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The New York Times, November 18, 1852, p.3:|
Favorable Season--The Slave Trade--Port Regulations--Passports--Public Amusements--The Negroes--Special Correspondence of the New-York Daily Times.
The Captain-General and Secretary Galliano--
HAVANA, Thursday, Nov. 11, 1858.
The season here, though it has been distinguished for unusual and very fatal sickness, has been highly favorable to the sugar planters, and they are now drawing toward the realization of the most abundant crop ever made on the island. Probably, in the aggregate, the increased production of the season will more than make up for all the losses of negroes by the various epidemics which have prevailed.
The trade in negroes from Africa is now quite prosperous, and appears to be favored by the business men generally, and only so far interfered with by the Government as to enforce the payment of the regular contribution by the way of bribes to the officials.
I have heard a person interested in the landing of a cargo of 450 slaves on the south side of the Island, last month, exult heartily at the successful skill with which the parties concerned, assisted by the officers of the locality, humbugged a British cruiser lying within five miles at the time of disembarkation, employed for the express purpose of preventing such piracy, but was amused and kept ignorant till the cargo was disposed of, and when, in the evening the Captain was permitted to have information, he could not leave port till morning, the slaver, meanwhile, having made good her escape to parts unknown.
It is one of the wise and prudent regulations that prevail in this island, that no vessel can enter or leave any port after 6 o'clock P.M., till sunrise the next morning. No matter how threatening or tempestuous the weather may be, no regard for property or life ever relaxes the rigid rule. Instances are related of vessels, belonging to this port and conveying passengers residing here, being compelled to buffet the storms outside for twelve hours, because they arrived at the entrance of the harbor a few minutes too late; and one ship went to pieces within hail of the Castle, having as passengers a family of consideration here, and no interposition, even to save life, was allowed until the appointed hour, and then it was permitted to rescue the people, but the ship and cargo were lost.
The same inflexibility obtains in regard to passports. An instance came under my observation of three well known residents of Havana returning from Europe with passports from Paris for Havana via England and the United States, being fined $10 each, and the master of the steamer $25 for bringing each of them, because they had not procured the signature of the Spanish Consul at New York, their last point of departure, to their passports.
Notwithstanding these and thousands of other absurdities, this is a rich, prosperous, and growing city, of which any country might justly be proud. There is not a single hotel in town built for that purpose, and only four in all at which foreigners requiring the comforts of civilized life can be accomodated, and these four together cannot lodge two hundred persons.
Consider that the city is larger, and has a more extended commerce, than Boston, and these facts show plainly enough the wide difference between the habits of the Cubans and those in the Universal Yankee Nation.
In amusements the contrast is as marked and striking as in any other particular. I shall not describe a cock-fight or a bull-fight, everybody has heard enough about them. There is only one of the public amusements of this great city, being the one most regular in its recurrance and frequented by the greatest number of persons, to which I will now refer. The Sunday negro dances exhibit the wildest, rudest and most revolting scene that it is possible to imagine human beings to present, especially if it be considered that pleasure is the object of the performance.
There are on the street facing the wall of the city something like thirty houses which are appropriated soley to these savage displays. They are used ever Sunday, and only then, and their owners get a liberal rent of them though only used as dance-houses by these wretched beings one day in seven. They stand together, as in fact their appropriation to these horrid displays makes the neighborhood uninhabitable.
The negroes assemble in these buildings every Sunday, and from 3 o'clock to sundown the dances occur. Every contrivance that their ingenuity and means can compass to make a deafening and damnable noise is brought into activity. Drums, horns, pans, kettles, sheets and bars of metal, clubs, and in fact everything which by beating and pounding can be made to contribute to the infernal din is added to the concert. Suppose some two hundred performers to be thus occupied, and then throw the voices of three or four hundred negroes and negresses, each trying to out yell the rest, and you begin to have some idea of the prominent feature, to wit, the music of these weekly African reunions.
But the dancing should not be passed by without notice. The twenty or thirty houses devoted to these refined enjoyments are crowded with African chivalry and beauty, and every individual seems to put forth the utmost possible exertion to make the exercise as furious as their excited vigor is capable of performing. This with the temperature at 85°, you may well conceive soon moistens the starch of the ladies' finery. As for the gentlemen they look as though they were dripping from the sea. Few of them have any clothing but their shirts and trousers, which are thoroughly soaked with sweat. Many of them omit the shirt altogether, and their bare bodies look as shiny and slippery as if just greased from the crown of their head to their waistbands...
I saw the Captain-General on the Pasco... He is not thought to be a bad man, but feeble only. MARTIN GALLIANO, his political secretary, is said to be the malignant and scheming spirit whose wicked counsels originate all the embarrassing measures of his chief, and will doubtless hasten the extinction of the Spanish dominion here.
We learn this morning, by the Isabel, of the election of Gen. PIERCE to the Presidency. The Creoles with one voice exult in the result, feeling an assured confidence that his succession will mark the final period of their oppression. I confess I have more than one motive in hoping that their deliverance will not be so long postponed. If there was any courage or generosity in the present administration, I am sure it would not.
The return of Judge SHARKEY to the discharge of his duties as Consul has given very great satisfaction to his countrymen. He is a very intelligent and competent officer, and his presence is felt to be some security to Americans and their interests.
But since the departure of the Powhatan no ship of our navy has appeared in port, although every one feels that life, liberty and property are in constant peril from the piratical Government, which practices all sorts of atrocities without compunction.
The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1852 was equivalent to $24.71 in 2007.
The New York Times, February 24, 1879, p.2:|
THE HONRADEZ CIGARETTESHAVANA'S BIGGEST TOBACCO FACTORY.
THE SMOKERS OF CUBA AND HOW THEY SMOKE--MAKING
THE CIGARETTES--WOMEN SMOKERS IN HAVANA--SMALL
BOYS AND DONKEYS--ONE FACT ABOUT HAVANA CIGARS.
HAVANA, Feb. 5.--There may be a smoker in New-York who has not heard of the Honradez cigarettes, but he would be hard to find. The young man, especially, runs to cigarettes, and generally to Honradez cigarettes. These little white cigars that the Spaniards, Cubans, and Mexicans call cigarros are considered by many smokers the best in the market, although more "Honradez" cigarettes are made every month in First and Second avenues than in Havana in a year.
The Honradez is the largest cigarette factory in Havana, and, therefore, the largest in the world. It stands at the corner of two of the narrowest and busiest streets in this busy city. The sidewalks in front of it and at the sides are not more than 18 inches wide, and in the street there is barely room for two carriages to pass. Probably 1,000 persons go by every hour of the day; yet whenever two meet, going in opposite directions, one must step off into the street to let the other pass. The President of the Fat Men's Club could never get along here; the sidewalks are so narrow he would be jammed against the wall by a donkey cart. A man must be very thin to go through the streets with any comfort.
The cigarette factory does not look large from the outside. It is built of stone and covered with plaster, like nearly every other building in Havana. On the corner is a cigar and cigarette store that looks like one of a thousand cigar stores in New-York. A little way up the street is an arched entrance that looks as if it might lead to a stable. The floor is of stone flags, the walls are covered with rough yellow plaster, and the wooden doors are big enough to admit one of the Coaching Club's turnouts.
This is only a sample of nearly all the "grand" entrances in Havana. Our truckmen in New-York drive their draught-horses through better-looking entrances to stables than stylish ladies here go through to reach palatial interiors. The family carriage is nearly always kept in the court-yard, and the horses are generally tied there. The carriage is often left standing so close to the parlor door that you have to squeeze past it to get into the house. But carriages have nothing to do with cigarettes, although there were two or three of them standing in the court-yard of the Honradez factory.
This court-yard leads into the outer office of the factory. The office, like the rest of the building, and, indeed, like most of the city, is grand and not grand, magnificent and squalid, comfortable and uncomfortable. The windows (perhaps windows, but more exactly holes in the wall,) have no glass in them, but are guarded by iron bars. All Havana might be mistaken for a prison, for there are iron bars everywhere, iron bars on hinges serve for doors, other iron bars, not on hinges, serve for windows and shutters, and other iron bars still, only flattened out a little, serve, I regret to say, for beds, and keep crawling in between your ribs and trying to tickle your liver all night long, notwithstanding that a blanket is laid over them.
If you complain to the landlord about sleeping on these iron bars, he says, "Ah, but they are so cool." A nice big block of ice to sleep on would be cooler yet, and not much harder or more uncomfortable.
The doors are the most imposing part of this office. Any one of them is large enough to admit four men abreast. None of them are less than 10 feet high, (for the ceilings of these buildings are up in the air, often 15 feet or more,) and each door is surmounted by a semi-circle colored glass of the most gorgeous hues--bright yellow, and bright red, and bright blue--with great effect. The floor of the office is also of stone flags, and the entire building is as nearly fireproof as our Equitable Building, on a cheap scale, for there is little about it to burn.
Two gentlemen, evidently Cubans, with dark skins, and well dressed, in the cool style everywhere noticable in Havana, are lounging back in delightfully-comfortable rocking-chairs, that look as if they might have been made for half-grown elephants to doze away the warm afternoons in. The frame-work of the chairs is of timber almost as heavy as Americans build houses with, darkened with age, and the seats are of thick leather. Many generations, representing many tons, of cool, comfortable, and heavy Cubans, have pressed the leather into inverted domes, and given them a form and appearance of comfort that can be thoroughly appreciated only by the passenger who, entering from the stifling streets, dusty and perspiring, finds himself suddenly in the cool, refreshing office.
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The Republic of Cuba is situated just south of the tropic of Cancer at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. Besides the large island of Cuba itself, the nation includes the rest of the Cuban archipelago, a formation of about 1,600 islands, islets, and cays.
The native Amerindian population of Cuba began to decline after the European discovery of the island by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1492 and following its development as a Spanish colony during the next several centuries. Large numbers of African slaves were imported to work the coffee and sugar plantations, and Havana became the launching point for the annual treasure fleets bound for Spain from Mexico and Peru.
Spanish rule, marked initially by neglect, became increasingly repressive, provoking an independence movement and occasional rebellions that were harshly suppressed.
It was US intervention during the Spanish-American War in 1898 that finally overthrew Spanish rule. The subsequent Treaty of Paris established Cuban independence, which was granted in 1902 after a three-year transition period.
Fidel CASTRO led a rebel army to victory in 1959; his iron rule has held the regime together since then. Cuba's Communist revolution, with Soviet support, was exported throughout Latin America and Africa during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
The country is now slowly recovering from a severe economic recession in 1990, following the withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies, worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually. Cuba portrays its difficulties as the result of the US embargo in place since 1961. Illicit migration to the US - using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, air flights, or via the southwest border - is a continuing problem. The US Coast Guard intercepted 2,810 individuals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in fiscal year 2006.
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