Havana in Guanabacoa?

Havana in Guanabacoa?

Heritage & Traditions

Irene Ferrer

"Put Havana in Guanabacoa" is one of the most popular expressions of the Cuban proverb when it refers to the impossibility or, at least the great difficulty, of achieving high claims.

The city of Havana, mostly urbanized, currently has an area of ​​about 700 square kilometers, while the extension of the current municipality of Guanabacoa is just over 100.

However, metaphorically speaking, in the 16th century it was possible to insert one into the other and Guanabacoa, considered then "a town of Indians", was for about six months the capital of the island.

It was the year 1555 when the famous French pirate Jacques de Sores, scourge of the Caribbean Sea, took and plundered the town of San Cristóbal de La Habana, before which Governor Gonzalo Pérez de Angulo preferred to flee to the mentioned town, together with the Cabildo and main residents of the capital city, and from there issued the relevant decrees.

The old Guanabacoa, located in the east of Havana city, also played a leading role in another crucial historical event in this Caribbean archipelago: the taking of Havana by the English in 1792.

In the confrontation and defeat of that aggression, the courage of troops made up of militias and volunteers stood out, commanded by Creole chiefs such as José Antonio Gómez y Bullones, the legendary mayor of Guanabacoa, by whom that town is also popularly known, even today as the town of Pepe Antonio.

Founded in 1554 and with the category of a villa since 1743, Asunción de Guanabacoa is currently one of the most interesting towns in Havana, with the presence of Afro-Cuban culture and the birthplace of outstanding artists of international recognition, such as Ernesto Lecuona, of relevant world trajectory; the singular pianist, composer and interpreter Ignacio Villa "Bola de Nieve" and the singer and actress Rita Montaner, whom Cubans consider "the unique".