Author: David Paz (page 1 of 1)

At the Tamarind’s Foot – Decisions

I have never understood why our city lost the tradition of celebrating its birthdays; I have searched the archives and asked the elders: -Nobody knows!

And one day when the bells of El Carmen rang out announcing the beginning of the celebrations for the 300th anniversary of the foundation; when I saw the neighbours flooding the streets and the portals full of stalls; and the children running before “the Kid with the Boot”: then I understood the magnitude of the tradicide[1]A play on words that combines the words Tradition and Homicide to refer to the fact of “putting traditions to death”. happily overcome. Men should never lose the memory of their peoples.

§ I

If you are visiting our three-hundred-year old town that we know today as Santa Clara, we highly recommend you to visit a park called El Carmen, since it is an integral part of our small local history.

There, in the Parque del Carmen you will find a church that in colonial times, at certain times, was a prison for local[2]The original text in Spanish uses the demonym villaclareñas to refer to local patriot women patriots as recalled by a bronze plaque that is in front of it. There is also a marble monument in the form of an ascending spiral that has 17 columns with the family names of those who according to an old tradition were the founders of the town and next to it you can contemplate a tamarind tree that is part of our history.

According to an old tradition that the historian Manuel D. Gonzáles published in his work last century, back in 1689, 17 families of the village of San Juan de los Remedios, located on the north coast of the current province of Villa Clara, terrified by the frequent assaults and outrages of corsairs and pirates that on more than one occasion had plundered the population, decided to move to a more protected place in the interior of the country, which they did on July 15, 1689, settling in the Orejanos quarter of the Ciego de Santa Clara hacienda. After hearing mass at the foot of a leafy tamarind tree on the top of a small hill, they began to erect the first buildings.

This is the essence of the famous and ancient tradition about the foundation of Santa Clara, which after extensive and deep research carried out by the historian Natalia Raola Ramos, recently deceased[3]At the time this work was printed, 1993., it has been distorted and has remained just that, an old tradition or legend among the many that the city has.


In order to get to know the historical truth, it is necessary to start from an event that took place on July 29, 1646, that is, 43 years before the date of the foundation, when the Cabildo of Sancti Spíritus, which at that time had jurisdiction over large extensions of land in the central region of the Island, granted a ranch named CIEGO DE SANTA CLARA to a neighbour of Remedios named Antonio Díaz y de Pavia, married to Graciana Tamayo Reinoso, also from Remedios, who immediately went to live in the hacienda. There they procreated an extensive family whose main economic activity was an active trade of ransom (contraband) with the so-called buccaneers (individuals who prowled the coasts mocking the commercial monopoly that Spain had imposed on its colonies).

As the years went by, the family nucleus headed by Antonio Días came to be made up of 138 people whom Natalia Raola calls THE BIG FAMILY because she considers them all as one.

Remedios, which at that time had only 600 neighbours, faced serious problems, the core of the matter was the criteria that existed regarding the transfer of the population to another place or to leave it in its place of origin.

There were three criteria that were debated among the remedianos; a group was in agreement with what the priest José Gonzáles de la Cruz was requesting, who was pushing for the transfer to his hacienda called El Copey; others were supporters of the priest Cristóbal Bejerano Valdés, who was in favor of the transfer to his property, the hacienda called Santa Fé; A group of landowners from Remedios headed by Jacinto de Rojas, Bartolomé del Castillo and Juan Jiménez were opposed to any movement of the town because their economic interests were close to the urban center and it would be detrimental to them.

The extremes that were reached in this heated debate about the possible transfer of Remedios, are extensively and interestingly described by the researcher Dr. Fernando Ortiz in his work of great historical and folkloric value entitled: A Cuban fight against demons, which was even made into a movie a few years ago. According to Dr. Fernando Ortiz, the priest José Gonzáles de la Cruz preached in his sermons that the whole town was in the power of demons, even making a census of them that showed a total of 800,000 demons of all kinds who had the purpose of destroying Remedios and its inhabitants. Using these supposed diabolical threats, the priest incited the neighbours to move to his hacienda without further delay. It is clear that both Gonzáles de la Cruz and Bejerano wanted to obtain a personal benefit with the movement of Remedios to their respective properties, since the plots would be sold to those who would build their homes there, and at the same time they would have abundant labor force to exploit their farms.

In this debate, the economic interests of the so-called Big Family played a preponderant role due to their urgent need to have a fixed point for their licit and illicit commercial activities, and it was their opinion that became decisive.

Luis A. García Gonzales

Dr. Luis A. García Gonzales. Born in Santa Clara on January 18, 1917. He graduated in Philosophy and Letters at the University of Havana. He has been a professor at the Universities of Oriente and Central de Las Villas. Also of the Pre-University "Osvaldo Herrera" of Santa Clara.

He has been awarded 5 times in the 1st of January History Contest.

He has published biographies of Orestes de la Torre Morgado and Juan Alberto Días Gonzales by Editora Política. He has published articles in Granma[4]Official newspaper of the Cuban Government with national scope, Bastión, Vanguardia and in the magazines Transporte, Mar y Pesca, Cubanacán and the Bulletin 8/16 of Cine Club Cubanacán[5]Magazines and newspapers with local and national scope. Five of his scripts have won awards at the Cine Club Cubanacán Festivals[6]Amateur Film Festival that takes place annually in the center of the island.

Editing: Angel Cristóbal García
Escambray Collection, Santa Clara, 1993. Printed in Cuba by PUBLICIGRAF
Photo: Carlos Rodríguez Torres


1 A play on words that combines the words Tradition and Homicide to refer to the fact of “putting traditions to death”.
2 The original text in Spanish uses the demonym villaclareñas to refer to local patriot women
3 At the time this work was printed, 1993.
4 Official newspaper of the Cuban Government with national scope
5 Magazines and newspapers with local and national scope
6 Amateur Film Festival that takes place annually in the center of the island

The Prohet talk about cubans

From a rock in the port, the Prophet contemplated the white sail of the ship that was to take him to his land. A mixture of sadness and joy flooded his soul. For nine years his wise and loving words had been poured out upon the people. His love bound him to those people. But duty called him to his homeland. He tempered his melancholy thinking that his enduring advice would fill the void of his absence.

    Then a politician from Elmira approached him and said: Master, tell us about the Cubans.

    The Prophet picked up his chalk white robe in a fist and said:

    Cubans are among you, but they are not of you. Do not try to know them because their soul lives in the impenetrable world of dualism. Cubans drink joy and bitterness from the same cup. They make music out of their tears and laugh at their music. Cubans take jokes seriously and make of everything serious a joke. And they don’t know themselves.

    Never underestimate the Cubans. Saint Peter’s right-hand man is Cuban, and the Devil’s best advisor is also Cuban. Cuba has given neither a saint nor a heretic. But Cubans sanctify among heretics and heretify among saints. Their spirit is universal and irreverent. Cubans believe simultaneously in the God of the Catholics, in Changó, in charades and in horoscopes. They treat the gods of “you” and make fun of religious rites. They say they believe in no one, and they believe in everything. And they neither renounce to their illusions nor learn from disappointments.

    Don’t ever argue with them. Cubans are born with immanent wisdom. They don’t need to read, they know everything. They don’t need to travel, they have seen everything. Cubans are the chosen people … by themselves. And they walk among other peoples as the spirit walks on water.

    Cubans are characterised individually by their sympathy and intelligence, and in groups by their shouting and passion. Each of them carries the spark of genius, and geniuses do not get along with each other. That’s why bringing Cubans together is easy, uniting them is impossible. A Cuban is capable of achieving everything in this world except the applause of another Cuban.

    Don’t talk to them about logic. Logic implies reasoning and moderation, and Cubans are hyperbolic and excessive. If you are invited to a restaurant, you are invited to eat not at the best restaurant in town, but “at the best restaurant in the world”. When they argue, they don’t say “I don’t agree with you,” they say “you are completely and utterly wrong”.

    They have an anthropophagic tendency. “He ate it”, is an expression of admiration, “eating a wire”, a sign of a critical situation and calling someone a “drool eater”, is their most usual and lacerating insult. They have a pyromaniac will, “to be the flame” is to be the summit. And they love the contradiction so much that they call beautiful women “monsters” and erudite people “barbarians”; and when asked for a favor they don’t say “yes” or “no”, but rather they say “yes, why not”.

    Cubans intuit solutions even before they know the problems. Hence, for them “there is never a problem”. And they feel so big that everyone is called “chico”. But they don’t shrink from anyone. If you take them to a famous painter’s studio, they just say, “It never cross my mind to paint”. And they go to the doctors, not to ask them, but to tell them what they have.

    They use diminutives with tenderness, but also with the will to reduce the other. They ask for “a little favor”, offer “a little cup of coffee”, visit “for a little while”, and of the desserts they only accept “a little piece”. But also to who buys a mansion they celebrate “the little house” that he acquired, or “the cart” that he has to who bought a luxury car.

    When I visited their island I admired their instantaneous and collective wisdom. Any Cuban considered himself capable of liquidating communism or capitalism, straightening out Latin America, eradicating hunger in Africa and teaching the United States to be a world power. And they are amazed that other people do not understand how simple and obvious their formulas are. So, they live among you, and they don’t quite understand because you don’t speak like them.

    The ship had arrived at the dock. Around the Prophet the crowd swirled in pain. The Prophet turned to her as if to speak, but the emotion drowned out his voice. There was a long minute of moving silence. Then there was the impassioned cry of the ship’s helmsman: “Make up your mind, my brother, stop chatting and get on now, for I am late with the schedule.

    The Prophet turned to the crowd, made a gesture of resignation and slowly boarded the deck. The Cuban helmsman then set his bow to the horizon.

Luis Enrique Aguilar León

J.D., Doctor of Philosophy (1926 in Manzanillo, Cuba - January 5, 2008 in Key Biscayne, Florida, United States) was a Cuban journalist, professor and historian.

Source:án_Marías[1]The Spanish philosopher is credited with a more extensive text very similar to this one shown here on the Argentine people. Reading a little more about both authors we can confirm that they were … Continue reading


1 The Spanish philosopher is credited with a more extensive text very similar to this one shown here on the Argentine people. Reading a little more about both authors we can confirm that they were contemporaries, being Julían Marías the older of the two, both also obtained degrees at the current Complutense University of Madrid, so it would not be surprising that Luis Enrique Aguilar was influenced by the work of Julían Marías or vice versa. What is certain is that this text, adapted or not, is a humorous illustration of the character of the largest of the Antilles, very pleasant to read and often accurate.