Radio26.Cu – Matanzas, Cuba


Camels for the transfer of sugar cane.

Tamara Caridad Mesa González 26 diciembre, 2020

Some time ago my friend and old worker in the sugar industry, Juan Carlos Rodríguez, sent me this collaboration. Really was oblivious to the existence of this activity, after I searched the internet and learned more about it. Today I share your collaboration so that we all know more about our first industry.

Camels for the transfer of sugar cane The idea of ​​bringing camels to Cuba arose in the third decade of the century XlX when the possibility of importing them is raised in order to transfer the sugar cane from the cut to the mill on their loins, given that the two-wheeled carts moved by teams of oxen damaged considerably cultivated fields.

At that time José María Dau, farmer and sugar teacher, to shoveling this difficulty proposed loading the cane on the back of an ox, this The idea was not successful, as these animals could carry very little weight and the idea of ​​exotic camels that could carry up to 500 pounds of weight on its back.

On May 24th , 1833 the Minister of Finance from Madrid issued a Royal Order addressed to the Count of Villanueva, approving the privilege granted to Don Francisco López to introduce camels, free of rights for ten years.

Don Patricio de la Guardia was one of the introducers of the unique ruminants on the Island. On September 10th , 1834 he wrote to the Board of Commerce informing the purpose of continuing to import these animals from the Canary Islands, but against it conspired the payment of the tax of each camel introduced, the cost of each specimen, the driving costs and the risk during the navigation, which greatly discouraged other ranchers interested.

Chaired by the Count of Villanueva, the Development Board met to support the request of Don Patricio de la Guardia regarding the exception of payment rights for each imported camel of the Canary Islands.

According to the Matanzas historian José Manuel Cuétara, La Guardia was the the first rancher to introduce camels in Matanzas by bringing in the Laberinto brig, under the command of Captain Gerónimo Navarro, in the year 1834, destined for his San Miguel de Caobas sugar mill, in the district of Altar cloth.

Regarding this case, it cannot be specified how long the existence of ruminants. 22 years later the wit was owned by Don Juan Montalvo y Castillo. It had a mill of Jamaican steam and train and a crew of 300 slaves, but the camels had surely disappeared years ago.

On January 11th , 1837, a notice inserted in the pages of the diary La Aurora de Matanzas, communicated to the landowners interested in acquiring camels in the Canary Islands that coordinated with Gerónimo Navarro, Captain of the Labyrinth, for his driving to Matanzas Deck.

The conditions of the contract will be adjusted in the house of Torriente and Brothers. On July 13th , 1838, three copies were sold, just arrived of the Canary Islands, in a store located on the second block of the street Middle, entering the Vigía, in the city of Matanzas.

In 1839 the Spanish traveler Don Jacinto de Salas y Quiroga bequeathed us his impressions of a trip around the Island, which takes him to visit several sugar mills in the Canasí area, including San Ignacio, del that tells us: «It is a vast possession, and in such a state that it is fame the best sugars on the island come out of their factories… ”. Express In addition, there is a beautiful house with well-kept gardens and he points out: “… I just want to state that there is the only point on the Island where camels, so useful to agriculture, and presumably den so happy results ”. In 1841 they grazed at the San Ignacio 31 sugar mill camels.

Four years later, in 1845, another five are acquired copies and a year later, according to an analysis of the productions agricultural and industrial sectors of the Matanzas jurisdiction, the It is 31 again. The futility of the project and the relatively rapid extinction of the exotic ruminants in the Matanzas fields was due to the existence of chiggers, small flea that gets into hooves of the animal, depositing its eggs, which rot the skin.

I do not know rules out the weather aspect, which must have threatened the species, as the historian Francisco Jimeno. The fate of the camels was cast, so this daring adventure was an unusual chapter in local history.

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