El Angerona coffee plantation, located in western Cuba, is today one of the country's greatest legends. Its history dating back to colonial times, is immersed in uncertainty and the silenced voices of slavery, forbidden loves, heavenly curses and African spells.
This is the story of one of the most splendid coffee plantations in western Cuba in colonial times and one of the most powerful in the Caribbean region, whose ruins are located between the municipality of Artemisa and Cayajabos.
Silenced voices and slavery in the Angerona coffee plantation
It was the first most important coffee plantation in the West in the 19th century, in full splendor it had 428 slaves between 1813 and 1837, and after becoming a sugar mill there were up to 450 slaves, a fairly high figure for a single plantation. Slaves that they bequeathed us culture, tradition and religion to this day.
Its ruins are a witness to where many slaves lived in their barracks, which is why it is also the subject of many investigations, trying to decipher the secrets that this historic place hides.
The slave settlement had a central plaza and around 27 huts. Stone walls surrounded the coffee plantation to prevent escape and an iron gate was the only access. A watchtower, which remains standing to this day, controlled all the slaves, and a bell announced that the sacrificed hour of work had arrived.
As in all areas of exploitation of the time, violence, cruelty and dehumanization against slaves was present, witnesses were the stocks, torture and padlocks behind the walls of that coffee plantation.
Stories remain about the Africans Bako, Bartolo, James and Zacarías, called and described as maroons, who crossed those stone walls to get lost in the Cuban mountains in search of a more just heaven and earth.
After listening to stories like these, we remember our ancestors, their fears, their tears, so many sacrifices to never forget that we owe ourselves to them and that we are a tree of their roots.
Angerona's love story
The owner of Angerona coffee plantation It was a German emigrant, Cornelio Souchay, who acquired the first lands in 1813.
Cornelio met Úrsula Lambert in Havana, a free-born Haitian brunette who had come to the island fleeing the war in Haiti.
In 1822 they both decided to live in Angerone, where according to popular legends, they lived an intense love surrounded by mysteries and mysticism, despite the social and racial prejudices of the time.
Therefore, it is normal to talk about love spells, voodoo, moorings and all kinds of spells when telling the story.
But today, many writers refute that the romantic and mythical tale is just that, a popular myth that has been passed down from generation to generation.
However, many secrets still surround the history of the Angerona coffee plantation and the relationship between German and Haitian.
Who is Angerona?
The name of the Cafetal is given by the presence there, of a statue in honor of the Etruscan deity Angerone, a goddess ten centuries older than the founding of Rome.
However, experts indicate that the Etruscan pantheon is made up of twelve deities, among which there is no Angerone, indicating that she is even a more primitive goddess.
This leads us to wonder why Cornelius and Úrsula decided to place the image of such an ancient goddess at the entrance of a Cuban coffee plantation, since, in addition, Angerone she is the goddess of fear and anguish.
The answer would be, according to researchers on the subject, in Úrsula, who had fled the Revolution in Haiti, one of the bloodiest events in history.
It is said that perhaps she decided to invoke Angerone to ward off their past frights and to prevent future fears like another possible slave uprising.
Although it was also Angerone a divinity of the harvests, so choosing her as the deity of the place could also carry the intention of promoting fertility in the coffee plantation.
The truth is that the myths around Cornelius and Úrsula and the deity Angerone, will always continue to be present in Cuban history, represented in numerous works of literature and cinema and surrounded by thousands of secrets that we still have to discover.
The Cuban national monument is the basis of many mysteries that to this day have not been deciphered, although studies are being carried out there until today.