Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Upon Havana's 500th anniversary, Prof. Lupe García examines the city's built environment and Cuba's legacy of slavery

November 26th, 2019

“Rutas/Routes” by Associate Professor of History Guadalupe García was published on November 14th by PLATFORM, an online forum for discussions on the buildings, landscapes, and other spaces. In this article, she explores the ways in which the history of slavery in Havana, the Cuban capital that has reached its 500th anniversary this month, has been virtually erased by the city’s built environment. She contends that a central component of this excision is the delineation between Old Havana, marked by its Spanish and North American architecture, and its outskirts, where enslaved Africans and their descendants have lived for centuries:

“La reproducción del perímetro amurallado de la ciudad y la exclusión de sitios históricos en las afueras del centro perpetua la idea de un paisaje moldeado solamente por planificadores europeos. La imagen contemporánea de la ciudad falla en no contar las maneras en las que las ganancias económicas consecuentes de la esclavitud y su comercio financiaron la expansión habanera.”

Translation: By not only reproducing the walled perimeter of the city, but also by excluding historic areas outside of this precinct and failing to account for the ways in which profits from slavery and the transatlantic slave trade financed Havana’s expansion, the contemporary image of the city perpetuates the idea of a landscape shaped solely by European planners.

The full essay is available to read in both Spanish and English on the PLATFORM website. You’re encouraged to take the opportunity to engage in this discussion on the legacy of slavery in Cuba by leaving a comment.