HISTORY

Las Tunas is a Cuban city located at western part in the oriental province. It is the capital of the same name’s province. The city is known as the "Capital of the Cuban sculpture", or the "The Balcony of the East."

The name of Las Tunas comes from the cactus of the same name that at present it proliferates in patios, gardens, roofs and every corner of the city. According to the spoken history in San Gregorio's country estate, the large cattle ranch of Jesus Gamboa was located.  This last one was a local wealthy hierarch in whose properties some merchants of Puerto Príncipe, Bayamo y Manzanillo went. He had one of the most famous cattle in area, and everyone who came to get it used to say: “I’m going to Las Tunas ranch”. The phrase was said over and over again for everybody, and therefore the new rising town in this area took the name of Las Tunas, when city was founded.

Las Tunas city is named the Balcony of the East because there is where Eastern Cuba begins. Las Tunas differs of the rest of the Cuban cities because in her prints of its colonial past don't exist.

The current territory of that region was occupied by the cacicazgo of Maniabón, to the north, and by the Cueybá, to the south, when Spanish conquerors arrived there. It is pointed out as the historical oldest reference in that place, Alonso de Ojeda's arrival to the Cueybá town in 1510, after shipwreck during travelling to The Spaniard (today Dominican Republic).

The newly arrived one, with a fateful reputation, because of the crimes against the foreigner aboriginals, brought with him a statue of The Virgin Mary, which he had promised to hand over it to the first town found by him. Therefore, Ojeda handed over the effigy to the cacique of Cueybá and he ordered him to build a hermitage, where the native ones showed great devotion to the saint.

That’s how this settlement became the first place of Cuba where a temple of the Catholic religion was erected.

Once Bayamo’s village was founded, the whole Las Tunas territory was comprised into the demarcation of the town council of Bayamo. In the XVIII century, the town began to be slowly fomented with the opening of places or ranches, granted by country estates’ owners to those that would pass to be named tenant farmer.

From 1603 Juan Rivero González had obtained the first herd for Royal Letters Patent, and it wasn’t up to 1690 that the first Catholic chapel was built, after the conquest and colonization of Cuba. During these years the local economy was fundamentally based on farming sector and a slow regional population growth, conformed fundamentally by farmers from Bayamo, Holguín, Manzanillo y Puerto Príncipe.

In 1729, this town had seven herd denominated Cabaniguán, Birama, Las Tunas, Unique, Las Arenas, Ochoa and Aimiquiabo, and it is necessary to mention them because they were the base of what today is basically the biggest territory in Las Tunas Province.

The last names founders of this district were Rivero-González; Vázquez; Santiesteban-Vázquez-Coronado; Aguilera-Tamayo-Mejía; Fajardo-Estrada; Varona-González, among other.

With the passing of time, the chapel of Las Tunas had been destroyed, when not having a priest in property, because only it was used to house the pilgrims that went to Santiago del Prado (nowadays “El Cobre”) to pay their promises and in 1707, when the ecclesiastical visit of Bishop Don Jerónimo Valdés Sierra to Puerto Principes, heir of the Las Tunas country estate, Diego Clemente del Rivero, requested authorization to Bishop for reconstruction of the chapel already in ruins. With the consent of Valdés Sierra the works began and the temple was concluded in 1709, the one which Clemente Rivero named San Gerónimo in honor to the Bishop and the local party was named San Jerónimo de Las Tunas, where the toponymic of this country estate was getting rich.

For 1761, San Jerónimo de Las Tunas, had 40 families, 211 souls and 51 servants. It was developing its economy which allow it become a party of the extensive region of Bayamo, where the church keep the name of San Jerónimo and the local party with the name of Tunas de Bayamo.

In 1790, the parish was rebuilt, keeping the name: San Jerónimo de Las Tunas. Around the church some religious festivities took place, and neighbors began the constructions of royal palm and palm leaf houses around the parish.

Las Tunas city is founded in 1796 around the Parish San Jerónimo, in lands donated by the owners of the adjacent properties who called neighbors and slaves to found the town.

The town was promoted quickly by its possibilities for the trade, agriculture and cattle raising and, in 1803, the town council fomented the town construction with solid materials and constructive norms following the laws of India.

August 27of 1821, the first committee of health were constituted.

The first jail was built in 1823, designated as its governor the sergeant Don Francisco Salazar with different rules: criminal of good position pay expenses for himself during the prison; indigent or slave, the neighbors financed for them.

For 1846 the urban part of Las Tunas was populated by 1.275 neighbors inhabiting 142 masonry houses and two made with adobe and palm leaf. There were also two schools, one for girls and another for boys.

In 1848, it was conferred the Title of Villa to Las Tunas, granting its own jurisdiction

In 1852 Las Tunas City had four districts, named: Hormiguero, Colón, Fomento and Jurisdicción.

In 1853 it is granted to Las Tunas the Title of City for Royal Letters Patent.

September 26 of 1876 during the independence war, Vicente García and his men set the city on fire to keep her away from Spanish Army hands, for that reason, buildings of the colonial disappeared almost completely. (...)

November 6 of 1859 la ciudad de Las Tunas had its first newspaper, under the name: Hórmigo. It was the first of first for this newspaper.

With the new administrative region of 1866, the Las Tunas city was included in the Central Department with Puerto Príncipe y Nuevitas.

It was this city, the See of the first meeting carried out in Cuba to begin the War in 1868, it was chairman of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and representatives persons from Holguín, Camagüey, Bayamo, Manzanillo y Las Tunas.

The independence wars were bloody stage, Las Tunas city was assaulted in five occasions by the Cubans, set on fire three of them, one partially and two in its entirety.

City changed name for a new one: "Victoria de Las Tunas" because of the Spanish victory against Cubans in August 16 of 1869. This last name lasted up to 1976, when the new administrative region approved in 1975 took effect, adopting the new name: Las Tunas.