By Jalane D. Schmidt
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Extra info for Cachita's Streets: The Virgin of Charity, Race, and Revolution in Cuba
Copy of his deposition, described the event as an “Aparicion”—Â�the more commonly recorded Marian apparition phenomena in which an ephemeral Virgin is reported to have appeared to and even spoken with select seers. ” Continuing his account, Moreno said that shortly Â�after the effigy of the Virgin of Charity arrived in El Cobre, the Virgin made known, by the miraculous illumination of three lights shining from on high on three successive nights, that she preferred for her shrine to be located on Mine Hill.
Given these modest beginnings, by what avenues did the Virgin of Charity come to such prominence in Cuba? In this chapter, I provide an overview of the spread of the cult of the Virgin of Charity (hereafter “the Virgin”) within the colonial history, culture, and landscape of Oriente in order to situate the reader within the Virgin’s milieu. The Virgin was found in Oriente, a region of Cuba that at the time boasted fewer streets or other signs of development than the rest of the island. Institutionalization of the Virgin’s cult took place because of, and amid, proÂ� cesses of creolization in which devotees applied their own emerging local cultural forms—Â�what El Cobre’s first chaplain Onofre de Fonseca called and Â�later Cubans still often term “inventions”—to their veneration of the Virgin.
9 Soon Â�after Spanish colonization of Cuba had begun in the early sixteenth Â�century, the copper mines Â�were worked by Indians in an encomienda, a Royal land grant which allowed a colonist to demand payment of tribute from and forced Â�labor of the original Indian inhabitants. This venture was unprofitable, and subsequent private efforts also flagged. So in 1599, the Span28â•…Chapter 1 ish king assumed control of the mining operation when Sánchez de Moya founded the town of Real de Minas de Santiago del Prado (Â�later El Cobre), and took 59 slaves from a Portuguese slave ship that was docked in Santiago de Cuba to begin extracting copper, an imÂ�porÂ�tant eleÂ�ment for the Crown’s artillery.