Central Cuba - West

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t Blue boats moored on a pontoon on the tranquil waters of Lago Hanabanilla

Experience Central Cuba - West

The history of this area is punctuated by strife. In 1509, the Spanish navigator Sebastián Ocampo caught sight of a bay on Cuba’s northern Atlantic coast, claimed the land from the Siboney Indians and assigned it to settlers from the Canary Islands. The indigenous people opposed this injustice so fiercely that the city of Matanzas, which was built in that bay in the 1600s, probably owes its name to the memory of a massacre (matanza) of Spaniards. The Jagua Indians were also wiped out when a bay on the south coast was “discovered” by Columbus in 1494, although Cienfuegos wasn’t founded here until 1819. The city was settled by Roman Catholics from Haiti and Louisiana, who were granted this territory to counterbalance the massive presence of African slaves.

From the mid-1500s to the mid-1700s, both coasts in this region had to face the serious threat of pirate raids. As a result, in 1689, 20 families from the village of Remedios, not far from the sea, decided to move to the interior to be at a safe distance from the buccaneers’ ships and cannons. As a result, Santa Clara was founded. The city holds a special place in Cuban hearts since it was the setting for heroic acts by Che Guevara and his rebel forces. On 28 December 1958, they captured the area after what was to be the last battle of the revolution before Batista fled.

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