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La Demajagua: Return to the Origins

Cuba, which many consider a fast-developing destination in the Caribbean, complements its tourist offers with an environment where history is always present, in some cases even with the chime of a bell.

That is precisely the event that marked the beginning of the so-called Ten-Year War (1868-1878), the starting point of a period of struggle that freed Cuba from Spanish colonialism.

La Demajagua, an old sugar mill near Manzanillo (currently in eastern Granma province), one among hundreds of sugar factories that proliferated throughout the country as part of the incipient development of the sugar industry, became a landmark in Cuba's history.

It was precisely in that place, with slaves and foremen who worked in the large green sugarcane fields day after day, where the people's uprising began, leading to a armed struggle between Cubans and Spaniards.

On October 10, 1868, a date that marks for all Cubans the beginning of the Island's wars for independence, the bell of La Demajagua called workers - both slaves and free people - to gather as in times of danger, although on that occasion there was another reason: a general call to fight.

Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, who was the owner of the sugar mill and is regarded as the Father of the Homeland, announced his decision to free its slaves, whom he invited to join the struggle for independence.

Ruins of La Demajagua Sugarmill - National Monument
La Demajagua. Monument
La Demajagua. Sugarmill bell

La Demajagua not only welcomed the patriots who supported the uprising, but also served as a platform to launch a manifesto that contained a declaration of war against Spanish colonialism and the objectives of the struggle for Cubans.

Cuban landowners, peasants, slaves, black artisans and free mulattoes became a driving force in the armed struggle, as a river sweeping along workers, businesspeople, foreign combatants and even Spaniards, who were convinced of the just nature of the cause.

Only a few remnants of the sugar mill, destroyed by a combination of factors ranging from the war to weather conditions, have survived the passage of time. However, the huge gear wheels of its machinery have remained untouched until today, resting majestically under the shadow of a tree.

The bell, both a witness and a participant in the events, has become a highly-valued historic element for today's generations, and an object of curiosity and interest for thousands of vacationers who visit the place to learn about Cuba's past, in a perfect combination with the island's natural attractions.

La Demajagua National Park, in eastern Granma province, is surrounded by a mountainous area where traditions and nature go hand in hand in perfect harmony. The park contains 40 percent of Cuba's history of struggle.

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