My Trip to Cuba, April 2014--What I Did and Didn't See
I went to Cuba as a tourist and only visited the west. The east is the most interesting for the history of the French influence in Cuba. From talking to people including academics in Cuba, I got the sense that revolution there is not seen in a pan-Caribbean sense that would include Haiti but rather from a Cuban, nationalist perspective. I’m not sure how much awareness exists of the effects of slavery or the Haitian revolution on the past cultural and economic development Cuba.
I was able to see one notable reminder of Cuba’s past under slavery--“Barco negrero,” by the AfroCuban artist Manuel Mendive in the Museo nacional de Belles Artes. Also, I visited the location in Havana of the late 18th-century and early 19th-century wall paintings by persons of color discussed by Sibylle Fischer. I also saw some original wall paintings in Trinidad. Trinidad is linked to the development of the sugar industry in Cuba, including Valle de los Ingenios (Sugar Mills' Valley).The valley holds several ruins of sugar mills, summer houses, barracks and other facilities used in the sugar-making process. The colonial architecture of Trinidad reflects the wealth of the owners of the sugar mills. During the boom of the sugar industry in 1827, Trinidad had 56 sugar mills, whose labor force consisted of more than 11,000 slaves, in a region that had a population of 28,700.