The East region of Cuba, the Oriente, developed and preserved
the specificity of its culture, and was a serious rival of Havana, the capital, which is a
thousand kilometers away. It was the scene of the first clash
with the Spanish conquistadores on the Cuban land, which,
following the Christophe Colomb's steps, invested the island at the early 16th century.
They made a harbour base in Santiago of Cuba for the arrival
of the slaves, deportees from Africa, and imposed Santiago as first capital of the island.
But quickly, Havana succeeds in taking supremacy, while
becoming the natural port of call for the Spaniards in departure to Mexico and South
America. Nevertheless, Santiago and Oriente maintained an intensive economic activity for
several centuries. During the 19th century, the area grew rich by a massive arrival of
thousands French colonists with their slaves, running away
from Saint-Domingue where Toussaint-Louverture led an
anti-slavery and anti-colonial revolution. Let us add few traces of Indians
Tainos and Siboney having survived at the violence of the conquistadores, and we
are in presence of a land rich of a great interbreeding, with
multiple traditions, irrigated by Spanish, African, French and Amerindian cultures.
The Oriente, " Tierra Caliente ", sheltered the first rebellions of slaves in Cuba, thanks to its mountainous areas
(Sierra Maestra and Sierra de Cristal), before being the scene of decisive
battles in the independance wars during the 19th century. Later, the region will
protect the years of fight for power, in the Revolution of Fidel
Castro and his barbudos.
Proud of its rebellious traditions, more colored with Africa that Havana, the Oriente aera
knew to preserve its cultural traditions alive and fertile,
and invented several major musical forms, whose son and bolero are the principal pearls.