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San Severino: A Key Element in the Slave's Route

Slavery in Cuba, which resulted from the colonizers' policy to use African people as cheap and easily replaceable labor force, left a deep imprint in the development of the Island's society.

Hundreds of sites throughout the country are reminders of thousands of men, women and children who were forcedly taken away from their homes, where they never returned.

The initiative to create programs to spread the reality of that phenomenon and its social influence was the starting point of a project known as the Slave's Route in Cuba.

Experts recalled that with that project, the Caribbean Island is putting into practice a strategy by international institutions, which have already promoted the Maya Route in Central America and the Silk Road in Asia.

In addition, the location of the Museum on the Slave's Route is a result of the legacy of African culture, which is still present in the western province of Matanzas, where religion, music and culinary customs are still alive.

San Severino, where the museum is housed, is one of the most significant buildings in the city and has witnessed the evolution of African culture over the past three centuries. Its walls bear indelible imprints of the African presence during its construction.

Batá Drums.
Obatalá dance.
Aggayú dance.

Regarding tourism, it is an excellent complement for recreational programs, as it is closely linked to the country's patrimonial values.

The complex world of slavery, boosted by colonizers to use cheap labor force, has clear exponents of the tragedy in Cuba, including archeological sites, farms and barrack huts, where the ill-treated slaves crowded together.

Other interesting sites are the so-called "palenques" (where runaway slaves live), caverns, forts and fortresses.

That is the case of San Severino, whose construction was completed in 1734 as a result of the work of thousands of African slaves forced to build its walls, cave tunnels and water deposits, and deploy the battery of the fortress.

Considered the oldest architectural work in the region, the San Severino castle housed the command headquarters of the city's defense system, which was complemented by other structures such as the San José de la Vigía fort, El Morrillo and the Cajigal battery.

According to experts, San Severino stands out for its defensive characteristics, which are present in its architectural design. Construction of the castle served as a useful experience to build similar fortresses around the world.

The castle is a quadrilateral structure with bastions in each corner, and is protected from land and sea attacks. Its design is similar to those of the fortresses of San Carlos de la Cabaña, in Havana; San Marcos de San Agustín, in Florida, and Guaira, in Venezuela.

The inclusion of San Severino in the Slave's Route shows the values of those who even under the colonialists' pressure made major contributions to universal culture.

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