The fertile town of San Julián de los Güines
By Alejandro Rodríguez Ruiz
On the banks of the Mayabeque River, Güines is a western Cuban town founded in the colonial period and known for its fertile lands, which its municipal anthem rightly calls "extensive valley of eternal greenery."
Located about 54 kilometers southeast of Havana, the name of the area comes from the word Güinicaxina, with which the aboriginal Siboneys of the region identified the Mayabeque current. Historians point out that the evolution of the territory was linked to the appearance of herds and corrals given as grants from the second half of the 16th century, mainly dedicated to livestock, as well as self-consumption agriculture.
In the latter part of that century, the presence of immigrants from the Canary Islands settled in these farms, who, in addition to minor fruits and meats, promoted the cultivation of tobacco, an item that reached great relevance, to the point that leaves of that plant appear on the coat of arms of the territory.
The economic development experienced by the region, to which sugar cane was also incorporated, made Güines since the 18th century an important producer and exporter center, and the cradle of the national sugar industry, with 94 mills throughout its jurisdiction.
San Julián de los Güines was granted the title of Villa in 1769, although it did not properly acquire that condition until 1817 due to the opposition of the town of Guanabacoa, which saw its interests threatened.
Currently belonging to the province of Mayabeque, Güines is the head of the municipality of the same name, which covers about 435 square kilometers, with around 66 thousand inhabitants. the vegetation is exuberant, with the presence of royal palms, wild trees, ceibas, seedlings, cedars, pines, casuarinas ... and in the fauna you can see birds such as the cartacuba, the woodpecker, the mockingbird, the tocororo and the tomeguín.
Vestiges of the old sugar mills, the hills and caves of Candela, the Rosario beach on the southern coast and other sites of interest contribute to the varied attractions of the Güinera region.