This introduction is from Alejandro de la Fuente’s book about Havana. It begins with a quick retelling of the invasion by Jacques de Sores. Sores invaded Havana by land. He threaten the population and, when they tried to fight back, killed prisoners and burned the city to the ground. The author also briefly mentions San Cristobal, a city in southern Cuba. This town was an example ti demonstrate the decline that many cities in Cuba were facing. It was a city that lacked resources both material and population and what little population is did have was moving north to places like Havana.
Cuba was used a frontier to explore and colonize new territories. Because of this, it was the perfect location for port cities as people sailed back and form from new territories. However, it also had it problems. It seemed to lack a greater purposed and the bigger plans of the Spanish Empire. There was also a problem with its population; with so man people leaving to go on expedition the number of Spaniards in Cuba was quickly declining. There was also a lack of indigenous population and gold within the colony. All of these fears came together caused great fear in Spain that they would lose their colonies.
However, the knowledge that the colony could play a hug role in trade system encouraged Spain to act to keep these colonies going. They colonists realized that they would survive better in the north near the harbor of Carenas. This harbor, which featured a narrow opening at the mouth, could be used as an easy defense point. Officials began to realize the true benefit to this harbor and named it a sea port and placed a lieutenant in Havana. After multiple threats and attacks on Havana, officials began to realize not only the importance, but the vulnerability of the port and they began to take measures to protect and enhance it. They previously had depended on the labor of the indigenous population, but switch to African slave labor. The city was quickly rebuilt and expanded and Fuente states that it was the fastest growing city at that time (5). With all of those changes, Havana quickly began an essential port in the Spanish Atlantic.
Fuentes states that the study on Havana’s early history is very understudied. Although port cities are essential to trade, their beginnings and its inhabitants are not studied as closely. However, Fuentes believes that the history of the city’s inhabitants is also important. He notes that the generally history of Havana is correct, he wonders whether there is more to Havana than its identification as a port city. In his study of Havana, he utilizes many “locals” texts in his research. He defines local as “produced in a given administrative unit within the Atlantic (7).
The author has a very vast notes section and bibliography. The bibliography is broken down inter several parts including: archives, manuscripts, printed primary sources, and books and articles. This demonstrates the vast research that the author did by pulling information in from many different areas and both local and non-local sources. The overall is an example of how wide research can allow authors to pull in different viewpoints.