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Gardenia c. Hung Gardenia c. Hung
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Celebrating 500 Years of History in the Americas in Santiago de Cuba

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Santiago de Cuba was the first capital of Cuba in 1514.

“Celebrating 500 Years of History in the Americas” 1 comment

During the tropical hurricane season in July, the historic city of Santiago de Cuba begins a month-long celebration in the Caribbean for the Americas and the entire world.

“Santiago de Cuba hosts this week-long festival that celebrates music and dance from all over the Caribbean area. Called by some the Festival del Caribe and by others the Festival del Fuego it aims at being a forum for exchanges between the diverse cultural manifestations of the region and is dedicated to strengthening ties between peoples and nations by highlighting common cultural elements. It features free outdoor concerts, indoor shows, processions of decorated vehicles, and parades of spectacularly attired dancers, foodstalls, beer stands, and goat powered cart rides for children.”

“The carnival of Santiago de Cuba is the largest, most famous, and most traditional carnival in all of Cuba. It is an explosion of colour, contagious drum rhythms, and dance. It is also a time for Cubans to re-gather themselves and remember their history, community, and culture, and is punctuated by the Cuban national holiday of July 26th.”

“26 July is the most important date on Cuba's revolutionary calendar. Patriotic and revolutionary fervour grips the nation, and streets are covered with communist banners, posters and official graffiti. The date is the anniversary of Fidel Castro's ill-fated 1953 assault on Santiago de Cuba's Moncada Barracks, and also the birth of Cuban writer and patriot Jose Martí. Fidel's attack in 1953 failed and the dictator, Batista, was not actually overthrown until 1959. At the Moncada barracks in Santiago, the names of the martyrs of the revolution are read out and guns are fired. A customarily long speeches are broadcast on national television.”

The 26th of July Movement's name originated from the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks, an army facility in the city of Santiago de Cuba, on 26 July 1953. [1] The movement was reorganized in Mexico in 1955 by a group of 82 exiled revolutionaries (including Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos,Huber Matos, Juan Almeida Bosque and the Argentinian Ernesto "Che" Guevara). Their task was to form a disciplined guerrilla force to overthrow the incumbent President Fulgencio Batista.

The Spanish colonial city of Santiago de Cuba was founded in 1514, nestled among a series of hills near the mountain range of the Sierra Maestra, in the heart of  the eastern municipal district of Oriente in Cuba.

The  Municipality of Santiago de Cuba was founded by the Spanish conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, as one of the first seven cities in the Republic of Cuba during the year 1514 Anno Domini. The City of Santiago was the first official capital of Cuba until 1550. Since its foundation, this historical colonial town has had a Municipal City Hall and was granted the title status of city in the year 1522 A.D., on the same date in which the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba was built by order of Pope Adrian VI of Utrecht, Regent of Spain, at the Vatican in Rome for the Catholic Church.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Cuba suffered from the siege of pirates, corsairs, and buccaneers in the Caribbean, the Greater Antilles, the Gulf of Mexico, to include those from Central and South America, as well as North America and Europe.

The city of Santiago de Cuba is privileged for its geographical location and central Caribbean placement. Consequently, Santiago de Cuba became a haven for Spaniards.  In addition, French colonists, settlers who emigrated to the nearest town across the waters from Haiti to escape the consequences of the Haitian Revolution. These French settlers developed within their surrounding area vast coffee plantations and other agricultural staples, while sponsoring interaction and integration of Spaniards, French, and African slaves, as well as defining the socio-economic and political profile of Santiago de Cuba and the cross-cultural identity of its inhabitants and native residents.

At the turn-of-the-century, when Emilio Bacardi was mayor of Santiago de Cuba,  my Grandmother Gertrudis Salustiana Mustelier Baró was born in Santiago de Cuba, Oriente in the country of Cuba on March 11, 1901, the third daughter of Father, J. Baró, a Catalonian from Barcelona, Spain who was married to Antoñica Mustelier, a Cuban woman in Santiago de Cuba.  There were two other older female siblings, Antoñica who became a certified registered Cuban nurse and Eduvigis who was a certified teacher in Santiago de Cuba.  The family lived across from the military hospital and the Moncada Barracks, an army facility in Santiago de Cuba.  When my Grandmother became a young woman, she married Santiago Hung, my Chinese Grandfather, after they met in 1917.  

My Grandfather was a Chinese business entrepreneur who set up a Cuban Café and Restaurant with a liquor license at the corner of the Avenue named for José Martí and Santo Tomás in Santiago de Cuba.  My Grandmother was established a small business “Quincalla” next to the Pharmacy owned by a Spaniard woman called “Cachita”, across from the Café and Restaurant owned by my Grandfather in Santiago de Cuba.

My Grandparents and family knew the family of Desiderio Alberto Arnaz at the time when he was the mayor of Santiago de Cuba in Oriente, Cuba.

On March 2, 1917, the son Desi Arnaz was born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III in Santiago de Cuba, first-born to Desiderio Alberto Arnaz II (March 8, 1894 – May 31, 1973) and his wife Dolores de Acha (April 2, 1896 – October 24, 1988).[3] His father Desiderio Alberto Arnaz was Santiago's youngest mayor and also served in the Cuban House of Representatives.  During the 1933 Cuban revolution, led by Fulgencio Batista, which overthrew the American-backed President Gerardo Machado, landed Desiderio Alberto Arnaz II in jail for six months, and stripped his family of its wealth and power.  Arnaz's father was released when U.S. officials, who believed him to be neutral during the revolt, intervened on his behalf. Arnaz and his parents then fled to Miami, Florida.

Desi Arnaz’ maternal grandfather was Alberto de Acha, an executive at Bacardi Rum.[4] According to Arnaz himself, in his autobiography A Book (1976), the family owned three ranches, a palatial home, and a vacation mansion on a private island in Santiago Bay, Cuba. Following the 1933 Cuban Revolution, led by Fulgencio Batista, which overthrew President Gerardo Machado, Alberto Arnaz was jailed and all of his property was confiscated. He was released after six months when his brother-in-law Alberto de Acha intervened on his behalf.[4] The family then fled to Miami, Florida, where Desi attended St. Patrick Catholic High School. In the summer of 1934 he attended Saint Leo Prep[5] (near Tampa) to help improve his English.

In addition, my Father, Mr. Roberto Hung Juris Doctor, worked as a corporate attorney for the Bacardi family in Santiago de Cuba, since my Grandfather owned a Café and Restaurant the corner of the Avenida Martí and Santo Tomás in Santiago de Cuba, Oriente, Cuba.  My family used to live by the Plaza de José Martí and near the Bacardi processing plant in Santiago de Cuba.  

Facundo Bacardí Massó, a Catalan wine merchant, was born in Sitges, Catalonia, (Spain) in 1814, and emigrated to Cuba in 1830. Moving from the experimental stage of making rum to a more commercial endeavor, he and his brother José set up shop in a Santiago de Cuba distillery for rum manufacturing they bought in 1862; that distillery housed a still made of copper and cast iron. In the rafters of this building lived fruit bats – the inspiration for the Bacardi bat logo.[6]

The 1880s and 90s were turbulent times for Cuba and the company. Emilio Bacardí, Don Facundo's eldest son, was repeatedly imprisoned and was exiled from Cuba for having fought in the rebel army against Spain in the Cuban War of Independence.[7]
Emilio's brothers, Facundo and José, and his brother-in-law Henri (Don Enrique) Schueg, remained in Cuba with the difficult task of sustaining the company during a period of war. The women in the family were exiled in Kingston, Jamaica. After the Cuban War of Independence and the US occupation of Cuba, "The Original Cuba Libre" and the Daiquiri were both born with Bacardi rum.[8] In 1899 US General Leonard Wood appointed Emilio Bacardí the first Republican Mayor of Santiago de Cuba.  The Bacardi Family is part of the history of Cuba.

Emilio Bacardi Moreau Museum is not far from the Parque Céspedes at the corner of
Esquina Aguilera y Pio Rosado s/n, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

During the 19th century, with the heat of the independent struggles for nationalism throughout the Americas, the rebellious heart of the city Santiago de Cuba became exalted. Thus, Santiago has given to history many immortal patriots to the independent struggle against the Spanish colonial bond at the time, such as the descendants of Maceo, Lora, and other Cuban heroes, like Frank País, in the revolutionary strife during this century and beyond... Hence, it is with justice, fairness, and equity that Santiago de Cuba has been granted the honorary title of "Heroic City of the Republic of Cuba--Ciudad Héroe de la República de Cuba."

Not only is Santiago de Cuba a vintage city full of historical legacy, but it is also the cradle of poets, writers, musicians, minstrels, and artists, painters, from Heredia to Soler Puig.

Santiago de Cuba is considered to be the Cuban capital of the world since its beginnings, in the measure of its efforts which this Cuban regional area invests to develop and expand its markets; thus increasing its word-wide investements--given its privileged geographical location and importance as the second city in the Republic of Cuba.

Santiago is complemented by an international seaport and adjoining industrial sector, which includes a thermoelectrical plant, oil refinery, cement manufacturing, and other industrial facilities.

The economy of Santiago de Cuba is distinguished by its diversified agriculture in the sugar industry and in the development of the agrarian sector for such important staples as coffee, dairy products, produce, and fruit harvests, particularly for citrus.

This Cuban city also relies on important natural resources in forestry and environmental vegetation, rich in species of flora and fauna, which have promoted Santiago de Cuba to become one of the principal forestry regions in the Republic of Cuba. These ecological assets combined with hydraulic resources and the variety of landscapes and seascapes Cuba has reserved in Santiago, allows the City of Pilgrimages and Pilgrims to have an enormous potential for tourism from around the world.

Source: Brochure for "Santiago de Cuba", published by the Banco Internacional de Comercio, S.A., Sede Central, 20 de Mayo y Ayesterán, Apartado 6113, La Habana 6 , Cuba.

Spanish to English Translation by Gardenia C. Hung Fong, M.A., B.A., from a brochure pamphlet given by my Aunt Xiomara Fong Ramos

For reference, the city of Santiago de Cuba was named after the biblical evangelist and apostle Saint James who preached the gospels of Jesus Christ in Spain as Santiago de Compostela, during the 9th century through the 11th century on behalf of Christianity. During the Middle Ages, Santiago was the patron saint of pilgrims, pilgrimages, and the knights. Santiago was represented as one of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

Spanish to English translation by Gardenia C. Hung Fong, M.A., B.A.
La Biblia y los Santos. Guía iconográfica. Alianza Editorial, Madrid, Spain, 1996,pages 347-348. Authors Gastón Duchet-Suchaux and Michel Pastoreau. Versión española de César Vidal.

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