This August the small city of Baracoa on the far eastern tip of the coast of Cuba celebrates its festival of the four C’s – which emphasises its history and its rootedness to the products of its surrounding land.
Acknowledged as the first Spanish settlement in Cuba, 511 years ago, Baracoa is located on the spot where Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba on his first voyage and wrote in his logbook “this is the most beautiful place in the world”. It is thought that the name stems from the indigenous Arauaca language word meaning “the presence of the sea”. The indigenous Taíno people were mostly killed off by diseases brought by Europeans and slavery. Local hero Hatuey, led a Taíno army to fight the Spanish in Cuba, but according to legend he was betrayed by a member of his group and sentenced to burn at the stake. It is said that just before he died a Catholic priest tried to convert him so he would attain salvation; Hatuey asked the priest if Heaven was the place where the dead Spanish go. When the priest said yes Hatuey told the priest that he would rather go to Hell.
Baracoa is surrounded by a wide mountain range, which causes it to be quite isolated, apart from the single mountain road built in the 1960s.The mountain range is covered with moist forests and Cuban pine forests.
Cacao – Coco – Cafe
Baracoa is Cuba’s main chocolate manufacturing area. Theobroma cacao trees are cultivated under groves of Royal palm on the banks of the Río Miel, Río Duaba, Río Toa and Río Yumuri. Coffee is cultivated in the tropical rain forests on the mountains. Coconut oil is used in traditional cooking in the region and the House of Chocolate is recommended for visitors to the town.
One of the aims of the festival is also to seek ways to develop the area and its economy.