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Cuba People

The Guanatajabey Amerindians are the indigenous inhabitants of Cuba. In 1000 before Christ there were 100,000 of them on the island. However, with the arrival of Europeans on their land, the people were decimated by the small pox a disease brought by the travellers having no immunity towards it. These nations were hunters, gatherers, farmers and fishermen. They planted ‘cohiba’ tobacco but there is no presence of pottery in their cultures. The Guanatajabeys were adventurous people; they migrated from South of America. Seafarers, they travelled from the Amazon Basin to settle in Cuba. It is sad that they become extinct before they could unveil the secrets of their society.

‘Cibo’ means ‘precious stones’ or ‘pearls’ in Amerindian language and ‘hey’, people. Therefore, the Ciboneys are the precious people or people of great value. The Ciboneys or Siboneys were lived in the Antilles and they were thinned out in the island by the Tainos. Today, 253 families of Ciboneys descent live in Florida.

‘Taino’ means nice, good or noble. The Tainos are the indigenous inhabitants of Cuba and are related to the Avawakan people of the Amazon Basin. The Tainos had a stratified society, the ‘nabonias’ (commoners) and the ‘nitainos’ nobles. They were governed by a chief, a male or a female named the ‘cacique’. The latter ruled their community and took advice from the priest or ‘bohique’ who had a special relationship with the gods. The Taino established a matrilineal society. In case of death, the inheritance goes to the first child of the sister. This nation were also agrarian, they lived in groups cultivating around their habitations many vegetables like peppers, calabashes, peanuts, fruits and cotton and they also eat fish, meat, cassava or yucca and sweet potato or batata . They even reared animals. However, the Taino like the Guanatajabeys population decreased drastically by the diseases namely smallpox and measles introduced by the Europeans on their land their forced assimilation to the European culture and traditions; for example by working in the tobacco or sugar cane plantations in Cuba.

Cuba People

The Spaniards to colonise Cuba arrived in the year 1511 on an expedition of Diego Velazquez de Cuellar. They came without women and took as wives the Taino women and had children of their mixed marriages, the ‘mestizo’. The Spanish colons exploited the gold and nickel mines present in the island. The indigenous population, unable to adapt to their working and living conditions decreased to become only 100. They then brought slaves from Africa and when the gold mine was no longer profitable the colons were encouraged by the Spanish Empire to develop agriculture. They planted sugar cane and tobacco.  In 1847, the Colons hired Chinese workers on an eight year contract to work in the sugar cane fields with the African slaves. Some of them returned to China, others remained and opened with their savings shops. In the 1920’s, the Chinese which made up 1% of the Cuban population today, migrated to Cuba fleeing the political revolution.

The Haitians too came to settle in Cuba in the years 1791 to 1804 due to the revolution in St- Domingue now Haiti, they brought with them their slaves and knowledge in sugar and tobacco plantation that boosted the Cuban economy.

Today the descendants of the Spanish Colons the African slaves the Chinese, the Haitians as well as the Tainos make up the Cuban Nation.





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