Cienfuegos, Cuba October 2017 (22 photos)
This is part 10 of my Cuba 2017 photo series.
After a few days in the city of Trinidad on the south coast of Cuba, I headed back towards Havana. Along the way I stopped in the city of Cienfuegos.
Cienfuegos is a city on the southern coast of Cuba. It is about 250 km from Havana and has a population of 150,000. The city is dubbed La Perla del Sur (Pearl of the South). It is the only city in Cuba founded by the French.
It is known for its colonial-era buildings.
Not surprisingly for a town that shares its name with Camilo Cienfuegos, who fought with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, it has many reminders of the revolution.
Q: Where are your buccaneers?
A: Under my buccanhat.
Bucanero is the name of one of the local beers.
The central square is named after José Martí.
Tomás Terry Theater has gold-leaf mosaics and ceiling frescoes.
Leaving Cienfuegos, I continued towards Havana but I decided to make another stop along the way. And so it was that a funny thing happened on the road to Havana; this is the story of my visit to Australia.
The village of Australia, founded in 1862, is in a sugar growing area and dominated by the old, out-of-service sugar factory’s chimney, with “Australia” written prominently down its length. The village is named after the factory, the Central Australia, which like others in the area were named after continents.
The village was the first sugar town in Cuba to stop using slave labour.
It still has a working steam train.
But the small village of Australia has a very important role in Cuban history and subsequent World history.
On 17 March 1960, the CIA’s plan for the overthrow of Castro’s administration was given the support of US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The stated first objective of the plan was to “bring about the replacement of the Castro regime with one more devoted to the true interests of the Cuban people and more acceptable to the US in such a manner to avoid any appearance of US intervention.” The CIA trained and funded Brigade 2506, a counter-revolutionary military group mostly made up of Cuban exiles in the USA to invade Cuba, gain the support of the local population, establish a provisional government, and then call upon the USA for military support. Eisenhower’s successor, John F. Kennedy, approved the final invasion plan on 4 April 1961.
However, Cuban intelligence operatives soon found out about the invasion plans. In preparation for the coming invasion, Fidel Castro took direct control of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, and based his defensive military operations in the village of Australia, just 42km from the Bay of Pigs.
The Bay of Pigs invasion commenced on 17 April 1961 but as American involvement in the invasion became public knowledge, President Kennedy withheld the needed additional military support to Brigade 2506. On 20 April, the members of Brigade 2506 surrendered after only three days, with the majority being publicly interrogated and put into prisons, or killed.
The failed invasion strengthened the position of Castro’s leadership, made him a national hero, and strengthened the relationship between Cuba and the Soviet Union. This eventually led to the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the enduring US embargo against Cuba, and the initiation under President Kennedy of Operation Mongoose which included plans to recruit the Mafia to assassinate President Castro. As it was, President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. Interesting.
One of the local “Australians”. I had great pleasure in telling him I was from Australia too.
In the background to the left are the remnants of a spy plane, shot down during the conflict.
This is part 10 of my Cuba 2017 photo series.
This is part 12 of my photo series of my 2017 trip to the USA, Mexico, Cuba, and Canada.
66 thoughts on “A funny thing happened on the road to Havana”
Fantastic piece of history you’ve incorporated into this, Draco. What a time it was! 😦 Wonderful photos, as ever you’ve got to the heart of it. I started out singinging that ‘Havana’ song that’s on the radio these days, but soon stopped when I got wrapped up in your post. 🙂 🙂
Thanks very much, Jo. It’d funny how names and places become more real when you experience or visit something relevant to it. Pleas go back to your song now. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Singing away! 🙂 🙂
How fascinating. You certainly had a very entertaining trip LD. That steam train is a beauty (or would be with a clean-up).
History comes to life. Actually, I had a steam train trip planned whilst in Cuba but missed out because the train tracks were destroyed in one area by Hurricane Irma. That would have been fun.
Draco!!! Amazing! To think that our country’s namesake played such a pivotal role in the defeat of the Bay of Pigs invasion!!! Wow! We can be proud!
The photos as usual are fantastic, love our companero the Australian!!!
Thanks for this interesting piece of history, Draco, fascinating!
Thanks, Debbie. Yes, not many people know that Fidel Castro visited Australia. 🙂 The town itself is living off its role in the past. It was good to meet some fellow aussies. LOL 🙂
They’d fit right in here!
What a coincidence that you are from Australia and visited a town called Australia in Cuba. It is amazing how the wreckage from the spy plane is still there after quite a few decades, and seems like the locals see it as just a piece of their town, a part of their life and history.
Like Jo, I had the Havanna song stuck in my head…just before I came on WP this evening. Lovely to see another Cuba post from you. Again, superb shots 🙂
I guess if you’re from Australia, it’s almost certain you’ll want to visit Australia. I hadn’t heard of it and it wasn’t on my map, but the history is there. Yes, the shot down spy plane holds a special significance.
That Havana song is very hypnotic. It’s very evocative of walking down the Prado or though Habana Vieja.
So, that song is in your head too. Hey, this might make a good title for a post about Havana. Thanks!!! 🙂
it’s actually my favourite song of the moment. Yes, a blog post title! Looking forward to it… (“left my heart in Havana ooh na na..” 🙂 )
… ooh na na
Oh, I’m so nostalgic for Cuba!
It’s partly why I don’t review and post photos until a few months afterwards. The memories are still strong.
Awesome photos and love the history. Cuba is so interesting and I’ll probably never get there so I’ve enjoyed looking at it through you. Great post 🙂
Thanks, Norma. It was interesting to get a different view of this event in history.
I’d say that was an interesting stop in that little village. Fascinating story.
Absolutely. Off the beaten track and barely visible on the map. Perfect!
Such wonderful photos and you’ve brought history back to life. I learned some things from you! It’s amazing how some events can change the entire course of history.
Thank you very much, Linda. History is so interesting. You’ve got to wonder, what if…?
Gorgeous the “stories” from the Pearl of the South and the village of Australia,Draco!Fantastic photo series with magnificent neoclassical mansions,monuments,murals;the mosaics and the ceiling frescoes in Tomás Terry theater are spectacularly displayed.Your references to recent history and to political intrigues were compelling as well.Thanks to your post the village of Australia became famous 🙂
Thank you so much. I can’t help but wonder how much grander and magnificent Cuba would be if it had the money and resources to maintain its heritage buildings, but then the charm of decay would be lost. I find the political intrigue so fascinating, particularly with the tool of hindsight.
Sometimes small countries have the resourses,but the mighty rulers,who govern the world,don’t let them develop for different reasons and interests.Future generations always have the benefit of historical hindsight.
Politics ruins much.
I thought Trinidad was sooo cool. To see all of the different modes of transportation from the horses, Chinese bikes and the cars was educational for me! Great pics!
Thanks. Old fashioned working horse and cart transport, because it’s practical, not as a tourist trap. Cuba is very down to earth.
Agreed. The people are fantastic. I wish it was easier as an American to come and go!
The best way for you (US citizen) is to join a tour that satisfies the people-to-people rule of the US embargo. There are several tours online.
Right! we did a people to people tour with an art flair. So, we got to meet all kinds of artists along the way. I loved Havana quite a bit too. 3 of us spent an entire day photographing the city. All I want to do is travel (sigh).
That would have been fun. I took a tour to Fusterlandia in Havana. I hope you got there as well. Fabulous!!!
Yes, I want to go back, too.
I had to look it up. We did go to fusterlandia! Thanks for the reminder, it was a cool place!
Oh my goodness the things you got to see! Such a time capsule.
It’s like a living museum, stuck in time. Absolutely fascinating and so photogenic.
What a lovely place! Seems that your photos of Cienfuegos is more about the place than the people, unlike the previous posts.
Thanks. I have the people photos too, but this post definitely had a different theme. A change of pace. 🙂
Very interesting, indeed. ☺. Great photos as usual, LD ☺
Thanks. It was a tense period in history.
Great post. You have an eye for detail. I loved the last pic.
Thank you very much. He was a lovely guy.
AMAZING! I know people overuse that word, but I really mean it: Your photos and storytelling are extraordinary.
Thanks so much. Cuba is unique country caught in a time warp. It offers so much.
Beautiful photos as always. 🙂
Thank you very much.
Such a treat to view these remarkable photos and read the historical information.
JFK and Cuba, “As it was, President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.”… It was a chaotic period of time, say the least.
Thank you for the awesome post, Dragon!
With the benefit of hindsight, all this political intrigue becomes more fascinating. Yes, Fidel Castro visited Australia! 🙂 Who knew?
I love the Australia connection and the trains, as well as virtually visiting a country I’ve never visited. It’s interesting to get a different perspective on some of the world events as well.
Thanks, Janet. I had a steam train ride organised but the tracks were damaged by Hurricane Irma before I arrived so I missed out. It’s a fascinating country.
Wonderful photos, I might start feeling jet lagged. It’s almost like I was there too, since I enjoyed your whole series. Dreamy sigh.
Thanks so much. The jet lag is worth the visit. Cuba is a beautiful country and I’m glad I can show it to you.
Your photographs from Cuba, are my absolute favorite, Lignum.
You capture so much character, and the colors are so wonderful.
Thanks so much, Lisa. Seriously, photography is such a pleasure in Cuba. The people just love being photographed and the place is so photogenic.
An amazing snippet of history you have given us LD and I’ve been wondering when you would get to Australia, I believe you mentioned you would be going there way back in the beginning of this series of fascinating insights into Cuba. I also wondered when I opened this post what on earth was Uluru doing in your feature photo… Incidentally that is a lovely photo it looks like a painting. Again you have given us a great selection of images of this unique country. Thank goodness America never got its foot in. I’ve been away and off line for a week so I’m busy catching up and am travelling backwards through your posts
The village of Australia was a complete surprise to me. Then discovering its role in history was even more of a surprise. Those were chaotic and intriguing times indeed. Yes, I did hint at this post ages ago. I’m a fair bit behind in posting. 🙂
That Uluru photo is one of about 15 that appear at the top of my page to identify my blog, separate to the post. I prefer that to the same static image each time someone visits my site. But that was quite fortuitous that a photo of Australia appeared for you on this particular post. 🙂
So are you back home now and busy planning your next adventure?
Pretty much. 🙂
Mr Draco .. what a brilliant read! Thanks for sharing all that info 😄 Wonderful images as always …
Thanks very much, Julie. I didn’t even know I was so close to the Bay of Pigs until I was told about the history in Australia.
I learnt such a lot from reading your article, thanks so much!
History brought to life. 🙂