Bayamo the melting pot of Cuban Nationality

Bayamo Cuba History

Some events in the bayamese lifestyle seem to underline this heading. The Village then called Bayamo as it is today, was enlarged much like many others in Cuba back in the XVI and XVII Centuries by its residents who learned to live by smuggling goods, as a primary means of making a living. Nevertheless, the foreign traders, almost exclusively from Spain, were not friendly at all and their presence brought pirates from both land and sea. Bayamo´s history, as told by its locals, boasts about how many of those pirate´s implemented largely unsuccessful raids on the city of Bayamo leaving its inhabitants victorious after every failed attempt. Or so the myths go…

Bayamo´s real life history reads like one of the best fictional conspiracy novels. However, in the case of Bayamo, it’s all true. Infidelities, plots and conspiracies inspired the movements for freedom and, later the independence of the thirteen other colonies. At the time, rebels were fueled by the open apathy of the high level authorities and aristocrat traders, a situation which only served to increase the angst of the rebels in the city. The uprising was started by progressive-minded youngsters who had returned to the city at the end of their studies in Havana or even Europe, forming a new generation of professionals that, once back at home, couldn’t live with the lack of liberties, criticizing the society and the situation as a backward environment controlled by the rich who enslaved the locals. Amongst the activists were; Juan Clemente Zenea, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, Pedro (Perucho) Figueredo, José Fornáris and José Joaquin Palma, a group of youngsters who widely paraded their ideas which led to the uprising on October 10th 1868 which itself initiated the 10th Year War for independence.

Bayamo Freedom Parade

The rebels entered the City victorious on October 20th and turned Bayamo into the Capital of the new Republic. On January 12th 1869 the villagers set the City on fire in one of the most glorious events in National History,  primarily so that the approaching Spanish soldiers could not re-conquer Bayamo and create a new stronghold.

Nevertheless, the history of Bayamo also harbors other important facts, two of which are especially significant: The falling in battle of José Martí (The Apostle of Cuba) in the Dos Ríos conflict, on the outskirts of Bayamo and, contemporary history, the landing on December 2nd 1956 of Fidel Castro and his followers on the Las Coloradas beach aboard the now infamous Granma vessel. A boat brought from Mexico whose name was used to later name “Granma” the Province after it. This voyage and arrival of Granma is what propelled Fidel and his men to definitive independence on January 1st 1959 now known as the “Day of the triumph of the Revolution”.

Finally, we should not forget that Bayamo has about 100 hundred historically relevant places and, the province of Granma has 48 per cent of all historically significant sites in the whole country.