History of the Cuban PopulationThe very first inhabitants of the island nation known today as Cuba were Native Americans from the tribes of Taino and Ciboney originating from South, Central, and North America. Each group of people specialized in farming and hunter-gathering. The existence of these people changed drastically when the famous Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492, claiming the whole island for the Kingdom of Spain. Almost 20 years later, the first settlement by the Spanish was founded in Baracoa, Cuba, near Guantanamo Bay. Typical of European practices of the day, the Spanish enslaved the population of Cuba, at that time, around one hundred thousand. Subsequently, almost the entire population was wiped out by European diseases. For the next 400 years, Cuba remained the property of Spain. During this long rule, Spanish businessmen started successful plantations, which produced large amounts of coffee, tobacco, and sugar. They tended to their crops with the majority of the work being done by slaves brought to the island in 1762. During the 19th century, however, most of Spain’s Latin American colonies had grown restless of the harsh rule of the Europeans and revolted, forming independent nations of their own. Cuba did not rebel though, mostly due to its fear of pirates, slaves, and the United States, and also because of its economic dependence on Spain for its exported goods. The Cuban population would not be freed until the Spanish-American War of 1898. However, before this occurred, the Spanish hardened their policy in the country by introducing primitive concentration camps into which the Cuban people were gathered. Around three hundred thousand civilians died from disease and starvation (Zinn, p. 316). Expecting an escalation in activity around the island, the US sent the battleship Maine to Cuba. While in port, the ship violently exploded, causing the death of hundreds of crew members aboard. While the precise cause of the explosion was exactly unknown, most Americans assumed it was conducted by the Spanish, and the populace demanded war. Thus, the US and Spain declared war on each other. With the victory by the US, Cuba was given over to the US. In turn, then President Theodore Roosevelt returned Cuba to the Cuban people, but the US retained certain privileges on the island.
When Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara took control of Cuba in the Cuban Revolution of the late 1950s, relations between the US and Cuba declined, while Soviet-Cuban relations improved. The population of Cuba was mostly behind Castro, and US attempts to change this failed. To this day, Cuba has remained a sovereign nation, and is now under the rule of Fidel’s brother, Raul Castro.
Racial Mix Cuban PopulationDue to its interesting past, Cuba has a diverse racial makeup. The latest survey (Thomas, p. 219) showed the following information.
These statistics are debated, because the intermarriage among the people from all the racial groups makes almost no one purely white, black or otherwise. The Cuban population is also made up of a sizable Asian community. Those living today are descendants of field workers from hundreds of years ago (BBC Country Profile).
Cuban ImmigrationMany Spanish people moved to Cuba in the 1800s, totaling around half a million in size. Africans were brought to the island and are not native to Cuba. They were predominantly used as slaves for the numerous sugar, coffee, and tobacco plantations owned by Spanish aristocrats. The last fifty years, hundreds of thousands of the population of Cuba have emigrated to the US, the UK, Mexico, Canada, Spain, and many other countries. Due to the proximity of Cuba to Florida, countless Cubans were attempting to come across the sea in rafts and other small boats. In 1994, the increasing number of illegal Cuban immigrants caused the US Immigration Department to create an agreement with the Cuban government to prevent illegal immigrants launching rafts from the Cuban coast in exchange for the US processing more than twenty thousand visas annually for Cubans to come to the US. Cuba has had an eventful past, shared closely with Spain and the United States. The Cuban population continues to be an interesting example of a diverse group of people living together.
What do Cubans for pastime?The possibilities for the Cuban population are limited because many Cubans are poor. Cuban housewifes spent hours in front of their TVset watching "Telenovelas" the Cuban version of the US soap series.
Cuban Baseball (Béisbol or Pelote) is the National Sport.The majority of the Cuban population can't afford to buy toys for the children, in consequence the Youth plays baseball (in Cuban Slang:Pelote) on the streets with selfmade baseball bats.
Cuban Domino is the National Game.Playing Dominoes is the favorite pastime for the Cuban population. Often the game is played on the streets in front of the house-door, while drinking a bottle of rum.
Recreation in Havana.During the weekends a popular relaxation for the Habaneros is a trip to the "Playas del Este" beaches. To make the trip affordable, they take their homemade picnic and rum bottles to the beach.
Another nice excursion frequently made is a visit to the Lenin Park (Parque Lenin) on the edge of Havana city. For Cubans who can afford it, Havana has a vibrant nightlife and many movie theatres.