Proyecto de integración, intervención transformación sociocultural

Map of Matanzas

Below you will find the key for the map, please zoom out to see all (8) of the icons.

Historical Sites:

  • Matanzas Art Museum
  • Sugar Mill Triunvirato
  • Slaves Route: San Severino Fortress
  • Prominent Figures:

  • Agustín Drake Aldama
  • Yoelkis Torres
  • Lolo Galeria-Taller
  • Traditions & Activities:

  • Callejón De Las Tradiciones Matanzas
  • ‘Ojundegara Ensemble’ Arara’ Region
  • historical sites

    Slaves Route: San Severino Fortress

    The San Severino Fortress was initially intended to protect Matanzas. In the early 1700s, approximately thirty years after the fortress was completed, it was destroyed to stop British invaders positioned in Havana from capturing it and using it to their advantage. After British invaders were defeated, the fortress was rebuilt through the use of slave labor. Throughout the fortress, there are hand-carved markings on the stones to represent which slave owner would be paid for the aforementioned work. Once the fortress was no longer needed to protect Matanzas, it became a prison where rebellious slaves were confined. Many of those who were imprisoned were executed by firing squad. One wall of the prison is pockmarked from the hundreds of rounds used to execute the rebellious slaves. Three hundred years after the beginning of the fortress’ construction, renovations began so that the stone fortress could be repurposed as the Museum of the Slave Route. The renovation started in 1997 with the help of UNESCO–a branch of the United Nations–to make the fortress a part of a “cultural tourism program” to educate people on the history of slavery as well as educate tourists on the cultures and heritage of African, Latin American, and Caribbean peoples. The San Severino Fortress is located at Avenida del Muelle, Matanzas, Cuba.

    Sugar Mill Triunvirato

    The Sugar Mill Triunvirato is one of the most important museums in Cuba. It is the site where the Rebellion of the Triunvirato took place. This museum was originally an active sugar mill constructed between 1829 and 1831 by sugar producer Julian Luis Alfonso Soler. The main museum has three rooms on display. Two of the rooms are furnished in the style of the 1800s to aid in educating visitors on what life was like during that time period as well as immersing them in what it was like to be in a mill and home during the 1840s. One of the rooms is dedicated to the history of slavery as well as the rebellion that Carlota orchestrated on November 5, 1843. Within this room you will find a portrait of Carlota, objects that enslaved peoples would have used to cook and complete religious rituals with, along with instruments used to repress those who were enslaved such as hand, foot, and neck shackles. Next to the main museum is the Museo al Esclavo Rebelde which also has three rooms. Two of the rooms inside of Museo al Esclavo Rebelde are dedicated to “Operation Carlota” and in the last room is a tribute to those lost during this operation. Lastly, outside of the Main Sugar Mill Museum, you will find a powerful statue of Carlota and two other enslaved people. This statue depicts the great Sugar Mill Rebellion that took place at the mill almost 200 years ago. This museum is located in the municipality of Limonar within the province of Matanzas.

    Matanzas Art Museum: African Culture Collection

    The Matanzas Art Museum was opened on May 19, 1998, with the help and influence of world-renowned Cuban artist Lorenzo Padilla. Prior to 1998, the building had many owners that utilized the space for a vast array of purposes. Now that it serves as the city’s official art museum, it has temporarily displayed about forty collections of art. One of the most notable collections of art to be housed in the museum is the African Culture Collection. This collection was donated to the museum by Padilla and includes more than three hundred pieces of African Art from more than thirteen African countries. This collection is one of the largest collections of African culture to date. The Matanzas Art Museum is located on Contreras No. 28007 en Matanzas.

    prominent figures

    Agustín Drake Aldama

    Professor Agustín Drake is a world-renowned artist whose favorite medium is sculpting. He was born in a town close to Matanzas known as Juan Alberto Gomez. As a boy in 1945, he found his love of art while attending a private drawing academy in Matanzas. A few years later when Drake was 12, he enrolled in a school for sculpting. Later in his life, he became a teacher and then the director of childhood school. Not only was he the director of that school, he also worked in museums, provincial assemblies, and became the director of the Communist Party of Cuba. But with every title he held, Drake said he never stopped being a sculptor.

    Now 85 years old, Drake still enjoys making pieces of art that resonates with the soul. He is influenced by his childhood and his heritage in that his work usually displays characteristics of African and Cuban influences as well as the rural life found in much of Cuba. It is important to note that his work can not be boxed in by themes alone, Drake stated that everything happening in the world interests him, and, because of this, his art tends to reflect worldly issues as well. Drake said, “Nothing that happens in the world is someone else’s issue” and because of this, he believes that everything, including concerns currently plaguing the world, serves as an inspiration to create art. Agustín Drake is not only an artist, but he is also someone who “contributes to the development and the safeguard of Matanzas heritage.” He said he finds joy through his art and by spending time with his family. This award-winning artist has more than a dozen works placed in urban spaces, and more than twenty personal exhibits currently available for public viewership. He has been honored for his art in his native Cuba and internationally.

    Yoelkis Torres (community organizer)

    Yoelkis Torres is the current community organizer of the Afro-Atenas project. The project’s home base of operations is located in Matanzas directly across the street from “The Callejon De Las Tradicciones.” The Afro-Atenas project gained inspiration for its name through the well-known connotation of Matanzas, the cultural epicenter of Cuba, similar to the way Athens was the cultural center for ancient Greece. The Afro-Atenas project is a community organization that strives to educate, integrate, transform, and intervene in sociocultural aspects of the everyday life of Cubans.

    Yoelkis explained that the community activists that work with the Afro-Atenas project are provincial coordinators specific to the city of Matanzas. He said that they all have different roles with the project, but, in general, they are here to empower Matanzas specifically and Cuba overall with both financial and cultural assistance. In 2009, the Afro-Atenas project started with the original goal to reunite and uplift those who were discriminated against, more specifically Cubans that practiced African religious rituals. Since 2009, the project has stuck to this goal of reuniting and uplifting those who are discriminated against by doing meaningful research that involves history and culture. In 2013 and the years immediately following, the center began winning awards based on its research presentations that focused on heritage and culture. Today, the project is not limited to the Cuban religions of African but rather on anything that involves human rights.

    traditions / activities

    Callejón de las Tradiciones

    After the start of the Afro-Atenas project in 2009 came the development of the “Callejon De Las Tradicciones.” “Callejon De Las Tradicciones” was initially a garbage dump that stretched nine blocks, ending at the river. It was impossible to drive through the area due to a lack of space and sanitation. The area was riddled with disease. By researching local traditions, Afro-Atenas leaders identified the Rumba, dance and music rooted in the culture of Afro-Cubans, as a key way to interest Cubans in the Afro-Atenas project and, specifically, in cleaning up this central area of Matanzas. In 2013, after the successful removal of the giant garbage dump, “Traditions Alley” was created. With the help of the community and local artists, “Callejon De Las Tradicciones” became the first community tourist destination within the city of Matanzas. The official launch of “Traditions Alley” was during the “2013 Tourist Convention.” This space now attracts celebrities, important members of society, and global tourists. “Callejon De Las Tradicciones” is located from Calle 119-E Calle 284, Matanzas 40100, Cuba.

    Customs, Rituals, and Cultural Norms

    The Santería religion is comprised of gods and goddesses also known as Orishas. Orishas were seen as protectors, and, in most of the cases, these gods were real people who died and, after death, were considered divine. Santería was born out of the act of colonizers forcing enslaved people to stop the practice of native religions such as the “Regla de Ocha” and, simultaneously, forcing them to start practicing the Catholic faith. After the enslaved peoples were forced to do this, the followers of the Santería faith had to come up with creative ways to worship and keep these sacred practices alive. One of the most prominent ways to do this was to identify a saint from the Catholic faith and match it up with the Orisha god that had similar traits. For example, Oshun was matched with Saint Juan Batista (John the Baptist) due to the fact that they both, according to tradition, “take care of the mind of the believer.” Other evasive techniques that enslaved people used to keep their religious practices alive include but were not limited to; hiding religious artifacts that represent Orishas such as the Eleguá - a deity that represents life and death, worshiping in Cabidilos or buildings where slaves met according to their ethnicity or nationality, communicating through interpretive dance, drumming, chants and more.