The Monument to Runaway Slaves Outside Santiago de Cuba

Dariela Aquique

HAVANA TIMES — “El Monumento al Cimarron” (the Monument to Runaway Slaves), a towering sculpture created in bronze and iron, was built on a hill near the town of El Cobre, in Santiago de Cuba Province, to honor one of the earliest slave revolts that took place in the country.

This region, with its great tradition of struggle, was the scene of many acts of insubordination and mass slave escapes in the years 1673, 1691, 1731, 1737 and 1781. But the uprising of July 24, 1731 qualifies as one of the most important slave protests in Cuba, noted by historians for its character and importance.

The work that marks this revolt was produced by artist Alberto Lescay Merencio, a sculptor and painter highly recognized in contemporary international and Cuban visual arts. He wanted to pay tribute to this event in history, so in 1997 he constructed the monument.

Visitors to the famous town not only go to see the patron saint of Cuba, but are also tempted to climb the hill and take pictures next to the Cimarron monument.

Monument to Runaway Slaves. Photo:

A unique metal and stone sculpture, it stands on a nganga (a word borrowed from the “Regla de Palo Monte” Afro-Cuban religion and which means a metal pot — in this case one containing sticks, stones, metals and bones — in which believers and practitioners the religion place their offerings).

In addition, dances and rituals are performed at that same site every year during celebrations of Caribbean culture.

A few years ago, if one tried to climb the hill, it would have proved to be a rough and difficult task for anyone wanting to see the monument. Today stairs have been built, making the climb much easier.

The town of El Cobre showcases two great cultural figures. The beautiful and lavish shrine of the “Virgen de la Caridad,” and this not too distant undefined figure that one will remember for its outstretched arm or its weapon of combat. It is a tribute to blacks who suffered the cruel and degrading condition of slavery.


Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

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One thought on “The Monument to Runaway Slaves Outside Santiago de Cuba

  • i stumbled across your piece and found it most interesting. l have been twice to Cuba and whilst now living in Brasil I learning more about the struggle of slavery than through my academic research whilst as a student in the UK. If possible I will get back to Cuba in the not too distant future and will make a point of visiting this monument.

    ate mais…

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