By Jalane D. Schmidt
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Extra resources for Cachita's Streets: The Virgin of Charity, Race, and Revolution in Cuba
Next, a small population of Indians, enslaved Africans, and their creole black and mulato (mixed Spanish and African) descendants in the small copper mining village of Santiago del Prado y Real de Minas del Cobre (hereafter El Cobre) insisted that the Virgin of Charity was their heavenly patron. 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.
In the case of the institutionalization of the Virgin’s cult, however, there existed some confluence between “popÂ�uÂ�lar” and “official” efforts, which in any case should not be neatly bifurcated. By examining the early seventeenth-Â� century history of the finding of the Virgin’s image in the Bay of Nipe, and ensuing proÂ�cessions from the Hato de Barajagua to El Cobre and within the village there, we will see a phenomenon that became a pattern in subsequent centuries: Authorities regarded low-Â�status devotees’ local devotions to the Virgin with cautious approval, while wishing to exercise a guiding hand to promote orthopraxis.
In nearly every resÂ�pect, Oriente was commanding less attention from colonial and ecclesial officials, and in this paucity of Â�legal, civic, and pastoral oversight grew creole categories of racially mixed peoples, cimarrón (escaped slave) settlements, contraband trade, pirate attacks, and religious indifference or creativity. By 1670, Â�after half a Â�century of unsuccessful and quarrelous attempts by private contractors from the Eguiluz Â�family to meet royal quotas for extracting profit from El Cobre’s copper mining enterprises, the Crown reasserted ownÂ�ership of the dwindling mines and of the now 271 bondsmen in El Cobre (M.