Title of Course: Black History 301: The History of Cuba

Instructor: Mba Mbulu

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Class #5: The Unfortunate Discovery

Read the Essay below. Be able to answer and expound on the following questions.


(1) Who were the original Cubans, and what type of lifestyle did they live?
(2) Who was Hatuey? In your mind, what does Hatuey symbolize?
(3) How many native Cubans existed when Cristóbal Colón landed there? How many remained 65 years later?
(4) As the new Cubans replaced the original Cubans, what did they do?

Class #5 Essay [Audio Version]

Prior to 1492, the land now known as Cuba was occupied by people who were peaceful for the most part. There were wars and misunderstandings, but nothing that compares with the conflict that was typical of white societies. The Cuban societies, mostly Tainos and Ciboneys, were fishermen, hunters and farmers. they raised crops like tobacco, maize (corn), beans, peanuts and yucca and lived in houses called bohios. They were ruled by chiefs called caciques, and used a number of tools to promote their economy, carve stones and woods and make a variety of trinkets.

The native Cuban society seems to have been based on equality between the sexes and a communalistic concept of ownership. For the most part, the men wore no clothes and the women little. Near the middle of October, 1492, when Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus) first explored the shores of Cuba, there was an estimated 3,000,000 of these people. In 1557, a mere 65 years later, only 2000 of these people remained. The rest had been wiped out by white power's militance and greed.

In 1511, Cristóbal Colón's son, Diego, settled Cuba. By then, the Spanish had settled Hispaniola and a Taino chief, Hatuey, had learned what to expect from them. He rushed to Cuba to warn the Tainos that the whites were coming, telling the Tainos of the greed, immorality and bloodthirstiness of the whites. The native Cubans could not believe what Hatuey was telling them, so they failed to join him. They paid the ultimate price.

Still, Hatuey waged guerilla warfare against the Spanish, but failed to receive the support he needed. In 1512 he was captured and executed. Later, in the 1550's, a chief named Guamáwaged waged guerilla warfare against the Spanish. By this time, however, white people had established themselves in Cuba and the fate of the original Cubans was all but sealed.


The fate of the original Cubans was all but sealed, but new Cubans were to take their place and take up their struggle. The new Cubans would prove themselves much more capable of frustrating white power than the original Cubans.

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