17 May, 2021

Radio26.Cu – Matanzas, Cuba

The Radio Station of your Heart from Matanzas, Cuba

Controversies in the origin of Matanzas name

Matanzas, the name of the city, that has transcended, first to the jurisdiction and then to the province, has been very controversial, especially at different times by which it has gone through history.

Matanzas, the name of the city, that has transcended, first to the jurisdiction and then to the province, has been very controversial, especially at different times by which it has gone through history.

For Aboriginal Yucayo the village and the bay was called Guanima. The first was located in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with the surname Gentile Yucayo, and as a synonym for Matanzas. Meanwhile Bay lost aboriginal appellation to adopt the tragic name of  Massacre Bay or just Matanzas, which transcended the city, and its surroundings and in 1878  the province.

The death of a Castilian hands of the aboriginal inhabitants of Yucayo, who drowned in the deep waters of the bay, was the origin of the name, though there are other theories that emerged much later, very specific considerations of history.

The incident was reported to King Ferdinand the Catholic for the report (Letter of Relationship) Diego Velázquez sent dated April 1, 1514 and based on the news that gave him the Father Las Casas , who in turn received them from the three survivors (two women and one man) who were left in the hands of the natives.

King‘s story is full of imperfections, but it several undeniable truths emerge:

First, the Castilians were shipwrecked and were drowned in the waters yumurinas.
Second, there were three survivors; two women (in the hands of Guayucayex) and a man (held by Habaguanex).
Third: The information provided by Las Casas later used it in his History of the Indies.

But not enough, if you still have doubts, this information and analysis. In support of scholars go mapping of the time. Juan Vespucci, Alfonso de Santa Cruz and Girolamo Benzoni in, their maps, produced in the first half of the sixteenth century clearly mark the port of Matanzas, making official the name and pass certifying the nature of it.

For this curious name and remain based in bloody place names in the area should move to the emerging colonial society. By the way, a massacre of Indians, as alleged, would not cause a deep impression and less than pigs, as also wanted to see. It had to be the death of Spanish, unlikely in the eyes of the conquerors issue, which produced such excitement that perpetuated in the historical memory of the fact.

I am of the opinion that the other theories peaked in the mid-fourteenth century trying to nick the edge of the first redemptive act of defiance of the Cuban Indians, against foreign invasion. Although indocubanos were not men of war (they were not very threatened before the discovery), we can not ignore their resilience embodied in Guayucayex, Hatuey and Guama and later in the attitude that came to individual or family suicide before the hopelessness of cruelty of slavery.

We should not forget, especially Matanzas today people, this free land in the north, was the first armed defense of Cuban soil, while in the south, the Americans suffered its first military defeat in America.

Original text by Dr. Arnaldo Jiménez de la Cal on September 30th, 2014