Trinidad of Cuba. First Inhabitants, Foundation and development of the town.
The first inhabitants of the territory belonged to a group of Arawak origin settled in the Guamuhaya cacicazgo, called Siboney, who practiced as a form of subsistence the collection, hunting, fishing, as well as a very rudimentary agriculture and ceramics, using shells Marine and bones.
On the history of the founding of the town La Trinidad there are many versions, but according to the Spanish crown archives testify that on Friday, December 23, 1513, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar arrived at the Guaurabo river near Jagua where he predicted to found the Villa from La Trinidad. At the end of the year Velázquez ordered a recognition of the area and at the beginning of 1514, on the banks of the Arimao River near the bay of Jagua, a wide range whose benefits were highly appreciated by the conquerors, the town of the Holy Trinity is founded. But the seat was distant from the rivers where the gold laundries were established. In mid-1515 it was already in its current location, near the indigenous town of Manzanillo in which Diego Velázquez spent Christmas of the year 1513 entertained by the chief Manatiguahuraguana and that according to the Fidalgo de Elvas was the largest village of Indians of Cuba.
At the discretion of Bishop Pedro Agustín Morell of Santa Cruz, the transfer was motivated by approaching the aboriginal village which was in the center of the villages of Indians located in the region: all had to be subject to the new population (… )
Trinidad was a settlement rich in gold, but when this mineral is depleted, a great depopulation occurs as in the rest of the island. At the end of the 16th century there were only six Spanish families left in the region. With the decline of the native population begins the massive importation of African slaves. For that period the strategic function of the port city is supplanted by its economic function. It is here in 1518 when sailing from the port of Trinidad, Hernán Cortéz begins his expedition to Mexico.
On the island of Cuba, the seventeenth century is characterized by the development of livestock and sugarcane and tobacco plantations. Thus Trinidad’s prosperity increases in parallel with the Spanish demand for livestock and tobacco products.
In the late eighteenth century, cane agricultural development is accelerated due to flourishing trade with the rest of the islands in the region and the entry of large numbers of slaves to the plantations, the Valley of the Wits becomes a highly productive area . What generates the construction of numerous mills in the nearby valleys. The ideas of the French Revolution and the independence of the rest of the continent had a great impact on Trinidad.
Francisco Iznaga, was a rich landowner of Basque origin settled in the eastern region of Cuba during the first years of the colonization of the island to be one of the most prominent landowners of the town. Iznaga was the origin of a powerful lineage that finally settled in the village.
During the first three centuries of the colony, the fundamental economic activity was the so-called “rescue trade”, smuggling with privateers and pirates from the rest of the Caribbean, which caused many problems with the island’s central government.
In the census of 1827, 12,543 inhabitants are registered in Trinidad, only in the urban area. At this time the rise of the great constructions of various styles begins (Borrell Palace, Iznaga Palace, Don Justo Cantero Palace, Count Brunet Palace and Bécquer Palace). Various consulates settle in the village and are visited by people from all over the world.
The splendor did not last long, because it was based on two fragile supports: slave labor, which constitutes a brake for the development of the productive forces of capitalism, and on the other hand, the overexploitation of soils and energy resources began to affect soon in low agricultural and industrial yields, at a time when other sugar productions such as beet from Europe begin to occupy the world market.
It starts like this, from the fourth decade of the nineteenth century, the decline of the, until then, flourishing city, which can not be avoided even with the process of modernization that some potentates intend to introduce in their mills. Landowners migrate to other more developed regions with greater perspectives such as Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus and Puerto Principe.
The decline in sugar prices in the world market generates a deep crisis in the territory. The city is locked in a neo-feudal style and loses the privileges it had held. In the mid-nineteenth century the General Command of the Department is transferred to Port-au-Prince.
The great sugar producers consider annexing the slave states of the southern United States.