Gorosito" was erected on 13 December 1969 as a tribute to the oil workers.

As reported in "El Patagónico", the municipality of Caleta Olivia has organized a competition for the design of the town flag ("A flag for my town"), to be inaugurated on 20 November 2008 during the celebration of the 107th anniversary of the town's foundation.

The jury publicly proclaimed the results of the competition on 9 November 2008 in the evening. The jury considered the winning design, selected among more than 40 anonymous entries, as respecting the historical process, the today's context and the projection of the town in the future; the flag was also judged asymmetrical, visually balanced, and correctly using complementary and analogous colours, reflecting synthetic capacity by the use of its graphic elements.

The author of the winning proposal, "Artemisia"*, showed up as the designer María Verónica Díaz Lafourcade, who said that "the design has for main objective to propose a synthesis of the most characteristic elements of the town, either natural or artificial, and which , together, constitute our daily landscape". This is a straightforward allusion to sea, wind, plateaus and to the fishing, oil drilling and cattle-breeding activities.

A colour photograph shows the designer presenting her proposal. The left part of the flag shows the half of a stylized derrick, while the rest of the flag shows a stylized landscape with two sheep on a green plateau and a ship on a blue sea under a lighter blue sky.

*probably a tribute to Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1651/1653), a painter of the Caravaggisti school.

Ivan Sache, 13 Oct 2008

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Las Heras Municipality

[Las Heras municipal flag] image by Ivan Sache, 19 Jan 2014

The municipality of Las Heras (17,821 inhabitants in 2010, therefore the 4th most populous municipality in the province; 884 ha) is located in the north of the Santa Cruz Province, 760 km from Río Gallegos.

Las Heras is a typical "railway settlement" that emerged in a desert areas following the building of a railway line. The settlement was successively named Rastro de Avestruz, Punta Rieles, Parada 283, Las Heras, and Colonia Gral. Las Heras. Colonia General Las Heras was one of the five colonies established on 7 September 1908 by the Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with a Sociedad Argentino Germana de Colonización (German-Argentinean Society of Colonization). The building of a railway line between Comodoro Rivadavia (Chubut) and Puerto Derseado (Santa Cruz) was decided the same year by Law No. 5,559. The site of the Colonia General Las Heras railway station was established at Km 283, and a village quickly developed nearby. According to the 1920 census, Colonia General Las Heras had 603 inhabitants; the plans of the settlement, designed by the land surveyor Lázaro Molinari, were approved on 30 November 1922. Sheep breeding was the main source of income for the inhabitants of the town. The discovery of oil in 1932 did not change the situation; oil extraction became profitable only in the 1950s, after seismographic and gravimetric surveys had revealed the amount of oils resource in the depth.

The flag of Las Heras is horizontally divided celeste blue-white with a thin black border at the top and bottom, charged with white elements, and a round emblem in the middle. The emblem is surrounded in its upper half by a yellow sun outlined in red and in its lower part by black railway tracks. The emblem is brown, quartered by a thin red cross; it features on a white and black base, from left to right, a black oil well, a black wind pump, a white sheep, and a guanaco.

The flag, selected in a public contest organized in 2009 and inaugurated in 2010, was designed by Raúl Leuquén. The designer explained the flag as follows:

The celeste blue and white stripes recall the national flag.
The railway tracks arranged like a laurel wreath recall the origin of Colonia Las Heras.
The sun recalls the national flag, too. The red outline is the Tehuelche symbol of wind.
The central emblem symbolizes the Earth ("mapu") with the four main compass directions. The guanaco and the sheep, recalling the municipal coat of arms, stand on a white and black base symbolizing mining industry. The wind pump symbolizes the energy of the future.
The black stripes are "guardas" typical of the Mapuche-Tehuelche cloth. They are a symbol of respect due to the natives, the ancestor of several inhabitants of the town. The central elements of the "guardas" represent, at the top, a "matuasto" lizard*, at the bottom, a greater rhea ("choique")**. The black background of the "guardas" also represents Oschen Aike, the place were oil was found.

The coat of arms is prescribed by the Municipal Ordinance of 31 October 1978. It was designed by Saúl O. Melian, from Los Antiguos, winner of a public contest.

The upper field represents a limpid celeste blue sky with a white transparent cloud, representing a gas flare, symbol of the local wealth.
The median field, coloured mostly red and yellow, represents the Patagonian sunrise.
The lower field, in dark beige, black and white colours, represents the Patagonian plateau. The arrow head represents the natives. The oil derrick represents Black Gold. The guanaco is represented, as the oldest dweller of the region. The sheep is the base of sustainability in the Argentinean south.

*The high mountain lizard, Phymaturus palluma (Molina, 1782), is endemic to Argentina and Chile

**The greater rhea, aka American rhea (Rhea americana (Linnaeus, 1758)) is a flightless bird endemic to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The species is commonly farmed in North America and Europe.

Ivan Sache, 19 Jan 2014

The flag heavily resembles the Mapuche flag  in its general layout, and Leuquén is a Mapuche surname.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 31 March 2017

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