323 years after the foundation of the village of Matanzas some 100 kilometres from Havana on October 12, 1693, there is still only limited information available on the 30 families that came from the Spanish Canary Islands to settle in the province.
Historical records reveal that the territory currently occupied by the city of Matanzas has been inhabited for more than 10 thousand years.
The original settlements were mainly located along the banks of the Canímar river – one of the three that cross the territory –, in the Yumurí valley, and around the bay of Matanzas.
The Matanzas City Historian’s Office states that in 1670 there were 130 Spaniards and 163 Africans there and by 1693 there were an estimated 119 Spaniards and 200 Africans.
In the mid-17th century Spanish authorities settled in Cuba had, at the request of their king populated and fortified Matanzas bay in order to safeguard it from the sea faring English and Dutch.
This request was made officially issued in 1680 and applied on Monday, October 12, 1693 – when Bishop Diego Evelio de Compostela celebrated a Matanzas foundation mass.
Very little or nothing is known about the lifestyle of the newcomers.
Historian Arnaldo Jiménez de la Cal told the Havana Reporter that due to poverty and a lack of resources, the new settlers had a difficult time.
He added, “They had to work things out as best they could in order to settle as adequately as possible in an inhospitable territory that lacked of all types of resources.”
An interesting piece of information is that -- according to Jiménez de la Cal Matanzas -- was awarded a City charter at a time when it was no more than a miserable village that lacked any economic foundation.
According to official documents, the 30 families included 19 married women and 66 children, the ages of which were not recorded.
Diego García Oramas had the biggest family – a wife and seven children - and Juan González Bello and Sebastián Rodríguez, with a wife and six children followed.
The inhabitants of Matanzas came from different parts of the Canary Islands: La Laguna, Tacoronte, La Orotava, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, El Sauzal, La Rambla, Realejo de Abajo, and Buenavista.
Also of interest is that the occupations of only 8 of them is known: Miguel Alfonso de Armas, Mayor; Domingo Alfonso Ruiz, Councillor; Pedro Fernández Guerrero, Town Clerk, and Diego García Oramas, Councilor.
The list also includes: Simón González, sergeant; Juan González Bello, second lieutenant; Salvador Pérez de Ramellón, councillor, and Diego Méndez, captain and mayor.
A further 11 families from the Canary Islands that included 7 women and 20 children, arrived during the month of November 1694. Among these were Juan Martín Noda (wife and 4 children), Lorenzo de Sosa and Andrés Acosta.
This second group presumably came from Tenerifeas part of a larger contingent that had arrived in Havana 1693, but there is no actual proof of this.
Jiménez de la Cal also said that “Matanzas, known fondly since the 19th century as The Athens of Cuba and The City of the Rivers and Bridges was born of a fusion of all these diverse traits“.Share on FB Share on TT